Film: “Turn Every Page: The Adventures of Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb” at Film Forum
For the last several decades, Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb have enjoyed a symbiotic, productive relationship: Caro as the author of “The Power Broker,” a 1,338-page biography of Robert Moses; Gottlieb as Caro’s editor for the Moses book and the four-going-on-five-volume biography of LBJ.
This relationship is the subject of “Turn Every Page,” a charming (but candidly lonnnnng) documentary currently at Film Forum on West Houston Street.
One of Caro’s stipulations to director Lizzie Gottlieb (RG’s daughter) is that he not be filmed in the same room as Gottlieb, as their relationship had not always been cordial. They often battled about such things as Caro’s overuse of the semi-colon, and Gottlieb’s tendency to toss out Caro’s overly descriptive sections about the tumbleweeds of the Texas Pedernales.
Some of the most tender parts of TEP are old photos of the two Bobs as handsome Young Turks, climbing the ladder of success to become, for Gottlieb, the editor of Knopf and The New Yorker; and for Caro, a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner.
I also enjoyed the segment about Caro and his wife Ina, dyed-in-the-wool New Yorkers, who moved to the Texas Hill Country for nearly three years to gain a better perspective on the early years of LBJ. Johnson won his first Senate primary by a mere 81 votes, thereby garnering the nickname “Landslide Lyndon.” It wasn’t until many years later that Caro discovered those extra votes were stolen.
Celebrity groupies may enjoy catching interviews with Conan O’Brien, Ethan Hawke, David Remnick and President Bill Clinton, among others. I know I did. And if you’re one of those people who picked up a Caro book and never got around to finishing it (raises hand), you’ll find this documentary especially appealing.