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Books

Peter Bogdanovich: Interviews

Peter Tonguette (ed.)

(Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2015. Conversations with Filmmakers Series.)
Pages 184. Paperback, $25.00.
ISBN: 978-1-4968-0964-3.

Review by Dr. Kirk Bane

October 8 , 2017

This superb anthology, comprised of thirteen interviews with the noted film director conducted between 1968 and 2005, is an essential book for Peter Bogdanovich enthusiasts. Born in 1939, he is best known for such motion pictures as Targets (1968), The Last Picture Show (1971), What's Up, Doc? (1972), Paper Moon (1973), and Mask (1985). The Charles Whitman/UT Tower murders of August 1966 partially served as the inspiration for Targets, while The Last Picture Show, Bogdanovich's genuine masterpiece, was based on Larry McMurtry's legendary coming-of-age novel set in a dying West Texas hamlet.

Cinephiles also recognize Bogdanovich as a leading film historian. He has authored such important studies as The Cinema of Orson Welles (1961), The Cinema of Howard Hawks (1962), The Cinema of Alfred Hitchcock (1963), Fritz Lang in America (1969), Who the Devil Made It: Conversations with Legendary Film Directors (1997), and Who the Hell's In It: Portraits and Conversations (2004). At times, moreover, Bogdanovich has had an extremely tumultuous life, including much-publicized affairs with Cybill Shepherd and Dorothy Stratten.

An opinionated interviewee, he provides numerous insights into the world of cinema and the movie industry. Consider the following three observations by the filmmaker:

"A movie should be like a dream. It washes over you; you don't know what's affecting you; you can't do anything about it; you're taken away."

"We all write about the wonderful days of Hollywood, but it was always shitty. People were always going through hell. And they're always going to when you have an art that is essentially ruled by money. And it's so expensive that it has to be…You can't make a movie without some money. Even a little movie costs more than most of us have. It's always going to be like that because there are people who are interested in money and there are people who are interested in art. And the two of them usually aren't the same."

"Essentially, I think in some way you have to be an actor to be a good director. Also, you have to hear it in your head the way a composer or a conductor hears a score…When I'm working on a script I already hear it and see it a certain way, and then it's a question of getting the actors to sound that way and the crew to make it look that way. Sometimes an actor does something that's different, and I say, 'Hey, I like that. Keep that. I hadn't heard or seen it like that.' That's a gift. But, generally speaking, you're sort of trying to get them to do it the way you've heard it."

Informative and entertaining, these discussions with Bogdanovich initially appeared in such journals as American Film, L. A. Weekly, Literature/Film Quarterly, and Venice Magazine; two interviews are previously unpublished. An Introduction, Chronology, Filmography, and Additional Resources section round out Tonguette's excellent book.

This volume is part of the University Press of Mississippi's Conversations with Filmmakers Series. Other texts in this commendable collection include Laurence F. Knapp's David Fincher: Interviews (2014), Anthony Kaufman's Steven Soderbergh: Interviews (2015), Karla Rae Fuller's Ang Lee: Interviews (2016), and Robert Ribera's Martin Scorsese: Interviews (2017).

Review by Kirk Bane, Ph.D.
Managing Editor, Central Texas Studies

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