Welcome to Blogdanovich

by Peter Bogdanovich
January 28, 2010 12:02 AM
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.

Well, I’m glad you tuned in: The state of movie culture--indeed, the state of culture in the U.S.A.--is at a distressingly low level. At film schools all over the country, most of the students act as though picture history begins somewhere around Raging Bull. The knowledge of, or interest in, films made during the fifty-year Golden Age of Pictures--1912-1962—is generally either non-existent or extremely spotty.

I was lucky: The late 1950s and most of the 1960s were terrific years for talk and writing about the great picture work that had been made in America, just at the time it all came tumbling down. New York’s prestigious, influential Museum of Modern Art finally did retrospectives on Orson Welles, Howard Hawks, and Alfred Hitchcock in l961-62-63. I arranged them. The directors in my generation--Spielberg, Scorsese, Coppola, almost all of them--had quite a good sense of older pictures. But that doesn’t seem to be the case much of the time now.

Why should it be so important to see the work that has preceded us? Again, I was lucky: My European father was not only a fine painter, he was a vastly knowledgeable expert on the entire history of painting and sculpture; dealers and museum curators would ask him to judge if a work was genuine or fake. He was also a brilliant classical pianist, and knew the whole opus of the great composers. So I picked up at an early age that if you want to be of some quality in your chosen field, you had better have a damn good idea of all the superb or transcendent work that has been done before your advent. Not for the purpose of remakes, but in order to learn the vocabulary, grammar, the humanity, the art of the craft. Bach did precede Mozart.

Since many of the pioneers in the medium were still around when I first came to Hollywood, I decided to put myself through their university, and interviewed extensively, or got to know, numerous filmmakers of the Golden Age just as it came to an end: John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock, Howard Hawks, Orson Welles, Leo McCarey, Josef von Sternberg, Raoul Walsh, King Vidor, Fritz Lang, Samuel Fuller, George Cukor, Frank Capra, Otto Preminger, and many more, including some of the period’s most legendary stars, like Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, Frank Sinatra, Audrey Hepburn--I directed her last starring role in a feature--and others. Therefore, if I should drop a name here and there, I’ve earned it, and anyway I’m just the conduit really from their spirit through my reports to you.

At Blogdanovich, we’ll be posting at least one piece about a classic film every week—Peter’s Picture Pick of the Week--with five films to start with, five the second week, and generally one a week from then on. In a month or so we’ll be starting a series called The Golden Age of American Talkies: 1929-1962; this will consist of a yearly best films list in order of my preference, together with a section of notes on the choices. We’ll be starting with two years and then do a new year every other week. One other section will feature a selection of comments on relevant films as they appeared in my personal card file, which I kept current on every movie I saw--including shorts--from 1952 through 1970; we will be scanning the original cards themselves, and upload them for you as they actually look. This was another way of educating myself on pictures: I would comment on the given film every time I saw it between the ages of 12 and a half to 31 and a half; many times the opinion of the work would change radically, from dislike to praise, and from veneration to the opposite.

By the way, we’ve arranged it so that if you want to see a picture I’ve recommended, all you have to do is click the image and you’ll be hooked up to Amazon. The basic idea of this whole enterprise is to give you the great pleasure of seeing some of the very best that’s been created on film.

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59 Comments

  • Cindy Seifert | November 30, 2012 6:42 PMReply

    Love your writing, your vision, your appreciation of films. I admire your knowledge of the industry and respect your insight and perspective. Here's to you Peter Bogdanovich! You are on my list of influential people I would certainly like to meet.

  • garry | October 7, 2012 10:34 PMReply

    Just want to say thanks for your past, present and future commitment ( and frustration ) in trying to get Mr. Welles "the other side of the wind " completed. I'm sure if Mr. Welles suddenly reappeared, he'd bend the "obstacles" over his knee and give them a good spanking.
    It's such a shame as we all want to see another film with Orsons spirit living inside it.
    Again, thank you.

