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‘Jack Lemmon Returns’ at Laguna Playhouse, Joni Mitchell doc-concert on Blu-ray

Chris Lemmon in Jack Lemmon Returns
Charles Osgood Photography

In one way, the smartest thing Jack Lemmon ever did was have a son. Chris Lemmon’s affectionate one-man homage, “Jack Lemmon Returns” (at Laguna Playhouse through June 22), may be the ultimate Father’s Day gift. He brings the legendary actor back to life with such striking verisimilitude, physically and vocally, that it’s hard to believe it’s Chris and not Jack onstage.

The younger Lemmon’s impressions of George Cukor (who directed Jack in his first film) and French actor Jean-Louis Barrault (whom the elder Lemmon idolized) are hilarious and touching. Chris’ stunning performance more than makes up for the few shortcomings in the script, adapted (from Chris’ book “A Twist of Lemmon”) and sharply directed by actor Hershey Felder. Chris also takes several turns at the piano, illustrating Jack’s affection for Gershwin (a passion he shared with Felder) and further enhancing the show.

There are stories about John Ford, Marilyn Monroe and of course Walter Matthau. It’s not all sweetness and light, though. Taking inspiration from Barrault (“He could make ‘em laugh and then break their hearts”) as Jack himself did, Chris goes to the dark side in recalling his father’s sometimes selfish behavior and his alcoholism. Ultimately, he leaves you with smile on your face and a lump in your throat. Visit

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Joni Mitchell, an artist who not unlike Jack Lemmon has fought against being pigeonholed or labeled throughout her career, takes center stage in a new dual SD Blu-ray (available from Eagle Rock Entertainment). “Woman Of Heart And Mind,” a biographical documentary crammed with interviews and archival material, is paired with the concert film “Painting With Words And Music,” filmed in an intimate setting in Los Angeles in 1998 against a backdrop of her own paintings.

“Afternoon of a Faun,” the tragic story of Tanaquil Le Clercq, sees its national broadcast debut on PBS’ “American Masters” series June 20th. The film by award-winning director Nancy Buirski (which Kino Lorber is releasing on DVD next week) chronicles the career of the ballerina who became a muse to choreographers George Balanchine (whom she married) and Jerome Robbins. Le Clercq was the foremost dancer of her day; she seemingly had it all, until she was paralyzed by polio at the age of 27; she never danced again.

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