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In 1965, Bob Crane, who had achieved some earlier success as a television supporting actor, was working as a successful morning radio DJ at KNX Los Angeles. Despite enjoying his work, photography (especially of the female form) and drumming, Crane wanted to be a movie star. So it was with some reluctance that he accepted the title starring role in a new television sitcom called Hogan's Heroes (1965), a WWII POW comedy. To his surprise, the show became a hit and catapulted him to television stardom. The fame resulting from the show led to excesses and a meeting with home video salesman and technician John Carpenter, with who he would form a friendship based on their mutual interests, namely excessive sex (for Crane, purely heterosexual sex) and capturing nude females on celluloid. His fame allowed Crane to have as much sex as he wanted, which was incongruent to his somewhat wholesome television friendly image, and the way he portrayed himself to almost everyone except Carpenter and his... Written by
Let's face it: Bob Crane was a lightweight actor, whose one-note portrayal of Col. Hogan in the unlikeliest sitcom hit of the 60s made him a household name. Personally, I never understood the appeal of either "Hogan's Heroes" or its star.
Greg Kinnear taps into Bob Crane, though, from the first frame.
The viewer learns that the pre-Hogan Crane was an affable, lovable kind of guy whose LA radio show had a big following. His agent sees him as a combination of Jack Lemmon and Jack Benny, a potential star of fluffy sex comedies with a benign sort of sex appeal and a knack for snappy one-liners All of that was a vast overestimation of Crane's talents.
Crane reveled in the fame that "Hogan" brought him, but he seems never to have taken a long view of his career. When the show ended he was left rudderless and idle, having slowly cut the ties that bound him to ordinary life -- his work, a stable home life, and his religious faith.
While he coasted, Crane took advantage of the easy, cynical charm he conveyed on screen to lure women. By the dozen. I think he probably enjoyed being the least likely man in Hollywood to skulk strip clubs looking for prey, and to devote thousands of yards of videotape to his exploits with them. But his naivete is telling: Crane allows himself to be led into a netherworld by John Carpenter, (Willem Dafoe), who teaches him that putting sex on film is more fun than having it. And there is a brief scene where Crane meets a dominatrix and reveals himself as not quite savvy enough to play this game to win.
Addictions tend to claim those who are on the way up or the way down. Even before Peg Entwistle famously jumped off the Hollywoodland sign in 1922, there have been scores of aspirants to fame or has-beens whose compulsions have killed them, leaving their work on screen the least compelling,least-remembered part of their lives.
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