The news that Arthur Penn has died — the day after celebrating his 88th birthday, no less — has hit me particularly hard because I’m currently (as in, like, right now, today) plowing through his films and reading a compilation of his interviews as research for, spoiler alert, an upcoming Project. Penn is one of my cinema-revolution heroes, a guy who deserves his own Che Guevara-esque myth (or at least a t-shirt) for upending the Hollywood apple cart in the late 60s, dragging the verite style of European cinema into the studio environment, and pretty much single-handedly pasturing the Hayes Code, all by simply releasing a little picture about two gangsters in love.
Seriously, this news sucks. Although it’s been over 14 years since Penn’s last feature film, he was still active in theater and television, and I’m sad that his story has ended. His influence, however, will surely live on.
Arthur Penn won’t be my next Project, but he’ll be coming soon. My research has taken a decidedly somber tone.