Category Archives: Film


(Stefan Dege’s article appeared in DW, 8/26; Photo: Honored for promoting cultural exchange with Germany: Taiwanese dramaturge and theater festival curator Yi-Wei KengImage: Willie Schumann/Goethe Institut/DW)

Cultural workers from Georgia, Taiwan and Hungary are being awarded the Goethe Medal by Germany for their courage and commitment but not without controversy.

Georgian cinema professional Gaga Chkheidze will receive the official badge of honor from the German state this year, as will Taiwanese curator and dramaturg Yi-Wei Keng, and the OFF-Biennale curatorial collective from Hungary. The award ceremony will take place in Weimar on August 28, on the birthday of German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The president of the Goethe-InstitutCarola Lentz, will present the cultural-political award during a ceremony.

This year’s choice of prize-winners is likely to cause political trouble, especially in the former Eastern bloc country of Georgia. Gaga Chkheidze, until recently director of the internationally renowned Tbilisi Film Festival, has fallen out of favor with the ruling Georgian Dream Party. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, he publicly criticized Georgia for not

Gaga Chkheidze: Cultural bridge-builder

That stance cost him his position as head of the Georgian National Film Center. In addition, he was expelled by the country’s national film funding organization, the Georgian Filmfund. The Tbilisi Film Festival’s office on the site of the old Soviet film studios was closed, film grants were cancelled, and the festival’s budget was cut.

Born in Georgia in 1957, Gaga Chkheidze has always been considered a friend of Germany and a “cultural bridge builder,” and not only between those two countries. From 1976 to 1980, he studied in Jena, in the central German state of Thüringen. In the 1980s, he worked as the director of the German school in Tbilisi and taught German literature at the Georgian capital’s Ilia State University. In 1988, he organized a Georgian film retrospective at the Arsenal cinema in Berlin, for which he smuggled films across the Soviet border in his car. In the 1990s, he was a translator and program coordinator for the International Forum of New Cinema at the Berlin International Film Festival, before launching the Tbilisi International Film Festival in Georgia in 2000.

Tbilisi Film Festival under pressure 

This coincided with the founding of a National Film Institute in Tbilisi, which gave Georgian films a new boost. The budget for film promotion was tripled, movie theaters sprung up, and more and more films made it to international festivals, from Berlin to Toronto. Georgian cinema drew attention from the European film market. “Gaga Chkheidze’s commitment to film is crucial to Georgia’s connection to European and international institutions and programs, film markets and festivals,” the Goethe Medal award jury said in their citation.

Indeed, Chkheidze’s festival concept appealed to both filmmakers and audiences alike. Soon the Tbilisi Film Festival became an international meeting place for filmmakers. As director of the Georgian National Film Center, Chkheidze promoted the digitization and restoration of Soviet-era Georgian films. The preservation of the Georgian cinema heritage is another of Gaga Chkheidze’s achievements. 

But the Russian invasion of Ukraine also had an impact on Georgia. The Tbilisi festival came under increasing pressure, as demonstrated by the firing of its director. “Unfortunately, here in Georgia we are on the front line between democracy and autocracy,” Chkheidze said in a recent interview with Deutschlandradio. There are many signs that political development in the country is heading in the wrong direction,” he said. “It’s moving more toward authoritarianism — I don’t want to say to dictatorship, but totalitarianism, we’ve already had that during the Soviet era. No one in Georgia wants that anymore.” But the danger is real, he said.

Analysts say Georgia is indeed teetering between Moscow and Brussels. 15 years after its war with Russia, the country officially has aspirations of joining the European Union, which is offering the prospect of membership but still denying the country candidate status. “Society is completely divided,” the dpa news agency quotes Tbilisi sociologist Iago Kachkachishvili as saying. “The majority wants to join the EU, but many hardly understand that the road is long.” The ruling Georgian Dream Party claims to be Russia-friendly. Its chairman, Irakli Kobachidze, emphasizes the high tourism revenue from Russians, the equivalent of about €900 million ($972 million). It is true that Georgia’s government always appears pro-European to the outside world, says Kachkachishvili. “But it’s doing nothing to set itself on a course to EU membership; rather it’s becoming more and more pro-Russian.”

