CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s been more than 20 years since Peter Bogdanovich was in Chicago.
“I shot a picture here. It was cold. It was with Sidney Portier. It was called ‘To Sir with Love II’ and it was fun but it was very cold,” said Bogdanovich.
Now, he’s back and being honored for his life’s work in front of and behind the camera, WBBM Newsradio’s Lisa Fielding reports.
“The Chicago Film Festival has decided to give me an award. I said I’m not dead yet,” he laughed. “Any kind of gesture of that kind is very gratifying and better than a kick in the head.”
The legendary actor and director began making movies in 1966, first for Roger Corman as an assistant on “The Wild Angels,” then on his first film as director-writer-producer-actor with the cult classic “Targets” starring Boris Karloff.
“Everybody thought I was going to be an actor and I studied with legendary acting coach Stella Adler, but I liked being the one who called the shots so I began directing.”
A documentary about his body of work will be released on DVD on Tuesday.
“One Day Since Yesterday: Peter Bogdanovich and the Lost American Film” features actors, filmmakers and writers such as Jeff Bridges, Cybill Shepherd, Quentin Tarantino, Frank Marshall and others who offer their personal observations on Bogdanovich’s work.
“How does it feel to see your life on the big screen? It’s a little odd. It focuses largely on the film we made in 1980, called “They All Laughed” that we made in New York. It’s my favorite film of my own. That’s the focal point. The first 20 minutes is about my career then it goes into the making of the film.”
One of the stars of “They All Laughed’, Dorothy Stratton was murdered shortly before its 1981 release which affected the movie’s success.
“We had a tragedy when the picture was made. Dorothy was murdered and that obviously through a pall over the film which is a comedy, a kinda bittersweet comedy. Because of what happened, it became not sweet, just bitter and that affected the reaction to the picture.”
The movie was re released on DVD and is being shown on Monday at the AMC River East.
“I think it’s incredible to be able to watch this movie as it being just the movie as opposed to all the other stuff that happened. It’s just a beautiful, funny movie. It celebrates New York and being in love,” said Louise Stratton, Dorothy’s sister.
“The title comes from a card that Dorothy Stratton sent to me after we’d had a rather wonderful experience together. She sent me a card of a girl jumping happily on a beach. Inside she had written, Dear Peter, one day after yesterday,” he choked up. “It’s very personal to me.”
Bogdanovich struck up a friendship with Orson Welles after he wrote a series of notable monographs on him.
“I wasn’t trying to make films like him but I was influenced by his daring, his panache, some of the way he played dialogue. You can’t really do Orson. There have been directors who have tried. He was unique. I think he influenced me through bravery and just a general feeling of you can do it,” he recalled.
Welles even lived with Bogdanovich and Cybill Shephard for a time.
“It was fun having him as a roommate. Cybill smelled something burning one day. It turned out Orson was smoking a cigar and put it in his robe pocket while it was still lit and it burned a hole in his robe. He threw it in the bathtub. It even burned the rug,” he laughed.
What’s next for Bogdanovich? He says he’s working on a memoir and a film called “Wait For Me”, which he calls deeply personal, something he says he’s been working on for several years.
His legacy, he hopes will be how his films made people feel.
“I’d like my pictures to hold up. I run into people whenever I go anywhere and they say I saw your picture when I was a kid and I have to remind myself that these films are seen by so many people around the world. Making people laugh or cry is a great privileges. I love it.”
His most critically acclaimed film is “The Last Picture Show” which received eight Oscar Nominations. He also directed “Paper Moon” and “What’s Up Doc” and later “Mask” starring Cher.
For the full interview, listen to WBBM’s podcast below.