April 7, 1995 in Seven

Don’t Judge Beatty’s Career By Performance In ‘Love Affair’

By The Spokesman-Review
 

He’s become a caricature of the Hollywood-style Lothario - a man more famous for his exploits between the sheets than for his scenes on the big screen.

But there was a time, believe it or not boys and girls, when Warren Beatty did display some talent.

You’d never know it from his latest effort, the remake of “Love Affair” that is now on the video shelves (see capsule review below). But look over in the “drama” or, at this point, the “classics” sections and you should find one or two of the following:

The rise

“Bonnie and Clyde” (1967) - He starred as the dashing Clyde to Faye Dunaway’s ravishing Bonnie Barrow in this Arthur Penn masterpiece. Beatty also co-produced, which demonstrated his early ability to recognize a good project.

“McCabe and Mrs. Miller” (1971) - More of an anti-Western than anything else, this period piece is more of a Robert Altman film than a Beatty project. But he brought just the right touch tone to the role of a man over his head who, in his moment of manly testing, wins even while losing.

“The Parallax View” (1974) - An early Kennedy conspiracy study, this pre-Oliver Stone film by Alan J. Pakula benefitted from the casting of Beatty against type as an investigative reporter on the trail of the president’s killers.

“Shampoo” (1975) - Back in type as a sex-happy Los Angeles hairstylist, Beatty manages to elicit sympathy for a guy who is as attracted to women as he is prey to them.

The apex

“Reds” (1981) - As reporter/ revolutionary John Reed, Beatty proved that he could not only act and produce but direct as well. A wonderful look at love, life and politics during a hard time of world history, this is Beatty at his best.

The fall

“Dick Tracy” (1990) - A visual tour de force, this cartoon version of a comic-book strip is more something to admire than get excited about.

“Bugsy” (1991) - Overly long and uncentered, this Barry Levinson look at the ex-New York thug turned Las Vegas pioneer is interesting mostly for Beatty’s over-the-top performance and for the presence of the woman who would become his wife: Annette Bening.

Which brings us back to “Love Affair.”

End of story.

‘Pulp’ critics

One last word on “Pulp Fiction,” which at this point is set for a fall video release: If the “critics’ are the only fans of this film, as one letter writer recently charged, then how has it earned nearly $100 million at the box office? If you don’t understand the appeal of this movie, fine. But stop flogging a cold Kahuna Burger, OK? It’s getting a bit tiresome.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

***

Once a budding matinee idol, later typecast as a villain, Terence Stamp would seem to be an odd choice to play an Australian transvestite. But he triumphs here, making this minor bit of entertainment more than it might have been. Stamp stars as a member of a drag-queen trio journeying across the outback. The best moments, naturally enough, involve the Oscar-winning costumes, when the bedecked, berobed and befeathered trio confronts its cowboy-frocked countrymen, whose jaws drop in unison as a reaction. Rated R.

Love Affair

**

In this third remake of a story about thwarted love, the best known probably being 1957’s “An Affair to Remember,” Warren Beatty and Annette Bening star as the would-be loving couple. Although sensitively directed by television producerdirector Glen Gordon Caron (“Moonlighting”), it still has all the feel of a Beatty vanity project. All the feel, that is, but very little of the quality. There’s virtually no motivation for these characters to fall in “love,” other than script demands. And Katharine Hepburn is limited to a single sequence, which is highlighted by a four-letterempowered phrase involving sex with a waterfowl. Rated PG-13.

Short takes

“The Pagemaster” - Macaulay Culkin takes us on a literary adventure in this animated film.

“Silent Fall” - Richard Dreyfuss stars as a therapist working with an autistic boy who may have witnessed a murder.

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: What’s new to view Available this weekend - “Love Affair” (Warner), “The Pagemaster” (Fox), “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” (Polygram), “Silent Fall” (Warner). Available Tuesday - “The Shawshank Redemption” (Columbia TriStar).

This sidebar appeared with the story: What’s new to view Available this weekend - “Love Affair” (Warner), “The Pagemaster” (Fox), “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” (Polygram), “Silent Fall” (Warner). Available Tuesday - “The Shawshank Redemption” (Columbia TriStar).


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