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Auto Focus (2002)

Trailer
1:51 | Trailer
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

Gross USA:

$2,063,196

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,704,951
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 bald actor who plays a reporter interviewing Crane about midway through the film is Crane's real son, Bob Crane Jr. (Robert David Crane). See more »

Goofs

At John's apartment in 1966, one of the girls asks if he has any records by Procol Harum, whose first album came out in 1967. He then puts on "Helpless" by the Four Tops from their Second Album which was out in 1965. But, the album cover shown is from the "Reach Out" album, which that song wasn't on and which didn't come out until the summer of 1967. See more »

Quotes

Bob Crane: Mel, I thought you were a fellow entertainer.
Mel Rosen: I'm also a Jew.
Bob Crane: It's the same thing!
See more »

Alternate Versions

Director Paul Schrader stated at the Toronto International Film Festival that the film originally garnered an "NC-17", but was toned down to get an "R". The problem was a scene where hardcore pornography is seen on a television in the background, as well as a scene where a girl is clearly seen giving oral sex with motions. The version shown at the Film festival was uncut, as the will be the International version. See more »

Connections

References Apocalypse Now (1979) See more »

Soundtracks

Helpless
Written by Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland and Eddie Holland (as Edward Holland Jr.)
Performed by The Four Tops
Courtesy of Motown Records
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

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User Reviews

Focused drama
5 April 2003 | by Buddy-51See all my reviews

A cautionary tale of the dangers of sexual addiction, `Auto Focus' shows what can happen when a person attempts to lead a double life – in this case, a straight-laced family man by day and a pornography-obsessed playboy by night. In `Auto Focus,' the family man/pornographer turns out to be none other than the well-known actor Bob Crane, the star of TV's `Hogan's Heroes,' who was found murdered in a Scottsdale, Arizona hotel room in 1978 under mysterious and sensational circumstances that included the uncovering of tapes Crane had made of his own sexual experiences. The general public was shocked to discover that a man they had invited into their living rooms every week for six years had been living such an unsavory parallel existence – though those who knew him well were apparently far less shocked by the revelation. Drawing on Robert Graysmith's book `The Murder of Bob Crane' for its inspiration and viewpoint, the film, written by Michael Gerbosi and directed by Paul Schrader, chronicles the rise and fall of this handsome actor, from his days as a successful LA disc jockey and his meteoric rise to fame as star of a hit comedy series, to his growing obsession with promiscuity and pornography, which led to the disintegration of both his personal and professional life - and, ultimately, to his death, most likely at the hands of his buddy-in-sleaze, videographer John Carpenter (though he was never convicted of the murder).

`Auto Focus' certainly does not shy away from revealing many of the salacious details of this true-life story. Schrader deals head-on with the disturbing nature of a mind so all consumed with the subject of sex that all other aspects of life become obliterated and distorted. What's fascinating about Crane – at least in the way he is depicted in this film – is that he seems to have had some sort of self-destructive death wish, for not only does he risk his career by sleeping with countless women, but he insists on leaving behind the evidence by videotaping many of his encounters, and then flaunting his `accomplishments' to others in the Hollywood community. In a way, such a cavalier attitude only underlines the sickness at the core of Crane's soul – which in a perverse, paradoxical way, actually makes Crane a more sympathetic figure than he otherwise might be. An enormous amount of credit for this also goes to Greg Kinnear who does a superb job of not only replicating Crane's style of acting but of showing us the tortured man Crane became in his later years. He was truly a man driven to madness by the demons within him, and we can all identify in some sense with that condition (our demons may not be sexual in nature, but they probably eat away at us just as ravenously as they did Crane). Kinnear gets outstanding support from Willem Dafoe as Carpenter, the Svengali-like figure who lures Crane into his world of photographed sex, and Ron Leibman, as Crane's well-meaning, caring agent who can do little but stand by helplessly as his client throws his career and his life away to feed this devouring passion.

The filmmakers have done an amazing job capturing the sights and sounds of the era in which the film is set. Especially impressive are the scenes recreating `Hogan's Heroes,' with Kurt Fuller, in particular, a standout as Werner Klemperer (Colonel Klink). It's also fascinating to see the evolution of videotape technology as portrayed in the film. How many of us knew that such equipment existed for home consumption as early as the mid-60's?

There's a real sadness to the final stretches of the film, made all the more poignant by having the dirge-like musical score run uninterrupted under the action. The effect is that we really get a sense of the total desolation of Crane's life at that point – as he has lost his family, his career, and his self-respect to the master he chose early on to serve. The loss of his life seems almost de rigueur given all that has gone before. `Auto Focus' is not always an easy film to watch, but for its unflinching look at an often-unappetizing subject, it deserves to be seen.


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