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Auto Focus (2002)

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The life of TV star Bob Crane and his strange friendship with electronics expert John Henry Carpenter.

Director:

Paul Schrader
6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Greg Kinnear ... Bob Crane
Willem Dafoe ... John Carpenter
Rita Wilson ... Anne Crane
Maria Bello ... Patricia Olson / Patrica Crane / Sigrid Valdis
Ron Leibman ... Lenny
Bruce Solomon ... Edward H. Feldman
Michael E. Rodgers ... Richard Dawson (as Michael Rodgers)
Kurt Fuller ... Werner Klemperer
Christopher Neiman ... Robert Clary
Lyle Kanouse ... John Banner
DonnaMarie Recco ... Melissa / Mistress Victoria (as Donnamarie Recco)
Ed Begley Jr. ... Mel Rosen
Michael McKean ... Video Executive
Cheryl Lynn Bowers ... Cynthia Lynn
Don McManus ... Priest
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Storyline

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 Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A day without sex is a day wasted.

Genres:

Biography | Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexuality, nudity, language, some drug use and violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

1 November 2002 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Autofocus See more »

Filming Locations:

Mecca, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$7,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$123,761, 20 October 2002, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$2,062,066, 26 January 2003
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The leather jacket that Greg Kinnear wears while playing Bob Crane in the Hogan's Heroes (1965) scenes of this movie is the one that Crane actually wore during the shoot of that TV series. Crane's son Robert David Crane loaned the jacket to Kinnear for this movie. Prior to the original "Hogan's Heroes" show, this jacket was worn by Frank Sinatra in Von Ryan's Express (1965). See more »

Goofs

The trailers used as dressing rooms on the set are 2001 model travel trailers. Early and mid 1960s travel trailers looked totally different. See more »

Quotes

Bob Crane: I think it's perfect for me. I mean, this character Hogan, he's quick on his toes, he's hip, he's a con artist. I don't wanna jinx it, but I think it's what I've been working toward my whole career!
Anne Crane: Really? You've been working towards a Holocaust comedy?
Bob Crane: Ann!
Anne Crane: What, Bob?
Bob Crane: Please, not in front of the children! They look up to me!
Anne Crane: They're small. They look up to everyone.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The following deleted scenes appear on the DVD:
  • Victoria finds Bob's body.
  • Hogan's Heroes Montage
  • Bob unloads drums and some dirty magazines fall out.
  • Anne and Bob talking by the pool.
  • Anne in the darkroom.
See more »

Connections

References Superdad (1973) See more »

Soundtracks

Top It Off
Written and Performed by Tree Adams
Courtesy of Treehouse Music, Inc.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
it's kind of like a drug movie- actually, it really is, and an absorbing one
12 October 2006 | by Quinoa1984See all my reviews

After a while, I really did get more of what director Paul Schrader was aiming for with Auto Focus, the tale of males caught in some sort of odd damnation of both free will and morality. It's more like a drug movie, only here the drug being the opposite sex, and almost a singularly male ego-trip, instead of common narcotics. But it's also a very fine character study where the idea of character is taken into consideration, of how much one can seem a certain way, but then be stuck in with flaws and insecurities and, ultimately, temptation. The last of which is what Schrader puts into focus early on, but then after a while when temptation is gone, the film becomes a direct plunge into complete debauchery. And appropriately, like with all addicts, for a while nothing seems wrong at all about all of this.

Greg Kinnear is definitely in one of his best parts here, as he plays someone who is an actor who keeps his actor-like charms off the set as well. In Hollywood, away from the confines of Connecticut, his Bob Crane lands the lead on Hogan's heroes, but can't resist the first temptations of the night-life. This comes, in an introductory way and then throughout as a tag-along/counterpart, with John Carpenter (not the director, played with the best match by Willem Dafoe of being a creep and alluring at times), who shows him the ropes and hooks him up with video equipment. But as Crane goes deeper into his sexual drives, divorces, marries again and divorces again, his acting career and his livelihood seem to slip away. The themes of being perversely the 'All-American Male' are accentuated by Kinnear's Crane in voice-over as he talks about the unbridled joys of sex, and in an interview with a Christian publication he says 'I don't...make waves'. By the last third of his story, however, into the rot of the 70s, he's lost touch with the reality of his pleasures- or rather necessities.

Auto Focus isn't at times an easy movie to sit through; it's even cringe-worthy in a couple of scenes (notably for me was when he guest stars on a celebrity cooking show, only to keep on his sexually-driven side with audience members). Then there are other scenes (i.e. 'you have fingers up you-know-where', and the genital enhancement) where male masculinity is questioned, and in very peculiar ways between Crane and Carpenter; Crane is homophobic, but then what exactly is Carpenter's function? More than anything, less than being a friend, he becomes a kind of unintentional pusher, where the draw of going out on the town becomes a crux for both of the men. What's just as fascinating then is how Schrader aligns this with his style- the first half is mostly very slick and professional-looking, almost like an HBO bio-pic or something. But then as the characters lose a grip on everything except themselves, there's a hand-held, distorted view to everything. There's lots of nudity and on-screen sex (some blurred out, likely by MPAA request), yet Schrader gets something more shocking, in the mind at least, as Carpenter almost becomes the antagonist in a way as the story winds down (the last phone call marks this most).

Auto Focus has the ideal of the usual biographical drama of a somebody in Hollywood who soon loses himself to becoming a nobody, but there's plenty under the surface that makes it more intriguing. Crane's two sides to his persona- the celebrity one, and the personal 'lifestyle' one- become one and the same after a while, Kinnear being able to make such a near-irredeemable person somewhat sympathetic (or at the least very watchable). And Carpenter's more truthful, emotional, and scary turn is made palatable by Dafoe's equally nuanced performance. It's not great, but it's a near-classic of the tale-of-such-and-such-star when so many don't take in what's deeper into account. A-


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