Picks and Pans Review: Off the Menu: the Last Days of Chasen's

updated 09/07/1998 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/07/1998 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Cinemax (Wed., Sept. 9, 11:30 p.m.)

"I felt that dozens of red carpets had been pulled out from under me," King Kong star Fay Wray says in this easy-to-like documentary, describing her reaction to the news that Chasen's Hollywood restaurant was closing in 1995 after almost 60 years. Chasen's, after all, was the place where Jimmy Stewart had his bachelor party, where Ronald Reagan (so the story goes) proposed to Nancy Davis. In its heyday, producer A.C. Lyles says here, "every night was like a premiere night." So what if the home of the Hobo Steak was past its prime? Shuttering it to make way for a shopping mall was simply uncivilized. As the 90-minute film chronicles the restaurant's final days, when a burst of nostalgia brought a boom in business, celebrities and unsung staffers alike mourn the passing of an institution that proudly maintained the highest levels of service and cholesterol. Our only reservation is that the anecdotes and laments run on and on.

Bottom Line: Tastes great, too filling

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