Out of Focus?

Page 3 of 3

"I saw Shirley Jones this morning in New York City, and I asked her, 'Did you know Bob Crane?' Kinnear recounts. "She said, 'Oh, yeah,' and I said, 'So, did you know what was going on?' She said, 'Everybody kind of knew, but it wasn't really addressed, it wasn't spoken of.' It's interesting that just the culture's changed so much that celebrity behavior has a kind of coffee-table book quality to it now. Back then it wasn't explored in all the media outlets the way it is now."

"The sin that once dare not speak its name now can't shut up," Schrader adds.

No one argues that these sordid details, rendered ho-hum after all these years, elevate Bob Crane from footnote to his own paragraph in the annals of squalid true Hollywood stories. Hell, Scotty and Patricia even have their own script they've been trying to sell, Take Off Your Clothes and Smile, which they will not let reporters read. That, Schrader says, is the real reason he never contacted Patricia and Scotty: He did not want to be accused of stealing from their script, so instead he robbed from the grave.

"I was told I'd probably get a note to stay away from these people, they're in a litigious state of mind, they're going to say that you stole their script," Schrader says. "And then my film got made, and they didn't have any say over it. So the grievance began essentially as a power issue, you know: 'We should control the Crane movie, not you.' That was the initial grievance. Out of that grievance, many other grievances have flowed, and if you have talked to Scott, you know what those grievances are."

And then some.

But Scotty has every right to be furious, as does Patricia Olson; Bob was his dad, her husband and remains, to this day, their provider. He left everything to Patricia in his will, and she makes money off the TV Land reruns of Hogan's Heroes. The family worries that the movie makes him look so despicable, the network will dump the show. "They're destroying the image of Bob Crane," says the son selling his daddy's pornos. As far as Scotty's concerned, the killing of Bob Crane is about to claim its second victim, his mother. As far as Schrader's concerned, it isn't his fault.

"All of this is an unfortunate distraction, but, you know, it is about a real person," Schrader says. "People are going to have opinions. Scotty is the son; he's going to be vocal about it. But, to me, Bob could've been an insurance salesman, and he still would've been a fascinating character as a performance piece. The aspects that interested me about the movie and still interest me about it have nothing to do with all that other noise, so I just kind of tuned it out. But Crane's story is a classic rise and fall."

"Bob was a celebrity," Kinnear adds, "and celebrity does have some element of corrupting. In terms of the obsessive nature of his own documentation, for better or for worse, that's out there for anybody to view. There were a couple of late nights driving home where I found myself not liking the character in spite of wanting to. There was, you know, almost a naïveté that Bob had that seemed kind of charming, and at times when we were shooting the movie, it had started to feel like, 'Damn it, Bob, what the hell were you doing?'"

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky