Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My 10 Favourite Things About Peter Bogdanovich's Targets

**Spoilers ahead for those who worry about such things**

1) This film helped to make Boris Karloff, playing a not-so-thinly veiled version of himself named Byron Orlok, even cooler than he already was, which was a major feat since he was already one of the coolest people in show business.  I mean c'mon, this is Boris Fucking Karloff.

2) The police vehicle rushing in at the end of the spectacular freeway shooting sequence was an actual police vehicle coming to investigate the illegal film crew shooting a movie where no one is allowed to shoot movies.  Bogdanovich had Laszlo Kovacs shoot the oncoming police vehicle before the director, his D.P. and the rest of the crew headed for the hills so as not to get arrested.

3) Peter Bogdanovich, also playing a not-so-thinly veiled version of himself, shushing Karloff as they watch a scene from Howard Hawks' The Criminal Code, featuring Karloff himself in what the actor (both in the movie as Orlok and in real life as Karloff) calls his first important role.

4) Sam Fuller did a major rewrite of Bogdanovich's script - in one night, while Bogdanovich watched - but refused to take screen credit or a paycheck for it because that would take away from the young filmmaker, who was just starting out.  Bogdanovich states in the commentary, that this is just the kind of guy Sam Fuller was, and then went on to give tribute to his friend and mentor by naming his character Sammy Michaels after Samuel Michael Fuller.

5) The dazzling montage sequence when Tim O'Kelly's Bobby Thompson shoots and kills his wife (the Hitchcockian ubiquitous blonde in her blue bathrobe) and then offs his mother and the "wrong place, wrong time" delivery boy - and the follow-up long shot/tracking shot of the Bobby's post-spree clean-up that turns into a directorial P.O.V. shot that eventually ends on Bobby's death note, in red (Sam Fuller's idea we are told).

6) Boris Karloff, as creepy as creepy can be, telling a scary story for the camera that really has no bearing on anything else in the movie - a scene that was added because Bogdanovich loved Karloff's narration in the then recently released How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

7) Bogdanovich's casting of the actual projectionist (incidentally named Byron) at the drive-in where they shot the finale to play the projectionist at the drive-in where they shot the finale (it seems as if everybody is playing essentially themselves in this movie), and his showing of the inner workings of the projection room from the threading of the film to the now outdated, but still quite quaint little bell that precipitates the change-over.  Of course our intrepid projectionist gets shot and killed by the sniper, but you can't have everything.

8) Mike Farrell (B.J. Hunnicut of M*A*S*H) fatefully crawling toward the nearest car and futilely grasping for the door handle after being shot in the drive-in phone booth.

9) Bogdanovich proudly boasting on the commentary track that, as far as he can recall (and this is a guy with an encyclopedic mind when it comes to film history) he is the only man to ever share a bed on film, albeit platonically, with Boris Karloff.

10) Karloff putting the smack down on Bobby after his drive-in killing spree and reducing the sniper to a whimpering child-like creature cowering in the corner and the way Karloff is coming at him from one side while the Karloff on the drive-in screen is coming at him from the other.

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