  • Christopher Sharrett | March 17, 2011 8:18 AMReply

    Mr. Bogdanovich,

    Your contribution to our understanding of the Old Hollywood is immeasurable.

    Christopher Sharrett
    Professor of Communication and Film Studies
    Seton Hall University

  • Juri Koll | November 26, 2010 6:44 AMReply

    If Peter approves it, I'll be posting online interviews we shot of him last year at Quentin Tarantino's house, where he talks about many of the greats he's worked with or written about...John Ford, Orson Welles, Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant, Marlene Deitrich, Barbara Streisand, Cher, Frank Sinatra, Kathryn Hepburn, et. al...

    I hope he's having fun in Toronto!

    I've learned a great deal from having watching his films, reading his books, and spending a bit of time with him...

    I'll keep you posted!

  • Igor | October 30, 2010 2:30 AMReply

    Cybill Shepard, Dorothy Stratten, Louise Stratten... How did you do it, Mr. Bogdanovich? What's your secret to being such a ladies man? This is not meant as disrespect. I respect you and your work. I'm just curious if you have some sort of secret.

  • Sé Merry Doyle | October 29, 2010 6:40 AMReply

    Hi Peter, As I tap I am in the editing room approx 1 hour away from fine cut on 'Dreaming The Quiet Man'. You are quite a star in this film and if I had my way I would love to post your whole interview for the world to see. The premiere is just around the corner, 12th November in Cork, Maureen O'Hara is the guest of honour, are you sure you can't make it? Love your blob, best, Sé

  • jean vincent puzos | October 24, 2010 12:36 PMReply

    Pete

    thanks for your blog
    thanks for your life
    thanks for your movies
    thanks for the future

    your friend

  • Tom Moran | October 24, 2010 9:45 AMReply

    It's great that you're online and writing about film. But young people today are not quite benighted when it comes to older films as you might suspect. When a film professor of mine was at a loss about what to show her class for an "early talkie," I suggested Lubitsch's "The Love Parade" as it was an early talkie and an early musical at the same time and she could kill two birds with one stone. She showed the film and the kids ate it up. Just loved it. So there's hope. If you screen it, they will come.

  • Bateman | October 23, 2010 11:57 AMReply

    Hoo-Bloody-Ray ....

    Finally ... Someone who actually KNOWS something about MOVIES actually writing something about movies ...

    There's a novel idea ...

    Pity someone in Washington doesn't apply the same logic to Politics ...

    God Bless Blogdanovich ... God Pray for America ... bates ... x.

  • DR | October 9, 2010 11:46 AMReply

    Mr. Bogdanovich:

    Thank you for this blog and all your work. "What's Up Doc?" and "Paper Moon" - to name only two examples - are movies I saw as a child and was crazy about, and am still crazy about.

    Golden age? To many people, you are a significant part of their own golden age. Best wishes,

    DR

  • wks2001 | October 9, 2010 7:22 AMReply

    Hey Pete,

    I hope you keep it real, no sugarcoating ... your integrity is at stake.

    wks

  • Phil Miller | October 7, 2010 10:50 AMReply

    I just came across mention of your blog in Film News Briefs.
    It's admirable that you are sharing your considerable Film Lore with the future writers and director/producers. You may remember that I was the early Production Manager on your first picture, "Targets". Though we parted ways during the production I still respect your talent and knowledge of the industry and it remains one of the more interesting experiences of my 50 years in show business.
    Well done and good luck.
    Phil Miller
    Honolulu Hawaii

  • Amy Goodwin | October 7, 2010 2:07 AMReply

    a blob, not a blog. Made me laugh. I'm so glad to see you doing this. Now you need a Facebook page as well...favorite director of all times.

  • Louis Mitchell | October 4, 2010 5:44 AMReply

    Peter it is wonderful that you are doing a Blog. I can't think of a more perfect person to do one! With your experience and knowledge about films and film making. I worked on the original FILMEX in Los Angeles in the Sixties and saw the "Last Picture Show" at it's American Premier, a true inspiration! Thanks for doing the Blog I'm will be looking forward to each new posting!

  • Henry G | October 4, 2010 1:40 AMReply

    I was fortunate to study Cal Arts under mentor Alexander MacKendrick - and of course we had the Nuart theater to run to every week!

  • Vincent | October 3, 2010 6:19 AMReply

    Glad to have come across this, and welcome to the blogosphere (or should that be the blogdanosphere?)! I've enjoyed your films and writing, and look forward to your perspectives on classic Hollywood history.

    I also cordially invite you to visit my site, "Carole & Co." (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/), which as you might guess is named for Carole Lombard, my all-time favorite actress. We've been up since June 2007, with more than 1,300 entries -- most of them related to Lombard, her life and times and people she knew and worked with.

  • Barbara | October 1, 2010 10:38 AMReply

    Wonderful!
    I look forward to reading all your entries, especially on lesser known movies.

  • Jason Andrew Torrance | September 30, 2010 5:38 AMReply

    Just wanted to add to the accolades: this blog is awesome!

  • Gabriel Rochette | September 27, 2010 2:36 AMReply

    WoW !!! Peter Bogdanovich..The master with us !
    Incredible .... What a chance.....

    A thousand thanks from Québec, Canada

  • Paul Brennan | September 24, 2010 12:56 PMReply

    Every young film maker should study every film Mr B made in the 70s and 80s....and hopefully one day there will be national Madeline Kahn day when we thank our lucky stars she was brought to us in WHATS UP DOC, PAPER MOON and my favourite AT LONG LAST LOVE.
    I am thrilled to see Mr B here with his hilariously titled BLOGDANOVICH site. Welcome again to my life and I hope everyone applauds your entry into the Bloggosphere... I certainly do.
    PAUL BRENNAN Sydney Australia.

  • Christopher Fitzpatrick | September 24, 2010 3:18 AMReply

    Cannot wait to get started on reading your entries Peter. This is very exciting.

  • Fouad | September 23, 2010 6:45 AMReply

    Peter Bogdanovich is one of the most underated filmakers. I have enjoyed his movies since I was a kid (Paper Moon is the first "adult" movie I saw in the theater, and I fell madly in love with Tatum, who is my age). I get his books on Amazon.com, too bad some of them are out of print. Can you do something about it, sir? Good luck with your blog, I will spread the word among my fellow movie buffs here in Beirut (Lebanon).

  • Ryan Ange | September 23, 2010 3:12 AMReply

    THIS is going to be so exciting!!!! :)

  • Duke Konahuanui | September 23, 2010 3:10 AMReply

    Welcome, Peter! You are a fine director and film scholar and we will all benefit from your experience, skill, and wisdom. Hope this continues for a long time.

  • Barbara Rosson Davis | September 23, 2010 2:09 AMReply

    Finally! Some perspective and insights into films prior to 1979!

    Thank you, Peter, for bringing some culture to young filmmakers. Your blog is a boon to any age filmmaker. Please include a blog about Val Lewton's films, as well as Lindsay Anderson's. "This Sporting Life" is one of the grittiest films, and like "On the Waterfront", it captures the power of a character-driven, action-emotion-balanced indelible drama. Can't wait to read you Blog each week!

    Looking forward, Barbara

  • Herb Sennett | September 23, 2010 1:10 AMReply

    From The Last Picture Show and Mask introduced me to this great writer/director. As an educator of over 40 years, I have continuously been interested in his work and look forward to his insights. This blog will be required reading for my screenwriting students.

  • Bhob Stewart | September 23, 2010 1:10 AMReply

    When you interviewed Lang, why do you think he made no mention of Charles Einstein's THE BLOODY SPUR as the source of WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS? http://potrzebie.blogspot.com/search?q=lipstick

  • Mickey Fisher | September 22, 2010 12:54 PMReply

    So looking forward to this.

    Just curious . . . Do you have any books coming out soon?

