Johnny Carson: King of Late Night

Watch Johnny Carson: King of Late Night

  • 2012
  • 1 hr 55 min

Johnny Carson was one of the most popular television personalities in the United States during his run on The Tonight Show, where he entertained audiences for over 30 years. The documentary film, Johnny Carson: King of Late Night, takes a look into Carson's life and career, featuring interviews with his colleagues, friends, and family members. The film, directed by Peter Jones, seeks to discover the secrets behind Carson's success, exploring his significance in American entertainment history.

The narrative of the film is guided by Kevin Spacey, who portrays Carson in a series of vignettes. Spacey provides an uncanny impression of Carson that is both impressive and fitting as the main voice of the movie. These reenactment pieces give the viewers a glimpse of Carson in his crucial role as a talk show host and a man of the people. Throughout these segments, various interviews intercut, including Carson's friends and family, fellow talk show hosts, and celebrities that graced Carson's show.

One of the most memorable segments of the movie features Muhammad Ali. Ali was a frequent guest on The Tonight Show, and he and Carson developed a close friendship over the years. In the film, Ali describes how he practiced his stand-up comedy routine on Carson's show, which gave him the confidence he needed to stand up in front of a live audience. The documentary shows Ali's interviews and appearances on the show, including one where he recites poetry with Carson, demonstrating their deep connection both on and off-screen.

Another standout moment is Steve Allen's segments, where he describes the format of the show and how it evolved under Carson's leadership. Allen was the original host of The Tonight Show, and Carson was his replacement in 1962. Allen's commentary on Carson's impact on the show is a testament to the great legacy he left behind.

The film also delves into Carson's personal life, including his three marriages and relationships with his children. Through interviews with Carson's sons, the audience gets to see a side of Carson that was not always visible to his viewers. The movie pulls together several interviews with his family members to give a complete picture of Carson as a person rather than just a celebrity.

The film shows how Carson used his platform for humor and entertainment, but also as an opportunity to address social issues. The film devotes a section to Carson's political satire and interviews with political commentators such as Bill Clinton and Jay Leno to discuss Carson's impact on political discourse.

Overall, Johnny Carson: King of Late Night is a comprehensive look at Carson's remarkable career and legacy. The film provides an intimate portrait of the man that many viewers knew only through his public persona. The documentary is a fitting tribute to Carson's unparalleled contribution to the entertainment industry in America. The film may be of particular interest to those that lived through Carson’s era or young people interested in the history of American talk shows.

Johnny Carson: King of Late Night
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  • Release Date
  • Runtime
    1 hr 55 min