Remembering Peter Bogdanovich: How to watch the director’s most memorable movies

Peter Bogdanovich
(Image credit: Photo by Emma McIntyre/FilmMagic)

Two-time Oscar-nominated director Peter Bogdanovich has passed away at the age of 82, The Hollywood Reporter first shared, reporting that it was of natural causes.

Bogdanovich was part of the group of young filmmakers who emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s as a new wave of auteurs that would take the movie world by storm with their debut and early works. Though contemporaries like Francis Ford Coppola, William Friedkin and Steven Spielberg saw greater success as directors, Bogdanovich — who was immediately recognizable with his usual fashion choice of glasses and an ascot — continued working both behind and in front of the camera as well as being an chronicler of film history.

Bogdanovich was a two-time Oscar nominee (both for The Last Picture Show) and worked with the likes of Jeff Bridges, Barbara Streisand, Cloris Leachman, Ryan O’Neal, Burt Reynolds, Cher, Sidney Poitier, Michael Caine and Cybill Shepherd, who he also had a long relationship with. He also conducted interviews with some of his biggest movie heroes, including Howard Hawks, John Ford and Orson Welles, the latter of which he became friends with.

His passing have brought an outpouring of support from Hollywood:

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If you want to learn more about the life of Peter Bogdanovich, I highly recommend the podcast The Plot Thickens from Turner Classic Movies, which dedicated its first season to the life and career of the director.

Below we take a look at some of Bogdanovich’s best and more memorable works, as well as where you can watch them right now.

The Last Picture Show (1971)

The Last Picture Show

(Image credit: Columbia Pictures)

Peter Bogdanovich’s first movie was 1968’s Targets, a thriller that has gotten rediscovered in recent years, but his unquestioned breakout was for 1971’s The Last Picture Show. Based on a novel by Larry McMurty, The Last Picture Show follows a group of teenagers as they come of age in a dying Texas town in the 1950s. The movie starred Jeff Bridges, Timothy Buttons, Cybill Shepherd, Ben Johnson, Cloris Leachman, Ellen Burstyn and Randy Quaid and was nominated for eight Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director, and winning two for Leachman and Johnson’s supporting performances. Shot in stunning black and white, The Last Picture Show is a beautiful story that heralded Bogdaovich as one of the most promising young talents in Hollywood in the early 70s. It still is held in high regard, as it is part of the American Film Institute’s 100 greatest movies of all time list from 2007.

How to watch: The Last Picture Show is currently available to stream for anyone signed up for a Showtime channel add-on on Prime Video or The Roku Channel, or you can rent it digitally starting at $2.99.

What’s Up, Doc? (1972)

What's Up, Doc?

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Bogdanovich showed his versatility as a filmmaker from immediately going from The Last Picture Show to the screwball comedy What’s Up, Doc? starring Barbara Streisand, Ryan O’Neal and Madeline Kahn. In this comedy Streisand’s free-spirited girl and O’Neal’s uptight professor continuously cross paths in San Francisco following the mix-up of identical plaid overnight bags. An homage to the screwball comedies of the 1930s and 40s, the plot is secondary to the comedic sequences (including a wild dash through Chinatown) and the chemistry between Streisand and O’Neal, ultimately leading to a charming movie.

How to watch: What’s Up, Doc? can be rented digitally starting at $1.99.

Paper Moon (1973)

Paper Moon

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

The capper to an incredible three years at the height of Hollywood, Paper Moon mixes some of the charm and humor of What’s Up, Doc? with a few emotional gut punches on par with The Last Picture Show. Set during the Great Depression, Ryan O’Neal plays a con man who is forced to look after a young girl (Tatum O’Neal) who may or may not be his daughter, but together they form an unlikely partnership. Tatum O’Neal, who was 10 at the time, won Best Supporting Actress for her role, which to date still makes her the youngest winner of a competitive Oscar category. Paper Moon is probably my personal favorite of Bogdanovich’s career and marked what would be his final universally acclaimed work as a director (though if you want to check some out, Mask with Cher and Sam Elliott and Noises Off… with Michael Caine are among the more well regarded).

How to watch: Paper Moon is available to stream on Prime Video, as well as The Roku Channel with a Showtime channel add-on. The movie is also available to rent digitally starting at $2.99.

The Sopranos

The Sopranos Peter Bogdanovich

(Image credit: HBO)

Peter Bogdanovich wasn’t afraid to step in front of the camera either. The director also had a number of prominent acting roles throughout his career, including a recurring role on one of the most popular shows of all time, The Sopranos. On the HBO crime drama, Bogdanovich played Elliot Kupferberg, the therapist to Dr. Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) who is the therapist to Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini). Bogdanovich would appear in 14 episodes of the show and also directed an episode, the season 5 entry “Sentimental Education.”

How to watch: The Sopranos can be streamed on HBO Max.

The Other Side of the Wind (2018)

The Other Side of the Wind

(Image credit: Netflix)

As I mentioned above, Peter Bogdanovich and Orson Welles became friends. Well they were also collaborators on the project The Other Side of the Wind. The movie was thought to be a lost project from Welles, which the Citizen Kane director was tweaking with until his death. Bogdanovich eventually worked to finish the movie with other filmmakers based off notes Welles had written and with the help of crowdfunding were able to release it in 2018. In addition to these efforts, Bogdanovich has a role in the film, as a young, hotshot director who is a friend and mentee of the movie’s aging, legendary filmmaker (art imitating life here). Whatever you think of the movie, Bogdanovich’s efforts to bring a lost project from a great like Welles to audiences was an incredible gift.

How to watch: The Other Side of the Wind is available to stream on Netflix.

It Chapter Two (2019)

It Chapter Two Peter Bogdanovich

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

One of Bogdanovich’s final projects was a cameo appearance in Andy Muschietti’s It Chapter Two, where he plays a movie director named Peter who is making an adaptation of Bill’s book. He has a short but memorable appearance when he chides Bill about his ending, revealing that he lied to him when he initially said he liked it. Short and sweet, but one of the final images of Bogdanovich for movie goers was where he belonged, on set.

How to watch: It Chapter Two is available to stream on HBO Max or can be rented digitally starting at $3.99.

Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Peaky Blinders, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Saturday Night Live, Only Murders in the Building and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd.