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Documentary - Famous Nathan

Famous Nathan

Famous Nathan
Directed by Lloyd Handwerker
Documentary
Film Movement 2015

Famous Nathan is an almost excellent documentary. Filmmaker Lloyd Handwerker, grandson of Nathan himself had access to family and archival footage to tell the story of his grandfather Nathan and of the family business, Nathan's Famous hot dogs, probably the most famous hot dogs of all.

Lloyd Handwerker uses old Super 8 family movies, archival footage, and filmed interviews with various family members, employees, and family friends to tell the story. The most important element in the story is a reel-to-reel interview with Nathan himself about a year before he died.

The director is not afraid of showing some of the family's dirty laundry. His father, Saul, left the family business to start his own hot dog joint, Snack Time. Another son, Murray, who spearheaded the expansion and Nathan's going public has some hard feelings. So does another son, Joe, who was instrumental in Nathan's after WWII but was left out of the will for some reason. There are even conflicting versions of whether Nathan and his wive Eva were happy together.

The story as a whole is interesting. The documentary's weaknesses take away from it somewhat. The storyline is all over the place. Handwerker interviews many people but fails to remind the viewer who they are from time to time so it is hard to keep track of who is who and so how close to the topic the speaker is or was.

Famous Nathan is very good but I kept getting the feeling had it been tighter and more focused it would have been much more.

Also from Film Movement, a suberb, touching documentary by Sandrine Bonnaire Her Name Is Sabine.


Richard Lanoie

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