As Reviewed on Amazon.com Based on the biography by Vicki Goldberg, this TVM biopic of photographer Margaret Bourke-White (pronounced Bork) directed by Lawrence Schiller gained some notoriety for being made in competition with the film treatment being prepared for Barbra Streisand by writer Linda Yellen. The Streisand version never materialized, though it's hard to imagine her in the role, since she seems more suitable as a photographer like Diane Arbus.
MBW was a pioneer in the hitherto male-dominated field of photo-journalism, a woman who enjoyed "opening closed doors" and witnessed many of the important events of history. She created iconic images including industrial architecture, Fort Peck Dam on the first cover of Life magazine, Moscow under fire during World War II, survivors of Buchenwald concentration camp, and Mahatma Gandhi at his spinning wheel.
The teleplay by Marjorie David provides some character depth, with scenes that exist for reasons other than to make historical points. It presents a woman who chooses career over love and family, with a large focus on her marriage to writer Erskine Caldwell (Frederic Forrest), with whom she collaborated memorably on the book of Depression Southerners You Have Seen Their Faces. David includes such stock lines as Caldwell to MBW "You can't have a life with anyone but yourself" and includes a scene where she cries about the prospect of having a child stopping her from her next assignment. The idea of a fiction writer who by vocation needs isolation, resenting his wife is used to highlight both her long absences and her own celebrity, with David making the point that Caldwell can't object to the very qualities that attracted him initially. She doesn't resolve the criticism of the photographer who "treats people like furniture", though presumably we are meant to find that ok considering the resulting image. MBW's feminism is presented as arrogance, particularly with "Do me a favor of not backtracking. Nothing's learned that way", but perhaps because of the casting of Farrah Fawcett, she also is given some flakiness by having a pet snake.
Schiller's biographies have included Marilyn Monroe, Gary Gilmore, Patricia Neal, Lee Harvey Oswald, and JonBenet Ramsay, so he knows how to capture period detail using news newsreel footage and music. He intercuts scenes of MBW's preparations with the final real photo, and it's perhaps his experience that makes Fawcett look so good. She deepens her voice to portray a predominantly humorless person, though one who is constantly being told how beautiful she is. Forrest also adds some pleasing eccentricity to his Caldwell, and in spite of the weaker position he is given in the arguments with Fawcett, he retains our empathy.
Cast: Cast: Farrah Fawcett, Frederic Forrest, David Huddleston, Jay Patterson, Mitch Ryan, Robert Stanton