It is a shame that George Clooney’s “Good Night, and Good Luck” trivialized Edward R. Murrow’s interview show “Person to Person.” Far from being the vapid and silly endeavor that Clooney presented, “Person to Person” was actually a groundbreaking production that brought television audiences into the homes and private worlds of the notables and celebrities of the 1950s. And we’re talking the genuine icons of that era – not B-list airheads who populate today’s talk show couches, but superstars of the level of Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and Humphrey Bogart.

“Edward R. Murrow: The Best of Person to Person” is a triple-DVD collection that encompasses an astonishing breadth and depth of Murrow’s interviews. What is genuinely fascinating in these interviews is the genuine humanity of the celebrities on camera. Sometimes the stars show off their unexpectedly kooky side: Brando playing the bongo drums, Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh improvising their own interview with Murrow’s audio connection is lost, Jerry Lewis getting rushed by a flock of children and dogs. Sometimes the stars reveal a surprising vulnerability: Monroe’s obvious lack of ease on camera, Liberace speaking frankly of relying on charity handouts during the Depression. And sometimes the stars are far removed from their on-stage persona: brash Milton Berle talks seriously of a non-comedic novel he co-wrote, Sammy Davis Jr. shows genuine child-like sincerity in introducing his grandmother, Dean Martin speaking about how hard it is to keep up his persona of breezy-easy Dino.

The quality of the kinescopes presented in this collection are a mixed bag, ranging from good to poor (the Humphrey Bogart-Lauren Bacall interview looks like a thrice-removed dupe rather than an original). And, sadly, some genuinely memorable Murrow chats (including his interview with a mute Harpo Marx and his memorable conversation with Orson Welles) are not here. But overall, this is a rich, must-see collection.

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