skip navigation
Peter Bogdanovich

Peter Bogdanovich

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (1)

Also Known As: Derek Thomas Died:
Born: July 30, 1939 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Kingston, New York, USA Profession: director, screenwriter, actor, producer, critic, film programmer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

The Peter Bogdanovich story is a Hollywood tale through and through, replete with memorable associations and fantastic success mitigated by mediocrity, tragedy and bankruptcy. Though his talent was never as great as the hubris that allowed him to believe his own press clippings and compare himself to Orson Welles after critics called his breakout movie, "The Last Picture Show" (1971), "the most impressive work by a young American director since 'Citizen Kane'," he did enjoy a brief run as a 70s wunderkind before slipping into a Welles-like decline that made his earlier words ("I hope I'm not repeating what happened to Orson") almost a self-fulfilling prophecy. In fact, Bogdanovich's eye for younger ladies separated him from perhaps his greatest asset (first wife Polly Platt whose production designs and story input played no small part in his greatest triumphs) and ultimately proved to be his Achilles' heel to tragedy, while living fabulously above his means and avoiding fiscal responsibilities led to the second of his two bankruptcies. Bogdanovich was a teenage actor in NYC and directed and produced an Off-Broadway production of Clifford Odets' "The Big Knife" at age 20. He worked as a film critic...

The Peter Bogdanovich story is a Hollywood tale through and through, replete with memorable associations and fantastic success mitigated by mediocrity, tragedy and bankruptcy. Though his talent was never as great as the hubris that allowed him to believe his own press clippings and compare himself to Orson Welles after critics called his breakout movie, "The Last Picture Show" (1971), "the most impressive work by a young American director since 'Citizen Kane'," he did enjoy a brief run as a 70s wunderkind before slipping into a Welles-like decline that made his earlier words ("I hope I'm not repeating what happened to Orson") almost a self-fulfilling prophecy. In fact, Bogdanovich's eye for younger ladies separated him from perhaps his greatest asset (first wife Polly Platt whose production designs and story input played no small part in his greatest triumphs) and ultimately proved to be his Achilles' heel to tragedy, while living fabulously above his means and avoiding fiscal responsibilities led to the second of his two bankruptcies.

Bogdanovich was a teenage actor in NYC and directed and produced an Off-Broadway production of Clifford Odets' "The Big Knife" at age 20. He worked as a film critic for such magazines as Film Culture, Movie and Esquire and began interviewing directors in the early 60s, writing monographs for the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Howard Hawks, Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock and publishing elsewhere the results of his talks with other luminaries like John Ford, Fritz Lang and Allan Dwan. Despite his reported megalomania, it is a mark of his humanity that Bogdanovich continued to care about and seek out "old directors" during his glory days of the 70s, compiling a storehouse of anecdotal information about the pioneering days of Hollywood which found its way into "Who the Devil Made It?," a huge and valuable collection of his interviews with 16 great Hollywood directors (including such first-person tid-bits as Raoul Walsh's account of stealing John Barrymore's body from a morgue and leaving it for a drunken Errol Flynn to discover on his couch) that was published in 1997.

Fed up with waiting for Broadway to discover his genius, Bogdanovich and wife Platt relocated to Hollywood where he entered film production under the aegis of Roger Corman who hired him (on the strength of his film criticism) as a second unit director on "The Wild Bunch." His next assignment for Corman was to cut some "T & A" footage of Mamie Van Doren into a somber Russian sci-fi movie, resulting in "Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women" (both 1966) and his first film credit. Bogdanovich's feature directing debut came at the helm of another Corman project, "Targets" (1968), in which he and Platt improved on the more pedestrian idea of creating a movie around 20 minutes from the 1963 Corman stinker "The Terror," coming up instead with an original and brilliant melodrama which relied on less than three minutes of "Terror" footage and gave its star Boris Karloff his best part in years. Karloff, essentially playing himself (in his last American film), is an old veteran of horror flicks, who heroically disarms a sniper near a drive-in theater where one of his movies is playing.

Though a commercial failure, the belated critical success of "Targets" convinced the backers of "Easy Rider" and "Five Easy Pieces" to give him artistic carte blanche on "The Last Picture Show," Larry McMurtry's coming-of-age novel about a group of high school seniors in a dying Texas town during the Korean War. Platt, who had come up with the idea to film the novel, provided the production design, and Bogdanovich, seeing it as a Texas version of Welles' "The Magnificent Ambersons," proceeded to produce a brooding, laconic black and white "masterpiece" that resonated the period. If "Picture Show" was his hymn to Welles, then "What's Up, Doc?" (1972) was his tribute to the screwball comedies of Howard Hawks. Although Barbra Streisand was no Carole Lombard or Katharine Hepburn (both of whom Hawks directed at their madcap apex) and Ryan O'Neal was doing an obvious Cary Grant imitation, "What's Up, Doc?" was a huge success, just the prescription for a country weary of the Vietnam War. Bogdanovich followed with the Depression-era comedy-drama "Paper Moon" (1973), which marked the peak of his filmmaking fame and his last picture with Platt as production designer, By then, his liaison established with Cybill Shepherd during "Picture Show" had kicked her to the curb.

