As a companion piece to our reassessment of "At Long Last Love," Peter Bogdanovich recalls the film's orgins, its forgotten pleasures, and the studio-mandated tinkering that turned it into a box office bomb. He also recalls turning down an offer of help from Gene Kelly, casting Burt Reynolds, and a remarkable encounter with Roger Ebert.
Peter Bogdanovich's movie musical "At Long Last Love" developed one of those reputations as a career-killing stinker, but in hindsight, it's a pretty darn good mix of 1930s tunes with the slightly more realist sensibility of later musicals. And it's a project with a crazy history. Now that it is out on Blu-Ray, it deserves another look.
View image Johnny Depp as Tim Burton and Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd.
"[Director Tim Burton] saw the picture as an homage to old Universal horror flicks ('Frankenstein,' 'The Black Cat'), creepy silent-film melodramas (any number of Lon Chaney spine-tinglers), and Hammer horror films (pulpy fare from the '50s and '60s). Both Burton and Depp say there are major nods to Peter Lorre's 'Mad Love' performance in Sweeney. Oh, and that shock of white in Depp's hair? A sign of Todd's trauma — and possibly a nod to Humphrey Bogart's skunk stripe in his lone horror picture, 'The Return of Dr. X.,' a Burton favorite. (Plus Depp says he's got a nephew with a white streak.)" -- Entertainment Weekly (November 9, 2007)
"Mr. Depp’s Sweeney isn’t a regular guy either. With a Susan Sontag patch of white streaking his pompadour, ghostly skin and distraught eyes, this Sweeney is both wretched and mad." -- The New York Times (November 4, 2007)
View image Humphrey Bogart in "The Return of Dr. X" looks more like Edward Scissorhands to me. It's the lips.
Bulletin: Johnny Depp plays the title role in a Tim Burton film version of Stephen Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" -- and he's not a regular guy! In fact, he's "both wretched and mad," which (from the way the Times reports it) must be an entirely new take on the character. The Demon Barber, that is. Bet Sondheim wishes he'd thought of that.
But what of that mysterious shock of white hair that leaves the Times and EW writers stretching for an antecedent? Bogart in "Dr. X"? Sure, OK. Susan Sontag? Somebody needs to get out of New York more often. Hey, why not JoBeth Williams in the latter part of "Poltergeist"?
View image The late Susan Sontag, The Demonized Intellectual of 9/11.
You know there's a pretty obvious one that a fan of James Whale's "Frankenstein" and its sequel could not help but recognize, if only because it's the most famous streak of white hair in all of movie history...
(All will be revealed after the jump...)