  • Marty Mcfly | September 22, 2010 12:19 PMReply

    Mr. Bogdanovich, I do not mean any offense at all, but I'm just curious... how the hell were you able to snag those hot chicks in the 70s, like Cybill and Dorothy?

  • Ringo Kid | September 22, 2010 6:03 AMReply

    thanks for creating this wonderful site.
    i as many others am looking forward to reading
    what you have to say of classic films, as I have enjoyed
    watching your commentaries on films of the
    old masters. Targets remain one of my favorite films.

  • Mark W | September 21, 2010 11:42 AMReply

    Mr. Bogdanovich,

    Thanks to you, I have been a life long 'disciple' of Madeline Kahn. I would be most appreciative if you would shed some light on what she was like to work with as an actress, who / what inspired her, and any antidotes you would care to share about one of the most angelic comediennes ever to grace the screen.

    Kindest regards,
    Mark

  • Todd | September 21, 2010 10:24 AMReply

    Peter,

    Congratulations on the blog. I know it will be a fascinating place for people to learn about film....from a master. I am happy to say that I was one of the lucky ones to experience your work, first hand.

    Best.

    Todd

  • E.B Starr | September 21, 2010 5:10 AMReply

    Peter,
    Wow! Just when I thought my morning was going to be a bore, I received this email.

    I have spent many days in the library with your books and some nights with your movies.

    Thanks for imparting with the knowledge and yes, the classics give us a foundation for the future. Today is good! Bless you.

    Appreciative,
    EB Starr

  • Christopher Bourne | September 19, 2010 11:45 AMReply

    So great that you're finally doing this. WHO THE DEVIL MADE IT is one of my all-time favorite film books. I'll be checking in frequently. Looking forward to more great stories about people like John Ford and the many greats you've met and worked with. I'd also love it if you could upload video of your great impressions of people like Cary Grant and Orson Welles. Just an idea. :)

  • James Reasoner | September 18, 2010 12:14 PMReply

    Peter,
    These are great posts about great films. Thank you! I've enjoyed your work a great deal over the years. My future brother-in-law and I drove up to Archer City one day after seeing The Last Picture Show and got to visit the pool hall and visit with the owner. I'm also a big fan of a movie of yours that doesn't get mentioned very often, Nickelodeon.

  • Suzie Wolkoff | September 15, 2010 4:06 AMReply

    I certainly agree with your philosophy for the History of Film. Your expertise in all of the areas of film making and your vast experience and knowledge make it an extreme honor and pleasure to be able to share in your blogs. You are certainly right that most of the new film makers do not have the knowledge and the background of knowing about and studying the Great Films and Film Makers of the past.
    One of the best film programs around is run by Janine Basinger at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Ct. She is a commentator and historian about women in film and of course all of the past greats. My son who is a writer attended this University. As a child I exposed him to all of the great films and film makers. He has an incredible knowledge of film history which he brings to all projects that he writes.
    Thanks again for sharing your knowledge. I am looking forward to all that you will share.
    Best Regards,
    Suzie Wolkoff

  • Douglas Roy | September 13, 2010 10:05 AMReply

    Having been one of those that grew up in the mileau of those "films of the seventies" I've always been an appreciator of film studies that go beyond the context of only today's transient cinema aesthetic. I'm looking forward to your daily blog/history of what is the foundation of film both past, present and future.
    Presently reading Ben Slater's fine volume on your making SAINT JACK (1979) in Singapore titled, "Kinda Hot."

  • Sheila | September 11, 2010 11:16 AMReply

    Mr. Bogdanovich: I am so excited about this. I have been a fan of yours for what feels like my whole life, first from the films you directed (my parents let me stay up late to watch What's Up Doc? when I was little, and that was it - I was hooked), and then from your books, film criticism and various DVD commentaries.

    I can't wait to read more!!

    Best,

    Sheila O'Malley

  • Ray Noori | September 9, 2010 8:57 AMReply

    Mr. Bogdanovich, it's an honour to be able to communicate with you this intimately. As someone else already mentioned, it's like taking private film history lessons from a master.

