Peter Bogdanovich, the Oscar-nominated author-director of The last slide show whose career, which also included hits like What did the doctor say? and Paper Moon, put him on a path towards living up to the example of those whom Orson Welles and John Ford, whom he so lamented, are dead. He was 82.
Bogdanovich died shortly after midnight Thursday of natural causes in his Los Angeles home, his daughter Antonia Bogdanovich said The Hollywood Reporter.
Bogdanovich, whose ever-present horn-rimmed glasses and ascot permeated him with a professorial air as he told of the Hollywood story he enjoyed, threw himself into A-list status with his second film, The last slide show (1971). The black-and-white drama set in a Texas city garnered eight Oscar nominations – including directing and adaptation of the script (shared with Larry McMurtry) in honor of him – and supporting actor awards for Cloris Leachman and Ben Johnson.
“Bogdanovich, 31, has achieved a tactile sense of time and place,” Stefan Kanfer raved Time magazine shortly after the film opens. “More, he has accomplished the most difficult of all cinematic feats: he has made ennui fascinating. Together, that’s enough to announce him as possibly the most exciting new director in America today.”
“It spoke to a lot of people,” Bogdanovich himself would say later in an interview with That Salt Lake Tribune. ‘People have told me it reminds them of their hometown, so I think it has a certain universality in it. Young love and sex and all that is pretty universal. “
Bogdanovich also got away from the project with a new love, golden-girl actress Cybill Shepherd, the model who had made her acting debut in the film after seeing her on the cover of Glamor magazine. This led to a breakup of his marriage to Oscar-nominated production designer and frequent collaborator Polly Platt, with whom he had daughters Antonia and Sashy.
He went on to make two more films with Shepherd: the decorative Henry James adaptation Daisy Miller (1974) and the musical Far last love (1975), who also starred Burt Reynolds, who sang and danced to Cole Porter’s tunes. But both flopped, so many in Hollywood – who just a few years earlier had praised him for reviving the industry – turned against him.
“They were sad that I had an affair with [Shepherd]said Bogdanovich in a 2019 interview with Vulture. “I have seen pictures of us; I look like an arrogant, attractive guy and she looks like a sexy girl. And we were rich, and we were famous, and we made movies together.
“Sometime in the mid ’70s, when we had terrible press, Cary Grant called me. He says,’ Peter, for God’s sake, will you stop telling people you’re happy? And do not. to tell them you’re in love. ‘ I said, ‘Why, Cary?’ ‘Because they are not happy and they are not in love.’ He was right.”
While his two next Picture show sequels – the crazy screwball comedy What did the doctor say? (1972), starring Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal, and Paper Moon (1973), in which O’Neal and his daughter Tatum (who won an Oscar for best supporting actress) portrayed fraudsters from the Depression era – were critical and commercial hits, Bogdanovich’s golden boy status would be short-lived.
The Directors Company, which he, Francis Ford Coppola and William Friedkin had set up in Paramount in 1972, disbanded soon after Daisy Miller as the partners went their separate ways.
Bogdanovich found himself entangled in tabloid headlines in 1980, when Playboy Playmate of the Year Dorothy Stratten, with whom he had begun an affair while directing her in the romantic comedy They all laughed (1981), was murdered by her husband, Paul Snider, who then killed himself.
A desperate Bogdanovich bought They all laughed from 20th Century Fox and even tried to distribute the film. However, the film did poorly and contributed to him seeking bankruptcy protection.
In 1984, Bogdanovich wrote the book The killing of the unicorn: Dorothy Stratten 1960-1980, in which he placed much of the blame for Stratten’s death on Hugh Hefner, arguing for Playboy the founder unleashed Snider’s anger when he banned him from his mansion. “If I were to confront my own responsibility, there could be no way of ignoring his,” he wrote. “She could not handle the slick professional machinery of the Playboy sex factory or its founders’ continued efforts to bring her into his personal fold, no matter what she wanted.”
While Bogdanovich persevered – in addition to writing and directing, he also undertook acting concerts, and performed most prominently as a psychotherapist on HBO’s The sopranos – his career came full circle in 2019 when he helped bring Welle’s long-term pregnancy attempts The other side of the wind to the screen.
In the film, which was originally shot in the early to mid-70s – the Bogdanovich director produced the finished version together with the producer Frank Marshall – he appears as the young hotshot filmmaker Brooks Otterlake opposite John Houston’s major director Jack Hannaford, a stand-in for Welles. Their characters seem to play out their own complicated master / protégé relationship.
Bogdanovich took part in a panel discussion at the New York Film Festival and said of the finished work: “It’s a very sad story, it’s a sad film, it’s an” end to everything “kind of film. The only thing that survives is the artistry And Orson did it himself in Borger Kane, which is about as negative a movie as you can imagine. No one gets what they want, it all ends in tragedy and it is ingeniously done so that one forgets it and says ‘harder’. And that’s what you’re saying in this. Art saves you from death. You say, ‘Orson is alive.’ “
Peter Bogdanovich was born on July 30, 1939 in Kingston, New York, the son of a Serbian painter. At the age of 12, he started keeping a short file with his opinions on every movie he had seen. As a 16-year-old, he studied acting with Stella Adler, and he carried a spear in a 1957 New York Shakespeare Festival production of Othello.
