Peter Bogdanovich obituary | Movies

Peter Bogdanovich, who has died aged 82, was among the many few examples of a movie director whose profession rocketed spectacularly at its starting earlier than it quickly plunged to earth. His third function (after two neophyte efforts), The Final Image Present (1971), was nominated for eight Academy Awards, and gained two. The movie that adopted, What’s Up, Doc? (1972), was a large box-office hit, which grossed a wholesome $28m for Warner Bros. On a profitable streak, Bogdanovich achieved a hat-trick with Paper Moon (1973), which was not solely a business and demanding success, however gained a finest supporting actress Oscar for Tatum O’Neal who, at 10, was the youngest ever recipient of the award. It appeared that Bogdanovich might do no mistaken. However then got here Daisy Miller (1974), which acquired primarily dangerous opinions, and was adopted by additional flops and private upheavals.

Peter Bogdanovich directing Nickelodeon in 1976.
Peter Bogdanovich directing Nickelodeon in 1976. {Photograph}: Columbia/Kobal/Rex/Shutterstock

He bore all of it with equanimity (externally, at the least), making cameo appearances in pals’ movies and TV exhibits – properly dry within the function of Dr Elliot Kupferberg, Tony Soprano’s therapist’s therapist within the hit collection The Sopranos (2000-07) – cropping up frequently on documentaries, commenting wittily on movie administrators and directing movies himself every so often, although he by no means returned to the glory days.

Bogdanovich belonged to the era of administrators who emerged within the 70s, introduced up on the flicks produced through the golden age of the most important studios. Actually, the vast majority of his movies are workout routines in type – makes an attempt to recreate the Hollywood previous. His two finest movies had been shot in black and white, a observe that had already grow to be uncommon a decade earlier than. Each The Final Image Present and Paper Moon lovingly evoke the spirit of John Ford, Howard Hawks, William Wellman and William Wyler and, regardless of their allusiveness, they nonetheless attraction to the non-film buff, whereas What’s Up, Doc?, graced by Ryan O’Neal and Barbra Streisand, is a homage to the screwball comedies of the 30s. (In his documentary Directed By John Ford, 1971, revised in 2006, Bogdanovich disarmingly allowed himself to be put down by the good man.)

Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neil in What’s Up, Doc?, 1972, which was a massive box-office hit for Peter Bogdanovich.
Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal in What’s Up, Doc?, 1972, which was a large box-office hit for Peter Bogdanovich. {Photograph}: Warner Bros/Sportsphoto/Allstar

Bogdanovich was born in Kingston, New York, after his dad and mom fled from Europe and the Nazis, and grew up on the Higher West Facet of Manhattan. His mom, Herma (nee Robinson), got here from a well-off Austrian Jewish household, and his father, Borislav Bogdanovich, was a Serbian Jap Orthodox Christian painter and pianist. After graduating from the Collegiate college, he studied performing on the Stella Adler Theatre Studio within the metropolis. Though he each appeared in and directed a lot of performs – together with The Massive Knife, Clifford Odets’s searing drama about Hollywood, in 1959 off-Broadway – Bogdanovich was at all times drawn to movie, and commenced writing on the topic for numerous publications.


Within the early 60s, taking a lead from Henri Langlois’ eclectic programming on the Paris Cinémathèque, Bogdanovich showcased films on the Museum of Trendy Artwork, introducing audiences to uncared for or forgotten American administrators resembling Allan Dwan, about whom he wrote a e book, Allan Dwan: The Final Pioneer (1971). He additionally wrote books on Ford, Fritz Lang, Alfred Hitchcock and his good friend Orson Welles, all of whose voices he might mimic brilliantly. Bogdanovich even had a number one function in Welles’s uncompleted The Different Facet of the Wind (shot between 1969 and 1976), as an up-and-coming movie director with a expertise for mimicry. After a stint as movie critic for Esquire journal, he moved in 1964 to Hollywood the place, impressed by French critics resembling François Truffaut, he hoped to show to directing.

Initially, he labored as second unit director on Roger Corman’s Wild Angels (1966), earlier than Corman allowed him to direct a Z-movie, Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Girls (1968), hiding beneath the identify Derek Thomas. Truly, all Bogdanovich needed to do was movie scenes of Mamie Van Doren and different flimsily clad girls on the seashore, and splice the brand new materials along with a dubbed and re-edited Russian sci-fi movie referred to as Planeta Burg.

Corman then gave the tyro director the cash to make the spectacular Targets (1968), wherein the octogenarian Boris Karloff performed Byron Orlok, a horror film star at risk from a sniper, and confronted by his personal picture (in Corman’s The Terror) on a display screen of a drive-in film theatre. Targets was ok for Columbia Footage to entrust The Final Image Present to Bogdanovich.