Two years ago, the documentary film “Taming the Garden” painted a picture of the situation in Georgian society. In it, Georgian director Salome Jashi tells the story of centuries-old trees that an influential man collects for his private park. 

The man — presumably Georgia’s ex-prime minister and party leader Bidzina Ivanishvili, who made his billion-dollar fortune in the finance and commodities business — remains unnamed in the film. Jashi’s theme is rather the uprooting of people, in both real and metaphorical terms. “Taming the Garden” caused a sensation at film festivals around the world, including the 2021 Berlin International Film Festival. To this day, the film is not allowed to be screened in Georgian cinemas.

The Goethe Medal for Gaga Chkheidze arrives in the midst of this political tangle, Georgia’s struggle for its course between Russia and the West. For the pro-Russian camp, the prestigious cultural-political award could be seen as an affront. To pro-Western factions, the award will be a sign of encouragement. In any case, the Goethe Medal is likely to cause a stir in Tbilisi.

Medals for Taiwan and Budapest as well

Another Goethe Medal goes to Taiwan this year, with curator, dramaturg and translator Yi-Wei Keng being honored. He has brought important impulses to the Taiwanese theater scene, says the Goethe-Institut, including in the areas of experimental theater, children’s theater and theater for people with disabilities. Under his direction, the Taipei Arts Festival has developed into the most important festival for performing arts in Taiwan. Guest performances and co-productions with Europe, the United States and Japan are cited. Yi-Wei Keng has also brought German theater productions to Taiwan, such as those by the Deutsches Theater Berlin, the group Rimini Protokoll and Raumlabor Berlin. Yi-Wei Keng, born in 1969 in Taiwan, first studied philosophy. In Prague, he worked with non-verbal theater. Back in Taiwan, he began working in theater and as an author. Since 2012, he has been artistic director of the Taipei Arts Festival.

(Read more)



(Carmel Dagan’s article appeared in Variety, 2/15; via Pam Green; Photo: Corbis via Getty Images.)

Raquel Welch, the actor who became an icon and sex symbol thanks to films like “One Million Years B.C.” and “Three Musketeers,” died Wednesday in Los Angeles after a brief illness, her manager confirmed to Variety. She was 82.

She came onto the movie scene in 1966 with the sci-fi film “Fantastic Voyage” and the prehistoric adventure “One Million Years B.C.,” the latter of which established Welch as a sex symbol. The actor went on to appear in the controversial adaptation of Gore Vidal’s “Myra Beckrinridge,” “Kansas City Bomber” and Richard Lester’s delightful romps “The Three Musketeers” (1973), for which she won a Golden Globe, and “The Four Musketeers: Milady’s Revenge” (1974). She was one of the first women to play the lead role — not the romantic interest — in a Western, 1971 revenge tale “Hannie Caulder” — an inspiration for Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill” (2003), according to the director.

(Earlier, Marlene Dietrich and Joan Crawford toplined 1952’s “Rancho Notorious” and 1954’s “Johnny Guitar,” respectively, but these were Western roles in which each actor held court, in effect; they didn’t ride the lonesome trail — like Clint Eastwood or Welch — bent on righting wrongs.)

Welch also showed some grit in the 1972 roller derby movie “Kansas City Bomber.” Variety said the film “provides a gutsy, sensitive and comprehensive look at the barbaric world of the roller derby. Rugged, brawling action will more than satisfy those who enjoy that type of commercial carnage, while the script explores deftly the cynical manipulation of players and audiences. Raquel Welch, who did a lot of her own skating, is most credible as the beauteous but tough star for whom team owner Kevin McCarthy has big plans. At the same time, Welch is torn between her professional life and her two fatherless children.”

