Bob Musgrave sends word: "Polly Platt died yesterday." She was 72. Cinephiles know the name: The ex-wife of Peter Bogdanovich, she worked on such films as Paper Moon and The Last Picture Show before becoming a longtime collaborator of James L. Brooks's. And she was instrumental in turning Wes Anderson's short film into the big-screen Bottle Rocket, which, I needn't tell you at this late date, remains my favorite locally made movie.
For the whole story, I'd recommend the Criterion Collection Bottle Rocket, which contains a making-of doc in which Platt talks about her love for the movie and how hard it was to get Anderson and Owen Wilson to sit still long enough to finish the screenplay once they'd gone from Dallas to Hollywood. But in his 1995 cover story about the film, Matt Zoller Seitz summed it up thusly: L.M. "Kit" Carson and Cynthia Hargrave, who'd shepherded the short, passed it to two friends in Los Angeles, producers Barbara Boyle and Michael Taylor. They, in turn, sent it to Platt, then in semiretirement. She too fell in love with Bottle Rocket. Wrote Matt:
Reading it conjured a nostalgic excitement she hadn't felt in a long time. Everything about it felt right: the storyline, the tone, the humor, the unknown filmmakers and actors attached to it -- and especially the script's Texas roots. She even told Premiere magazine she thought Bottle Rocket was another Last Picture Show.
In March 1993, Platt visited the set of James L. Brooks' latest movie as a writer-director and showed him Bottle Rocket over lunch. "Jim sat there and watched," Platt said, "and when it was over, he was quiet for a minute. Then he looked up at me and said, 'We have to make a deal with these guys.'"
On May 1st, 1993 -- Wes Anderson's 24th birthday -- Brooks and Platt came to Dallas.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
In an essay accompanying the Criterion release, Brooks writes that Platt "championed it to me and urged me to go down to Texas to meet with the boys." As Bob writes this afternoon: "That movie wouldn't have happened without her." So happens you can see it tonight: Bottle Rocket screens at the Kessler as part of D's "Dallas, Outlaws, and the American Dream" series.