Voyage To The Planet Of Prehistoric Women
A spaceship to Venus is destroyed by an asteroid.
Another ship carries two men and their robot John, it crash-lands.
A rescue ship with three men aboard lands safely.
Venusians who swim in the seas find the incarnation of their bird-reptile god Ptera slain.
They pray for vengeance, calling down fire and flood.
The robot overheats while carrying the two through flowing lava.
The five liftoff through a deluge.
The Venusians cast down their idol and erect the lava-encrusted robot as their new, “stronger” god.
Fuller said the most realistic war film would have snipers behind the screen, peppering the audience.
Schrader says the American cinema is finished (Welles to Bogdanovich, “the Renaissance only lasted seventy-five years”), Lumet adds that film is dead.
Langlois said the death of cinema was murder.
From the Strip to the Valley, say Friday to Sunday. A glancing reference to White Heat, two scenes’ worth of Hitchcock (second gun-shop, lost ammo behind the screen).
The famous tale of Death in the marketplace of Baghdad.
The most beautiful, virtuosic scene has the family (father and mother, son and wife) watching The Joey Bishop Show in their darkened living room. The wife has to work unexpectedly, the son follows her to the bedroom while she dresses. He fingers a slender ribbon, she humors him and then leaves. He returns to the living room, the father shortly goes to bed, summoning the mother to him.
Hawks’ The Criminal Code is seen and acknowledged, Corman’s The Terror looms large. The phone booth gag at the drive-in is distinctly from The Quiller Memorandum.
What’s Up, Doc?
This is structure in the service of an idea, the attempt to produce a screwball comedy with contemporary techniques, which is as much as to say, after Zazie dans le Métro, You’re a Big Boy Now, and It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World. The whole thing is anchored on Bringing Up Baby, with the added precaution of jokes on the Cary Grant myth. To this is joined a musicological theme abstracted from The Philadelphia Story. The complicated luggage gag can be seen as a prismatic running gag expressing both themes.
Modernization is an easy application of technique, primarily seen in camera placement, lenses etc., applied to the scenarists’ and art directors’ transpositions.
The synergy of the plot combinations gives a good deal of energy with a relatively small amount of traffic management, this energy strikes the individual characterizations and makes them a bit more pregnant than their models, or gives them an effect of freshness. Eunice’s arrival at the waterfront hideout is sharply menacing and brutal, all caught up in her enflamed interest as she moves toward the camera, and then in her whimpering as she goes out.
Further encounters with the screwball record are placed at major junctures to fix the shenanigans and deflate the hilarity. Thus, before the judge’s quiet hysteria, the chase sequence is gently braked with a couple of classic gags, barrels rolling downhill, wet cement trodden on, driven through, etc.
Some of the best comedians of the time are called upon for special and revealing service, and are given spectacular opportunities for virtuoso solo work and some peculiarly rigorous ensembles, which again are realized as individual pieces against the highly-articulated general structure.
At Long Last Love
The genius of Cole Porter informs this great musical set in the Thirties, the one about a girl with a million from Rio, her swain a clever boy with a lucky hand, her friend from P.S. 122 the Broadway star, and a bored millionaire whose staid butler is sighted by her maid.
The action is generally filmed in long takes that encompass Porter’s introductions as a feature of style.
The critical response is entirely unwonted and unaccountable.
FDR CONFIDENT DEMO PARTY OK (Bogdanovich’s best joke, a tabloid headline).
360° pan, Singapore asleep and awake.
“Nixon going to China” (newspaper headline, New Nation, new man to audit the books, not the second set). How Buffalo got its name (“that’s in New York, near Niagara Falls”).
He runs a nice, well-ordered whorehouse, as filmed it brings to mind Robbe-Grillet’s Blue Villa, which of course is in “Kong Hong”.
He survives the vandalism of a midget’s triad gang.
He attends the death of the English auditor, and the arrival of troops on R&R, the come and go of the war in Vietnam.
He puts his foot down, ultimately, on blackmailing a Democratic senator who likes boys.
Variety had an aware view of this film, “extremely well-crafted, finely acted.” Canby wrote a doltish review in the New York Times, and Frank Rich a vehement and idiotic one for Time.
