Long before director Tom Hooper decided to capture every stutter, breath, and shaky note on-set in last year’s musical adaptation of “Les Miserables,” the 1975 Burt Reynolds-starrer “At Long Last Love” captured the same immediacy just as well, but garnered none of Hooper’s acclaim. The film was a flop both critically and financially, and — alongside two other such failures — sidelined its helmer, Peter Bogdanovich, for a spell. But with the musical now experiencing a re-release on Blu-ray, the legendary director spoke recently about the unexpected occasion, and much more.
Aside from the on-set soundtrack (maintained by tiny earpieces in the actors’ ears), “At Long Last Love” also beat “De-Lovely” to the Cole Porter punch, featuring 18 songs by the prolific composer throughout. And during a recent conversation on KCRW‘s The Business, Bogdanovich recounted how the film re-entered his life. “Somebody called me and said ‘At Long Last Love’ is streaming on Netflix, and I said, ‘Oh really?’ So I checked it out… and it’s scene after scene that’s either cut out or different…it’s a completely different version of the movie. But the thing that was surprising was that it was good.”
Bogdanovich quickly made a call over to 20th Century Fox, who made the film, and it turned out that the cut was likely made in the late-’70s by the head of Fox editorial, James Blakely. The director actually preferred the editor’s cut to his own, so after adding 90 seconds of new footage and altering the opening titles, he and Fox collaborated on the new Blu-ray release.
The director also comments on his storied relationship with actress Cybill Shepherd (who co-stars in “At Long Last Love”), saying their time together was, in fact, an earlier version of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez‘s frenzied dynamic with the press. “I just stopped reading magazines for 20 years,” Bogdanovich says. “You couldn’t open a magazine or newspaper in the mid-’70s without reading something nasty about us. Cary Grant called me up one day and said, ‘Peter, for chrissakes would you stop telling people you’re happy, and stop telling them you’re in love…’ We just got on people’s nerves, I think.”
The conversation turns in many directions, including to Bogdanovich’s thoughts on Billy Wilder (“Great at kicking people when they were down.”), and to hear those and more, head over to KCRW’s site to listen. Meanwhile, the “preferred” Blu-ray cut of “At Long Last Love” is now available.