Also in 1972, Welch appeared as a female cop who serves as a decoy in the hunt for a rapist in the police farce “Fuzz,” starring Burt Reynolds. The New York Times said: “The straightest performance is given by Raquel Welch, who isn’t around much of the time. When she is, she looks as irritated, but as resolutely patient, as Gloria Steinem defending women’s rights on a TV talk show.”

In 1973 she was part of the all-star ensemble for “The Last of Sheila,” a Herbert Ross-directed mystery movie famous for having been scripted by Stephen Sondheim and Anthony Perkins. Welch appeared along with Richard Benjamin, Dyan Cannon, James Coburn, Joan Hackett, James Mason and Ian McShane.

(Read more)


(Benjamin Lee’s article appeared in the Guardian, 1/1/23; via the Drudge Report; Photo: Franco Zeffirelli directing Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting in Romeo and Juliet. Photograph: REX Shutterstock.)

Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting accuse studio of sexual exploitation in nude scene in Franco Zeffirelli adaptation

The two leads from the 1968 adaptation of Romeo and Juliet are suing Paramount for child abuse over a nude scene in the film.

According to Variety, Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting, who were teenagers when making the Oscar-winning film, filed a lawsuit on 30 December accusing the studio of sexual exploitation.

In the suit, the pair claim that the director, Franco Zeffirelli, told them there would be no nudity and flesh-coloured items would be worn in the bedroom scene but he then later insisted they performed nude “or the picture would fail”. Zeffirelli died in 2019.

“What they were told and what went on were two different things,” said Tony Marinozzi, a business manager for the two actors. “They trusted Franco. At 16, as actors, they took his lead that he would not violate that trust they had. Franco was their friend, and frankly, at 16, what do they do? There are no options. There was no #MeToo.”

Hussey was 15 and Whiting 16 at the time of production. The complaint alleges the pair have suffered “mental anguish and emotional distress” in the years since and have lost out on job opportunities. Damages are being sought “believed to be in excess of $500m”.

“These were very young naive children in the 60s who had no understanding of what was about to hit them,” said Solomon Gresen, a lawyer for the pair. “All of a sudden they were famous at a level they never expected, and in addition they were violated in a way they didn’t know how to deal with.”

(Read more)



In Our Time

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Orson Welles’ film, released in 1941, which is widely acclaimed as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, films yet made. Welles plays the lead role of Charles Foster Kane, a newspaper magnate, and Welles directed, produced and co-wrote this story of loneliness at the heart of a megalomaniac. The plot was partly inspired by the life of William Randolph Hearst, who then used the power of his own newspapers to try to suppress the film’s release. It was to take some years before Citizen Kane reached a fuller audience and, from that point, become so celebrated.

The image above is of Kane addressing a public meeting while running for Governor.


Stella Bruzzi
Professor of Film and Dean of Arts and Humanities at University College London

Ian Christie
Professor of Film and Media History at Birkbeck, University of London


John David Rhodes
Professor of Film Studies and Visual Culture at the University of Cambridge

Producer: Simon Tillotson


(Adam Sweeting’s article appeared in the Guardian, 11/27;  Photo: Irene Cara as Coco Hernandez in Fame, 1980, directed by Alan Parker. She also sang the title song, which topped the British singles chart. Photograph: MGM/Allstar.)

American actor and singer best known for her role in the film Fame and co-writing the 1983 hit Flashdance … What a Feeling

Although her catalogue of recordings was not large, there were two songs that guaranteed Irene Cara a permanent place in the pop music hall of fame. In 1980 Cara, who has died unexpectedly aged 63, announced herself by topping the British singles chart with Fame, which also went to No 4 in the US.

