Targets (1968)

90 mins | Drama | 13 August 1968

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HISTORY

Writer-director Peter Bogdanovich, who began his career as a film programmer and critic, made his directorial debut with Targets. In a 4 Jun 1967 LAT article, his shift from film criticism to writing and directing was likened to those of François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard, both of whom had written for the French film magazine Cahiers du Cinéma before turning to directing. The project arose when filmmaker Roger Corman, whom Bogdanovich had assisted on The Wild Angels (1966, see entry), suggested that Bogdanovich write and direct a script featuring actor Boris Karloff, who owed Corman two days’ work. Corman offered to fund the project for $130,000, as cited in the 7 Aug 1968 Var, on the condition that Bogdanovich incorporate twenty minutes of footage from his 1963 collaboration with Boris Karloff, The Terror (see entry). In a 21 Aug 1968 LAT interview, Bogdanovich explained Corman’s proposal, stating, “He wanted me to shoot about 20 minutes of film with Karloff, then use about 20 minutes from another Karloff film he owned called ‘The Terror,’ adding 40 minutes of other actors to create a new feature.” Bogdanovich claimed that, while the script was in development, directors Samuel Fuller and George Cukor read it and provided feedback.
       Principal photography took place “largely on the streets of Los Angeles,” as stated in the 26 Jul 1968 LAT. Filming lasted twenty-five days, according to the 15 Sep 1968 NYT, which cited a budget of $150,000, slightly higher than earlier reported. The 4 Jun 1967 LAT indicated that shooting ended sometime in early Apr ... More Less

Writer-director Peter Bogdanovich, who began his career as a film programmer and critic, made his directorial debut with Targets. In a 4 Jun 1967 LAT article, his shift from film criticism to writing and directing was likened to those of François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard, both of whom had written for the French film magazine Cahiers du Cinéma before turning to directing. The project arose when filmmaker Roger Corman, whom Bogdanovich had assisted on The Wild Angels (1966, see entry), suggested that Bogdanovich write and direct a script featuring actor Boris Karloff, who owed Corman two days’ work. Corman offered to fund the project for $130,000, as cited in the 7 Aug 1968 Var, on the condition that Bogdanovich incorporate twenty minutes of footage from his 1963 collaboration with Boris Karloff, The Terror (see entry). In a 21 Aug 1968 LAT interview, Bogdanovich explained Corman’s proposal, stating, “He wanted me to shoot about 20 minutes of film with Karloff, then use about 20 minutes from another Karloff film he owned called ‘The Terror,’ adding 40 minutes of other actors to create a new feature.” Bogdanovich claimed that, while the script was in development, directors Samuel Fuller and George Cukor read it and provided feedback.
       Principal photography took place “largely on the streets of Los Angeles,” as stated in the 26 Jul 1968 LAT. Filming lasted twenty-five days, according to the 15 Sep 1968 NYT, which cited a budget of $150,000, slightly higher than earlier reported. The 4 Jun 1967 LAT indicated that shooting ended sometime in early Apr 1967, and that post-production was underway. The film was completed by Dec 1967, and Paramount Pictures came on board in May 1967, as stated in the 7 Aug 1968 Var. At the same time that Paramount acquired distribution rights, the studio signed Bogdanovich to a seven-picture deal.
       Since Paramount viewed the subject matter of Targets as potentially controversial in the wake of the recent assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy, the following prologue was inserted into the film: “Why gun control? Why did a lunatic sniper kill or maim 11 innocent victims in Texas on June 3, 1966? Why were over 7,000 Americans slain or wounded by gunfire in 1967? Why in 1968 after assassinations and thousands of more murders has our country no effective gun control law? This motion picture tells a story that sheds a little light on a very dark and a very deep topic.” The same text was considered for advertising materials, but Paramount decided against using the “somber copy” lest the picture appear to be a documentary. According to an article in the 15 Sep 1968 NYT, Bogdanovich disapproved of the prologue’s inclusion. The writer-director was quoted as saying, “I don’t think we have to explain or excuse.”
       Theatrical release took place on 13 Aug 1968 in New York City. Around the same time, the film was set to debut in Chicago, IL. Critical reception was largely positive, and Bogdanovich was praised in the 6 May 1968 DV and 14 Aug 1968 NYT reviews for keeping onscreen gore to a minimum, despite the depiction of gun violence.
       Targets was set to be screened at the Edinburgh Film Festival in Sep 1968, as noted in the 23 Aug 1968 DV.
       In addition to The Terror, a film clip from The Criminal Code (1931, see entry) was used in the picture.
       In addition to Bogdanovich’s debut, Targets marked the first theatrical motion picture for production designer and co-story writer Polly Platt, who was married to Bogdanovich at the time and worked with him on several later films. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
29 Apr 1968
p. 3.
Daily Variety
6 May 1968
p. 3, 19.
Daily Variety
23 Aug 1968
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
4 Jun 1967
Section C, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
26 Jul 1968
Section F, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
21 Aug 1968
Section F, p. 19.
Los Angeles Times
4 Sep 1968
Section H, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
6 Sep 1968
Section E, p. 1, 15.
New York Times
14 Aug 1968
p. 34.
New York Times
25 Aug 1968
Section D, p. 1, 9.
New York Times
15 Sep 1968
Section D, p. 19.
Variety
1 May 1968
p. 19.
Variety
7 Aug 1968
p. 5, 26.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
MUSIC
Incidental mus
Incidental mus
SOUND
Sd ed
MAKEUP
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Main titles
DETAILS
Release Date:
13 August 1968
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 13 August 1968
Los Angeles opening: 6 September 1968
Production Date:
ended spring 1967
Copyright Claimant:
Saticoy Productions
Copyright Date:
30 December 1967
Copyright Number:
LP36028
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Pathé
Duration(in mins):
90
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

