Next to Martin Scorsese, there are few directors out there who have the sort of encyclopedic knowledge of film history as Peter Bogdanovich. He has also worked with and interviewed some of cinema’s most honored helmers: John Ford, Howard Hawkes and Orson Welles to name the few. This afternoon, film historian Leonard Maltin interviewed the director in a cozy, intimate discussion at the TCM Classic Film Festival’s Club TCM.
Bogdanovich revealed some lovely on the craft of directing (always cut on movement. The director is the first audience. Geography is everything) his thought on actors (Tatum O’Neill had ‘a face like a fist’) as well as some hilarious anecdotes:
Jerry Lewis loaning Bogdanovich a classic mustang while working on an extensive interview for Esquire because he couldn’t stand seeing Bogdanovich’s ‘piece of shit car everyday.’
A cantankerous John Ford on the set of Cheyenne Autumn snapping at Bogdanovich, “don’t tell me your life story, goddammit, just answer the question!”
And, while directing Barbra Streisand in What’s Up Doc, the mellow, low-key Bogdanovich insisting that the notoriously independent diva read lines.
‘You’re making me read lines,’ she said indignantly.
‘That’s just how I work.;
Her agent rang him up urgently and say, ‘You’re making her read lines?’
‘She’ll get used to it,’ he said.
She eventually got used to the idea. But when he started coaching her on which words to emphasize in a rendition of As Time Goes By she stopped him and said, ‘Now you’re telling me how to sing?’
And she listened.