Sunday, June 10, 2012

Paper Moon, Tatum O'Neal, and one last thing about Peter Bogdanovich

I'm just a little older than Tatum O'Neal. I remember watching the Oscars. There was a little girl in a fancy dress. I thought that must be her. It wasn't. They called her name and she ran down to get her Oscar but she was wearing a little tuxedo. She just wanted to thank her father and Peter Bogdanovich.

They said she was the youngest person ever to win an Oscar, which bothered me because I was older than her and I realized that now I could never be the youngest person to win an Oscar. It bothered me even though I wasn't an actor and never had the slightest thought about ever being in a movie and there was absolutely no possibility of this happening.

I just watched Paper Moon for the first time in about thirty years. Tatum O'Neal was amazing in it.

It seemed to be the only one of Peter Bogdanovich's movies available for "instant viewing" on Netflix.

How the hell did I get on the subject of Peter Bogdanovich, anyway? I've written several entries here about him. Oh, yeah. Watched a documentary about the making of The Last Picture Show. He started out working for Roger Corman, he was friends with Orson Welles. Bogdanovich's reply to Pauline Kael's attack on Orson Welles and Citizen Kane was actually written by Welles himself. They thought it would look better with Bogdanivich's name as the author, and Bogdanovich never included it in any of the collections of his writings.

Bogdanovich had some great successes early on---The Last Picture Show, What's Up, Doc and Paper Moon, but it was all downhill from there. But as I've said before, I liked his later movies, Saint Jack and Nickelodeon.

He's been denounced as a selfish megalomaniac, and hubris is regarded as one of the things that brought him down. But selfish megalomania plays a role in success as well as failure. Arrogance usually serves people well.

But the guy's still at it. He may not have lived up to his early promise, but who has? You could take out those three huge successes and he'd still have a pretty impressive career.

There are directors like Edgar Ulmer---the books and documentaries about him make his life sound like a pathetic sob story because he was only allowed to direct B movies. As if a B movie director were barely a step up from car wash attendant.

Then we have people like Orson Welles and Bogdanovich. Even if Orson Welles had never directed a movie, if he had done nothing at all but The Shadow on the radio those TV commercials, he'd still have had a better career than most of us.

Okay, but there was one awkward situation--a case where a person's career's sad decline really did seem kind of sad. Alfred Hitchcock was looking around a place in San Francisco. An aged location scout had found it for a movie. Hitchcock didn't say anything, but he realized it was a former British studio head who had given him his first job in silent movies.

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