Bogdanovich's fortunes began to flag with the ill-conceived costume drama "Daisy Miller" (1974), which Shepherd nearly single-handedly sunk with her lackluster performance. He rebounded for "Nickelodeon" (1976), recreating the early days of motion pictures, but the slide had already begun; although he regrouped somewhat for the low budget "Saint Jack" (1979) before the murder of the "love of his life" Dorothy Stratten by her jealous husband sent his life spinning out of control. His failed attempt to distribute "They All Laughed" (1981), his "record of Dorothy," led to his first bankruptcy, and though "Mask" (1985) opened to good reviews, whatever cachet it might have restored dissipated amid reports of his bratty behavior on the set, coupled with revelations of his financial difficulties. Of his subsequent features, "Texasville" (1990), a sequel to "The Last Picture Show" released to mixed reviews, and "Noises Off" (1992), adapted from the hit stage play, did not flop whereas the stench raised by "Illegally Yours" (1988) and "The Thing Called Love" (1993) has pretty much relegated him to the status of TV-movie director.

In a twist stranger than fiction, Bogdanovich married Stratten's half-sister, Louise Hoogstraten, a contemporary of his daughters, on December 30, 1988 and has managed to remain on good terms with both Platt and Shepherd. The director, who has seen his love life thinly, or not so thinly disguised in at least four movies, claims to have "more pictures that I want to make now than I ever did and I'm afraid I won't get to them." Of course, his work at the helm of TV-movies could earn him another shot at directing a feature film, but if he never makes another great movie, he will always have those few exceptional pictures from the glory days of the early 70s to anchor his reputation. "The Last Picture Show," "What's Up, Doc?" and "Paper Moon" stand as monuments to his (and Platt's) genius, but his lasting legacy may be as a link to the "old directors," providing in "Who the Devil Made It?" an indispensable text for anyone interested in Hollywood filmmaking.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

3.
4.
  Cat's Meow, The (2001) Director
5.
  Saintly Switch, A (1999) Director
7.
  Price of Heaven, The (1997) Director
9.
  To Sir With Love II (1996) Director
10.
  Thing Called Love, The (1993) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
2.
 Too Late (2015)
3.
4.
 You Are Here (2014)
5.
 Casting By (2013)
6.
 Pasadena (2013)
7.
 Healer, The (2012)
9.
 Abandoned (2010)
10.
 Queen of the Lot (2010)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1956:
Performed with American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Connecticut
1958:
Acted with New York Shakespeare Festival
1958:
Began writing film criticism for publications including <i>The New York Times</i>, <i>Esquire</i> and <i>Film Culture</i>
:
Worked as a film programmer for the New Yorker Theater in Manhattan
1959:
Directed and co-produced the Off-Broadway staging of "The Big Knife"
1961:
Wrote monographs for the Museum of Modern Art Film Library on Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock and Howard Hawks
1964:
Moved to California
1966:
Hired as second unit director by Roger Corman for "Wild Angels"; claims to have done rewrites (uncredited), location scouting and editing; was hired after Corman read some of his film criticism
1966:
First feature film credit (as additional sequence director and narrator), "Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women" (credited as Derek Thomas)
1968:
Feature directing and producing debut, "Targets," starring Boris Karloff and executive produced by Corman (also wrote and acted)
1971:
Release of first documentary, "Directed by John Ford" (commissioned by the American Film Institute)
1971:
Won acclaim for directing "The Last Picture Show"; received Oscar nominations for Best Director and Best Screenplay (shared with Larry McMurtry)
1972:
Produced and directed "What's Up, Doc?" co-starring Ryan O'Neal and Barbra Streisand
:
Formed the Directors Company with Francis Ford Coppola and William Friedkin
1973:
Again collaborated with O'Neal for "Paper Moon" (produced and directed); also co-starred a 10-year-old Tatum O'Neal who picked up a Supporting Actress Oscar; was the Directors Company's first offering
1974:
Provided companion Cybil Shepard with a starring vehicle, "Daisy Miller"; film received lackluster critical reception
1976:
Wrote and directed the heartfelt valentine to early days of moviemaking, "Nickelodeon"; third film with Ryan O'Neal; second with Tatum O'Neal
1979:
Made a movie version of Paul Theroux's novel "Saint Jack"
1981:
Released "They All Laughed"after Dorothy Stratten's murder; wrote screenplay and contributed music, in addition to directing; distributed film himself after failing to find a distributor due to the negative publicity surrounding the Stratten murder
1984:
Published the memoir, <i>The Killing of the Unicorn: Dorothy Stratten</i>
1985:
Directed the well received drama "Mask" co-starring Cher and Eric Stoltz
1986:
Founded Crescent Moon Productions, Inc.
:
Weekly film commentator for the CBS News program, "CBS This Morning"
1990:
Returned to "Last Picture Show" territory with the sequel "Texasville" (produced, directed and scripted); was a critical and box office failure
1992:
Translated the door-slamming British sex farce from the stage to the screen as director of "Noises Off"
1993:
Directed "The Thing Called Love," about a country singer-songwriter who wants to make it big in Nashville; one of River Phoenix's last roles
1995:
Helmed segments of the Showtime anthology series' "Picture Windows" and "Fallen Angels"
1996:
Directed a television sequel to 1967 feature film "To Sir With Love" (CBS) with Sidney Poitier reprising his role
1997:
Helmed another CBS movie, "The Price of Heaven"
1998:
Appeared as the leader of therapy group in "Mr. Jealousy"; co-starred and produced by Eric Stoltz
1998:
Had a cameo appearance in the feature "54"
2000:
Returned to acting, playing the recurring role of Dr. Melfi's (Lorraine Bracco) psychotherapist in the HBO series "The Sopranos"; also directed a fifth season episode of the series
2001:
Returned to directing features with "The Cat's Meow" (released theatrically in 2002)
2003:
Had a supporting role as a fictional version of himself in the Showtime comedy series "Out of Order"
2006:
Cast in the Truman Capote biopic "Infamous"
2007:
Appeared in Zoe Cassavetes' directorial debut, "Broken English"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Collegiate School: New York , New York -
Stella Adler Conservatory: New York , New York - 1954 - 1958