It was the title song of Alan Parker’s eponymous film, documenting the struggles of students at New York’s High School of Performing Arts. Cara’s character, Coco Hernandez, was originally a dancer, but

The song’s pumping, anthemic tune and ecstatic lyric made it the perfect embodiment of every wannabe star’s ambitions – “I’m gonna live forever, I’m gonna learn how to fly … I’m gonna make it to heaven, Light up the sky like a flame.” Its aspirational influence reached down the years through a string of talent shows such as American Idol, Britain’s Got Talent and The X Factor. Cara also became an inspiration for other Latin artists. The actor John Leguizamo tweeted: “She made me believe that if you were Latin you could make it! She fuelled my community.”

Both Fame and another single from the film soundtrack, Out Here on My Own (a Top 20 US hit), were nominated for Oscars, and since both were sung by Cara she achieved the rare feat of singing more than one song at an Academy Awards ceremony. Fame took the best original song statuette on the night. But her best was yet to come. Oscar night, 1984, found Cara back in the spotlight, basking in the glow of her huge success with Flashdance … What a Feeling.

It was the title song from Adrian Lyne’s film Flashdance, and it occupied the No 1 slot on Billboard’s Hot 100 for six weeks while topping numerous other charts around the world. This time Cara was one of the songwriters, along with Giorgio Moroder and Keith Forsey, and shared in the triumph when it won the Oscar for best original song.

It also picked up a Golden Globe and two Grammys. The film was the story of an ambitious dancer trying to win a place at an elite dance conservatory, and Cara wanted the lyric to show how the character is “in control of her body when she dances and how she can be in control of her life”. She added: “I did sense that I had something special with this song.”

(Read more)


(Vanessa Friedman’s article appeared in The New York Times, 3/25; via Pam Green; Photo: Emma Stone in “Cruella.” The costume designer for the film was Jenny Beavan, who is nominated for an Oscar this year for her work.Laurie Sparham/Disney, via Associated Press.)

. . . there’s another Oscar-related clothes issue currently getting Hollywood all worked up: the fight for equal pay being waged by the members of the Costume Designers Guild.
(Bear with me: This newsletter is going to be a bit longer than usual, but it’s important.)


I mean, just think of the fashion trends started by streaming TV shows and movies over the last few years. Think of this year’s nominees for Best Costume Design, like “Cruella,” “Dune” and “West Side Story.”
Then, think of how important clothes are, not only to character (the ruby slippers! Superman’s cape! the “Flashdance” sweatshirt!), but also to the financial health of a film (merch).


And then consider that costume designers, who are 83 percent female, are paid 30 percent less than production designers (their organizational-chart peers), who are 80 percent male, according to research from the U.S.C. Annenberg Inclusion Initiative and the Annenberg Foundation.
Also consider that because costume designers are paid a flat weekly fee rather than by the hour, despite routinely working 80- to 100-hour weeks, and because pensions and health and welfare benefits are tied to an hourly wage, they “often make less than the wardrobe supervisors we hire, who are paid an hourly wage,” according to Arianne Phillips, a member of the guild’s pay equity committee. “We can’t afford to retire.”


Also, they no longer own the rights to their own designs, the way costume designers like Edith Head once did, so they don’t make any money from film extensions like Halloween costumes or limited-edition collaborations like Halston x Netflix.
No wonder they have finally decided to do something about it.


“It’s a direct result of the age of awareness in our industry tied to #TimesUp and the drive for inclusivity,” Ms. Phillips said. “And also watching Megan Rapinoe and the women’s soccer team and their fight for equal pay. We just want to even the playing field for the next generation coming after us. We believe this is an archaic system based on the presumption that costumes are women’s work and thus somehow less valuable.”
Well, you know, set construction = manly. Clothes = frivolous.


The guild members are hoping that when it comes time for their next negotiation sessions with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees union and producers, they will reach an agreement to set their base pay on par with that of production designers.
Ahead of that, the guild, which has 1,200 members, has embarked on an awareness campaign, starting with actors and directors, who apparently were as surprised as you may be (as I was) about the devaluing of the costume designer. Now 100 of said boldface names, including Elle Fanning, Michael Douglas, Olivia Wilde and Barry Jenkins, are part of a social media campaign called #nakedwithoutus. It’s worth a listen.


