Saturday, 3 April 2010

(Thoughts I Had While) Seeing Reds

Do people ever remember that Warren Beatty is a good actor? I know it sounds like a silly question, and given. The man has done excellent work in Splendor in the Grass, Bonnie & Clyde, Shampoo, Heaven Can Wait and on and on. But I often wonder if we really remember that he’s that talented. Sometimes I wonder if he remembers. He’s now become an icon, and he doesn’t do much work. Sure, his directorial talents are impressive, but I always remember Warren as an actor before I think of him as anything else. Like so many of the good actors of his time, Beatty was excellent at playing a particular type, and in many ways this type was not too far from himself – the brash (young) man who eventually underwent an epiphany of sorts. I always accredit Reds with my favourite Beatty performance. It is a credit to Beatty (and the rest of the cast) that with all going on in Reds (fictional and authentic) that they never get lost beneath the mire of information. In some ways I’d call this my favourite Keaton performance too, even if I do prefer her generally as a comedienne. And has Jack ever been so good without being Jack? It’s a good question. The sole Oscar win (acting) for Reds was in Maureen Stapleton. In some ways the role was almost a cameo. It’s not the best performance in the film, but I never can dislike the win. Always a talented performer, Maureen shows up and does what she needs to do – and does it excellently.
I often wonder what drew Beatty to tackling a project like Reds. The film functions as a history lesson as much as entertainment, but unlike so many films with the same intent it never does it tediously. It’s difficult to put it in a box, and I often wonder if that’s the reason it’s become so forgotten. How many persons remember Reds today? Along with I think it represents the best of films from 1981 – I never was fond of eventual Best Picture winner Chariots of Fire. Reds did go on to win a director statue for Beatty (his only competitive Oscar win) – so it’s not like it was completely hated. Still, I always feel that something of this scope deserves more. Hopefully placing it at #36 on my list of favourites I’m doing my bit to level the playing field.


Twister said...

Beatty was never much of an actor. He was misguided in Shampoo, and miscast in Bonnie and Clyde, etc.

He was smart to move behind the camera, like most lacking actors do.

Univarn said...

I like Beatty as an actor, but he was never the big range guy. He was always the persona. But when he had to act I always felt he could do it.

Reds was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I liked it, but I didn't love it. I kept expecting more. Not sure why, but such talent should definitely not be overlooked.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

twister hater! i think he's excellent, come on he was great in bugsy and splendor in the grass - what a debut.

univarn i'm not sure why i like it so much. it just worked for me.