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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride

Who the hell's sitting in it?: Peter Bogdanovich muses, invokes the dead

Links here and there this week to the dependably crusty 66-year-old Peter Bogdanovich’s recollection of the Big Screen and What It Meant in the LA Times, pegged to the paperback release of his latest Song of Myself, “Who The Hell’s In It?” hoot-hoo-45.jpgThe essay’s auteur-hauteur has a certain faint odor beyond mothballs—of course, the moviegoing experience died once you started making fillums, doh!—as well as Bogdanovich’s keen sense for when dropping a famous name (almost invariably of the dead) will clatter like a penny in an otherwise empty washing machine. Still, this classic swatch of Bogdanovichery has notes: “On special occasions, my parents took me to the greatest movie theater in the country, Radio City Music Hall, which, for $2, would show a first-rate new film exclusively (such as An American in Paris or North by Northwest) plus a live, 40-minute stage show featuring the Rockettes. That’s why it meant so much to me in 1972 when my first comedy, What’s Up, Doc? was booked to open in New York at the Music Hall. I was so excited I called to tell Cary Grant (a friend of 10 years). “That’s nice,” he said casually. “I’ve had 28 pictures play the Hall. “I tell you what you must do,” he went on. “When it’s playing, you go down there and stand in the back — and you listen and you watch while 6,500 people laugh at something you did. It will do your heart good!” … It remains the single most memorable showing of any of my pictures: The sheer size of the reaction in that enormous theater was like a mainliner of joy. The fact is, it takes at least 100 people to get a decent laugh in a movie—smaller audiences are just not given to letting go.”

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