Meantime, I wanted to thank all of you for the responses to my “What to do with old ties?” missive. Your photos and inventiveness were inspiring, though what struck me most was the deep emotional connections and memories we attach to garments. Those ties contained multitudes, and history, and I loved hearing what they meant to you.
Finally, for some non-Oscar-related reading, meet Campbell Addy, a young photographer changing the definition of beauty; catch up on the last shows, including Ralph Lauren and Willy Chavarria; and consider the symbolism of Volodymyr Zelensky’s olive green tee.


(Arifa Akbar’s article appeared in the guardian, 3/13; Photo: A necessary affront … Aliaksei Naranovich and Raman Shytsko in Dogs of Europe. Photograph: Linda Nylind/the Guardian.)

Barbican, London
Fairytale imagery is mixed with absurdist humour in this prescient political thriller in which Russia has become a dictatorial superstate

Given the political history of the Belarus Free Theatre and its overt references to the war in Ukraine in this production, Dogs of Europe cannot be seen as theatre alone. It is art, activism and theatrical disruption, at once.

Having been performed clandestinely in garages and warehouses in Minsk, it feels released on this large-scale stage. Like a genie escaping from a bottle, there is a magnificent eruption of sound and spectacle. Big, haunting, discordant songs and music by Mark and Marichka Marczyk of Balaklava Blues expand to fill the auditorium. Maria Sazonova’s choreography is arresting in its acrobatic drama, with movements like orchestrated military exercises or assaults, and containing a fierce, fulminating physicality. A back screen for projections (with video design by Richard Williamson) begins as a roving camera from a computer game, which gives the show an unstable, lurching quality and seems designed to discombobulate its audience.

Every member of the ensemble has spent time in jail and their orchestrated movements play out street protests, battles, rape and murder. Inert bodies are dragged off stage, time and again. Deliberately cartoonish violence shows characters shot at point-blank range and bouncing back up.

(Read more)


(Scott Tobias’s article appeared in the Guardian, 2/14/2022; Photo: Michael York and Liza Minnelli in Cabaret: seductive, witty, delightful – and utterly bone-chilling. Photograph: ABC/Allied Artists/Allstar.)

 Liza Minnelli gives a towering performance in a loose adaptation of the stage musical that broaches tough subject matter with deft ease

Cabaret opens with a Nazi getting kicked out of the Kit Kat Klub, a Berlin nightspot catering to the prurient whims of a well-heeled audience in 1931. It ends with the entire club populated by Nazis, as if it were under occupation. In between, the show goes on with minor changes to accommodate a different clientele, and the country, too, slips inexorably into darkness, engulfing characters who are powerless to stop it, even if they’re inclined to do so. It is an utterly bone-chilling movie musical, yet seductive, witty and delightful – an unbearable lightness of being.

The contradictory tensions of Cabaret are managed with such deftness by director Bob Fosse that it remains, 50 years later, a rare film that feels like only one person could have pulled it off. How people continue to live their lives in the face of encroaching authoritarianism and violence is an endlessly renewable and relevant subject for movies, but Fosse choreographs the foreground and background of historic change with as much care as he brings to the song-and-dance at the Kit Kat Klub. “Leave your troubles outside,” beckons Joel Grey’s Master of Ceremonies to the audience in the opening number. Easier said than done.

Cherry-picking from multiple sources – chiefly Kander and Ebb’s 1966 Broadway musical and the semi-autobiographical novel on which it was based, Christopher Isherwood’s The Berlin Stories – Fosse heightens the contrast between the libertine spirit of his main characters and the nationalist, antisemitic fervor that was sweeping through Germany at the time. In an all-time great performance, Liza Minnelli is both winning ingenue and devastating tragedienne as Sally Bowles, an American performer at the Kit Kat Klub. Fosse cleverly introduces Minnelli as a background dancer first, suggesting her willingness to conform, to literally fall in line with the crowd.

