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

Film As Hell: 3 Pictures About Pictures

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • June 15, 2011 4:16 AM
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  • 8 Comments
Movies about moviemakers or making movies usually have unhappy endings. Actually, so do a good many of the movies’ real-life stories. Why a product (or art) that supposedly gives to millions such joy and enlightenment should often lead to such unhappiness for its creators is perhaps some alchemistic punishment too mythic or mystic to conclusively unravel, but maybe it has to do with the dangerously difficult boundaries between reality and illusion, and the mysterious processes of making reality out of illusion and illusion out of reality.

Sidney Lumet

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • April 14, 2011 10:55 AM
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  • 9 Comments
Early in 1958, Sidney Lumet directed me in a live TV production of Hemingway’s short story, Fifty Grand, starring Ralph Meeker; I was still 18, and it was a bit part: in the boxing sequences, I was the kid who walked around the edge of the ring, holding up a sign of which round it was. As a director, I noticed, Sidney moved fast, in complete control of the set. Everybody—cast or crew alike---were all “darling,” “sweetheart,” “honey,” “baby” to Sidney. He was very New York theatrical---having made his stage debut at age four---acting on Broadway and at the Yiddish Theatre, he learned on his feet what actors go through, what they need and what they don’t need. Sidney was also very precise; he knew exactly how the scene would cut together, and therefore shot only what he needed, without covering himself with alternate cutting possibilities. (All those hundreds of hours of live television he directed didn’t hurt for experience in quick decision-making and urgency.) In the business, it’s called “cutting in the camera”, and it's practically unheard of today. Sidney was perhaps the last survivor of the classic techniques that were common to most directors in the studio system: John Ford and Alfred Hitchcock ---antipodes as artists---both cut in the camera. So did Howard Hawks and Orson Welles.

The First Films

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • March 19, 2011 4:37 AM
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  • 4 Comments
Today is the 116th anniversary of the first day ever a film was shot: March 19, 1895, in Lyon, France. Louis Lumière, aided by his older brother Auguste—-their family name, with startling appropriateness, in French means “light”—-had invented a machine (and patented it a month before) that photographed, printed, and projected motion pictures. They called it the Cinématographe, from the Greek for “writing the movement,” and from which we got “cinema”—-in more ways than one.

1928: The Last and Greatest Year of the Original Motion Picture Art, B.S. (Before Sound)

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • January 30, 2011 8:39 AM
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  • 12 Comments
People have been saying that the greatest year for American movies was 1939 (of Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz fame) ever since Life magazine published a big piece proclaiming this opinion with all the passion of fact. Coincidentally, in August 1972, a few months before the Life article appeared, Esquire ran a “Hollywood” column of mine on the abundant film glories of 1939 (Ninotchka, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Only Angels Have Wings, Love Affair, Young Mr. Lincoln, Stagecoach, etc.). But the hook for my piece had been that opinions change with the years, and that only time can produce really accurate judgments; I picked 1939 as an example simply because several of my illustrious filmmaking contemporaries and I were all born that year.

Blake Edwards

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • December 18, 2010 7:29 AM
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  • 17 Comments
“How do you thank someone for a million laughs?” With the passing of Blake Edwards, one of the very last survivors of the golden age of pictures has gone. At 88, he had seen the whole parade: his grandfather was a silent film director, his father was in the business, and Blake started out as an actor in the l940s, eventually turned to screenwriting---quite successfully---and then to directing in the mid-l950s. Over the years, he had an impressive array of popular and superbly made pictures, including Breakfast at Tiffany’s (probably Audrey Hepburn’s most iconic appearance), Operation Petticoat (Cary Grant’s biggest box office hit), 10 (which made Dudley Moore a superstar), S.O.B. (which bared wife Julie Andrews’ breasts and skewered Hollywood mercilessly), Victor/Victoria (a taboo-breaking gender-bending farce that he transferred successfully to Broadway as a musical), and, of course, the glorious Pink Panther series that started in the l960s and ran throughout the l970s (giving Peter Sellers his most devastatingly funny incarnation as the hopelessly bumbling Inspector Clouseau).

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.)

Welcome to Blogdanovich

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • January 28, 2010 12:02 AM
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  • 59 Comments
A couple of people suggested I do a blog about older films. I had no idea what a blog was. A blob? No, blog! Eventually I was guided into the computer world of the 21st century. And I find it’s a very congenial, personal way of communicating with you, where if you’re interested in seeing a movie I’m recommending, you can practically push two buttons and look at the picture, or certainly within a day or so; the same with books I might encourage you to read. It feels more like an intimate one-on-one experience—I’m right here in your own private computer, talking to you.

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