Best Boy

Wohl, Ira

Primary Category: Performing Arts / Film, TV, Video

Genre: Film

Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin
  • Date of entry: Oct-29-1996


This 1979 Academy Award winning documentary takes us into the lives of the Wohl family. Featured in this film are Philip ("Philly") Wohl, retarded since birth and now in his early 50's, and the family members who care for him: his sister, Frances, and parents, Max and Pearl. The film-maker is Philip's cousin, Ira Wohl, who provides the narrative structure for the film and was moved to document the struggle of aging parents to care for their aging and homebound son.

Ira Wohl's goal was to convince Philly's family that Philly needed to become a part of the community by moving to a group home before his parents became incapable of caring for him. In fact, during the three years of filming Max dies. And eight months after the filming and Philly's successful move to a group home, Pearl dies.


Bernard Malamud's story, Idiots First (see this database) details a similar struggle and would work well as an accompanying literary piece. Zero Mostel makes a cameo appearance in the film.


A number of the college/university libraries in the centralized Ohio catalog/distribution system had the film. I would believe it to be fairly well distributed to public libraries as well.

Primary Source

Ifex Films