But of course she doesn’t conform or shrink in the spotlight. She’s Liza Minnelli. Sally chooses to live her life moment to moment, with a spontaneous pleasure-seeking instinct that allows her to keep the blinders on. When Sally is off the stage, Minnelli’s performance recalls the vintage work of a young Shirley MacLaine, the star of Fosse’s debut feature, Sweet Charity. Jokes are made constantly about the number of men who have passed through Sally’s bedroom, but she has a bubbly naivety that suggests a born-yesterday innocence. She simply isn’t going to turn her thoughts toward the politics of the country that’s hosting her. Her world is the Kit Kat Klub, a disheveled room at a boarding house and wherever the latest party takes her.

Splitting the difference between Isherwood’s gay surrogate and the heterosexual in the Broadway musical, Michael York plays Brian, a bisexual British academic who moves into the room across the hall from Sally, where he intends to teach English for money while working on his doctorate. He doesn’t have a minute to settle in before Sally ropes him into a “prairie oyster” hangover concoction (an egg with Worcestershire sauce) and works quickly and effectively to make him the closest friend she has in town. His sexuality is an obstacle that she’s able to clear – unlike his last three girlfriends – but when the two meet Max (Helmut Griem), a rich baron who likes to play the field, it leads to a bizarre love triangle that complicates their relationship.

Inspired by the silent movie star Louise Brooks – both in her sharply cut bangs and her air of mystery – Minnelli commands the screen at all times, but shows tremendous versatility in a range of situations: as the featured performer of Mein Herr; as a Golden Age romcom flibbertigibbet; as a sexual adventurer; and, finally, as a woman who has developed the kind of hangover that can’t be washed away by a prairie oyster. Grey is similarly inspired as the Master of Ceremonies, acting as a kind of bellwether for the changes happening in the country, which has the effect of turning him from silly to sinister as the Kit Kat Klub starts serving a new audience. York can only seem temperamentally stodgy by comparison, but his performance accommodates Minnelli’s while giving the film a crucial moral footing in reality.

(Read more)


(Jon Blistein’s article appeared in Rolling Stone, 1/6;  Photo: American director and screenwriter Peter Bogdanovich, UK, 20th February 1973. He directed the film ‘Paper Moon’ that year. Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.)

The celebrated filmmaker broke-out with his 1968 thriller Targets and also scored a box office smash with the 1972 screwball classic, What’s Up, Doc?

Peter Bogdanovich, the celebrated, Oscar-nominated filmmaker behind classics like The Last Picture Show and Paper Moon, as well as a frequent actor, died Thursday, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 82.

Bogdanovich’s daughter, Antonia Bogdanovich, confirmed his death, saying the director died of natural causes. 

Bogdanovich actually began his career as a film critic and reporter before meeting the producer Roger Corman, who’d been so impressed with some of his work that he enlisted him to help out on some of his films. Despite this ostensibly unconventional path into the film industry, success came quickly for Bogdanovich: He earned praise for his first film, the 1968 thriller Targets, and his follow-up, 1971’s The Last Picture Show, earned eight Oscar nominations (including Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay) and arguably remains his signature film.

The filmmaker’s stellar opening run continued the next year with What’s Up, Doc?, a wildly succesful screwball romcom starring Barbra Streisand — in a character so molded after Bugs Bunny she’s eating a carrot in her first scene — and Ryan O’Neal. O’Neal starred Bogdanovich’s next film as well, the Depression-era dramedy, Paper Moon, in which he and his real-life daughter, Tatum O’Neall, played a father-daughter grifting duo (Tatum O’Neal famously won an Oscar for her performance at the age of 10).

