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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

B-Movies

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • October 27, 2011 12:06 PM
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  • 9 Comments
Back in the early 1970s, in my monthly Esquire column, I did a piece on B-Movies, focusing mainly on the low-budget but personal films directed by Samuel Fuller, Don Siegel, and Budd Boetticher. I said that TV had become a disappointing replacement for the small-cost, provocative, under-the-radar kind of strikingly individual films these picturemakers were doing. This, however, was long before The Sopranos, The Wire, or Mad Men changed everything, and cable-TV actually became more adult and more adventurous than network television, or indeed most current Hollywood movies. A whole new world opened up, and it was enormously exciting. Certainly, while The Sopranos reigned for six seasons, everyone was watching, and no movies supplied the kind of adult, brilliantly written, acted and directed fare that was coming over cable every Sunday.

PRESTON STURGES

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • June 8, 2011 12:28 PM
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  • 10 Comments
In 1973, I did an Esquire column about screenwriters, focusing largely on the first writer-director of the talking era, the mercurial Mr. Preston Sturges, who got so fed up with seeing his scripts mangled by inferior directors that he made an unprecedented deal with Paramount: he would direct his own screenplay for one dollar. The superb result was the brilliantly satirical political comedy, The Great McGinty, which won him an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. This was followed by seven more comedies over the next four years, each one of similar vintage quality (except for The Great Moment, which was somewhat wrecked by studio interference in the cutting), an amazing outburst of creativity that remains unchallenged to this day; six further masterpieces that have stood the test of time and changing tastes: Christmas in July, The Lady Eve, The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, Hail the Conquering Hero, The Palm Beach Story, and Sullivan’s Travels. If you haven’t seen every one of them, you are missing seven treasures of delight, wit and hilarity---human and wildly funny---among the finest of American comedy. The article I wrote was later reprinted in my collection, Pieces of Time, titled “Screenwriters and Preston Sturges,” and this has been uploaded on author-critic Clive James’ website, to which we hereby supply the link. All these fabulous films are available on DVD (or through Netflix) so if you haven’t seen them, there’s no excuse for not catching each and every one as soon as you possibly can!

The Greatest Year?

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • May 25, 2011 11:24 AM
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  • 14 Comments
Back in the early 1970s, I had a monthly column in Esquire called “Hollywood”, and one piece I did concerned the low state of movie quality at the time (things have only gotten worse), especially in light of the glorious past. To make my point, I arbitrarily picked 1939, the year I was born---along with a number of my illustrious colleagues (like Coppola and Friedkin)---and ran through the amazingly prolific array of movie classics released in that last year of the 1930s, including such seeming evergreens as Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz. A few months later, in a huge spread in Life magazine, Richard Schickel wrote a similar lengthy rundown of pictures from 1939, but he declared it unequivocally The Greatest Year of American Movies. This worked its way into the culture and is now the establishment viewpoint. I often wonder what would have happened if I’d been born in 1941.Certainly a case can be made that 1941 is actually a greater year for American film than 1939, since John Ford’s How Green Was My Valley (the Oscar winner for Best Picture) and Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane are certainly greater, more personal works of art than either Gone With the Wind or The Wizard of Oz. And clearly one could return more frequently to Preston Sturges’ 1941 masterpiece, The Lady Eve. Though Howard Hawks had his archetypal Only Angels Have Wings in 1939, he had in 1941 both Sergeant York and Ball of Fire (both with Gary Cooper, who won Best Actor for York). And Raoul Walsh had his tragic gangster milestone, High Sierra, which made Humphrey Bogart an A-list star and made it possible for John Huston to cast him in the lead for his first directorial effort, The Maltese Falcon, also a 1941 release. Anyway, all this is by way of introducing the Esquire column that seems to have started it all, which author-critic Clive James has uploaded on his website, and to which we herewith supply a link. The substantial question of which year is The Greatest will be more deeply discussed when we get around to the 1940s in our Golden Age of American Talkies series of blogs. In a nutshell, however, I would simplify matters by stating that the absolute highpoint in the American Cinema was reached with the years 1939-1940-1941, since 1940 boasted, among others, such treasures as Ford’s Depression family epic, The Grapes of Wrath, Hawks’ breakneck screwball newspaper romance, His Girl Friday, and Ernst Lubitsch’s most beautiful human comedy, The Shop Around the Corner

