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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

Father of the Bride

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • March 2, 2011 11:52 AM
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  • 10 Comments
One of the most difficult things to pull off in a movie is having a character talk directly to the audience, looking into the camera lens as they do. The suspension of disbelief for the rest of the film is heavily imperiled by so blatantly breaking the fourth wall and including us, the usually unacknowledged watchers. Whereas the device has widespread and easy currency in the theatre—-from the Greek’s Chorus to the Elizabethan’s, from Feydeau’s farcical asides to Thornton Wilder’s Stage Manager in Our Town—-the movies being a far more realistic medium, I can only think of four instances when this has worked with complete success: In the very first musical comedy, Ernst Lubitsch’s The Love Parade (1929), Maurice Chevalier brilliantly, wittily, aristocratically, made the audience complicitous with his romantic indiscretions and self-justifications—-repeated similarly in the Lubitsch-Chevalier One Hour With You (1932). Michael Caine managed smoothly to make his misogynist working-class anti-hero, Alfie (1966), equally effective in his confidences to the audience. And then there’s Spencer Tracy as the amusingly long-suffering title character in Vincente Minnelli’s delightful and human 1950 comedy of the middle-class, Father of the Bride (available on DVD).

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.

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.

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.

The Return of the Pink Panther

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • December 5, 2010 7:47 AM
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  • 12 Comments
I have to confess I’m a sucker for good visual slapstick, a riotous and difficult art which actually reached its peak on the screen in the era of non-talking pictures, circa 1915-1928: the glory days of Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, and Laurel and Hardy, to name only the absolute best. Since sound, there have been terrific isolated moments or scenes in films directed by Frank Capra, Howard Hawks, Leo McCarey, Preston Sturges, Frank Tashlin, and Jerry Lewis, among others, not to mention the Warner Bros. cartoons of such slapstick comedy geniuses as Chuck Jones and Friz Freleng. But in more recent years, the most consistently effective practitioner of the form has been Blake Edwards, specifically in his series of Pink Panther movies starring Peter Sellers as the Homerically incompetent and bumbling Inspector Clouseau.

One-Eyed Jacks

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • November 28, 2010 7:55 AM
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  • 13 Comments
People who used to do Marlon Brando impressions (I was one of them) always did him in his 1950’s pictures (Streetcar, Zapata, Caesar, Wild One, Waterfront, Guys and Dolls, Sayonara were the most prevalent) and, until The Godfather in 1972 replaced most of these, the last movie anyone imitated Brando from was the single one he also directed (and produced)—-that unsuccessful, but nevertheless memorably original 1961 Technicolor Western drama with the terrific title, ONE-EYED JACKS (available on DVD).

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