But the rest of Bogdanovich’s career would be tumultuous, marred by major flops, financial troubles and personal tragedy. In 1980, Dorothy Stratten — an actress and Playboy Playmate Bogdanovich had begun an affair with while directing her in the romcom They All Laughed — was murdered by her husband, Paul Snider, who then killed himself. While Bogdanovich managed to self-release They All Laughed in 1981, it performed poorly. Three years later, he published the book,The Killing of the Unicorn: Dorothy Stratten 1960-1980, which was deeply critical of Playboy and Hugh Hefner, and effectively blamed both for Stratten’s death.

“I destroyed him,” Bogdanovich said of Hefner in a 2019 Vulture interview. “I destroyed the whole Playboy myth — which, by the way, was a myth. The so-called sexual revolution of the late ’50s and ’60s was just another way of making it easier for guys to get laid. They weren’t feminists. It was just another way of getting laid faster.”

Bogdanovich was born in Kingston, New York in 1939 and fell in love with movie at an early age. As a teenager, he studied acting, but eventually decided he’d rather direct. His earliest work was in the theater, but Bogdanovich’s maintained his love of movies in the reviews and features he wrote for Esquire in the late Fifties and early Sixties. After moving to Hollywood and meeting Corman, the producer tapped him to help on the 1966 Peter Fonda biker movie, The Wild Angels; Bogdanovich rewrote the script and directed the end of the movie, which became one of Corman’s biggest box office hits at the time. 

Targets — which was inspired by the Charles Whitman’s 1966 mass shooting at the University of Texas in August 1966 — followed in 1968 (that same year Bogdanovich directed another movie, Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women, under the pseudonym Derek Thomas). With the film’s success and Corman’s backing, Bogdanovich could have easily made a career in such genre flicks, but as he explained to The Dissolve in 2013: “As it turned out, I never made another film like it, really. I thought I would make a series of films like it, because it did well enough that I thought it would be the sort of film I would make. But then I read Larry McMurtry’s novel The Last Picture Show, and I fell in love with the idea of making that as a film, mainly because I didn’t know how to do it. I’m always challenged when I don’t know how to do something. I figure, ‘There must be a way.’ And Last Picture Show made my career.”

While the early Seventies were arguably Bogdanovich’s heyday, his fortunes changed halfway through the decade with a string of duds like Daisy MillerAt Long Last Love and Nickelodeon. After a few years away, he returned with the 1979 crime comedy Saint Jack, which earned high praise, but failed to perform at the box office. Around the same time, Bogdanovich’s long relationship with Cybill Shepherd — which began when he directed her in The Last Picture Show — ended too, and Stratten’s tragic death followed shortly after. 

After publishing The Killing of the Unicorn, Bogdanovich returned to filmmaking with the 1985 Cher-starring drama, Mask. In 1990, he released a Last Picture Show sequel, Texasville, though the film wasn’t nearly as succesful as the first. Following 1993’s The Thing Called Love, Bogdanovich took another long break from filmmaking before returning in 2001 with The Cat’s Meow; the last scripted feature he directed was 2014’s She’s Funny That Way. After making a documentary about the director John Ford early in his career, Bogdanovich returned to the form later in life, directing the 2007 Tom Petty doc Runnin’ Down a Dream, and a 2018 film about Buster Keaton, The Great Buster: A Celebration.

(Read more)




Released On: 30 Dec 2021

Available for over a year

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Austrian-born film director Fritz Lang (1890-1976), who was one of the most celebrated film-makers of the 20th century. He worked first in Weimar Germany, creating a range of films including the startling and subversive Mabuse the Gambler and the iconic but ruinously expensive Metropolis before arguably his masterpiece, M, with both the police and the underworld hunting for a child killer in Berlin, his first film with sound. The rise of the Nazis prompted Lang’s move to Hollywood where he developed some of his Weimar themes in memorable and disturbing films such as Fury and The Big Heat.

With Stella Bruzzi Professor of Film and Dean of Arts and Humanities at University College London

Joe McElhaney Professor of Film Studies at Hunter College, City University of New York

And Iris Luppa Senior Lecturer in Film Studies in the Division of Film and Media at London South Bank University Producer: Simon Tillotson