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Peter Bart Predicts 1960s-Style ‘Reinvention’ of Movies

Peter Bart Predicts 1960s-Style ‘Reinvention’ of Movies

Peter Bart The Godfather

Movie News

Peter Bart, who helped oversee films including Rosemary’s Baby and The Godfather, says he believes cinema is ready for a “reinvention” like the one of the late 1960s that spawned the brilliant films of the following decade.

Bart, who helped his friend Robert Evans lead Paramount in a bold new direction after audiences dwindled in the mid-1960s, says on the latest Bret Easton Ellis Podcast that the movie business is in a similarly dark place now to the one it was in then.

“Due to the pandemic and other factors, the movie business has simply lost its audience… because of the virus, but also the movies were beginning to lose interest. And I think now, as then, there will be a reinvention situation,” said Bart, 88.

“The difference, of course, and this is an importance difference, is the mid-60s were characterized by certain amazing developments,” Bart said. “Society was beginning to change, and the movies had to come along and somehow change in a way that showed understanding of that societal change.”

Also Read: How Superman IV Became a Disaster — But Made Morgan Freeman a Star 

He added: “I think the same is going to happen. I think that because of this total absence of movies and a movie culture that there will be a different kind of cinema that emerges.”

He continued: “What I don’t know, Bret, is what will be the themes? We’re not at war at the moment, unless you call the political war a war. Sex and drugs have long since been assimilated. So what are movies going to speak to? Will they speak to diversity? I’m glad it’s happening, but I don’t think it’s a very interesting theme. Or will they speak to the political craziness of this time? I don’t see in other words those pervasive trends that might shape a new cinema.”

Ellis speaks on almost every episode of the podcast about the fading cultural significance of movies, and what might replace them.

The changes of the late 1960s led to a filmmaking renaissance of the 1970s that launched Francis Ford Coppola, Peter Bogdanovich, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and the modern blockbuster.

Bart and the American Psycho author speak for nearly two hours in a wide-ranging, fascinating and funny conversation, full of show business and journalism tales — like the time William Goldman tried and failed to cash in on a spec script “scam,” and Bart’s time as the “only Republican” who worked at the New York Times.

As a Times writer, Bart famously wrote a story about Evans, his friend, that caught the attention of Charles Bluhdorn, whose Gulf+Western owned Paramount. Bluhdorn hired Evans, who in turn hired Bart.

After his work in the industry, Bart returned to journalism, and is now an editor-at-large for Deadline. He describes a press conference he once covered for Variety in which he says then-Paramount owner Giancarlo Parretti was asked to explain how he divided work with executive Alan Ladd Jr.

“It’s-a very simple,” he quoted Parretti as saying. “Laddie make-a the deals, I fuck-a the girls.”

It was the first time the word “fuck” had appeared in Variety, Bart said.

You can download the latest episode of the Bret Easton Ellis Podcast here.



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  1. J says:

    It is very simple: Tell Me A Good Story.

  2. bill1942 says:

    How about 1930′ and 1940? Far more entertaining and no computer generated explosions!!!

  3. JV JJ says:

    Hopefully the “stars” will work more on the movies (their main product) and less on their political preaching.

    • Bob says:

      If you think “hollywood stars” are too political. You are right! Two Hollywood characters became presidents: Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump. Most others, like Arnold, Jesse Ventura, Clint Eastwood, are all right winged. So yes, Hollywood puts out a lot of right winged Republicans and they should stop doing that.

  4. Paully says:

    It all starts with a good script and smart writing..
    Star Wars 9 had none of this..

    • Lex says:

      I’m glad I missed that one. Sadly, I saw the one before it. I wish I had stayed home.

      • GC says:

        I skipped Episode 9 as well.
        Thank goodness!
        I was apalled enough by Episode 8 and its nonsense.
        I will forever stay away from future productions made by that production company and director. And, no, I don’t mean Disney although I think it would Disney a world of good to change executives.
        KK can also not retire soon enough because she’s been an awful studio head for LucasFilm.

  5. Mr Happy Man says:

    What happened in the 1960s was that the studio system broke, the Hayes Code was removed, and classic Hollywood was running out of steam. While there was some innovation, Hollywood was more hit-and-miss, and a lot garbage, meaning low quality forgettable films, was produced in the subsequent decade. It wasn’t until these directors hit their stride that the product improved. We have now gotten to a point where this paradigm, once called New Hollywood, has run out of steam – a system that relies on superheroes has gotten cliche, and it will soon show up in profits, because audiences at some point will get bored. It is for that reason we are due for an overhaul. This paradigm has been in place for 40 years, about as long as classic Hollywood was in place. We just don’t know what direction this will happen/

    • mike rice says:

      The competition is the streaming video product. The studios eventually reacted to television by beating them on production values, scripts, directors and significant story telling. This all fell down a few years ago when the Studios started cranking out comic book characters instead of genuine characters. That worked for awhile, but mostly with the young. The comic book characters as a difference has worn thin already. The studios are cranking out fewer films with bigger budgets, playing to China’s major theater audience, now the largest in the world. The Studios are trying for billion dollar paydays on high priced fims, but fewer of them. The Pandemic struck at the wrong time for studio-theater films. Streaming will never summon the budgets theater movies have achieved. That’s the direction studios will have to take. The Scorcese gangster film recently, shown on Netflix was missing all kinds of production values and still surpassed any streaming budget. I’m not certain the film even made money. Its make or break time for the studios.

    • JR Wirth says:

      The current system is arguably more passe’ and culturally dead than anything from the mid 60’s.

  6. Andy says:

    Geee Mr. Bart, way to completely ignore the blantant self-censorship of Hollywood to avoid upsetting Xi the Pooh. Add that along with ham-fisted attempts to force diversity in scripts and this is what you get. No “discovery of new societal themes” is going to fix that.

  7. JR Wirth says:

    Find out what’s being banned from social media, and that’s tomorrow’s mainstream hit cinema. Whatever the overlords consider taboo is the new art.

  8. John Q says:

    Personality, personality, personality. A good story without personality, charismatic, and memorable characters is like watching paint dry. I know the tech age has made aspberger-esque personalities a pandemic, but I’m sure we can find people that have some chutzpah left.

  9. Bill Williamson says:

    The process of movie production needs to go back to being guided by a single person, who has absolute creative license to do anything he wishes with his film. No actors getting to make changes to the script on the fly, no financier influence, and get Chinese money COMPLETELY OUT OF HOLLYWOOD.

  10. sean says:

    I like to go to the movies, I really do, but it’s going to take a halfway decent movie to get me there.

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