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

Five Easy Pieces

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • November 14, 2010 4:01 AM
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  • 4 Comments
Heralding the explosion of the New Hollywood—-half a decade after the conclusive fall of the old studio system—-were three successful, independent, small-budget, personal films of a kind not seen before in American pictures: In 1968, John Cassavetes’ brilliant Faces, shot in his own house and backyard in grainy black-and-white with explosively real and honest performances; in 1969, the Peter Fonda-Dennis Hopper counter-culture triumph, Easy Rider, which first set up Jack Nicholson, and which became an enduring pop-culture icon; and in 1970, the movie that not only assured Nicholson’s ascendance to major stardom but made him an emblem of his generation, directed by one of the producers of Easy Rider: Bob Rafelson’s disturbing and memorable, peculiarly American tragedy, FIVE EASY PIECES (available on DVD).

M

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • November 7, 2010 4:25 AM
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  • 4 Comments
The film with the shortest title in movie history is also among the most powerful ever seen: Fritz Lang’s devastating 1931 German-made thriller about a psychopathic child-murderer played with extraordinarily feverish intensity by Peter Lorre: M (available on DVD), the single letter standing for “murderer.” Released during only the third year of full sound, the picture has in common with certain others of this early talking period (1929-1933) a profoundly exciting use of silent-picture technique at its best combined with innovative and remarkably imaginative use of sound. Such masters of visual story-telling as Lang, Ernst Lubitsch, Rene Clair and Howard Hawks, made the transition with a flair and abandon not really to be seen quite so vividly again. In very different ways, pictures like Lubitsch’s The Smiling Lieutenant, Clair’s A Nous La Liberté, Hawks’ original Scarface, and M share an unconventional spirit of daring experimentation.

Moguls and Movie Stars

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • November 2, 2010 3:48 AM
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  • 8 Comments
TCM’s 7-hour documentary, Moguls and Movie Stars, which began running today, is a sincere, engrossing and generally very well executed history of Hollywood, focused largely on the business side---the moguls and the studios---rather than the movie stars and directors. It is rich in facts and details about the beginnings of the movies, going from the primitive early work of the Lumiere brothers and Edison, and running with equal interest all the way through the rise and fall of the studio system. Christopher Plummer narrates with warm authority, and the whole endeavor is certainly worth the effort to see all seven hours. Of course, another seven hours---or twice that--- could valuably be spent documenting the artistic history of Hollywood, and perhaps TCM has such plans up its sleeve. One way or the other, what they do over at Turner Classic Movies is essential to the health of moving picture history, virtually the lone TV voice in the wilderness of film culture in our country, which has contributed so enormously, so memorably to this precious medium. (Complete disclosure: I am one of the vast number of people interviewed for this epic documentary.)

Psycho

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • October 31, 2010 3:15 AM
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  • 11 Comments
In June, 1960, when Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (available on DVD) first opened in New York, neither the public nor the press had any idea what it was about. Contrary to all accepted policy, there were no advance screenings, and no synopsis or story outline was supplied to critics or reporters. The very first time the media saw the movie was the same morning the public did—-the 10:00 a.m. running at the (now long gone) DeMille Theater at 47th Street and Broadway. One thousand eager paying customers filled the downstairs, and five hundred members of the press were in the balcony—-myself included. It was the single most memorable performance of a film I’ve ever attended. Not the most pleasant one.

The Band Wagon

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • October 24, 2010 6:39 AM
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  • 5 Comments
Of all the many musicals Fred Astaire was in, the very best for my money is one of his last; he appeared in only four others afterward. And it’s among the most delightful, witty and charming in the genre’s history---Vincente Minnelli’s comic 1953 ode to show biz, THE BAND WAGON (available on DVD). The title is a tip of the hat to one of Astaire’s first successes, the 1931 Broadway show he did with his sister Adele; but only the name was borrowed since the movie is a totally new creation conceived and written by that hip and unpretentious, brilliantly inventive team of musical comedy wizards, Betty Comden and Adolph Green (Singin’ in the Rain, On the Town, Bells Are Ringing, etc.).

