Raging Bullshit

Auto Focus Is Not My Dad's Story

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HOLLYWOOD HERO The real Mr. and Mrs. Bob Crane in happier days.
In the FIlm Auto Focus: The Life of Bob Crane, Greg Kinnear plays Bob Crane on two. Bob was never on two. He was always on 11. My father was charming, silly, and gregarious, sometimes to the point of annoyance. He was hardly the beaten-down sad sack that Kinnear plays in this cheap, predictable, out-of-focus piece of goddamn garbage.

Auto Focus is a monument to everything rotten in so-called "biopics" today; it's based on nothing but rumor and innuendo and is not the true story of Bob Crane's life. Period. Not even close. The movie is slow, flat, shallow, and boring. I wanted to leave the theater--not because I hated the portrayal of my family (which I do; that's what kept me there) but because I was so goddamned bored.

Allow me to clue you in to some of the inaccuracies:

·My father did not film women without their consent. It's plain to see from his photos and films that the women are mugging and posing for the camera.

·The reference to a vasectomy that "leaks" not only implies that I may not be Bob's son, but also suggests that my mother cheated on my father. She did not.

·Bob Crane did not engage in S&M. Believe me, my dad photographed everything, including traffic jams. He was also murdered. He did not have time to hide anything. If it were true that he engaged in S&M, I would have the pictures. In fact, director Paul Schrader admitted to me that the S&M scene in Auto Focus (calm down--it's boring too) is from an experience he had in his own life while "researching" the film Hardcore. (See Peter Biskind's book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, pages 382-383.)

·Bob Crane and John Carpenter did not hang out together until 1975, long after Hogan's Heroes was canceled.

·Bob recorded his extramarital activities as early as 1956, long before he became a Hollywood star. He was what many today would deem a sex addict. He was not a Pat Boone type who succumbed to the temptations of Hollywood and Carpenter, as the film depicts.

·Bob Crane did not have a penile implant, as his autopsy details confirm. He rather famously did not require this enhancement. The procedure wasn't even invented until four years after his murder.

·My father was not a churchgoing saint with a priest for a buddy. During the last 12 years of his life, he went to church three times: when I was baptized, when his father died, and when he was buried.

·The portrayal of my mother (played by Maria Bello), who was still married to my father at the time of his death, is complete and utter bullshit. My "half brother," who contributed to this film, has always "had a problem" with my mother.

Other inaccuracies include the portrayal of my mother as a social-climbing, money-grubbing lush who pours vodka into her orange juice in the morning. My mother quit the business the minute Hogan's Heroes was canceled. My father was so broke after his divorce from his first wife that when my parents married, he moved into my mother's house in Westwood, California, where we lived when I was born. My mother accepted my father's extramarital swinging lifestyle because she loved him and he was always up-front about it. She has often been quoted as saying, "Bob didn't lose his First Amendment rights when he married me." However she was hardly the groovy bohemian girl portrayed one-dimensionally by Maria Bello in this film.

This story has all the ingredients to make a great movie without the Travis Bickle sensationalism. But it's not great. Willem Dafoe is great with what he was given (not much), but unfortunately his role is also amazingly one-dimensional. I feel sorry for him for his affiliation, but it won't make me less of a fan. Rita Wilson (Anne Crane) is believable as a stereotypical 1950s hausfrau. I must admit there was a part of me that was preparing to perhaps enjoy some of this movie despite its defamation of my family. Didn't happen.

None of this should come as a surprise, as Paul Schrader has never done well as a director. His biggest achievements are his writing of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, but remember, those films were directed by Martin Scorsese, and starred Robert De Niro. Schrader's directorial efforts have usually fallen flat (Cat People, Hardcore). Auto Focus: The Life of Bob Crane is no exception to this trend.

Note to Paul: Your film is visual crap and a theatrical disaster. I doubt any reviews that don't come from well-greased machines will disagree with me. You shouldn't have bothered with this lazy, half-assed attempt at portraying my father.

Scotty Crane is a record producer, recording-studio owner, and host of Seattle's own Shaken, Not Stirred on KQBZ 100.7 FM "The Buzz."


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Saw the film. Own the film. Reviewed the film on IMDb. Read the Robert Graysmith book it's based on.

Scott, I can't agree that it is a poorly constructed movie, nor that it is boring. However, I DO object to any made-up, misleading information -- and also feel that neither Schrader nor Kinnear successfully plumbed the depths of Bob's soul or the complexity of his character.
Posted by Rudy on April 18, 2009 at 10:30 AM · Report this
Thanks for taking the time to write and set the record straight. I watched the movie from the perspective of a baby boomer fan and would have appreciated the more accurate story you describe. It is dramatic enough not to need additional embellishment and it would have been enjoyable to have seen more of your father's charm come through, since that's what kept us fans tuning in. Caroline
Posted by retro girl on December 5, 2011 at 6:06 PM · Report this
A couple of Crane's other kids claimed that Bob had a vasectomy several years prior to Scotty's birth, though admitted he looked remarkably like their dad.
Posted by Anonymous775 on May 23, 2012 at 2:39 PM · Report this
Your dad was the man!...sure he loved his women and life but what red blooded straight guy doesnt...what do you think when you watch hogans heros?? I love it ive got the whole 6 seasons and i watch an episode every night! There are just soooo many questions about him id love to ask!
Posted by Gavin Owen on December 21, 2012 at 7:35 PM · Report this
I think you made your father proud.
Posted by 57woody on February 9, 2013 at 12:32 AM · Report this
The film would equate to slander then, no? Lawsuit material?

I have to admit, Scotty look's exactly like his father. As far as Auto-Focus is concerned, I loved it. I love Kinnear and especially DeFoe. I do however wish it was accurate. Maybe Scotty can do another one himself that would lend to an honest portrayal?

On second thought, how much integrity can a man possibly have who used to have a website exploiting his father and for a fee, you could access said material. That's a revolting thing to do, Scotty. That's your pops!
Posted by Brooklyn Crooklyn on January 16, 2014 at 12:26 AM · Report this
Posted by SteezMaster69 on March 2, 2014 at 10:19 PM · Report this
Posted by LordSteez on March 2, 2014 at 10:20 PM · Report this

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