Sunday, September 12, 2010
I've long thought that Peter Bogdanovich was one of the great undervalued men of cinema. I discovered him the way I assume most people do, by the reputation of his second film, the critical and commercial success The Last Picture Show. When he made the film in 1971, he was thrust to the forefront of the film geek generation that briefly held sway in Hollywood following the success of Easy Rider. He had a few more big hits after that and then his career took a sharp turn. His films started flopping. His marriage fell apart because of an affair with his leading lady Cybil Shepherd, and then that relationship fell apart. His relationship with model-turned-actress Dorothy Stratton ended in tragedy when her jealous estranged husband brutally murdered her. Bogdanovich's life fell apart. Financial ruin followed, and it seemed as if he might not recover.
Happily, he put his life back together. He did a lot of work in television, directing TV films and issuing a supporting role on The Sopranos. He's even managed in an increasingly convoluted Hollywood to direct some movies.
Now he's on Indiewire with a new blog called, of course, Blogdanovich. As most fans of his work know, Bogdanovich started out as an actor but first made his name as a writer. He did early books on Allan Dwan, John Ford, and Orson Welles. His Welles book led him into a collaboration with The Great One on the bible of all Wellesians, This Is Orson Welles. His book Who The Devil Made It, a collection of interviews with classic directors is an essential film book. Essential. As in, you must read this book before you call yourself a film geek.
The prospect of Bogdanovich blogging about classic film (issuing short introductions to films like Ball of Fire) is a happy thought. Here's hoping he keeps it up.