Monday, March 30, 2009

Warren Beatty Turns 72

As incredible as it may seem, today is Warren Beatty's 72nd birthday. I still think of him as being the Hollywood sex symbol he was when I was a teenager in the 1970s.

When Beatty's name is mentioned, some people will tell you they think of "Splendor in the Grass," his film debut from 1961. Or they may remember his performances in "Bonnie and Clyde" (1967) or "McCabe & Mrs. Miller" (1971) or "Shampoo" (1975) or "Reds" (1981).

Still others may just think of him as the younger brother of actress Shirley MacLaine.

Turner Classic Movies is honoring Beatty by showing five of his films tonight, starting with the one that I always think of when I think of him:
  • "Heaven Can Wait" (1978) at 7 p.m. (Central).

  • "The Fortune" (1975) at 9 p.m. (Central).

  • "The Parallax View" (1974) at 11 p.m. (Central).

  • "Bugsy" (1991) at 1 a.m. (Central).

  • "Mickey One" (1965) at 3:30 a.m. (Central).
Movie buffs may be less familiar with "The Fortune" and "Mickey One" than they are with the others, but they might be regarded as hidden treasures.

"The Fortune" may have suffered from bad timing. Co–starring Jack Nicholson, it was released after "Shampoo" and before Nicholson's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" so it may have been lost in the shuffle, but it had a lot of things going for it — a setting and a cast that were reminiscent of "The Sting," a screenplay by the author of "Five Easy Pieces" and a director (Mike Nichols) who had already been the director of films like "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" "The Graduate" and "Carnal Knowledge."

"Mickey One" may be the most obscure of the bunch. It was directed by Arthur Penn, who is noted more for directing "The Miracle Worker," "Bonnie and Clyde," "Alice's Restaurant" and "Little Big Man."

Beatty has appeared in only a couple of movies in the last 15 years. This is a rare opportunity to see him in his prime.