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

Casablanca

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • September 18, 2010 11:44 AM
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  • 10 Comments
There is no more enduring cosmic lucky accident in picture history than the 1943 Warner Bros. classic World War II romantic foreign adventure, Casablanca (available on DVD). “Most of the good things in pictures,” John Ford said, “happened by accident.” When he told me this, rather offhandedly, he was in his seventies and had directed nearly 140 films while I had directed one, and was more than a little surprised by his comment. Ford was Orson Welles’ favorite American director and when I repeated the old man’s remark to Welles, his eyes brightened as he confirmed the statement with an inspired, “Yes!” He paused and then added, excitedly, “You could almost say a director is a man who presides over accidents!” Now, after doing a score of other films, I’ve found that these are two key words-of-wisdom and have amazingly complex layers of meaning, the more pictures you make. Ford, who was always terse in his remarks, even elaborated once: “Sometimes you have good luck on pictures; most of the time you have bad luck.” And luck, ultimately for the Greeks, came from the Fates who, as we know, are either with us or they’re not. When you are making a movie, you feel part of a larger, unstoppable adventure, over which you only have so much control, and the rest is, as Jeff Bridges succinctly puts it: “The hand you get dealt.”

Stage Door

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • September 18, 2010 11:34 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Which picture did Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Lucille Ball, Eve Arden and Ann Miller all appear in together? It was the funny and touching 1937 adaptation of Edna Ferber’s and George S. Kaufman’s Broadway success about a bunch of struggling actresses in a New York women’s boarding club, STAGE DOOR (available on DVD). Directed with a discreet and delicate touch by Gregory LaCava (whose Carole Lombard-William Powell classic, My Man Godfrey, had come out the previous year), this comedy-drama--remember those?--has boundless energy and charm, thanks mainly to his sure hand and the superb ensemble performances he inspires from a once-in-a-lifetime cast. Critics of the period praised the script by veterans Morrie Ryskind and Anthony Veiller as being an improvement on the original play, and although time has somewhat dated a couple of plot points, the overall work still has affecting contemporary relevance and resonance in its look both at women and their place in show business. Seen today, it isn’t surprising the film received four major Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actress for lovely Andrea Leeds, who carries the picture’s most dramatic aspects.

Pickup On South Street

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • September 18, 2010 11:26 AM
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Sam Fuller directed, wrote and produced his pictures in headlines. There was always a kind of tabloid journalistic stylization to his work, mixed with the boldness of a scandal sheet’s lead story, the succinctness of boiling it all down to as few striking words as possible. Fuller became a moviemaker with rich first-hand experiences of life as a copy boy from age 12 for the old New York Journal, by age 17 a crime reporter for the San Diego Sun, and as a soldier in World War II, fighting with the First Infantry Division—“The Big Red One”—throughout North Africa and Europe, awarded the Bronze Star, the Silver Star, and a Purple Heart. By the time Fuller made his first film--with a typical Fuller title: I Shot Jesse James (1949)--he had seen enough true horrors, tragedy, and human comedy to make even the worst picture-crises pale by comparison, and the most outrageous picture-plots seem tame.

History Is Made at Night

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • September 18, 2010 11:08 AM
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  • 3 Comments
One of my favorite movie titles is also, as Andrew Sarris has said, probably the most romantic title in pictures, and names a film directed by an Italian-American from Salt Lake City who is responsible for several of the most intensely affecting love stories ever made: Frank Borzage’s 1937 European triangle tale, HISTORY IS MADE AT NIGHT (available on DVD"> Starring France’s biggest American screen star, Charles Boyer, and Frank Capra’s “favorite actress,” Jean Arthur, the story is set in Paris and on a doomed ocean liner—-inspired by the Titanic calamity. (Surely someone involved with Jim Cameron’s Titanic saw this, because there are certain sub-plot similarities.)

High Sierra

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • August 31, 2010 9:26 AM
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  • 5 Comments
As nearly everyone seems to know, Humphrey Bogart became a romantic star-leading man with the success of Casablanca (1943), in the role first offered to, and rejected by, George Raft, at that moment still a bigger star than Bogart on the Warner Bros. lot. What less people perhaps remember is that Bogart had already become an A-list star with the triumph two years earlier of another movie-role George Raft also turned down first: the over-the-hill modern outlaw Roy Earle in Raoul Walsh’s memorable 1941 gangster tragedy scripted by John Huston and W.R. Burnett, HIGH SIERRA (available on DVD). Among vigorous pioneer Walsh’s most representative and affecting films, it features transfixing, transcendent performances by Bogart and Ida Lupino…

Ball of Fire

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • August 31, 2010 9:24 AM
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Gary Cooper was the archetypal American long before either John Wayne or James Stewart moved into that spot, but he died relatively young fifty years ago and the passionate fervor with which he was adored has been forgotten.  His tall good looks combined with a little-boy innocence was like catnip for women:  the word is that of all Hollywood players, Cooper had the highest score.  His acting style was imitable but not emulatable.  Orson Welles told me he’d stood not more than three feet away from Coop while a close-up of the actor was being made and was convinced that it would have to be re-taken because he could see nothing happening.  When he later saw the dailies, Welles was astonished by the subtle play of expression the camera had caught.  “I swear I could see none of that from three feet away!”  This was Cooper’s mystery, and it made him a born picture-star…

Meet Me in St. Louis

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • August 31, 2010 9:22 AM
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Gene Kelly is often credited as the key man in the birth of the modern movie musical of the late 1940s, but Gene himself said he felt the first modern picture musical was released in 1944, starred Judy Garland as she became a woman, and was directed by her soon-to-be first husband, Vincente Minnelli—only his third picture: That charming Technicolor piece of early 1900s’ Americana (based on the book by Sally Benson), Meet Me in St. Louis (available on DVD).

Love Affair

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • August 31, 2010 9:19 AM
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  • 0 Comments
The movie that inspired the popular Sleepless in Seattle (1993), director-producer Leo McCarey’s An Affair to Remember (1957) with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, was actually the remake of a picture McCarey had conceived and directed nineteen years before with the suave French star Charles Boyer and the elegantly delightful Irene Dunne: A picture McCarey preferred to his second version, and one of the most affecting romantic comedy-dramas ever made, 1939’s now very rarely seen LOVE AFFAIR (available on DVD).

A Woman Under the Influence

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • August 31, 2010 9:15 AM
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In the history of America’s modern independent film, Orson Welles was first—-with his self-financed 1952 production of Othello—-and next, eight years later, came John Cassavetes with his self-financed Shadows.  Like Welles, Cassavetes used his acting salaries (mainly from indifferent films or TV shows) to pay for his directing-writing career, and to keep himself free and his pictures made without interference or compromise.  To protect the work, he even self-distributed two of the most successful of independent films:  his first mature masterpiece, Faces (1968), and A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE (available on DVD), perhaps his finest film, Oscar-nominated for Best Director and Best Actress—-the sublime Gena Rowlands, Cassavetes’ favorite player, and wife of over three decades.  Recently, the picture was correctly designated a “National Treasure” by the Library of Congress.

Publications

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • August 24, 2010 8:43 AM
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