erik lundegaard

Monday October 26, 2020

What is Bo Derek Known for?

Bo Derek in “10.”

Yes, it's another KNOWN FOR debacle from IMDb. These are fun. Wish I didn't have to do them. I wish Amazon cared about its film site.

So, according to IMDb, what is Bo Derek known for? Wait. First for the kids: Who is Bo Derek?

In the late 1970s, Bo has a supporting role in the Blake Edwards/Dudley Moore comedy “10” as the titular fantasy fixation. That was the first time I'd ever heard of this rating system, by the way. I was 16 and thought: “Wait, what? We're supposed to do what? Rate women on a scale from one to what?” Don't know if I ever used it much, and I doubt young men use it today, but I guess for a time men rated women in this manner, and Bo was supposed to be the pinnacle: the perfect 10. The movie got good reviews, did great at the box office (it was the seventh-biggest grosser of 1979), piqued interest in Ravel's “Bolero,” and made a star out of Dudley Moore. But it was Bo who became the phenomenon. Everyone was talking about her. She was on the cover of every magazine. I'm sure tons of movie offers rolled in.

But she didn't do any of those. Instead, she made movies written and directed by her husband, John Derek.

Also for the kids: Who is John Derek? He was the reason I was looking at Bo's IMDb page in the first place. The other night I was watching Nicholas Ray's “Run for Cover,” starring James Cagney, and Derek has the secondary role, which ... which was him. In the 1950s, he was the cute, lightweight, second. He played Joshua, for example, in “The Ten Commandments” (his own “10” movie), but apparently he didn't like acting much, and in the mid-1960s he traded it in for a directing career: “Nightmare in the Sun” with Ursulla Andress, and “Childish Things” with Linda Evans, among others. These actresses weren't just his stars, either; they were his wives. He was married to Ursula 1957-1966 and to Linda Evans 1969-1975. In 1976, at age 49, he married Bo. She was 19. It was kind of creepy. It was like he kept trading in the same beautiful, high-cheekboned, Nordic woman for a newer model.

It gets creepier. In 1981, in the aftermath of all the “10” attention, a low-budget, soft-core movie, “Fantasies,” starring Bo, and directed by John, was released. Except it wasn't filmed in the aftermath of “10.” It was filmed in Greece. In 1973. Back when Bo was called Mary Cathleen Collins of Long Beach, Calif. And she was 16. 

In the real aftermath of “10,” instead of making any of the studio pics she was offered, Bo played Jane in John Derek's “Tarzan, the Ape Man.” It did OK box office ($36 mil, the 15th highest-grosser of the year), but the reviews were scathing (10% on Rotten Tomatoes). Three years later, John directed her in “Bolero,” about a 1920s movie fan who travels to Europe to lose her viriginity. It made less money ($9 mil, the 83rd highest-grosser of the year), and the reviews were even more scathing (0% on RT). Five years after that, John directed her in “Ghosts Can't Do It,” which made ... $25k? I guess? It's hard to figure its box-office take because the movie was barely released in theaters. It was certainly never reviewed. By then, no one cared. By then, the national “Bo” was somebody else.

And that was that. There went her career. She was in “10,” did crap for her husband, disappeared.

So back to the original question: According to IMDb's algorithms, what is Bo Derek known for? Here you go:

Yes. Not “10.” 

I guess I kind of see it? “Tommy Boy” is there because Farley/Spade are still popular, “Bolero” and “Tarzan” are for the soft-core boys, and “Ghost Can't Do It” because it includes a cameo by Donald Trump. For which he won a Razzie. Back then.

Plus who watches “10” anymore?

But it's still wrong. The chart below is how often her name comes up, historically, on newspapers.com. That peak in 1980 is more than 26,000 mentions. Then the long slog downward. 

The question for IMDb is this: How do you incorporate such historical information into the “Known For” algorithm? Or should they keep the algorithm as it is—about who comes to IMDb—but just change the title? That would be the easy solution. But I expect no solution. Since I doubt they see a problem.

The bigger lesson here is the Hamiltonian one: Don't throw away your shot.

Here's a bonus via newspapers.com: My father's 1984 review of “Bolero.”

(click here for bigger view)

Posted at 10:05 AM on Monday October 26, 2020 in category Technology  
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Twitter: @ErikLundegaard

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