O RARE ERNST LUBITSCH

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • May 4, 2011 1:00 AM
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  • 11 Comments
I feel sorry for people who have never seen an Ernst Lubitsch movie; they are missing such delights. There is no way to really describe what exactly it is that makes most of his pictures so charming, funny, human, stylized, unique. During the time of his world-wide popularity (ca. 1924 till after his death in 1947), people called it “The Lubitsch Touch,” which proved that everyone could feel it, but no one could adequately define it. Over the years, I’ve tried to explain why I love Lubitsch so much and what it is that makes him so ultra-special, in a place all by himself. There’s never been anyone like Ernst Lubitsch, though many filmmakers have tried, they never came close. In Esquire, back in the early '70s, I did a monthly column and devoted one entirely to Lubitsch, which was reprinted in my collection, Pieces of Time (1973/1985); and for my directors’ interview book, Who the Devil Made It (1997), I expanded this into a section of the Introduction called “The Director I Never Met”---but most wanted to! And finally, in 2008 I tried again in a long piece for Peter Kaplan’s The New York Observer, the title of which states the point succinctly: “The Importance of Seeing Ernst”. I still think it’s of the utmost importance; if more people were enjoying Lubitsch movies, they would be happier, more hopeful. Here’s the link to the article on their website if you want to read about why pictures like Trouble in Paradise, The Smiling Lieutenant, The Shop Around the Corner, The Love Parade, The Merry Widow, Cluny Brown, and Heaven Can Wait, among others, are among my favorites, and as good as the medium can offer: treasures waiting to be found.

THE BEST DIRECTOR: JEAN RENOIR

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • April 2, 2011 1:30 AM
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  • 6 Comments
Whenever I want to reassure myself that the movies have the potential to equal the sublime poetic heights of a symphony or concerto by Mozart, or a painting by DaVinci,Turner or Rembrandt, or a play by Shakespeare, I look at a film by Jean Renoir. From the mid-20s to the late-60s, he made a series of profoundly human masterworks, mainly inFrance, but then in America, where he was resident, in Beverly Hills (believe it or not) from 1940 until his death in 1979. Deceptively simple, Renoir’s films were always artless--you never caught him working--they just seemed to flow from some deeply spiritual source.

THE SHORTEST LONG WESTERN: RIO BRAVO

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • February 21, 2011 8:40 AM
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  • 11 Comments
Supposedly, when Quentin Tarantino was dating he used to run his own 35mm print

JOHN FORD AT THE OBSERVER IN 1999

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • December 7, 2010 3:47 AM
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  • 8 Comments
In 1999, AMC was still honoring its original name and intention by running actual American Movie Classics on their channel---what TCM does now--- and that year they programmed an amazing 35-film retrospective of John Ford’s extraordinary opus. I was living in Manhattan then, doing a weekly column for Peter Kaplan’s The New York Observer (its heyday, in other words), and Peter and I agreed we should do a big spread about the AMC Ford tribute. I would write it and he would use many illustrations and give it a lot of prominence. It was also Kaplan’s idea to include in the illustrations several of my original movie card-file cards themselves. As I’ve written before, I kept a card file of every movie I saw---of whatever length---from January 1952 to December 1970; from when I was 12 and a half to when I was 31 and a half, and had just finished shooting “The Last Picture Show”. I stopped keeping the file because I guess I felt my apprenticeship had definitely come to end.

CARY GRANT: MY FAVORITE STAR

  • By Peter Bogdanovich
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  • November 30, 2010 11:43 AM
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  • 6 Comments
A few years ago, I did a long piece for The New York Observer about Cary Grant titled “My Favorite Star,” which he was and is, not only on the screen but in life, as I was privileged to know him for over twenty-five years. I had already written about him at some length, first for a column I had in Esquire in the 1970s (collected in a book of mine called Pieces of Time), and then again for a more recent volume, Who the Hell’s In It, which repeated some of the same material, though completely recast. The Observer article went over a lot of the same ground, but perhaps with a different tone, and did add a few things (such as his especially touching call to me after the murder of my fiancée, Dorothy Stratten). Anyway, one can never say too much about Cary Grant, so we have provided a link here to the Observer piece which is on their website.

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