Terry Catchpole
June 10, 1994 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Norman Rockwell: An American Portrait

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In Season

We gave it a B+

Norman Rockwell: An American Portrait corrects what time has distorted. Illustrator Rockwell now seems a foolish romantic who created dreamscapes of an America that never was. But, as this documentary attests, Rockwell was a perceptive social commentator of exceptional artistic skill and narrative power, whose Saturday Evening Post covers and illustrations for Look compelled readers to see what they could be — and what they were. Packed with Rockwell drawings, film clips of the illustrator working with live models, and commentary from pop pundits (best of all are Erma Bombeck and Ellen Goodman), the 60-minute tape stumbles only when using trite gimmicks (like sound effects) to “explain” works that need no elaboration. B+

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