Auto Focus is a 2002 American biographical film directed by Paul Schrader. The screenplay by Michael Gerbosi is based on the book The Murder of Bob Crane by Robert Graysmith. It tells the story of actor Bob Crane, an affable radio show host and amateur drummer who found success on Hogan's Heroes, a popular television sitcom about a prisoner of war camp during World War II, and his dramatic descent into the underbelly of Hollywood after the series was cancelled.
The film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. It was shown at the San Sebastián Film Festival, the Helsinki International Film Festival, the Chicago International Film Festival, the New Orleans Film Festival, and the Bergen International Film Festival before going into limited release on eleven screens in the US, earning $123,761 on its opening weekend. It grossed $2,063,196 in the US and $641,755 in foreign markets for a total worldwide box office of $2,704,951 .
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times called the film "a hypnotic portrait ... pitch-perfect in its decor, music, clothes, cars, language and values ... Greg Kinnear gives a creepy, brilliant performance as a man lacking in all insight ... Crane was not a complex man, but that should not blind us to the subtlety and complexity of Kinnear's performance."
Edward Guthmann of the San Francisco Chronicle called it "a compelling, sympathetic portrait ... Kinnear undercuts the seaminess of the Crane story, and shows us a man with more dimension and complexity than his behavior might suggest."
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone awarded it 3½ ot of 4 stars and added, "Schrader, the writer of Taxi Driver and the director of American Gigolo, is a poet of male sexual pathology. Shot through with profane laughs and stinging drama, Auto Focus ranks with his best films."
Todd McCarthy of Variety called it "one of director Paul Schrader's best films, and like Boogie Nights ranks as a shrewd expose of recent Hollywood's slimy underside ... Schrader directs with a very smooth hand, providing a good-natured and frequently amusing spin to eventually grim material that aptly reflects the protagonist's almost unfailing good humor ... Pic overall has an excellent L.A. period feel without getting elaborate about it, and musical contributions by Angelo Badalamenti and a host of pop tunes are tops."