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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

The Grapes of Wrath

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • August 31, 2011 3:25 AM
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  • 8 Comments
In 1995, when Bruce Springsteen recorded the title song for his moody, introspective album, The Ghost of Tom Joad, he was not only thinking about the leading character of a famous John Steinbeck novel concerning the Depression plight of displaced Okies, but also of Henry Fonda’s unforgettable portrayal of this role in the celebrated 1940 John Ford film version of THE GRAPES OF WRATH (available on DVD). Bruce was wondering what exactly had become of Tom Joad’s ghost, the spirit of that archetypal American idealist who told his mother just before he left the family for good: “...Wherever there’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there... Wherever there’s a fight so that hungry people can eat, I’ll be there...” Springsteen was lamenting the apparent loss of that special nature which galvanized us, took us to victory in the Second World War--that crusading indignation and anger at injustice. Indeed, it’s difficult to watch The Grapes of Wrath today without a heartsick feeling of nostalgia for the Roosevelt years that seemed to inspire such sentiments.

The Trial

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • August 24, 2011 12:06 PM
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  • 12 Comments
Toward the end of 1968, when I first met Orson Welles, he was so remarkably disarming that I had the nerve to tell him the one film of his I didn’t really like (at that time) was his 1962 adaptation of Franz Kafka’s famous, surrealistically inclined novel, THE TRIAL (available on DVD). And to please me (I would eventually find out), he pretended to agree, but within a year or so, he came closer to the truth: “It’s very personal for me...much closer to my own feelings about everything than any other picture...”

La Boheme

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • August 17, 2011 6:40 AM
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  • 10 Comments
If Audrey Hepburn was the last virgin goddess of American films, Lillian Gish was the first. Often referred to at the time as "The First Lady of the Silent Screen," she was indeed movies' first truly great actress. From her debut at age 19 in founding father D.W. Griffith's two-reel An Unseen Enemy (1912) in what I calculate as the initial year of film's golden age (plus 25 other Griffith films in less than 24 months), to her final starring masterpiece, at age 35, in Victor Sjostrom's The Wind (1928), Lillian Gish was the central player in many of the enduring treasures of cinema's earliest flowering, that essential cornerstone of the art in its purest form. She is the key figure in most of Griffith's major work, from The Birth of a Nation (1915) and Broken Blossoms (1919) to Way Down East (1920) and Orphans of the Storm (1922), not to mention such beautiful lesser-known gems as Hearts of the World (1918) and True Heart Susie (1919).

The Searchers

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • August 10, 2011 6:39 AM
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  • 20 Comments
Even if you don’t like Westerns, there are at least four or five that must be seen by any civilized person, and since John Ford indisputably made the finest of them all in that most profoundly American genre, one of his would have to be at the top. Which to choose of the 20-odd Western features surviving from the approximately 60 he made between 1917 and 1964, when he directed his last of them? My Darling Clementine (1946)? Fort Apache (1947)? Rio Grande (1950)? The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)? Well, certainly high among the contenders for the crown would be Mr. Ford’s deeply ambiguous, disturbing post-Civil War domestic tragedy set in Texas during the Indian Wars of the late 1860’s, filmed in Technicolor and VistaVision less than a hundred years later, in 1956, starring America’s most enduringly popular Western star, John Wayne, and based on Alan LeMay’s excellent novel, THE SEARCHERS (available on DVD).

The Window

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • August 3, 2011 8:11 AM
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  • 5 Comments
The lives of most child stars unfortunately do not have happy endings. Why so many of them have to endure hell in later life has a lot to do with our ever more disposable society, the nature of American movie fame, and each individual family taking such risks with their children.

Winchester '73

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • July 27, 2011 7:38 AM
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  • 3 Comments
In 1950, the sizeable success of a modestly budgeted Western drama had an enormous impact on the future of the American film industry, one still felt today. The movie also marked the beginning of an extremely fruitful relationship between its star and its director and, for good measure, was—-and remains—-among the first and best of the genre’s darkening trend, a kind of noir western with complex and ambiguous reverberations. Since its subject, in essence, is the uniquely American obsession with firearms—-in this case, a highly prized rifle-—the picture obviously, tragically, retains a contemporary significance, an ominous quality perhaps not nearly as resonant, nor as grimly intended, on its initial release. But if one of the key uses of art is to illuminate, this work continues to serve its purpose. I’m talking about James Stewart’s first post-war Western, directed by the estimable Anthony Mann, and named after the weapon which is coveted by everybody throughout the story, WINCHESTER ’73 (available on DVD).

The 39 Steps

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • July 20, 2011 3:25 AM
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  • 10 Comments
It now seems more inconceivable than ever to realize that for over three decades Alfred Hitchcock’s English period (1926-39) was valued by film critics and historians far above his American (1940-76). Throughout the 1940s,‘50s and much of the ‘60s—-while Hitch turned out such superb and challenging work as Shadow of A Doubt, Notorious, Strangers on A Train, Rear Window, Vertigo, and North by Northwest, to name only a few of the highlights—-these were denigrated and the early British movies were held up as the great pinnacle of achievement from which he had fallen. Supposedly, The Lodger, Blackmail, the first Man Who Knew Too Much, The 39 Steps, and The Lady Vanishes, among others, were the vintage Hitchcock, and the newer stuff merely commercial Hollywood sellout.

Camille

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • July 13, 2011 8:41 AM
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  • 3 Comments
One time Orson Welles was waxing eloquent to me on the subject of the divine Greta Garbo, whose mystery and magical artistry he adored. Of course I agreed but, I said (still being a bit pedantic), wasn’t it too bad that, of all her more than two dozen silent and sound films, she had acted in only two really great pictures. Welles looked at me for a long moment, then said quietly, “You only need one...”

City Lights

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • July 6, 2011 10:50 AM
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  • 11 Comments
Charlie Chaplin’s fifth feature-length film (after scores of shorts), CITY LIGHTS (available on DVD) was released early in 1931, the third full year of all-talking pictures and though it had numerous sound effects, a synchronized score, several sound jokes including some sardonically squeaky babble at the beginning, it is a silent movie, the last one made. Everybody had warned Chaplin that this was a terrible risk, since while he was shooting it over a period of nearly three years, the craze for sound films had exploded and entirely transformed the picture medium.

The 400 Blows

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • June 29, 2011 10:56 AM
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  • 5 Comments
One could date the start of the American independent film movement with the release in France in 1959 of a picture that heralded the beginning of the French New Wave: François Truffaut’s first feature--made when he was 27--and one of the classics of humanist cinema, THE 400 BLOWS (available on DVD). The original French title is Les Quatre Cents Coups, which literally translated means “the 400 dirty tricks,” but is understood idiomatically as “raising hell,” which is quite a different thought than the English understanding of it as being “the 400 blows one endures in life.” Either meaning can represent the film, since the leading character both plays dirty tricks and receives 400 blows.

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