peterbogdanovich Peter Bogdanovich
Blogdanovich is the blog of director, producer, writer, actor, film critic, and author Peter Bogdanovich. He has directed over 25 feature films including international award winners The Last Picture Show, What’s Up, Doc?, Paper Moon, Daisy Miller, Saint Jack, Mask; cult favorites Targets, Texasville, Noises Off, They All Laughed, and A The Thing Called Love, among stars he’s introduced: Cybill Shepherd, Tatum O’Neal, Madeline Kahn, John Ritter, Sandra Bullock; has directed stars Audrey Hepburn, Barbra Streisand, Michael Caine, Cher; best-sellers Who the Devil Made It: Who the Hell's In It, The Killing of the Unicorn; standard texts John Ford, This is Orson Welles; and was a recurring guest-star on the popular HBO series The Sopranos.

Peter Bogdanovich

Madigan

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • March 14, 2011 3:58 AM
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  • 5 Comments
A rough but effective sketch for the Clint Eastwood-Don Siegel Dirty Harry can be found in the Richard Widmark-Don Siegel police-detective picture made three years earlier, which Siegel had wanted to title Friday, Saturday and Sunday, after the three days the story plays in, but which was released in 1968 as Madigan, the last name of Widmark’s character (available on DVD). This was especially irritating to Siegel since the Academy Award winner for best foreign film just the year before had been the popular Elvira Madigan. But Hollywood producers and studio executives in those days, of course, gave even less of a thought to foreign films than they do today. In fact, Madigan is an excellent example of a late ‘60s major studio picture—-Universal being the last to have contract players—-behind which there is some personal and subversive writing and, especially, direction. It is a movie with serious intentions compromised by “front office” interference, disguised to look bland, yet filled with disturbing reverberations, all supplied by occasionally good dialog, generally fine acting and terrific mise en scene.

ALPHAVILLE

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • March 9, 2011 4:19 AM
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  • 9 Comments
“Sometimes reality is too complex for oral communication,” says the gurgling, gravelly-sounding computer voice at the start of Jean-Luc Godard’s 1965 iconoclastic science-fiction detective picture, Alphaville (available on DVD). “But,” the voice continues, “legend enhances it in a form which enables it to spread all over the world.” Film, of course, is a modern form of legend, so Godard sets his course pretty clearly at the outset. After that, you’re on your own.

Father of the Bride

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • March 2, 2011 11:52 AM
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  • 10 Comments
One of the most difficult things to pull off in a movie is having a character talk directly to the audience, looking into the camera lens as they do. The suspension of disbelief for the rest of the film is heavily imperiled by so blatantly breaking the fourth wall and including us, the usually unacknowledged watchers. Whereas the device has widespread and easy currency in the theatre—-from the Greek’s Chorus to the Elizabethan’s, from Feydeau’s farcical asides to Thornton Wilder’s Stage Manager in Our Town—-the movies being a far more realistic medium, I can only think of four instances when this has worked with complete success: In the very first musical comedy, Ernst Lubitsch’s The Love Parade (1929), Maurice Chevalier brilliantly, wittily, aristocratically, made the audience complicitous with his romantic indiscretions and self-justifications—-repeated similarly in the Lubitsch-Chevalier One Hour With You (1932). Michael Caine managed smoothly to make his misogynist working-class anti-hero, Alfie (1966), equally effective in his confidences to the audience. And then there’s Spencer Tracy as the amusingly long-suffering title character in Vincente Minnelli’s delightful and human 1950 comedy of the middle-class, Father of the Bride (available on DVD).

THE SHORTEST LONG WESTERN: RIO BRAVO

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • February 21, 2011 8:40 AM
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  • 11 Comments
Supposedly, when Quentin Tarantino was dating he used to run his own 35mm print