Notes

"I always looked at them [Bogdanovich and Polly Platt] like a replay of the old saying about Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers: 'He gave her class, she gave him sex.' With Peter and Polly, it was: 'He gave her the nerve, she gave him all her best ideas.'" --an unidentified former friend of the couple, quoted in Movieline, c. 1995.

"I think [Fritz] Lang said he was advised don't have an affair with an actress. And Lang said, 'I didn't listen.' And I thought when I was doing the interview, I didn't know what was in store. That was five years before "The Last Picture Show" (and the affair with Cybill Shepherd). Well, it's an occupational hazard--you're creating somebody in a way." --Peter Bogdanovich to the Los Angeles Times, May 15, 1997.

" ... The generation that we're dealing with in my book, which covers 16 directors who were born between 1885 and 1924, grew up either with no films or silent films. Silent film was a medium in which the goal was to convey everything visually without dialogue and without titles.

"When sound came in, the whole question of 'how do you convey this fleeting thought, this plot point, this nuance of character visually' became, 'What kind of dialogue can we write?' There's the difference right there. It's only because the great veterans of the silent era--most of them--continued well into the talking era that the talkies from '29 to '61 or '62 had as much visual power and impact as they did. Despite the fact that sound or dialogue came to dominate, the most effective moments in all their films are still silent moments, and they knew that." --Bogdanovich in Moviemaker, January 1998.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Polly Platt. Production designer. Married in 1962; divorced in 1970; worked on his movies "Targets" through "Paper Moon"; mother of Bogdanovich's two children.
companion:
Cybill Shepherd. Actor. Together for eight years; relationship began during filming of "The Last Picture Show".
companion:
Dorothy Stratten. Model. Murdered by husband after he discovered her relationship with Bogdanovich; subject of Bob Fosse's biopic "Star 80" (1983); acted in "They All Laughed".
wife:
Louise Beatrice Hoogstraten. Actor. Born c. 1970; married on December 30, 1988; half-sister of Dorothy Stratten; credited in two movies as L B Straten; separated on February 16, 2001; she filed for divorce in March 2001.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

father:
Borislav Bogdanovich. Post-impressionist painter.
mother:
Herma Bogdanovich.
brother:
Antony Bogdanovich. Died in 1938 from burns sustained when mother accidentally spilled scalding soup on him.
daughter:
Antonia Bogdanovich. Photographer, actor. Born c. 1967; worked on "Texasville".
daughter:
Alexandra Welles Bogdanovich. Actor. Born c. 1970.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"The Cinema of Orson Welles" Film Library of the Museum of Modern Art
"The Cinema of Howard Hawks" Film Library of the Museum of Modern Art
"The Cinema of Alfred Hitchcock" Film Library of the Museum of Modern Art
"John Ford" University of California Press
"Fritz Lang in America" Praeger
"Allan Dwan - The Last Pioneer" Praeger
"Pieces of Time" Arbor House
"Bogdanovich's Picture Shows" Scarecrow Press
"The Killing of the Unicorn: Dorothy Stratten (1960-1980)" William Morrow
"This Is Orson Welles" HarperCollins
"Picture Shows: The Life and Films of Peter Bogdanovich" Limelight Editions
"A Moment with Miss Gish" Saint Teresa Press
"Who the Devil Made It?: Conversations with Robert Aldrich, George Cukor, Allan Dwan, Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, Chuck Jones, Fritz Lang, Joseph H. Lewis, Sidney Lumet, Leo McCarey, Otto Preminger, Don Siegel, Josef von Sternberg, Frank Tashlin, Edgar G. Ulmer, Raoul Walsh" Alfred A. Knopf
"Peter Bogdanovich's Movie of the Week: 52 Classic Forms for One Full Year" Ballantine
VIEW COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute