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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

Design for Living (1933)

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • July 7, 2013 12:35 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Ernst Lubitsch's movie version of Noel Coward's hit stage comedy has always had a certain stigma attached to it, because Lubitsch and the ace writer, Ben Hecht, had had the temerity to use only one single line from the play and to totally alter the construction of the piece. They kept the basic premise---two men and one woman carry on an extended menage a trois---and several plot points, but otherwise they basically re-envisioned the entire story, even changing the names of the characters.

Easter Parade

  • April 6, 2012 12:30 PM
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If you want to see an Easter-related picture, you don’t have much choice: The monopoly is held by the 1948 Fred Astaire-Judy Garland-Irving Berlin charmer, EASTER PARADE (available on DVD).  The movie was conceived, written and prepared by MGM’s Arthur Freed musical unit to star Gene Kelly, but shortly before shooting was to begin, Kelly badly twisted his ankle.  Two years earlier, Astaire—after a string of box-office disappointments, and with Kelly clearly in ascendance—had announced his retirement.  Now, though, MGM asked Fred to come back and replace Gene.  He did, the picture was a smash, and Astaire had another decade of starring roles.

The Crowd Roars

  • March 31, 2012 12:16 PM
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When he was sixteen, and until he was about twenty-one, Howard Hawks helped build racing cars and drove them to earn a living, getting to know the sort of men drawn to this highly dangerous profession as well as the women attracted to them.  He used all these first-hand experiences to create his fourth sound film—-made right after he had directed the original Scarface—-the now little-known, rarely-seen but fast-paced, exciting, quite typically Hawksian 1932 racing drama starring a young James Cagney in only his ninth picture (in less than three years), THE CROWD ROARS (still not available for home viewing, which is a shame Warner Bros. Video or their TCM arm hopefully will soon remedy; and not to be confused with the 1938 Robert Taylor boxing picture of the same title.)

Rebecca

  • March 24, 2012 12:04 PM
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Alfred Hitchcock’s first American film was originally going to be about the sinking of the Titanic. When he arrived at the Port of New York in 1939, the producer David O. Selznick (who had signed the Englishman to a long-term contract) met him and immediately spirited Hitch off to the Brooklyn Navy Yard to see the ocean liner Selznick had bought to portray the doomed ship. Hitchcock told me that Selznick had said, “There you are, Hitch, make the most of it!” And, the director went on, he had thought to himself: “Let’s see now... ‘Make the most of it, make the most of it...’ I’ve got it! We’ll start on a close-up of a rivet, and pull back!”

Sullivan's Travels

  • March 3, 2012 3:51 PM
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In 1941, the same extraordinary vintage year that saw the release of Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane, John Ford’s How Green Was My Valley, Howard Hawks’ Sergeant York and Ball of Fire, John Huston’s first film, The Maltese Falcon, Alfred Hitchcock’s Suspicion, Raoul Walsh’s High Sierra and The Strawberry Blonde, among other memorable films, came the third and fourth brilliant comedies in a row from America’s first writer-director of the sound era, the incomparable Preston Sturges.  Early that year, there was Sturges’ scintillating romantic farce with Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck, The Lady Eve; and right at the end, an utterly unique achievement—light, even slapstick, comedy that veers into heavy drama—about a pampered hit-making Hollywood movie director who decides to find out what life is really like out there and does, with a fateful vengeance in Sullivan’s Travels (available on DVD).

Red River & My Darling Clementine

  • February 10, 2012 6:16 PM
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In 1960, when author, producer, distributor and exhibitor Daniel Talbot opened the now-legendary (and long gone) New Yorker Theater on upper Broadway, his novel idea was to program predominantly American films.  No one then was doing that in revival houses, which almost exclusively ran foreign films.  The policy at the New Yorker, I think, influenced the drift of American movies, helping to bring to the U.S. the movement of the French New Wave towards classic Hollywood.

The Big Sleep

  • February 3, 2012 2:20 PM
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The two Humphrey Bogart movies that are quintessentially Bogart—in which that line between a star actor’s screen persona and a specific character he’s playing is most thoroughly and effectively erased so that these become indistinguishably one—were directed and produced back-to-back by Howard Hawks. Both co-star Lauren Bacall at her freshest and most defining (her first and third films) and both have screenplays worked on by William Faulkner, one based (rather vaguely) on Ernest Hemingway, the other (rather strongly) on Raymond Chandler.  The first was 1944’s dramatic World War II espionage romance, To Have and Have Not, and the second starred Bogie as the definitive Chandler private eye, Philip Marlowe, in 1946’s mesmerizingly entertaining The Big Sleep (available on DVD).

A Double Life & The Actress

  • January 27, 2012 11:59 AM
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Since New York City-born (1899-1983) George Cukor’s first love was the theatre—-he was smitten quite young, right from his initial exposure to a Broadway show, and decided he would be a stage director long before he knew exactly what the job entailed—-it isn’t surprising that at least ten of his movies deal with show-business people, specifically actors; pictures like the Judy Garland version of A Star is Born (1954), or the Cole Porter-Gene Kelly musical, Les Girls (1957), or the oddball Sophia Loren western, Heller in Pink Tights (1960).  Two of his best in this category are 1953’s The Actress (available on DVD), an utterly charming, poignant period comedy based on Ruth Gordon’s autobiographical play (Years Ago) about her stage aspirations and her father’s disapproval, starring Spencer Tracy, Jean Simmons, Teresa Wright, and introducing Anthony Perkins; and the dark psychological drama of an actor’s obsession, 1948’s A Double Life (available on DVD) starring Ronald Colman, Signe Hasso, Edmond O’Brien, and introducing Shelley Winters.

Sands of Iwo Jima

  • January 19, 2012 2:33 PM
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One of Billy Wilder’s first jobs in the German film business, he told me once, was an assignment in the mid-1920s to show around Berlin a famous and respected American film director and his beautiful former-showgirl wife. Allan Dwan at that time was considered one of the best of the Hollywood picture-making pioneers, an all-around professional who could handle comedy as easily as he could handle drama, who had a good touch with pathos and a fine understanding of human nature, who was superstar Gloria Swanson’s favorite director, as well as the legendary Douglas Fairbanks’s favorite too. Indeed, Dwan had directed Fairbanks in Robin Hood (1921), which was the first movie ever to cost a million dollars. In later years, he would become Shirley Temple’s favorite director as well.

The Lost Films of Laurel and Hardy

  • January 13, 2012 7:48 PM
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The most popular and successful comedy team in entertainment history was Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, the timid thin one and the bossy fat one, who made an unbroken string of shorts (20 minutes each, as many as 13 a year) from 1927 to 1935, and features (averaging two annually) from 1930 to 1945.  Since they began so near the 1929 arrival of full sound, and moved into talkies more smoothly than practically any other stars, comic or otherwise, it is often forgotten that they began in silents.  Indeed, purists have always maintained that the best of Laurel and Hardy were their silent two-reelers—-all made in the first two years of the team’s existence—-and that the level of hilarity they achieved without dialog was never matched in the talking era, even though their voices perfectly suited the pantomimed personas they had so brilliantly established.  These rare silent comedy classics have been collected in ten DVD compilations under the umbrella title, The Lost Films of Laurel and Hardy (confusingly made available originally by Image Entertainment under volume numbers 1-10; check through Amazon.com).

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