    Incidentally, a few weeks ago I contacted Mr. Peiffer to see if I could arrange to interview you for an article, but after some talk I was told your schedule would not permit it. Maybe this was part of what was taking up your schedule! :)

    Best of luck sir.

  • Greg Hatfield | September 8, 2010 1:32 AMReply

    Great to have you blogging and talking about film. I've been a big fan of yours throughout the years.

    Maybe you'll discuss the red tape that you've gone through to get The Other Side of the Wind released.

    I agree with your assessment of people today not caring about the films of the earlier days. Currently, I'm reading about the early days of film and loved the section on Tom Ince and his influential method of filmmaking. I know you're familiar with him.

    As I said, I'm looking forward to reading your remarks.

  • Jibran Khan | September 7, 2010 2:54 AMReply

    Hello Mr. Bogdanovich and fellow film lovers,

    I professionally write articles on the art of Film here in Pakistan.

    I recently watched 'The Battle over Citizen Kane'. What really surprised and haunted me was at the end of the documentary, Orson Wells just says it out loud how he should've quit film altogether as film making is "2% movie making and 98% hustling. Its no way to spend a life ".

    I was literally devastated by this statement. Is this what every young, honest filmmaker would say at the end of his/her life? Even with the success he has had in his early spectacular career, Orson ended up burnt out and hated his life as years went by.......

    I'm only 25 years old now and like every young filmmaker, want to make something of my life in the art of film. But is this the price to pay if you want to be honest to your work?

    Thank you.

    Jibran Khan

  • Kenn Johnson | September 6, 2010 11:36 AMReply

    This will be my first blog also. Your DVD commentaries on Alfred Hitchcock & Howard Hawks pictures are excellent and have been very inspiring. Let the passion for classic cinema begin.

  • Mariano Barroso | September 6, 2010 9:52 AMReply

    We had to go to the U.S. to get your books, Peter. Now we´re lucky, we have you right on our computers, in Madrid. Thankyou Peter, thankyou Indiewire!
    Mariano Barroso

  • Joe Frankel | September 6, 2010 3:34 AMReply

    Thank you for starting this blog, sir! As a young filmmaker and film critic with a huge passion for the golden age of Hollywood (and the ascot) you have always been a uniquely relevant role model. Your blog has inspired me to revive my own: http://josephfrankel.blogspot.com/2009/09/tact-diplomacy-sex.html

    Here's hoping that the rest of my generation comes around to appreciate it.

  • Phill Powell | September 4, 2010 6:47 AMReply

    Mr. B is exactly correct about the cultural amnesia that plagues modern film. A deliberate and even defiant ignorance about whole chunks of film history is also present in the work of some in the media.

    It made me recall a recent online list that was posted in the entertainment section of a major news site. It purported to list "the worst film characters of all time" but the oldest film referenced in the list had come out in 1997! "All time," in this case, apparently lasts about 13 years.

    Myopic lists like this one suggest that young writers are sometimes neglecting their film scholarship, or perhaps that some editors are insisting that they reference more-recent cinematic offerings, in efforts to skew more youth-centered.

    Great new site...provocative approach!

    Also hoping Mr. B will be writing extensively on the site about "The Last Picture Show," one of my Top Ten Films of All Time. I'll be watching the film this October or November, as I do each year. (And yet again, the scene with Sonny at the football game--the year after he's graduated--will break my heart.)

    Big fan of "Paper Moon" and "What's Up, Doc?", too. Saw them both at the theater as a kid, and loved them. (Miss Trixie: "My, aren't you the show dog?")

  • M. Lupetin | September 4, 2010 2:09 AMReply

    Thank you Mr. B. I grew up on films and later studied films at NYU and USC. I am who I am because of the great masters, the not so great masters, and even the hacks. Across the board, there are film gems to be treasured.

    I cannot wait for your blog to begin.

    Cheers,
    ML

    ps, you most certainly have the right to drop names as you please. And may I also thank you for the wonderful films that you have created that continue to pervade my psyche.

