Peter Bogdanovich is a writer, director, actor, producer and film historian with a long and varied career. Rotten Tomatoes ranks his best films here.
Peter Bogdanovich is one of the most instrumental figures in Hollywood history. After bursting on to the scene with three consecutive hit movies in the early 1970s – The Last Picture Show, What’s Up Doc, and Paper Moon – the writer/director/actor/producer and film historian suffered a notorious fall from grace before rebounding his career by the end of the decade.
In 1985, Bogdanovich registered another moderate hit film with Mask, based on the true story of Rocky Dennis. In 2000, Bogdanovich landed the role of Dr. Elliot Kupferberg on HBO’s hit mob drama The Sopranos. As the cinematic jack of all trades prepares a new movie entitled One Lucky Moon, here’s Bogdanovich’s top critical hits.
10 Saint Jack (1979) 69%
After a string of financial flops in the mid-70s, Bogdanovich made a major comeback and return to form with Saint Jack, a loose character study of a jovial pimp and street hustler (Ben Gazzara) working in Singapore.
Jack Flowers wants nothing more than to make quick cash by operating a brothel in Singapore and use his earnings to retire comfortably back in the U.S. When the CIA offers him a chance to realize his dream for U.S. soldiers in Vietnam, Jack weighs all options.
9 Daisy Miller (1974) 71%
Although it earned an Oscar nod for Best Costume and a place on the National Board of Review’s Top 10 Films of the year, Daisy Miller marked Bogdanovich’s first financial failure.
Based on the classic Henry James novel, the romantic comedy of manners follows Daisy Miller (Cybil Shepherd), a beautiful young American who is courted by the dashing Frederic Winterbourne while visiting a Swiss Spa with her mother and brother. Orson Welles was originally slated to direct but left the project for Bogdanovich to take over.
8 The Cats Meow (2001) 75%
After spending seven years directing television in the mid-90s, Bogdanovich returned to the big screen with the acclaimed romantic murder-mystery, The Cat’s Meow.
Adapted from the Steve Peros stage play, the film recounts the infamous true event that took place on publishing magnate William Randolph Heart’s (Edward Herrmann) yacht in 1924. During a lavish Hollywood party, a high-profile celebrity turns up dead, prompting an investigation into such esteemed guests as Charlie Chaplin (Eddie Izzard) and Marion Davies (Kirsten Dunst).
7 Targets (1968) 89%
Based on the terrifying true tale of the University of Texas sniper, Charles Whitman, Bogdanovich’s feature film debut, Targets, still ranks as one of his all-time best.
The legendary Boris Karloff plays to type as a fading horror film star who feels his time in Hollywood is over. While making a public appearance at a drive-in movie theater, Byron Orlok (Karloff) becomes a hero when thwarting a deranged sniper and former Vietnam vet who’s been shooting motorists from afar.
6 What’s Up Doc (1972) 91%
Following his landmark achievement in The Last Picture Show, Bogdanovich scored another massive critical and commercial hit with the rom-com What’s Up Doc.
The acclaimed screwball comedy starring Ryan O’Neal and Barbara Streisand involves a mix-up of four identical plaid luggage bags at a swanky San Francisco hotel and the mad-dash of their respective owners to retrieve their missing possessions. The film became the third highest-grossing title of 1972.
5 Paper Moon (1973) 92%
Bogdanovich scored his third bona fide hit in a row with Paper Moon, a Depression-era comedic caper about a grifter who forges an unlikely bond on the road with a young girl who may or may not be his real-life daughter.
Moses Pray (Ryan O’Neal) is a career conman who finds himself in cahoots with Addie Loggins (Ryan’s real-life daughter Tatum O’Neal), a precocious young girl who just lost her mother. As the two hit the road, Addie proves to be a skilled hustler who helps Moses pull off one daring job after another. At age 10, Tatum O’Neal became the youngest Oscar-winner in history.
4 Mask (1985) 93%
Eric Stoltz gives the performance of his career under the direction of Bogdanovich in Mask, based on the tender true-story of Roy “Rocky” Dennis. The film won an Oscar for Best Makeup.
Rocky Dennis is a kindhearted boy who suffers a rare facial disorder known as Lionitis (craniodiaphyseal dysplasia). Despite his affliction, Rocky shows tremendous positivity while growing up with his free-spirited biker mom (Cher) and her boyfriend, Gar (Sam Elliot).
3 The Great Buster: A Celebration (2018) 94%
Bogdanovich’s most recent film ranks as his third-highest to date, according to Rotten Tomatoes. The documentary The Great Buster: A Celebration is a beloved look back at the life and career of silent film star, Buster Keaton.
Written, directed, and narrated by Bogdanovich, the film uses archival footage of Keaton with contemporary interviews to paint a portrait of the entertainer’s massive contributions to show business. The film won Best Documentary on Cinema at the 2018 Venice Film Festival.
2 Runnin’ Down A Dream (2007) 100%
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Runnin’ Down a Dream is a sprawling four-hour documentary about the late great musician’s rise to fame and his band’s subsequent navigation of the rocky music industry for over three decades.
The film charts the formation of the Heartbreakers in the 1970s (known as Mudcrutch), their meteoric rise in popularity, and concludes with a live 30-year anniversary concert performance in Florida.
1 The Last Picture Show (1971) 100%
With a 93/100 Metascore and 8.0/10 IMDb rating to go with its 100% Certified Fresh RT mark, The Last Picture Show is the greatest film Peter Bogdanovich has directed in his decorated film career,
Based on the Larry McMurtry novel, the film captures the small-town banality of 1950s Texas as a group of confused teenagers come of age in a decaying environment full of conformity, sexual angst, and awkward uncertainty. The film won two Oscars and earned Bogdanovich the only Academy Award nominations of his career for Best Director and Adapted Screenplay.
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