Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Great (film) Debates vol. 41

We've spoken already about modern heroes and about anti-heroes, but what about classic heroes?

Who is the toughest/coolest action hero of the classic era?


Panelist: T-Rav

In a completely arbitrary decision, I'm going to say Charlton Heston. He just commands the screen whenever he's on it, and he exudes such toughness and inner strength (The Ten Commandments, Planet of the Apes), you can't overrate his value. And his later work with the NRA doesn't hurt.

Panelist: Tennessee Jed

James Bond in Dr. No. First time you see him in the casino in a tuxedo oozes charisma.

Panelist: ScottDS

Steve McQueen, though I've only seen a few of his films. When a friend of mine saw The Great Escape for the first time recently, I asked him about McQueen and my friend said that, while he wasn't the best actor in the film, you couldn't help but pay him your undivided attention whenever he was on screen. And for those who doubt his acting skills, I have one word: Papillon.

Panelist: AndrewPrice

There are so many to choose from, but the one who stands out above all is Steve McQueen. He is just the definition of cool.

Comments? Thoughts?

54 comments:

Anonymous said...

Buggy Bunny. There is no tougher, cooler hero.

Individualist said...

John Wayne

Definitely......

and if we are talking Looney Tunes characters you have to go with the Tazmanian Devil.

Tennessee Jed said...

looking back on this question, I almost feel it is a little unfair since there are almost two many greats to choose just one. Maybe we should have discussed by sub-genre (westerns, sci-fi, swashbucklers, cops.) Certainly the fact nobody picked Clint Eastwood for his Dirty Harry roles, or Humphrey Bogart is telling.

Outlaw13 said...

At first blush I wanted to say John Wayne. But isn't he a catagory all his own? This question I feel is for everyone not named John Wayne.

Steve McQueen, Paul Newman are two names that come to mind.

Outlaw13 said...

Errol Flynn and his swashbuckler films should also be considered.

shawn said...

Have to go with the Duke first, Clint Eastwood for his spaghetti westerns, and then how about Lee Marvin?

T-Rav said...

I don't know if you can rightly call Clint Eastwood an actor of the classic era. His career's bridged that and the modern era, so it doesn't seem right to call him a member of either. Or maybe that's just me.

Floyd R. Turbo said...

Outlaw is correct... John Wayne is the alpha and omega of classic film heroes....

Outside of that...

I always like Bogart though he may be so flawed as Rick, Marlowe and Spade as to be anti-hero.

tryanmax said...

I quite partial to Michael Caine, myself. (Is my anglophile showing?)

T-Rav said...

tryanmax, nothin' wrong with a little anglophilia. :-) Caine's a good choice, anyway. You also can't go wrong with Sir Alec Guinness.

AndrewPrice said...

Anon, Good call! LOL! Bugs Bunny is indeed a scrappy, cool, always-victorious villain.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, Wayne is one cool dude. I can't tell you what it is about him, but he's great!

The Tazmanian Devil? He's a villain my friend, isn't he?

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I ran into that too -- waaaaaaay too many to choose from. Classic movies are just jam-packed with cool heroes. So many more than modern films, if I may say so!

AndrewPrice said...

Outlaw, You know, I agree with that. John Wayne is his own category. He's just unique in the world. Good call on the anybody-not-named-Wayne category!

Steve McQueen is a fantastic hero in my book. Newman too. When I was growing up, I didn't care much for Newman because his 1980s films weren't very good and I didn't like his politics. But when I started watching his older stuff, he really won me over -- especially Cool Hand Luke.

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, Lee Marvin is a great choice too. He's one of those guys I wish had made more movies because I liked everything he did.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Personally, I wouldn't call Eastwood an actor of the classic era. He strikes me as a modern-era actor. But his early stuff is probably right on that border.

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, It's hard to disagree with Wayne. I like Boogie too, but I also think he probably falls into the anti-hero more than the hero. Still, he's an excellent choice!

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax and T-Rav, Michael Caine is an excellent choice, though again I put him more in the modern era.

tryanmax said...

Well, in that case I pick Abbot & Costello. Yes, they were comedians, but all of their movies were actually action flicks.

T-Rav said...

Agreed on Wayne. You almost have to give him his own category.

LawHawkRFD said...

I have to go with Wayne, hands-down, both on persona and longevity. My second choice would be Errol Flynn because he did the parts so well, but unlike Wayne, never developed an aura of heroics that transcended whatever role he was playing.

DUQ said...

Gary Cooper. He's got that nice-boy kicks butt thing going.

DUQ said...

tryanmax, LOL! I wouldn't call them action flicks, but I did enjoy their films.

Tennessee Jed said...

I know this is not classic, but I just saw Act of Valor. Those guys are the baddest and coolest ever. If you haven't seen this one yet, it is an absolute must

DUQ said...

Jed, I wanted to see that but haven't been able to find it anywhere. Is it on DVD?

AndrewPrice said...

Sorry I'm late folks, had a ton of errand to do today!


Jed and DUQ, I really want to see that, but I haven't had the chance to look for it!

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, LOL! Somehow I can't imagine either of those guys as action heroes by any definition. But their movies were more believable than a lot of modern action flicks, that's for sure.

ScottDS said...

Great calls, everyone!

I more or less like all these guys. Flynn took a little getting used to when I watched Robin Hood, The Sea Hawk, and Captain Blood for the first time. I thought he came off as a little too smarmy, at least at first, but I also understand that attitude is in contrast to that of his antagonists who are usually know-it-all types themselves.

