Movie Review

Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon – Movie Review


Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon – Review by Frank L.

Directors: Beth Aala, Mike Myers
Stars: Shep Gordon, Sylvester Stallone, Michael Douglas

Shep Gordon became a music manager as a result of a chance encounter with Jimi Hendrix at a Los Angeles motel having walked out on his first job as a parole officer in the late sixties. According to Shep, Hendrix asked him was he “Jewish?” to which Shep replied “Yes” and then advised him to become a music manager. Shep asked “Who he should manage?” to which Hendrix replied “Alice Cooper” and he did just that. The intervening forty years is what “Supermensch” chronicles. Shep’s gentle voice and water-gurgling-out- of- a- bath laugh create the leit motif for this entertaining glimpse of a man who lists among his friends the Dalai Lama, Michael Douglas and Sylvester Stallone and has managed the careers of Blondie, Teddy Prendergrass and Anne Murray amongst a long glittering list. He appears to have a nose as to what an audience wants or more realistically how they can be cajoled into knowing what they want. In interview clips he recounts his stratagems for Prendergrass and Murray. He instinctively knew what would work in their acts to bring them to the attention of a larger audience and the methods that he chose were unorthodox with a fine understanding of the power of suggestion strategically placed.

However his most lasting achievement will probably be the creation of the concept of the celebrity chef which was unknown as a breed save possibly for Julia Child who was a complete one off until he came along. He realised these highly skilled professionals received little praise for their finely honed individual skills and were treated poorly in general. By making the right noises in the right ears of television proprietors he changed their world entirely.

But while Supermensch is strong on public adulation in the many interviews with his proteges and friends, it also to an extent exposes the futility of fame as Shep reflects on its mortal effects on Joplin, Jim Morrison and Hendrix. He is clear that it does not bring happiness. In this context notwithstanding his never ending libidinous success with beautiful women the fact is that he has no children of his own even if he has been in effect a father to the grandchildren of one of the great loves of his life. This void clearly perplexes him. The void is underlined by Carole Pfeiffer, who was in his employ, as the only person present when he awoke from a life threatening operation. As she points out there was no life partner, no child there to comfort him when he awoke. He ponders briefly this missing part of his life when he contemplates to whom he will leave his magnificent mansion on Maui as he looks at the sun setting over the Pacific.

On reflecting on Supermensch, it is undoubtedly an hour and a half of great entertainment and well worth a visit. However it might have been a better film if a little less time had been spent on the glamour of his life and a little more time had explored the concept of “fame”. It has an apparent destructiveness as he certainly has been able to observe at first hand and also to reflect on the sense of failing of a heterosexual man in his twilight years, of undoubted sexual ability with a strong humane side to him, who for whatever reason has never fathered a child.

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