They Were Expendable

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • October 17, 2010 4:22 AM
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  • 13 Comments
Most war films are, ultimately, about winning. In 1945, however, as World War II was ending, John Ford made probably the finest U.S. war picture, about one of America’s greatest defeats—-in the Philippines—-the title of which alone is devastating in its implications: THEY WERE EXPENDABLE (available on DVD). Ford, who had entered the Navy in 1941, at age 47, was closely involved in numerous missions and operations all through the War, serving with the O.S.S. (forerunner of the C.I.A.) and making several war documentaries, including this country’s first one, The Battle of Midway (1942), which mostly he himself shot hand-held and during which he was wounded. It received the Oscar as Best Documentary, as did another that Ford supervised, December 7th (1943). Although he rarely spoke of his war experiences, records recently have come to light that he also was there on D-Day, and shot some of the most significant color footage in various campaigns. Certainly his intimate involvement with all aspects of that terrible conflict is apparent in his sensitively unadorned, elegiac handling of They Were Expendable. “What was in my mind,” Ford told me once, “was doing it exactly as it had happened.”

Frank Sinatra in Concert (At Royal Festival Hall)

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • October 10, 2010 5:59 AM
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  • 7 Comments
In 1971, at age 55, Frank Sinatra announced his retirement from show business, though of course he returned two years later and then barely quit till his death. The aborted retirement, however, neatly marks the close of Sinatra’s extraordinary Act II: Following his twin 1953 comebacks, in From Here to Eternity , and on his epoch-making first Capitol album, Swing Easy , Sinatra became the first modern superstar. For the next fifteen years, he made every year at the very least one album and one film—-once, as many as five films, and once, seven albums. Then in 1969, three albums but no film; 1970, one disastrous movie (Dirty Dingus Magee), and one often affecting but split-focused album (Sinatra and Company). Within a year, Sinatra announces retirement, being no fool: He certainly knew by then that an exit must precede a new entrance, that there’s a curtain after every act. For Sinatra fans (and who isn’t?), there’s a DVD available of a rare 1970 concert, right around the release of that Sinatra and Company album---FRANK SINATRA IN CONCERT AT ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL---and it is pure gold in assaying just exactly how much Sinatra knew and where he was as both performer and person as his superstar period came to an end.

Autumn Sonata

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • October 3, 2010 2:46 AM
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  • 3 Comments
In 1976, two years before his 60th birthday, Ingmar Bergman was rehearsing a play at the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm when two plainclothes policemen arrested and booked him for income-tax fraud. Although the charges were false and eventually dropped, this terribly humiliating experience caused the internationally acclaimed Swedish filmmaker to suffer a nervous breakdown and a deep depression. He vowed never to work again in his native country, and began a self-imposed exile during which he made two films (before finally relenting and returning to Sweden): The Serpent’s Egg, an English-language picture shot in Munich, and the British-Norwegian co-production, shot in Norway, AUTUMN SONATA (available on DVD).

Stagecoach

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • September 26, 2010 4:22 AM
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  • 10 Comments
In mid-1968, I was out at John Wayne’s home in Newport Beach, California, preparing a filmed interview with Wayne for a documentary which the American Film Institute had asked me to make on John Ford. As the Duke was walking me back to my car, he took a shortcut, leading me through the sizeable garage. Entering, I was greeted by a virtual sea of 35mm motion picture canisters—-large, octagonal specially-built metal cases to hold the heavy 2000-foot reels of film—-two or three reels per canister; this is how movies have always been shipped and stored. Suddenly, here before me, were 35mm prints of an awful lot of John Wayne movies: mostly brand-new-looking cases, boldly marked “RED RIVER,” “THE QUIET MAN,” “SANDS OF IWO JIMA,” “RIO BRAVO,” “SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON,” etc.

The Heartbreak Kid

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • September 18, 2010 11:56 AM
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  • 6 Comments
I have a certain nostalgic fondness for the original 1972 Elaine May-Neil Simon comedy, THE HEARTBREAK KID (available on DVD), which goes beyond the darkly hilarious film itself, because at the time of its making and release I was living with one of the stars, Cybill Shepherd. This warm feeling only increased with the publication of Cybill’s memoirs (Cybill Disobedience), in which there are numerous revelations—-to me, too—-about her various doings during our nine-year relationship (and, of course, before and after). It turns out that on The Heartbreak Kid, there were no extracurricular encounters, though things might have gone a bit differently if Cybill hadn’t reacted so disbelievingly when Charles Grodin told her in a bed scene not to touch his hair because it was “a rug.” (Some years later, there was a delayed reaction of sorts when the two shared a one-night stand, Cybill tells in her book, the single night only because she found Chuck was then going with someone else.)

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