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Peter Bogdanovich, director of 'The Last Picture Show,' has died at 82


Peter Bogdanovich, director of "The Last Picture Show" and "Paper Moon" has died. He was 82. Like the French new wave directors he admired, Bogdanovich came to filmmaking by way of film criticism.

So we asked NPR's film critic Bob Mondello for a remembrance.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: He was a movie nerd before he was a moviemaker, seeing hundreds of films a year in his 20s and writing essays for Esquire magazine, championing the likes of Howard Hawks and Orson Welles. So when B-movie maestro Roger Corman offered him a crash course in directing and his 1971 coming-of-age drama "The Last Picture Show" got described as Wellesian (ph), it was the highest compliment possible.


BEN JOHNSON: (As Sam the Lion) You wouldn't believe how this country's changed. I reckon the reason why I always drag you out here is probably I'm just as sentimental as the next feller (ph) when it comes to old times.

MONDELLO: "The Last Picture Show" received eight Oscar nominations and made Bogdanovich Hollywood's latest wunderkind, a new-wave classicist in a counterculture era. It also broke up his marriage when he took up with its young star, Cybill Shepherd.


CYBILL SHEPHERD: (As Jacy Farrow) But, Mama, it's a sin - isn't it? - unless you're married. You know I wouldn't do that.

ELLEN BURSTYN: (As Lois Farrow) Don't be so mealy-mouthed.

MONDELLO: The following year, he made a Howard Hawks-inspired screwball comedy called "What's Up, Doc?," starring Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'Neal...


BARBRA STREISAND: (As Judy Maxwell) Where are we? I can't see.

RYAN O'NEAL: (As Howard Bannister) Well, there's not much to see, actually. We're inside a Chinese dragon.

MONDELLO: ...And a year after that, the Depression-era dramedy "Paper Moon," in which O'Neal's daughter Tatum stole the show from her father and won an Oscar.


TATUM O'NEAL: (As Addie Loggins) It ain't as if you was my pa. That'd be different.

R O'NEAL: (As Moses Pray) Well, I ain't your pa, so just get that out of your head. I don't care what those neighbor ladies said.

T O'NEAL: (As Addie Loggins) We got the same jaw.

R O'NEAL: (as Moses Pray) Lots of people got the same jaw.

T O'NEAL: (As Addie Loggins) lt's possible.

R O'NEAL: (As Moses Pray) No, no. It ain't possible.

T O'NEAL: (As Addie Loggins) Then I want my $200.

R O'NEAL: (As Moses Pray) All right.

MONDELLO: But none of his subsequent films were as well-received. And tragedy struck when he took up with another of his leading ladies, Dorothy Stratten, and she was murdered by her estranged husband. Declaring bankruptcy as his directing career faded, he supplemented his income with acting gigs, including a recurring role on "The Sopranos" and a part as a DJ in Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill." He also wrote a dozen books on the likes of Alfred Hitchcock and Lillian Gish, bringing him back full circle to criticism - Peter Bogdanovich, a direct line from Orson Welles to Quentin Tarantino, and arguably Hollywood's most celebrated film scholar.

Bob Mondello, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF OATMELLO FEAT. LATE ERA'S "GOOD NIGHT") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career — hired to write for every small paper that ever folded in Washington, just as it was about to collapse — saw that jinx broken in 1984 when he came to NPR.
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