I don’t have to hypo the socko “Boffo” — it is just that — “Boffo.”
You’ll excuse my slipping into Varietese but HBO’s 75 min. docu, “Boffo: Tinseltown’s Bombs and Blockbusters,” which bows May 19 at Cannes, also celebrates Variety’s 100th anni and I’ve been talking — and writing Varietese — for 53 years. And among the experts who are interviewed on camera and giving their opinions and reasons for boffos and bombs are: Zanuck (Dick) and Brown (David), Peter Bogdanovich, Jodie Foster, Morgan Freeman, George Clooney, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, Richard Dreyfuss (in bloody makeup off stage on “Poseidon”), Robert Evans, Brian Grazer (full close-up on his coiffeur), Peter Guber, Alan Horn, Willard Huyck, Gloria Katz, Sherry Lansing, Sydney Pollack, Tom Rothman, John Singleton, Steven Spielberg, Charlize Theron, Nia Vardalos, Penny Marshall and Robert Zemeckis.
Their relaxed revelations about how to make a successful movie add up to this consensus: “Nobody knows anything!” But en route to arriving at this conclusion, “Boffo” shows clips of their hits and misses — plus winners and losers of movie makers throughout the century. The clips are priceless as are the admissions by those interviewed. Clips range from “Jaws,” “The Godfather,” “Indiana Jones” “The Silence of the Lambs,” “Forrest Gump,” “Tootsie,” “Titanic.” Jodie Foster is nearly tearful admitting her disappointments on failures. Laughs are provided by Laurel and Hardy. And the camera shifts to the scope that only a giant movie — like “Ben Hur” can capture — as well as the power of a close-up of Jessica Tandy’s hand gripping Morgan Freeman’s as she tells him, “You are my best friend” in “Driving Miss Daisy.” And the interviewed Freeman laughingly relates how he later segued to a western and on to a movie about — penguins! Like they said in “Boffo”: “Nobody knows anything.” It debuts June 29 on HBO.
“Boffo” was suggested by the book, “Boffo: How I Learned to Love the Blockbuster and Fear the Bomb” by Variety’s Editor-in-Chief Peter Bart, to be published June 16 by Miramax Books in conjunction with Variety’s 100th anniversary. Bart and Charlie Koones, President and Publisher of Variety, executive produced the HBO “Boffo.” Bill Couturié directed and co-wrote with Bart. Anne Sandkuhler and Couturié produced. Timothy M. Gray is co-producer and Alexis Ercoli is associate producer. “Boffo” is an official selection of the Cannes fest but is shown out of competition. Docu screens on HBO on June 29.