Re: Lee Marvin, I only watched The Dirty Dozen for the first time a couple years ago but as soon as he appeared on the screen, I knew I'd like him.

Oh, and tryanmax, I agree about Michael Caine!

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav and Lawhawk, Wayne seems to be the overwhelming favorite and there is certainly something about him which is just compelling. I wonder if we'll ever see another like him in the future?

Tennessee Jed said...

It is available on Blu-Ray and DVD thru Amazon, and I think pay-per-view on DirecTV. You really need to all move it up on your cues :)

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, Gary Cooper is an excellent choice as well!

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I felt he same way about Marvin. The first time I saw him I knew I'd like him, and he's never disappointed. Some of his films aren't great, but he's always been solid. As I said above, I wish he'd done more films.

I liked Flynn a good deal the first I saw him and he never had to grow on me, but he is a pretty smug characters, that's for sure. I don't think he could pull off the same attitude today and get away with it.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I will add that to my to do list! :)

tryanmax said...

RE: the Ages of Cinema -- To my understanding, most folks divide the Ages of Cinema as

1. The Silent Era (whenever - 1920s)
2. The Golden Age (1920s - early 60s)
3. The Modern Age (1960s - present?)

I wonder if we aren't entering or haven't entered a fourth age by now? I would say there is something markedly different about movies made since the start of the new millennium.

If I had to lay a finger on it, I would say that since about that time movies--even blockbusters--have been more consciously designed with the DVD (aka home video) market in mind. This entails a whole host of ramifications, including the decline of the "event film." Any thoughts?

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That's generally how I see people divide it too. But I personally would break the Modern Age into 2/3 groups.

To me, there is a really marked difference between the 1980s and the what came before it. So I would say that the 1980s began the "Manufactured Age" where films were put together by giant corporations rather than filmmakers.

I don't know if we're out of that era yet or have just moved into a more cynical phase of it? We're probably just in deeper at the moment.

tryanmax said...

Certainly everything took on a more "polished" look sometime early in the 80s. I wonder if the Golden Age couldn't be considered to extend a little further?

AndrewPrice said...

In which direction?

CrisD said...

John Wayne in any role.

Charlton Heston close second.

Great Topic as I really think these two will never be knocked off their thrones.

AndrewPrice said...

Cris, I think Wayne is winning hands down!

I love Heston. He's provided some of my favorite movie moments. :)

I think you're right too about them never losing their place. In fact, it's interesting how Wayne is still considered the most popular actor of all time and he hasn't put out a movie in forty years now!

tryanmax said...

Andrew, that sounds like a topic for another debate, don't you think?

AndrewPrice said...

Or an article for a Wednesday. :)

T-Rav said...

Andrew and tryanmax, maybe we could call this "The Blockbuster Age" rather than "The Manufactured Age." Of course there's been blockbusters since, I don't know, the '70s, but it seems now like even the making and scheduling of movies is done with the "summer blockbuster" or "winter blockbuster" or "off-season blockbuster" in mind. And of course there's the notorious reliance on big explosions, and recently lots of CGI, to cover up for any problems. I'm not old enough to remember, obviously, but it does seem like movies were made differently even 20 or 30 years ago.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I think movies were made very differently 20-30 years ago. In the 1980s, big corporations (Sony in particular) moved into Hollywood and began buying studios. At first, this meant more of a focus on commercial movies, but it didn't really change the substance that much.

Over time, however, films have been homogenized by business practices and have by now become nothing more than assembled products. Moreover, these companies bought out all the independents in the 1990s and sealed the distribution doors, which wiped out the competition which kept them from going to far. So now they are purely creatures of marketing.

ScottDS said...

T-Rav -

One thing I've noticed is that, while plenty of movies made 10, 20, 30 years ago had effects and spectacle, they were mostly made in a vacuum.

By that, I mean the word "franchise" usually wasn't on anyone's mind, at least not until the film opened. Today, it seems you can't make a movie without the filmmakers talking about sequels, prequels, and spinoffs.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I think people didn't think of movies as "properties" back then. They were just movies. Now they are properties and that means you plan for sequels, merchandising, and fully exploiting their economic potential. None of those were really ideas people had for movies back then.

In fact, think about how different Close Encounters would be today with the suits demanding that they set up sequels and show the aliens so they can sell toys, etc.

rlaWTX said...

Late but I agree with John Wayne as tops...
and with Bugs, Bogart, Lee Marvin, C Heston, and Eastwood; only seen a few minutes here and there of Flynn, but his reputation indicates that he deserves to be on the list...

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, Excellent list. Yeah, I think Flynn deserves to be on the list. No love for McQueen huh?

rlaWTX said...

I don't think I've actually seen all of a McQueen movie. He falls into that 70s era "modern movies" that I haven't seen much of and don't seek out. Honestly, the rest (except the Duke) I've seen because my dad loved war movies.

AndrewPrice said...

I know what you mean. But he was in a huge war movie -- The Great Escape. If you haven't seen that, it's one of the best... and it's not even about combat. :)

rlaWTX said...

McQueen was in that? That's the one with James Garner? and 83 other top names? I saw it at some point with Dad, I'm sure, but it would have been in high school... I'll have to ck it out again.

AndrewPrice said...

Yes, that's the one. McQueen is the guy on the motorcycle. I highly recommend it.

rlaWTX said...

thanks!

WadeZ said...

Andrew, calling Steve McQueen cool is racist, you should be ashamed.

AndrewPrice said...

Wade, I heard about that yesterday and I was stunned. How in the world can "cool" be considered racist? Amazing.

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