We always mourn when an actor we like, a musician, an author, or a director passes away. It always hurts, but sometimes it's more personal.

I am not even a fan of Peter Bogdanovich's work across the board. I dislike some of his movies, and I downright hated at least one of them. The ones I did like are among the finest motion pictures I've ever seen.

Bogdanovich understood the construction of movies. The mechanics of making them as well as the emotional aspects of his stories. His films were precise works of carefully executed art.

Peter Bogdanovich got his start as so many others did: working for Roger Corman. He toiled as an assistant and he directed his first picture, the excellent Targets, for Rog.

He went on to become one of the most important filmmakers in the New Cinema of the 1970s. No one married the essence of classic Hollywood with radical new film technique better than Bogdanovich. The Last Picture Show is as important a work in the new, emerging world of cinema as any other movie of the era.

He had a string of huge hits. The Last Picture Show, What's Up Doc?, Paper Moon. His star dimmed a little after that and much of the fault was his own. Fame does strange things to people. Bogdanovich endured tragedy, and became tabloid fodder for a while, but I'm not going to waste time going into all that.

A film fanatic from his earliest days, Peter Bogdanovich learned his craft from old masters like Orson Wells, John Ford, and Howard Hawks. He wrote for film journals and became a respected historian of the industry.

Not everyone can be Martin Scorcese. His later work suffered in quality. I like some of it, like The Cat's Meow. I felt others were unfortunate messes.

Bogdanovich became as known for his acting as a director. I thought he was damned good in some of his own pictures, like Targets and Saint Jack. He went on to give memorable performances in a lot of productions and reached millions of viewers with his role in The Sopranos.

My favorite of his films, by far, is Saint Jack. It's an adaptation of the Paul Theroux novel, and it is utterly brilliant. Ben Gazzara is perfect in the title role, but Bogdanovich made Singapore the real star of the movie.

The world is crying over Betty White right now. My tears are for one of the greatest figures in the history of cinema. Goodbye, Peter Bogdanovich.

Written by Mark Sieber

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