This homage to the childhood days of the motion pictures starts in 1910, when the young attorney Leo Harrigan by chance meets a motion picture producer. Immediately he’s invited to become a writer for him – the start of a sensational career. Soon he’s promoted to a director and shoots one silent movie after the other in the tiny desert village Cacamonga with a small crew of actors. But the competition is hard: the patent agency sends out Buck Greenway to sabotage them. When they visit L.A., his crew is surprised by a new species: fans! —IMDb
The son of immigrants fleeing the Nazis—his father was a Serbian painter and pianist and his mother was descended from a rich Jewish Austrian family—Peter Bogdanovich was conceived in Europe but born in America. He originally was an actor in the 1950s, studying his craft with legendary acting teacher Stella Adler and appearing on television and in summer stock. In the early 1960s he achieved notoriety for programming movies at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. An obsessive cinema-goer, sometimes seeing up to 400 movies a year in his youth, Bogdanovich prominently showcased the work of American directors such as John Ford, about whom he subsequently wrote a book based on the notes he had produced for the MOMA retrospective of the director, and the then-underappreciated Howard Hawks. Bogdanovich also brought attention to such forgotten pioneers of American cinema as Allan Dwan.
Bogdanovich was influenced by the French critics of the 1950s who wrote for Cahiers du Cinema… read more
Peter Bogdanovich's homage to the early days of cinema. Shot entirely in black and white. It is quite often a hilarious film, lots of slapstick, film in jokes and snappy dialogue, when you have a great cast like Ryan O'Neal, Burt Reynolds, Brian Keith, John Ritter and the gorgeous Jane Hitchcock you know you got something good to invest in. But, it does drag on in some parts and really didn't need to be 2 hours. The one thing that any film goer will get from this is the passion these people felt about making moving pictures despite the war going on in the industry at that time.Producers of big films were making it hard for anyone starting out to make a film as they formed a Patent Agency in order to steal film equipment, beat up or even kill people from making films.I really enjoyed Bogdanovich's direction, he had his own unique vision in the 70's and this film definitely show cases it.
The knockabout comedy of the first half feels fairly forced and not very funny. However, when the storyline moves out West an affecting melancholy begins to creep in. Yes the Griffith worship is completely blind to the unsavoury aspects of his work and feels like a bit of a cheat. Overall it does work much better in the director approved black and white and at times feels a worthy companion to Paper Moon.
Ya, the director's cut, while not a perfect film, was very, very good, taking the screwball style developed in "What's Up, Doc" and applying it to a film filled with cinematic commentary. The Griffith worship is a little much (especially not including any racist scenes of "Birth of a Nation" in a ten minute excerpt) but this is a very overlooked film in the Bogdanovich oeuvre.