JACK TAYLOR OF BEVERLY HILLS (DVD) Image

Cecile Leroy Beaulieu’s documentary focuses on the Tinsteltown clothier who has taken credit for providing custom-made suits for some of the best-dressed male celebrities of the 20th century. Jack Taylor, now in his nineties and still running his business, speaks at length about the legendary stars that sought him out over the years.

In fact, a great deal of the film is devoted to endless name dropping: Cary Grant, Jackie Gleason, Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack buddies, Elvis Presley, Charles Bronson, Danny Thomas, Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, and the Duke of Windsor were among the notable customers fitted for a Jack Taylor suit. Strangely, the film has problems scaring up contemporary stars to speak about Taylor – Jason Schwartzman is the closest the film comes to an A-list name, while old-time TV personalities Monty Hall, Jan Murray, and Mike Douglas talk about distant halcyon days.

For his part, Taylor does not truly deserve full credit for the high quality of his clothing – it appears the majority of his tailoring is actually done by an Asian-American named Sam, who’s been on his payroll for 60 years. Furthermore, Taylor comes across as shockingly rude, referring to a hefty customer as an “elephant” while cruelly deriding an off-the-rack blazer worn by a shopper. The only celebrity that Taylor openly insults is Burt Reynolds, calling him a “bastard” (the cause for the epithet is never truly clear).

If Taylor believed the film would be either a fitting tribute for his life’s work or an advertisement to snag more customers, his harsh personality and celebrity obsession work against him and, ultimately, alienate the audience.

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