Based on true story, a glimpse into the colorful life, and mysterious death, of actor Bob Crane. Handsome and charming, Crane became well known as the star of CBS' hit comedy "Hogan's Heroes" (1965-1971). Capitalizing on his fame, Crane dove into the freewheeling spirit of the times with relish, having affairs with numerous women. Crane fell into the seamy world of sex, strip clubs, and decadence. Eventually, Crane teamed up with video technician John Carpenter to document his exploits, an association that may very well have led to his murder in a Scottsdale, Arizona motel room in 1978 where his skull crushed with a camera tripod.
In the tawdry life and violent demise of Bob Crane, star of the television sitcom "Hogan's Heroes," Paul Schrader has found a subject well suited to his preoccupations with sex, pornography and the existential agony of self-deluded men. As played by Greg Kinnear, Crane is an affable, charming fellow undone by fame, promiscuity and videotape. His sex addiction is made creepier by his compulsion to record his trysts with the aid of technology supplied by John Carpenter (Willem Dafoe), a video expert who was later tried in Crane's murder, and acquitted (a verdict the film regards with implicit skepticism). Despite Mr. Kinnear's smart, vivid performance, the movie keeps Crane at a distance. Mr. Schrader is ultimately less interested in the man than in the condition, and he has produced a moral tale that is chilling and disturbing but never really moving. — A. O. Scott
2002-10-04 | A. O. Scott | Read the New York Times Review of Auto Focus