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HBO Documentary 'Glickman,' Debuting Today, Tells Remarkable Story

Marty Glickman's career included announcing New York Giants, Knicks and Rangers games.
Debuting tonight on HBO is “Glickman,” a documentary about the life of longtime New York announcer Marty Glickman. Christopher Botta reviewed an advance copy of the film and shares his thoughts.

“Glickman” is a three-star documentary on a four-star subject — a play-by-play announcer with a remarkable backstory that transcends sports.

For more than 40 years, starting in the 1940s, Marty Glickman’s career included announcing New York Giants, Knicks and Rangers games, along with doing national work for the NBA and on NBC and HBO. Late in his life, which ended in 2001, Glickman was hired by NBC to coach its play-by-play announcers.

Glickman was a member of the U.S. track team at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games.
A lot of time is spent in the 80-minute documentary showcasing interviews with prime figures in sports, including announcers Marv Albert, Bob Costas and Mike Breen; NBC Commissioner David Stern; and Giants co-owner John Mara. Also featured are actors Elliott Gould and Jerry Stiller, both native New Yorkers, who praise Glickman’s style of play-by-play.

Much of this portion of the film becomes redundant and is not the most insightful. Albert and Stiller come off best, probably because Albert knew Glickman best on a personal level, and Stiller, a huge Knicks fan, is clearly fond and knowledgeable of Glickman’s work. Where “Glickman” really shines is in its opening 30 minutes, which details the Bronx-born Glickman’s rise as a sprinter. What happens when Glickman arrives in Berlin in 1936 as a Jewish member of the U.S. Olympic track team (the team that starred Jesse Owens) is a vital history lesson. With rare footage and strong storytelling by writer, producer, director and narrator James L. Freedman, Glickman’s Olympic saga and his time in the U.S. Marines are given proper justice. Near the end of the film, there is a remarkable coda to the Berlin tale.

Martin Scorcese is an executive producer of “Glickman.” It is easy to see why Scorcese, another legendary New York native, would lend his support to this story about an iconic New Yorker and heroic American.

It has its imperfections, but in the end, “Glickman” is a notable documentary that deserves a large audience.

“Glickman” debuts today at 9 p.m. ET/PT, with frequent repeats across HBO’s channels the following three weeks.

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HBO, New York Giants, NBA, NBC

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