This fondly nostalgic have a look at 50s small-town America solid Ben Johnson (a Ford favorite) as surrogate father to the city’s kids, and proprietor of the film home compelled to shut due to the appearance of tv. The titular film is Hawks’ Crimson River. Hawks can also be acknowledged in What’s Up, Doc?, with O’Neal and Streisand doing their finest to match as much as the reminiscences of Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn. For Paper Moon, Bogdanovich went additional into the previous – the Despair – for a captivating but cynical picaresque story of a father-daughter con workforce (O’Neal and daughter Tatum) wheedling cash out of widows.

Peter Bogdanovich directing Cybill Shepherd in The Last Picture Show, 1971. The pair became a couple during shooting.
Peter Bogdanovich directing Cybill Shepherd in The Final Image Present, 1971. The pair turned a pair throughout capturing. {Photograph}: Granger/Rex/Shutterstock

Why and the way did issues go mistaken after that? Some commentators have put the decline all the way down to Bogdanovich’s relationships with girls. When he was making ready The Final Image Present, he noticed {a magazine} cowl that includes the 19-year-old vogue mannequin Cybill Shepherd, whom he solid because the richest lady on the town. It was not lengthy earlier than he divorced his spouse, Polly Platt, the manufacturing designer on his first movies and mom of his two youngsters, whom he had married in 1962, to reside with Shepherd. With Shepherd in thoughts, he directed Daisy Miller, primarily based on the Henry James novel, which got here in for a heavy lambasting from the critics. “Making an attempt to make that little factor he’s with into Daisy Miller was hilarious,” the veteran director Henry Hathaway, whom Bogdanovich admired, remarked cruelly.

Undeterred, Bogdanovich starred Shepherd reverse Burt Reynolds in At Lengthy Final Love (1975), a flat-footed, off-key musical. It was greeted with even better scorn than the earlier film. This was adopted by a 3rd bomb, Nickelodeon (1976), a slapdash tribute to slapstick silent display screen comedy, starring Reynolds with Ryan and Tatum O’Neal. This time Bogdanovich blamed the producers for not permitting him to shoot it in black and white on a extra modest finances.

After three years spent licking his wounds, Bogdanovich returned, helped by Corman as producer, with Saint Jack (1979), a honest try and get away from Hollywood in two senses. Set in a world of pimps and prostitutes, it has a superb sense of locale (the red-light district of Singapore). Amongst a solid headed by Ben Gazzara, the director himself performed an American mobster.

Though the old style romantic comedy They All Laughed (1981), flopped initially, it gained a sure cult standing for numerous extra-cinematic causes: it was the final main function performed by Audrey Hepburn, whose son Sean Ferrer can also be within the movie; Bogdanovich’s two daughters had components, as did the director’s then girlfriend (the Shepherd liaison was over), the previous Playboy mannequin Dorothy Stratten. On the finish of filming, Stratten was shot and killed by her husband after he discovered of the affair with Bogdanovich. In 1988, Bogdanovich married Stratten’s half-sister, Louise.

Cher in Mask, 1985, directed by Peter Bogdanovich, in which she gave a strong performance as the biker mother of a child with a rare bone disorder.
Cher in Masks, 1985, directed by Peter Bogdanovich, wherein she gave a robust efficiency because the biker mom of a kid with a uncommon bone dysfunction. {Photograph}: Moviestore/Rex/Shutterstock

He regained some credibility with Masks (1985), a movie that eschewed the resurrection of moribund genres. Powered by Cher’s sturdy efficiency because the drug-taking biker mom of a kid with a uncommon bone dysfunction, the movie gave the director the reward that had eluded him for thus lengthy. Nevertheless, Bogdanovich’s passionate love for Hollywood’s distant previous led him to make Illegally Yours (1988), a leaden comedy that includes Rob Lowe (in spectacles, like Grant in Bringing Up Child). Maybe nonetheless trying to find the form of acclaim he had loved with The Final Image Present, he went again to the identical creator (Larry McMurtry) and characters, performed by many of the similar solid, in Texasville (1990), however the sequel proved missing in the identical attraction and success.

His essentially stagy Americanised movie model of Michael Frayn’s frenetic theatre farce, Noises Off (1992), examined Bogdanovich’s ability at orchestrating screwball antics, but it surely, too, did not ignite. The Factor Known as Love (1993), which adopted 4 younger folks hoping to make it as nation music singers in Nashville, suffered from a indifferent efficiency by River Phoenix in his final accomplished function earlier than his demise.

For the following few years, Bogdanovich directed a number of TV films, and acted in a good variety of them. His return to function movie directing was additionally a return to Hollywood’s pre-talkie period. The pretty entertaining, well-received The Cat’s Meow (2001) informed of the mysterious demise of the movie mogul Thomas H Ince throughout a celebration on William Randolph Hearst’s yacht, with Marion Davies and Charlie Chaplin among the many friends. Previous to his remaining movie, a documentary on the silent film star Buster Keaton, The Nice Buster: A Celebration (2018), he made She’s Humorous That Means (2014), a likable romantic comedy that proved Bogdanovich was able to find a manner between outright disasters and masterpieces.

He and Louise divorced in 2001. His two daughters, Antonia and Sashy, survive him.


Peter Bogdanovich, author, director and actor, born 30 July 1939; died 6 January 2022

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