CDA: Peter Bogdanovich and Sidney Poitier
Peter Bogdanovich, such a marvelous director. He died the other day at the age of 82. You should read his NY Times obit, if you haven't already. They pointed out that he was more well-known for being sneered at for his personal life and for his occasional flops than he was for his good work. The Times obit included this hilarious quote by Billy Wilder: “It isn’t true that Hollywood is a bitter place, divided by hatred, greed and jealousy. All it takes to bring the community together is a flop by Peter Bogdanovich.”
I'm going to highlight three of his movies, two early ones and one late one. I haven't seen his first movie, *Targets.* It was produced by Roger Corman and starred Boris Karloff and got him a lot of notice. It got him the greenlight on his first major film, *The Last Picture Show.* That's a priceless, heartbreaking movie. It was nominated for eight Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director, and won for the two supporting performances by Cloris Leachman and Ben Johnson. If you haven't seen it, or haven't seen it in a while, it's worth checking out.
His next movie was the madcap *What's Up Doc?* Such a blast. It holds up very well, also worth checking out. He really showed his range with these two movies, from delicate drama to high comedy and both did strong box office.
I'll close with a great movie that not a lot of people know, *The Cat's Meow.* It's the story of William Randolph Hearst (Edward Herrmann) getting a group of friends together for an outing on his yacht. His girlfriend, Marion Davies (Kirsten Dunst), is there, and the man she was rumored to be having an affair with, Charlie Chaplin (Eddie Izzard). I don't want to give away too much of the plot, but let's just say things don't go so well. The highlight of the movie is a dazzling monologue by Joanna Lumley.
And Sidney Poitier! A truly revolutionary figure in American cinema, he died the other day at the age of 94. His NY Times obit is also worth reading. His journey reminded me of Leontyne Price. They were both trailblazers for performers of color, they both were among the first to have a major career playing leading roles. They both dealt with blatant racism with dignity and grace (and internalized rage, I'm sure) and also had to deal with disappointment from certain members of the community, that they weren't doing more. A difficult journey, to be sure, which really has so little to do with playing a role onstage or in a movie, but in the long run has such an impact on the culture at large.
Here's a lovely overview of his life and career:
Here he is in *A Raisin in the Sun.* I apologize that the sound is to tinny in this clip.
And I forget that he was such a good director. It seems like *Uptown Saturday Night* and *Stir Crazy* were on TV all the time when I was a kid, and I loved them. Here's the trailer for *Stir Crazy.*