Best Boy (film)

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Best Boy
Directed byIra Wohl
Written byIra Wohl
CinematographyTom McDonough
Distributed byInternational Film Exchange
Release date
1979 (1979)
Running time
110 minutes
CountryUnited States

Best Boy is a 1979 documentary made by Ira Wohl.[1] The film received critical acclaim, and won many awards including the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 1979.[2]

The film follows Ira's mentally handicapped cousin, Philly Wohl, who at that time was 52 years old and still living with his elderly parents. Ira forces his aunt and uncle to realize that they will not be around to care for Philly forever, and that they must start making preparations for when that time should come. Philly then begins to attend classes in New York City to learn how to take care of himself and become independent.

Philly's father, Max Wohl, dies during the course of the film, his mother, Pearl, died in 1980. Philly is now an octogenarian, and he lives in a group home where he has learned to basically take care of himself. Zero Mostel died in 1977 and the film was dedicated to his memory.

Best Boy premiered at the 1979 Toronto International Film Festival, where it was one of just two documentary films (alongside Michael Moore's Roger & Me in 1989) ever to win the festival's People's Choice Award before a separate People's Choice Award was instituted for the festival's documentary stream.[3]

A sequel entitled Best Man: 'Best Boy' and All of Us, 20 Years Later, was produced in 1997.[4] Following the sequel, Wohl released Best Sister in 2006, which rounded off the trilogy by looking at the effect Philly's sister had on his current life.[5]


  1. ^ "The Compassionate Man Behind 'Best Boy'; Ira Wohl of 'Best Boy'". The New York Times, March 16, 1980.
  2. ^ "NY Times: Best Boy". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-11-16.
  3. ^ "TIFF 2015: 40 facts for the fest's 40th year". Toronto Sun, August 16, 2015.
  4. ^ "The Documentary As Family Memoir: A Surprise Sequel". The New York Times, January 11, 1998.
  5. ^ "Ira Wohl To Screen His Academy Award-winning Film “Best Boy” May 17th At The CoSA Theater". Coronado Eagle and Journal, April 27, 2015.

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