WUNDERKIND MEETS LEGEND: REMEMBERING PETER BOGDANOVICH

Avidly listening to the legendary director Otto Preminger in his Detroit hotel suite in 1971 as he recounted acerbic tales of an old Hollywood slipping into the sunset from the man who had made such classics as Laura and Anatomy of a Murder, we were interrupted by a knock on the door.

A moment later, a somewhat unprepossessing young man wearing horn-rimmed glasses glided into the room. Peter Bogdanovich was anxious to meet one of his film heroes, and Preminger, beaming at the attention, was delighted to meet Bogdanovich. At that time, the 31-year-old former film critic, and Orson Welles pal, was Hollywood’s hottest and most adored young filmmaker thanks to the critical adulation showered upon his second feature, The Last Picture Show.

It was an amazing moment to witness, Old Hollywood coming face-to-face with the New Hollywood. I don’t recall much about their conversation, but I do believe the word masterpiece was tossed back and forth a time or two.

Standing together in that hotel suite, Preminger at the tail end of his long career, could shake hands with the future; Young Bogdanovich, at the beginning of his, had a closeup view of the movie past he at once revered and wanted desperately to replace. There is always the new gun in town. Back then Bogdanovich was the new gun, but as Preminger could have told him from personal experience, it wouldn’t last.

And it didn’t.

During the years I lived in Los Angeles, I would occasionally spot Bogdanovich browsing through the bookstore at the Beverly Center or poking around Book Soup, the iconic Sunset Boulevard book emporium. He was alone, way down on his luck at that point. If anyone other than me recognized him, they gave scant sign of it.

When the news came of his death at the age of 82, he was probably better remembered as the psychotherapist in The Sopranos than he was for The Last Picture Show or any of his other films.

But as I tend to do these days, I paused to remember another time sticking stubbornly to hazy memory: that morning in a Detroit hotel suite when the wunderkind met the legend.

About

Author of "The Sanibel Sunset Detective" and "The Strange." Ron spends part of the year on Sanibel Island, Florida, where he writes detective novels featuring private eye Tree Callister. When he is not in Florida, he resides outside Toronto, Ontario with his wife, Kathy.

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