The Golden Age of American Talkies: 1931

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • February 18, 2011 3:32 AM
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  • 10 Comments
The Smiling Lieutenant (Ernst Lubitsch)City Lights (Charlie Chaplin)Tabu (F.W. Murnau & Robert Flaherty)Street Scene (King Vidor)Dishonored (Josef von Sternberg)The Champ (King Vidor)The Struggle (D.W. Griffith)The Criminal Code (Howard Hawks)Arrowsmith (John Ford)An American Tragedy (Josef von Sternberg)The Skin Game (Alfred Hitchcock)Private Lives (Sidney Franklin)Wicked (Allan Dwan)Bad Girl (Frank Borzage)Chances (Allan Dwan)The Miracle Woman (Frank Capra)Girls About Town (George Cukor)Frankenstein (James Whale)The Public Enemy (William Wellman)Seas Beneath (John Ford)The Yellow Ticket (Raoul Walsh)Tarnished Lady (George Cukor)The Guardsman (Sidney Franklin)Dirigible (Frank Capra)The Squaw Man (Cecil B. DeMille)The Brat (John Ford)Doctors’ Wives (Frank Borzage)

Dinner at Eight

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • February 10, 2011 10:34 AM
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  • 5 Comments
Besides Alfred Hitchcock, the other important director of American films whose centenary arrived in the final year of the 20th Century was George Cukor, and during the first year (of several) in which he got nominated for a directing Oscar (for Katharine Hepburn’s Little Women), he also did a remarkable all-star movie that could nearly stand as a time capsule for the state of popular U.S. cinema circa 1933: DINNER AT EIGHT (available on DVD). The nation’s number one box office attraction, for the fourth consecutive year, was the pug-faced, rotund and aging character actress Marie Dressler, here in her penultimate film. She would be dead from cancer within a year, and this was her last brilliantly personable performance, though not a typical role since she usually played working-class types rather than society women.

1928: The Last and Greatest Year of the Original Motion Picture Art, B.S. (Before Sound)

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • January 30, 2011 8:39 AM
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  • 12 Comments
People have been saying that the greatest year for American movies was 1939 (of Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz fame) ever since Life magazine published a big piece proclaiming this opinion with all the passion of fact. Coincidentally, in August 1972, a few months before the Life article appeared, Esquire ran a “Hollywood” column of mine on the abundant film glories of 1939 (Ninotchka, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Only Angels Have Wings, Love Affair, Young Mr. Lincoln, Stagecoach, etc.). But the hook for my piece had been that opinions change with the years, and that only time can produce really accurate judgments; I picked 1939 as an example simply because several of my illustrious filmmaking contemporaries and I were all born that year.

The Southerner

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • January 18, 2011 4:02 AM
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  • 9 Comments
Orson Welles and I were talking one time about the relative merits of John Ford and Howard Hawks at their best, and finally Welles summed it up: “Hawks is great prose; Ford is poetry.” There haven’t really been very many poets in pictures, but the one pretty much everybody agrees about now is the Frenchman Jean Renoir. He was also Orson’s favorite director--as he is mine--and Ford was so impressed by Renoir’s Grand Illusion (l937) that he wanted to remake it in English. Luckily, studio-head Darryl Zanuck told him to forget it; he would “just fuck it up.”

The Clock

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • January 11, 2011 9:46 AM
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  • 4 Comments
Judy Garland’s first non-musical role as an adult was in the second picture in a row directed by Vincente Minnelli (after their popular turn-of-the-century color musical Meet Me in St. Louis), and was released the same year he became her second husband, about twelve months before their daughter Liza Minnelli was born. Co-starring one of the 1940s most likeable, charming juvenile-leads, Robert Walker, as a World War II army corporal on 48-hour leave in New York City, the now little-known black-and-white film is a truly delightful, touching love story—-1945’s somewhat fable-like THE CLOCK (available on DVD).

Kiss Me Deadly

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • January 6, 2011 4:46 AM
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  • 12 Comments
Talk about the tension between a director and his material—which was one of the critical cornerstones of the French New Wave’s reassessment of American movies—-and they were the first to point out this frisson in the work of iconoclastic director-producer Robert Aldrich; perhaps most noticeably in his aggressive independent film, the dark and dangerous 1955 thriller, KISS ME DEADLY (available on DVD). Aldrich hated detective-fiction writer Mickey Spillane’s novels so much that he took one of the author’s most popular and typical Mike Hammer private-eye stories and transformed it into not only the best picture ever made from Spillane (which isn’t saying much) but a savagely angry film noir classic of annihilating dimension—-literally: At the end, everybody, including Hammer, gets blown away in a dusk-lit Malibu beach house by no less than a nuclear blast. What then happened to L.A. is left to the imagination.

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