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The Films of Peter Bogdanovich

Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women

Targets

The Last Picture Show

Directed by John Ford

What's Up, Doc?

Paper Moon

Daisy Miller

At Long Last Love

Nickelodeon

Saint Jack

They All Laughed

Mask

Illegally Yours (July 9/05)

It really is quite remarkable just how bad Illegally Yours is, particularly considering the talent that's on both sides of the camera. Rob Lowe stars as Richard Dice, a clumsy oaf who - after being summoned for jury duty - discovers that a girl he used to have a crush on is the defendant. Dice, eager to clear the name of said girl, lies under oath and says he's never met the woman before. The young man also takes it upon himself to investigate the crime, resulting in a wacky series of supposed comic misunderstandings and hijinks. Director Peter Bogdanovich (!) imbues Illegally Yours with a frenetic, madcap sense of style that's presumably meant to hearken back to the screwball comedies of the '30s. That's all well and good, but there's just one problem: none of this is even remotely funny. Lowe delivers an exceedingly broad performance that's tiresome and obnoxious, something that's also true of virtually every actor in the supporting cast. The film's been written by Max Dickens and M.A. Stewart, and it really comes as no surprise to learn that the two haven't sold anything since.

out of

Texasville

Noises Off

The Thing Called Love

The Cat's Meow (May 7/11)

Based on a stage play by Steven Peros, The Cat's Meow follows several well-known 1920s figures - including silent film star Charlie Chaplin (Eddie Izzard) and infamous gossip columnist Louella Parsons (Jennifer Tilly) - as they gather for a birthday celebration aboard William Randolph Hearst's (Edward Herrmann) expansive yacht. Trouble ensues as Hearst becomes increasingly convinced that his mistress (Kirsten Dunst's Marion Davies) is having an affair with Chaplin, with Hearst's paranoia eventually resulting in the death of one of the more high profile passengers. The Cat's Meow has been infused with a decidedly plotless feel that is, at the outset, not as problematic as one might've feared, as filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich effectively sustains the viewer's interest by emphasizing the various characters' freewheeling, expectedly sarcastic exploits - with the relatively compelling atmosphere heightened by the presence of several familiar faces within the movie's cast. There inevitably reaches a point, however, at which the viewer starts to crave a more substantive vibe, with the relentless revelry proving instrumental in highlighting the various deficiencies within Peros' screenplay (eg the film's inherent staginess becomes increasingly difficult to overlook). And while the movie does improve once the aforementioned murder occurs - particularly as Bogdanovich begins to stress the characters' varied reactions to the death (eg Louella blackmails Hearst into granting her a lifetime contract) - The Cat's Meow ultimately comes off as a missed opportunity that's rarely as engrossing or intriguing as its premise might have indicated.

out of

Hustle

Runnin' Down a Dream

© David Nusair