Bogdanovich. At age 35 Peter Bogdanovich was on top of Hollywood and mentioned alongside Altman, Coppola and Scorsese as one of the most promising young filmmakers in the New Hollywood. His first five feature films all land in the archives and he was on a crazy run from 1971-1974 with four archiveable films in five years. The Last Picture Show is a big reason he’s on this list- it’s a top 500 film— and then he backed it up with Paper Moon two years later—two gorgeous black and white films that are very easy not only praise- but connect. Sadly, after Paper Moon in 1973 he’s never make another film that you really contemplated putting in the top 10 of its respective year.

Best film: The Last Picture Show. You may watch it the first time just to spot all the acting talent on display. Ben Johnson and Cloris Leachman won Academy Awards for supporting performances but how about the first archiveable film for the likes of Jeff Bridges and Ellen Burstyn? A second and third viewing with leave you awestruck by Bogdanovich’s achievement in the world he’s created in 1960’s small-town rural Texas. Robert Surtees (14 time Oscar nominee including The Graduate) as the DP and Bogdanovich craft a true achievement in black and white photography.

retro, nostalgia, old-fashioned and classic– Bogdanovich’s greatest film- The Last Picture Show

total archiveable films: 6

top 100 films:  0

top 500 films:  1 (The Last Picture Show)

in just his second film- Bogdanovich confidently creates a meticulously curated world in The Last Picture Show

top 100 films of the decade:   1 (The Last Picture Show)

most overrated: Nothing. I’m 100 spots or so lower on The Last Picture Show but that’s not a big delta—Paper Moon is the only other film in the TSPDT consensus top 2000 right now and that’s at #950- a good spot for it.

most underrated :  Nothing here either. I’ve yet to see Saint Jack– a 1979 Bogdanovich film starring Ben Gazzara- that has a good reputation.

gem I want to spotlight : Paper Moon. Unlike the sprawling ensemble of The Last Picture Show this is a two-hander starring Ryan and Tatum O’Neal (who famously won an Oscar for her performance as young child) set in the depression era. It’s easily accessible, entertaining, handsomely mounted by László Kovács and Bogdanovich. Rustic black and white rural photography yet again

superior rustic rural landscape photography throughout in Paper Moon
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another jaw-dropper of a shot through a mirror in black and white with the small town details playing wondrously off the reflection- from Paper Moon
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the influence of John Ford- this could be from The Grapes of Wrath

stylistic innovations/traits:

  • Like the French New Wave auteurs Bogdanovich was a renowned writer and film buff (his interviews with directors and actors may be of even more valuable than his films to most cinema lovers)—his appreciation and knowledge of cinema history comes through in his work- The Last Picture Show owes a great deal to John Ford and What’s Up, Doc? borrows heavily from Hawks’ Bringing Up Baby
  • Nostalgia and loss– his best films are magnificently photographed black and white films set in rural areas
  • Homages- like Tarantino he tried to bring back his heroes from his favorite films- instead of Pam Grier and David Carradine it’s Boris Karloff in Targets and Ben Johnson (who often worked with John Ford) in The Last Picture Show
What’s Up, Doc? borrows heavily from Hawks’ Bringing Up Baby

top 10

  1. The Last Picture Show
  2. Paper Moon
  3. What’s Up, Doc?
  4. Targets
  5. Daisy Miller
  6. Mask

By year and grades

1968- Targets  
1971- The Last Picture Show MS
1972- What’s Up, Doc? R
1973- Paper Moon R/HR
1974- Daisy Miller R
1985- Mask R




*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film

MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film

HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film

R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives