After last Friday’s SLS hotel phone-interview blowoff episode with Peter Bogdanovich, I felt curiously compelled to rent Bogdanovich’s Targets (’68), which I haven’t seen in decades. Directed and co-written by Bogdanovich, produced by Roger Corman and with uncredited screenplay assistance from Samuel Fuller, Targets was a way-above-average first film. It’s a modest psychological thriller about the clash of old-school values (refinement, gentility and sophistication as represented by Boris Karloff‘s Byron Orlok) and the mid ’60s values of alienation, rage and random brutality as represented by a young Charles Whitman-like killer (Tom O’Kelly). The portions about the mayhem caused by Kelly’s Bobby Thompson are nothing much, but I loved the kindly, respectful vibes between Orlok and director Sammy Michaels (who was played by Bogdanovich) and the film’s gentle attitude toward Karloff. Targets was basically Bogdanovich saying to the film community of the late ’60s, “Here is this wonderful old gentleman, a gray-haired fellow of polish and cultural refinement who carries the wisdom of the ages, and all you can do is put him in cheesy low-budget horror films.”

The story that Karloff/Orlok tells in the above scene is lifted word-for-word from a 1933 story by W. Somerset Maugham, called “The Appointment in Samarra.”