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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

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.

Broken Blossoms

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • December 30, 2010 3:07 AM
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  • 7 Comments
Between the ages of 18 and 31, I saw thirty-four films directed by David Wark Griffith, generally acknowledged as the first great American filmmaker, if not the first truly epochal director in the world. As a child I had seen perhaps one or two of his movies when my father took me by the hand to the Museum of Modern Art. But in those years during which I went from enthusiast to student to apprentice to professional, I realized that, as is often said, it was in fact true that between 1908 (thirteen years after the first brief projected films) and 1925—-D.W. Griffith had pretty much done it all: established the entire popular vocabulary of cinema, and elaborated on it brilliantly and with global impact. Then along came Ernst Lubitsch from Europe—-as in: first there was Bach and then there was Mozart. Within six years, Griffith’s career was over. But twelve years before that, for his fourteenth feature—-after literally hundreds of two- or three-reel masterpieces—-he directed, produced, co-wrote and scored one of his most haunting and singular works, among the few cinematic poems ever made, his 1919 tragic romance, BROKEN BLOSSOMS (available on DVD).

Ninotchka

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • December 22, 2010 7:12 AM
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  • 6 Comments
In 1939, MGM released an effervescent, lightly satirical romantic comedy called NINOTCHKA (available on DVD) which ranks well among the enduring delights of American cinema, yet virtually all its makers were heavily accented Europeans: a Swedish superstar, Greta Garbo; a Polish-German director-producer, Ernst Lubitsch; two Viennese scenarists, Billy Wilder and Walter Reisch; a Hungarian story-writer, Melchoir Lengyel; a German composer, Werner Heymann; Prussian, Hungarian and German supporting actors, Felix Bressart, Bela Lugosi, and Sig Ruman. While the picture is about Russian aristocrats and communists (seduced by the Western world) in Paris, it was shot entirely in Culver City, California, and the closest anyone got to Russia was co-star Melvyn Douglas’s father, a Russian-born concert pianist. Among the other above-the-line talent, only Irish-descended supporting actress Ina Claire, and witty, sophisticated co-screenwriter Charles Brackett were born in the U.S.A.

Blake Edwards

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • December 18, 2010 7:29 AM
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  • 17 Comments
“How do you thank someone for a million laughs?” With the passing of Blake Edwards, one of the very last survivors of the golden age of pictures has gone. At 88, he had seen the whole parade: his grandfather was a silent film director, his father was in the business, and Blake started out as an actor in the l940s, eventually turned to screenwriting---quite successfully---and then to directing in the mid-l950s. Over the years, he had an impressive array of popular and superbly made pictures, including Breakfast at Tiffany’s (probably Audrey Hepburn’s most iconic appearance), Operation Petticoat (Cary Grant’s biggest box office hit), 10 (which made Dudley Moore a superstar), S.O.B. (which bared wife Julie Andrews’ breasts and skewered Hollywood mercilessly), Victor/Victoria (a taboo-breaking gender-bending farce that he transferred successfully to Broadway as a musical), and, of course, the glorious Pink Panther series that started in the l960s and ran throughout the l970s (giving Peter Sellers his most devastatingly funny incarnation as the hopelessly bumbling Inspector Clouseau).

The Art of Buster Keaton

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • December 12, 2010 6:32 AM
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  • 14 Comments
Between 1914 and 1928, people laughed longer, louder, and more often than at any other time in history. The reason why is that during those fourteen extremely turbulent years in the world, a group of comic geniuses did things on the movie screen that were more elaborately conceived for comedy, more brilliantly constructed for laughs, and, simply, funnier than anything ever done—-before or since.

JOHN FORD AT THE OBSERVER IN 1999

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • December 7, 2010 3:47 AM
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  • 8 Comments
In 1999, AMC was still honoring its original name and intention by running actual American Movie Classics on their channel---what TCM does now--- and that year they programmed an amazing 35-film retrospective of John Ford’s extraordinary opus. I was living in Manhattan then, doing a weekly column for Peter Kaplan’s The New York Observer (its heyday, in other words), and Peter and I agreed we should do a big spread about the AMC Ford tribute. I would write it and he would use many illustrations and give it a lot of prominence. It was also Kaplan’s idea to include in the illustrations several of my original movie card-file cards themselves. As I’ve written before, I kept a card file of every movie I saw---of whatever length---from January 1952 to December 1970; from when I was 12 and a half to when I was 31 and a half, and had just finished shooting “The Last Picture Show”. I stopped keeping the file because I guess I felt my apprenticeship had definitely come to end.

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