After a screening of his latest film, famous horror film star Byron Orlok announces his retirement. Despite the anger of his producer and the pleas of director-writer Sammy Michaels, Orlok is adamant. As he leaves for his limousine, he is momentarily caught in the cross-hair of a telescopic-sight rifle being tested in a gun shop across the street by young Bobby Thompson. After adding the rifle to an arsenal of weapons in his car trunk, Thompson drives to his San Fernando Valley home, where he lives with his wife, Ilene, and his parents. That evening, as Ilene prepares to leave for her night job, Thompson asks her to stay home, but she refuses. When she greets him the next morning, Thompson shoots her and then kills his mother and a delivery boy in the kitchen. After leaving behind a note stating that there will be more killing before he dies, Thompson drives to a complex of gasoline tanks overlooking a freeway, climbs atop one of the tanks, eats his lunch, and begins shooting people in the passing cars. When the police arrive, he escapes to a drive-in theater where Byron Orlok is scheduled to make a personal appearance. The previous evening, Orlok had refused to go to the drive-in and, following an argument with his secretary, remained in his hotel suite. After drinking half a bottle of Scotch, he was visited by the drunken Sammy Michaels; they talked but resolved nothing and passed out on the bed. The next day, however, Orlok agreed to appear at the drive-in. By the time Orlok and his party arrive, Thompson has poked a hole in the screen and begun firing at people ... +


After a screening of his latest film, famous horror film star Byron Orlok announces his retirement. Despite the anger of his producer and the pleas of director-writer Sammy Michaels, Orlok is adamant. As he leaves for his limousine, he is momentarily caught in the cross-hair of a telescopic-sight rifle being tested in a gun shop across the street by young Bobby Thompson. After adding the rifle to an arsenal of weapons in his car trunk, Thompson drives to his San Fernando Valley home, where he lives with his wife, Ilene, and his parents. That evening, as Ilene prepares to leave for her night job, Thompson asks her to stay home, but she refuses. When she greets him the next morning, Thompson shoots her and then kills his mother and a delivery boy in the kitchen. After leaving behind a note stating that there will be more killing before he dies, Thompson drives to a complex of gasoline tanks overlooking a freeway, climbs atop one of the tanks, eats his lunch, and begins shooting people in the passing cars. When the police arrive, he escapes to a drive-in theater where Byron Orlok is scheduled to make a personal appearance. The previous evening, Orlok had refused to go to the drive-in and, following an argument with his secretary, remained in his hotel suite. After drinking half a bottle of Scotch, he was visited by the drunken Sammy Michaels; they talked but resolved nothing and passed out on the bed. The next day, however, Orlok agreed to appear at the drive-in. By the time Orlok and his party arrive, Thompson has poked a hole in the screen and begun firing at people in their cars. As panic breaks out, Orlok decides to confront the killer. Upon seeing the real Orlok approaching (appearing simultaneously on the screen), Thompson becomes so confused that he is easily taken by the police. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.