RIP Peter Bogdanovich (1939-Jan 6, 2022)
I heard of his death from a student today right at the start of the class, and my first image was of a forever young Peter Bogdanovich. For some reason I could not think of him as an old man, only as a young, exuberant member of the Hollywood Renaissance, part of the younger generation of Post-Hollywood directors who were not out to destroy Hollywood but change it from within, by making spunkier, more personal genre films. Bogdanovich started off as a film critic, the sort that gave you the impression of hanging around trying to pester his idols like Ford, Walsh and Lang, until they would respond to his queries. His love of John Ford led to a book on him and a documentary in 1971. Prior to that was his meta-sniper film Targets, which starred an aging Boris Karloff playing himself, an old Monster icon who is no longer scary in a world where boy next door types are picking innocent people off with a shotgun from the top of a water tower. Bogdanovich may have reached his peak early with his next film The Last Picture Show, and his other very fine film Paper Moon. By the 1990s however, after a few box-office duds (Daisy Miller, Nickelodeon, Saint Jack) Bogdanovich saw himself an outlier in an industry he never fell out of love with. Somehow it fell out of love with him, and Bogdanovich saw himself working more and more in Television and taking up roles much like Sam Fuller in an earlier generation did at the end of his career. No doubt he lived a fruitful live. Heck he had a longish fling with one of the most beautiful women of her time, Cybill Sheppard (which ruined his relationship with his then wife, and foreshadowed other failed or troubled relationships later in his life.