SHE'S FUNNY THAT WAY
After spending most of his teens studying acting with the legendary Stella
Adler, and working as an actor in live TV and various theaters around the
country, including the New York and the American Shakespeare Festivals,
PETER BOGDANOVICH at age 20 began directing plays Off-Broadway and in
N.Y. summer theater. He also wrote for the Museum of Modern Art a series of
three monographs on Orson Welles, Howard Hawks, and Alfred Hitchcock, the first
such retrospective studies of these directors in America. He also began writing
a classic series of feature articles and profiles for Esquire, doing the
groundbreaking Humphrey Bogart tribute, as well as definitive pieces on James
Stewart, Jerry Lewis, and John Ford, among others.
In 1966 he began working in movies first as Roger Corman's assistant on the hit,
"The Wild Angels"; Bogdanovich without credit re-wrote most of the script and
directed the second unit. Within a year, Corman financed Bogdanovich's first
film as director-writer-producer-actor with the cult classic, "Targets",
starring Boris Karloff in his last great film role, virtually playing himself.
In 1971, Bogdanovich commanded the approving attention of both critics and
public with "The Last Picture Show", starring then-unknowns Jeff Bridges and
Cybill Shepherd, Ellen Burstyn, Cloris Leachman, and other newcomers, a
brilliant look at small-town Texan-American life in the early 1950s. The film
won the New York Film Critics' Circle Award for Best Screenplay (which
Bogdanovich co-wrote with novelist Larry McMurtry), the British Academy Award
for Best Screenplay, and received a total of eight Academy Award nominations,
including three for Bogdanovich; Ben Johnson and Cloris Leachman won for Best
Supporting Actor and Actress. A couple of years ago, the Library of Congress
designated the film as a National Treasure.
An unapologetic popularizer of the classic Hollywood era of great movie makers,
Bogdanovich had a second huge success in 1972 with "What's Up, Doc?", a madcap
romantic farce starring Barbara Streisand and Ryan O'Neal, made in the style of
'30s screwball comedy; it won The Writers' Guild of America Award for Best
Screenplay, on which Bogdanovich had worked with Buck Henry, David Newman and
Bob Benton. One year later, he recreated a memorable vision of rural '30s
America with "Paper Moon", a Depression Era tale about a pair of unlikely con
artists, which got four Academy Award nominations and nabbed a Supporting
Actress Oscar for nine-year-old Tatum O'Neal in her screen debut, the youngest
performer ever to win an Academy Award. The film was also awarded the Silver
Shell at The San Sebastian Film Festival.
Bogdanovich followed this up with his critically acclaimed (N.Y. Times,
Newsweek, etc.) version of Henry James' classic "Daisy Miller", for which he was
named Best Director at the Brussels Film Festival. Another highly praised drama
followed with Bogdanovich's version of the Paul Theroux novel, "Saint Jack",
starring Ben Gazzara and Denholm Elliot, which told the story of an amiable and
ambitious American pimp living in Singapore. Shot entirely on location, the
picture received the coveted Critics' Prize at the Venice Film Festival. After
directing Audrey Hepburn in her last starring picture, the bittersweet romantic
comedy, "They All Laughed", co-starring Gazzara, John Ritter, and Dorothy
Stratten, and filmed in New York, Bogdanovich scored another major triumph with
1985's "Mask", starring Cher and Eric Stoltz in the true story of a boy whose
face has been terribly disfigured by a rare disease and the mother who has
instilled in her son a sense of confidence and love. The film won an Academy
Award and Cher won the Best Actress Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
After guiding Michael Frayn's classic theater comedy "Noises Off" to the screen
for Steven Spielberg's company with an all-star cast, including Michael Caine,
Christopher Reeve, and Carol Burnett, as well as the well-received sequel to
"The Last Picture Show", based on Larry McMurtry's best-seller, "Texasville". In
2002, Bogdanovich again received critical praise and commercial success with
"The Cat's Meow". This suspenseful and entertaining satirical drama tells the
true story of a mysterious 1924 death on board the yacht of William Randolph
Hearst; starring Kirsten Dunst (as Hearst's mistress Marion Davies), Eddie
Izzard (as Charlie Chaplin), Edward Herrmann (as Hearst) and Jennifer Tilly (as
Louella Parsons), all of whom garnered glowing notices.
Having published over twelve books on various aspects of film and filmmaking,
Bogdanovich currently has four of his works in print: the bestselling "Who The
Devil Made It" (1997), which includes interviews with sixteen legendary
directors, including Alfred Hitchcock, Fritz Lang, George Cukor, and Howard
Hawks (5 printings in hardcover; currently 4th paperback printing); "Peter
Bogdanovich's Movie Of The Week" (1999), a collection of pieces on fifty-two
film recommendations for a year of classics (in its 3rd printing); "This Is
Orson Welles" (revised and expanded edition 1998), comprised of his
conversations over a period of five years with by now nearly mythological
co-author Orson Welles (in its 5th printing), already translated into five
foreign languages; and his classic interview book, "John Ford", which has been
continuously in print since its first edition in 1967. "Who The Devil Made It"
also received a Special Citation from the Los Angeles Film Critics' Association,
as well as the coveted Barbari Award from the Italian Film Critics' Association.
In 2004 came the premiere of Bogdanovich's 3-hour ABC special, "The Mystery Of
Natalie Wood", as well as his hard-hitting docudrama about the infamous
ballplayer Pete Rose, called HUSTLE. At the end of the year, Knopf published his
latest book, "Who The Hell's In It", which features chapters on 25 stars he knew
or worked with including Cary Grant, James Stewart, Marlene Dietrich, James
Cagney, Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando. Also shown was the episode he directed,
"Sentimental Education," for the 5th season of the award-winning HBO series,
"The Sopranos", in which for four seasons he has had the recurring role of the
shrink's (Lorraine Bracco's) shrink.
In 2007 he directed the 4-hour documentary, "Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers",
RUNNIN' DOWN A DREAM, about Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers which Chronicled the
history of the band, from its inception as Mudcrutch, right up to the 30th
anniversary concert in Petty's hometown of Gainesville, Florida. The movie
features interviews with George Harrison, Eddie Vedder, Stevie Nicks, Dave Grohl,
Jeff Lynne, Rick Rubin, Johnny Depp, Jackson Browne and more. Petty's solo
career is also touched on, as is his time with The Traveling Wilburys. The film
was awarded the 2009 Grammy for Best Long Form Music Video.
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