Around that time, he decided to instruct. “It was a big mistake because actors do not have to work so hard and get more money,” he said in a 1977 interview at the American Film Institute.
When he was only 20, Clifford Odets gave him a chance to direct and star in an off-Broadway production of The big knife, the playwright’s drama about Hollywood. Bogdanovich raised $ 15,000 to stage the play, which won strong acclaim in 1959. Two years later, he was named artistic director of the Phenicia Playhouse in the Catskill Mountains and led revivals of Kongevej, Ten little Indians and Rocket to the moon. He directed and co-produced another revival off-Broadway, Once in a lifetime, in 1964.
Bogdanovich wrote film reviews and feature articles for Esquire and other publications when he was encouraged by director Frank Tashlin to move to Hollywood so he and Platt, whom he married in 1962, drove across the country.
There he met Roger Corman, who knew him from his Esquire pieces, and the famous producer got him started on the Peter Fonda biker movie The wild angels (1966). He ended up rewriting the script and directing the end of the film. The film, which cost about $ 360,000, grossed $ 15 million and was Corman’s most successful money maker to that point.
Two years later, backed by Corman, Bogdanovich wrote, directing and starring in his first film, Goal, who starred Boris Karloff, who owed Corman two recording days. The image, about a sniper aiming at a drive-in herd, was inspired by Charles Whitman, who killed more than a dozen people at the University of Texas in August 1966.
Bogdanovich, however, would come to condemn violence on screen. Entering The Hollywood Reporter in response to the 2012 shooting in a theater in Aurora, Colorado, he said: “Today there is a general anesthesia of the audience. There is too much murder and homicide. You make people insensitive by showing it all the time. Body number in pictures is huge. It makes the audience think it’s not that terrible. Back in the ’70s I asked Orson Welles what he thought happened to pictures and he said,’ We’ll brutalize the audience. We will end up like the Roman circus, living on the Colosseum. ” Respect for human life seems to be eroding. ”
Platt read McMurtry’s 1966 novel The last slide show and encouraged Bogdanovich to make a film out of it. The film takes place in 1951 in the dilapidated city of Anarene, Texas, and was nominated for Best Picture.
His other films ranged from Nickelodeon (1976), a tribute to Hollywood’s quiet era, starring O’Neal and Reynolds; Saint Jack (1979), in which Ben Gazzara played a benevolent brothel owner in Singapore; Maybe (1985), with Cher as the mother of a disfigured son; and Texasville (1990), a sequel to The last slide show who failed to copy the success of the original.
Most recently, Bogdanovich directed the comedy She’s funny that way (2014), starring Owen Wilson and Imogen Poots, and the documentary The Big Buster, about the silent film legend Buster Keaton, who played Venice and Telluride in 2018.
“I’ve learned one thing: Every movie you make can not be life or death,” he once said Los Angeles Times. “You just have to keep making movies and hoping for the best.”
Bogdanovich helped write She’s funny that way with Louise Hoogstraten, Stratten’s younger sister, whom he married in 1988 when she was 20. Although they divorced in 2001, they remained friends and he moved into an apartment on Toluca Lake, which she shared with her mother, after crushing his femur in an accident while attending a film festival in Lyon, France in late 2018.
At the age of 30, before his film career took off, Bogdanovich was an established journalist and film researcher. He had monographs published by the Museum of Modern Art Film Library about Welles, Howard Hawks, and Alfred Hitchcock. For a generation of film school students, he served as a surrogate professor and served large quantities of plays for directors and the studios.
He also published a book from 1997, Who the Devil Made It: Conversations with legendary instructors, and compiled another book in 2004, Who the hell is in it: Portraits and conversations, containing 26 profiles and interviews.
Bogdanovich also developed a one-man stage show called Sacred monsters where he told anecdotes about his film career and made an impression on the famous directors he met.
In 1971, he wrote and directed a documentary about Ford for the California Arts Commission and AFI, which he revised in 2006 when it aired on Turner Classic Movies. Recently, he teamed up with TCM on one The plot thickens podcast.
Reminiscent of a conversation he had with Welles shortly before Borger Kane director died in 1985, Bogdanovich seemed to look back on his own life: “I said, ‘Jesus, Orson, I feel like I made so many mistakes.’ And he said, “Well, it seems like it’s hard to go through life without making a lot of them,” which was our way of reviving our friendship. That was the last time we talked together. “
In addition to his daughters, survivors include his grandchildren Maceo, Levi and Wyatt.
Seth Abramovitch contributed to this report.
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