  • Ryan Suffern | September 3, 2010 5:10 AMReply

    found out about this through frank marshall's twitter account...

    looking forward to reading some future thoughts on past films. an rss feed would be a great feature to add to the site, if it's not already included and i'm just not seeing it.

  • Jonathan Ara | September 3, 2010 5:07 AMReply

    This sounds great. I still remember the first time I read Peter's description of John Wayne saying good bye to his troops in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (and the way his hand is on his sword). Or his description of the scene in the Searchers where the Reverend sees Martha stroking Ethan's coat and looks away.

    I hope we get more of these observations here.

  • Stephen Ley | September 3, 2010 2:03 AMReply

    Mr. Bogdanovich, you are one of my favorite moviemen -- in the best, most well-rounded sense of the word. Please let me add my welcome. All the best!

  • preston122 | September 2, 2010 12:48 PMReply

    Great news! I look forward to reading this regularly for years to come!

    May I suggest a topic right off the bat? Having worked with Audrey Hepburn as well as being a great admirer of her work, perhaps you would like to employ your considerable knowledge and erudition in the service of a rebuttal to Emma Thompson's recent unenlightened remarks about her (cf. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/film-news/7933194/Audrey-Hepburn-couldnt-sing-and-couldnt-act-says-Emma-Thompson.html). Thanks!

  • Mario Gauci | September 2, 2010 10:48 AMReply

    THESE SOUND ALL LIKE GREAT IDEAS TO ME. BRAVO MR. BOGDANOVICH:

    "At Blogdanovich, we’ll be posting at least one piece about a classic film every week—Peter’s Picture Pick of the Week—with five films to start with, five the second week, and generally one a week from then on. In a month or so we’ll be starting a series called The Golden Age of American Talkies: 1929-1962; this will consist of a yearly best films list in order of my preference, together with a section of notes on the choices. We’ll be starting with two years and then do a new year every other week. One other section will feature a selection of comments on relevant films as they appeared in my personal card file, which I kept current on every movie I saw—including shorts—from 1952 through 1970; we will be scanning the original cards themselves, and upload them for you as they actually look. This was another way of educating myself on pictures: I would comment on the given film every time I saw it between the ages of 12 and a half to 31 and a half; many times the opinion of the work would change radically, from dislike to praise, and from veneration to the opposite".

    GOOD LUCK WITH THE BLOG, PETER.

    Mario Gauci
    Malta

  • Alex Fraser | September 1, 2010 12:27 PMReply

    CORRECTION: That was Ray Kelly at Wellesnet who twigged us about you, not Mike Teal. Lot's of great people over there!

    Alex

  • Alex Fraser | September 1, 2010 12:11 PMReply

    Glad to have Mike Teal, over at Wellesnet, alert me to your new enterprise!

    I had the pleasure of having helped Larry French (or was it Todd Baesen?) interview you a couple of years ago, at San Francisco's Castro Theater.

    My hope is to see your blog and other projects prosper.

    Will stay in touch.

    Alex

  • Ali Naderzad | September 1, 2010 11:32 AMReply

    reaction to the Bogdanovich article on

    http://alinaderzad.blogspot.com/

  • Kimberly Brailey | September 1, 2010 11:10 AMReply

    I am so excited that you have started this site, Peter!! I really look forward to hearing your opinions and recommendations in the future!

  • Deb Wong | September 1, 2010 6:03 AMReply

    Looking forward to your next film blog!

  • Todd McCarthy | September 1, 2010 4:52 AMReply

    Welcome aboard, Peter! So glad to have you join us.

  • Nikksly | August 31, 2010 8:48 AMReply

    This sounds exciting. Like taking a film studies course taught by a powerhouse. I'll be here faithfully.

  • Ali Naderzad | August 31, 2010 2:58 AMReply

    Peter,
    thanks for your article
    I will be commenting on it on Screen Comment.com
    does your blog have an RSS feed link?
    Regards,
    Ali Naderzad

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