As an actor, producer, director and all-around creative force in Hollywood, Warren Beatty is justly celebrated, but probably not enough. BONNIE & CLYDE, for instance, which more than any other movie, kicked off the New Hollywood era, would probably have been a dreadful, forgettable formula picture without his work as producer and star. What other movie stars used their onscreen clout with such formidable leverage?
Once BONNIE & CLYDE became a hit - which took a while, actually, but that's a different story - Beatty had the kind of power that always matters in Hollywood, the power to draw young, hip audiences. His next 20 years are unmatched in terms of number of great films. Beatty has excellent taste in stories and collaborators and it shows.
Consider the following films that Beatty made as a producer or director - or got made because he had box office power and used it:
Robert Altman's brilliant, wholly uncommercial McCABE & MRS. MILLER, Alan Pakula's definitive story of conspiracy paranoia THE PARALLAX VIEW, Hal Ashby and Robert Towne's immortal SHAMPOO, the terrific, fun HEAVEN CAN WAIT, written by Beatty and Elaine May, the still too-little seen major epic REDS - which deserves to be considered one of the greatest films ever made, and Elaine May's still underrated (but appreciating in reputation every year) comic fandango ISHTAR.
In celebration of Beatty the screen performer, enjoy these wardrobe tests for BONNIE & CLYDE. It's 7 and a half minutes of Beatty making faces, putting on hats, taking off hats and squinting. Happy birthday!