George Plimpton was a man who believed in participatory journalism. He took a writer’s notebook with him as he quarterbacked for the Detroit Lions, played percussion with Leonard Bernstein’s New York Philharmonic, or boxed Archie Moore. He also was a man who seemed to be everywhere there something was happening—whether at a literary salon in New York City, or standing inches away win Bobby Kennedy was shot (and managed to tackle the assassin).
Here was a man who lived live to its fullest, and is worthy of an inspirational documentary film. Plimpton! Is such a film. Created by Tom Bean and Luke Poling, the film is narrated primarily by Plimpton himself (although he passed away in 2003), and features archival footage and interviews with everyone from Hugh Hefner and Robert Kennedy Jr. to Gay Talese, Jay McInerney, and members of the Plimpton family. The team even took to Kickstarter to fund acquisition of much of the archival imagery.
If you don’t know of George Plimpton, he was an “old-family” New Englander with a Conneticutt lock-jaw accent who stepped out of his family’s drawing room and into life. He was an observer, and a participant in life. He was co-founder of The Paris Review, where George Plimpton interviewed Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Vladimir Nabokov, Joan Didion and Seamus Heaney. It is where Philip Roth, Jeffrey Eugenides and Jonathan Franzen were published early, And was among the first to recognize the work of Jack Kerouac.
“George was full of surprises. He would sort of pop up around the edges of these important moments in history…” Bean is quoted in Vanity Fair. “George was almost like a Wasp Zelig or an intellectual Forrest Gump—it was interesting to see him suddenly appear in the midst of history.”
“George Plimpton was about as good of a friend as a man can have in this world. He lived his life like a work of fine art.”
- Hunter S. Thompson
The film is opening today in New York, and in Los Angeles, Friday, June 7th.