Any Peter Bogdanovich feature film is an event.
And how could it not be, really, when you’re the man who made “The Last Picture Show” and “Paper Moon” and your last non-documentary to hit theaters was “The Cat’s Meow” in 2001?
The 76-year-old New Hollywood icon returns to the big screen with “She’s Funny That Way,” a farce starring Owen Wilson as a theater director and Imogen Poots as the escort/actor who gets swept up in the craziness surrounding him.
The screwball comedy is a familiar way of working for the man behind “What’s Up Doc?,” one of the most beloved screwball pictures of the past 40-plus years, among others, but it’s not exactly en vogue these days.
“Nobody’s making screwball comedies, very few people are making them, and a lot of people don’t even know quite what it means,” says Bogdanovich, who began as a critic and is famous for his encyclopedic cinematic knowledge.
“It’s a complicated kind of movie to make,” he adds. “I like that kind of comedy. I wasn’t trying to do an homage or a throwback. It just came naturally to me to work on that kind of story, to tell it this way.”
Bogdanovich wrote the film with his ex-wife Louise Stratten around 2000 and intended it for the late John Ritter, who starred in three of Bogdanovich’s movies.
After Ritter died, the project sat as the filmmaker acted on “The Sopranos,” wrote a book and worked on a documentary about Tom Petty, among other endeavors. Bogdanovich returned to it, inspired by Wilson — “one of the few actors around today who strikes me as an old-fashioned movie star,” he says.
Bogdanovich’s time as a filmmaker has had famous highs and lows, ranging from Oscar nominations and hits that also include “Mask,” to battles with studios and personal tragedies.
He has endured for nearly a half-century by remaining painstakingly forward thinking, he says.
“It doesn’t do me much good to sit around and think about the pictures I’ve already made,” he says. “And I can’t do much about them. There are a couple I’d like to fix up, as I have other films with director’s cuts. When I do think about pictures I’ve made, it’s usually to think about fixing something.”