They All Laughed
Nothing easier than a combination of Howard Hawks (The Big Sleep, whence the cabbie) and Alfred Hitchcock (Rear Window, for the general organization of the cinematography, and which Bogdanovich makes evident is the basis of the Harlem long shot in Topaz).
Another element is a method of working in Manhattan that achieves a perfectly natural appearance amid lunchtime crowds, etc.
The well-prepared gags are not ends in themselves but fluidly cut on movement in a bariolage that represents New York seen subjectively from the standpoint of one who calls it home.
A cardinal work in any œuvre, the perfect attainment of Bogdanovich’s studies.
As in At Long Last Love, another much-maligned masterpiece, the style is so enthralling that the point might almost be lost, the way critics like Vincent Canby lost it. The young detective, his venture on an infidelity case, the mature detective resolved in his. A prismatic treatment of all the various considerations, problems and imbroglios.
Illegally Yours is a brilliant comedy that found no favor at all among the public and the press (here is Variety’s reviewer, “an embarrassingly unfunny attempt at screwball comedy, marking a career nadir for producer-director Peter Bogdanovich and his miscast star Rob Lowe”).
Bogdanovich himself has in recent years publicly disowned it, “I did another film called Illegally Yours, with Rob Lowe, that I had high hopes for, but it was re-cut completely by Dino De Laurentiis. It’s not a good picture, and that’s why... a terrible movie and I only did it because I needed some money.”
A recent television broadcast nevertheless reveals that De Laurentiis is a better editor (or a more discriminating one) than Bogdanovich thinks, or that the film has been all or partially restored. The only possible fault one can find is that the action sequences with moving cars might conceivably be said to lack something of Bogdanovich’s impeccable clarity, and in view of his remarks, perhaps the whole thing could have been even better than it is, but that is very hard to imagine.
The plot centers around a murder. The victim is wearing a tape recorder, the tape is picked up by an innocent bystander (Colleen Camp), who is attacked for it and then accused by her attacker of attempted murder. The plea is self-defense, but the defendant knows nothing whatsoever about the tape and the murder, and there is no body to be found.
One of the jurors (Rob Lowe) fell in love with the defendant when she was in sixth grade and he in first. He stumbles upon two eyewitnesses to the murder, and gradually untangles the case, which essentially involves thievery and blackmail.
The style has been compared to What’s Up, Doc?, though it’s evident how much Bogdanovich has gained in the way of nuance and mastery in the interim, if that is not an impertinence. Even if the film as it now stands is a diminution of his intent, there’s no mistaking the diligently personal style of the director, and it’s well worth noting that John Frankenheimer also claimed to have made one film “just for the money” and for no other reason. That film turned out to be 52 Pick-Up, an astounding masterpiece.
So, Illegally Yours at the moment is a bit of a puzzler, not the film itself but what became of it after its completion. Van Goghs still turn up in attics somewhat the worse for wear, however, and used videos of the film are advertised for as little as $2.98.
Amblin and Touchstone have never produced a really worthwhile motion picture between them. Admire, then, Bogdanovich’s generosity.
It should have been filmed in England with a British cast, but the only English director capable of it was at the time making videos at home for want of production money. And besides, The Boy Friend is certainly the last word on this sort of thing.
What you have is Blake Edwards at hyperspeed. Bogdanovich sets his mark by correctly filming Carol Burnett’s opening bit, and rises to this diapason several times. When it’s funny, it’s guffawing. The rest is dizzying.
So it’s a great film, from these stables. It might possibly have benefited from a deeper production. Bogdanovich takes the crew just past the limits of its competence with extremely agile camera movements. More rehearsal might even have helped. It might further be argued that greater astringency was required to distinguish the levels of farce sustained at various times, and particularly the “non-performing” side. However, from the good offices of Frank Marshall & Kathleen Kennedy, you couldn’t expect a bottle of witch hazel.
Bogdanovich in Hollywood, begging for astringent.
The Cat’s Meow
This particular brand of kitty treats may have inspired Resnais’ rather different Les Herbes folles, and is certainly acknowledged in its punchline.
The Mystery of Natalie Wood
The presumption of innocence in the grandstands of television psychometrists can be brought to bear on this and other matters as an afterthought or sidelight, and to what end?
In the planetarium the bulb is blown, Bogdanovich operates the controls, admits a star, conducts a seminar in the gloom.