Behold this most eccentric of movie trailers. It’s a four minute theatrical trailer for ‘Paper Moon’ which features Ryan O’Neal, Tatum O’Neal and…Peter Bogdanovich. Indeed the wunderkind director is all over this, mugging with the cast, laughing off-camera, playing director with great enthusiasm etc. It reminds us of what a powerfully famous presence Peter was in the early-to-mid 70s, turning up on talk shows, being photographed being all lovey-dovey with Cybil Shepard and in general spreading his great enthusiasm for filmmaking and filmmakers…until the party was over. Peter once remembered a bit of advice Cary Grant gave him, when the older man told Peter to tone down all the talk about how happily in love he and Shepard were. “Why, Cary? I thought everybody loves people who are in love.” “Don’t you believe it,” answered Grant grimly. When Peter’s film ‘At Long Last Love’ opened to dismal business and reviews in 1975, Grant was proven correct. Billy Wilder cruelly remarked at the time that when the film bombed “you could hear the champagne corks popping all over town.” Peter had a tremendous ride that was unfairly curtailed and spent the next decades of his career working semi-steadily, always directing whatever project he had launched or inherited with great vigor and brio…but constantly having to live under the gloom of the narrative of his early rocket-like success and its ignominious demise. By the time he and I became friends in the early 2000s he was accustomed to it and could even be quite funny about it. Once we were at a restaurant and a man recognized him. “Are you Peter Bogdanovich?” Peter said he was. The man was thrilled. “I just wanted to tell you that I’m a great admirer of your work (pause)… in ‘The Soprano’s.” Not as the director of twenty movies several of which are bona fide classics, not as a major film historian, but as a supporting player in somebody else’s TV show. I was annoyed as hell on behalf of Peter but he took it in stride and thanked the man for the compliment. After the guy left Peter turned to me, shrugged and said with a little smile: ‘Well, it’s better than nothing.’


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