Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder big box office!
George Clooney’s Leatherheads coming to DVD in a few weeks.
French flick Tell No One directed by actor Guillaume Cane is a art-house hit.
And looking over the upcoming movie slate, director Clint Eastwood has two flicks coming out in the next couple of months. Gran Torino which he also stars in a cranky Korean War Vet will be released at Christmas. But first hitting the street in late October is The Changeling which got a mostly positive, but mixed reception from critics when it screened at Cannes, but sounds like definite oscar bate for star Angelina Jolie will be.
Actors directing, some make the transition, some just make lame movies.
We all know the Eastwood story of rise, Rawhide, Spaghetti Westerns, Dirty Harry, number-one box office star in the seventies, Clyde the orangutan movies and now kinda, John Ford status as a director.
Though back in the seventies no one would of predicted the award and critical acclaim that would come for him in these last twenty years, personally I think his two westerns he did then, High Plains Drifter (1973) and The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) are still the two best films he's directed. Even if they are rather “Leone/ Siegel -esc”.
His Charlie Parker Bio, Bird (1988) was a also very impressive flick, however, I’ve never had an urge to see it for a second time. It's a total downer made watchable because of an epic performance by Forest Whitaker as the druggy 'hep-cat'.
Though through the years, Clint has had many directing duds, he's kept at it and he found a formula that has worked for him and obviously for 'award bestowers'. Does anyone remember The Rookie (1990) or the unwatchable Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997). Have you ever seen the bizarrely awkward flick Breezy? In which cranky old William Holden ends up getting jiggy with twenty-year-old flower-child cutie Kay Lenz (she does have some gorgeous nude scenes. She’s my type!).
Clint’s ‘number one box-office’ rival back in the disco decade Burt Reynolds tried his hand at directing as well. Perhaps Gator (1976) was no worse then most other good-ol’ boy private-dick flicks of the day, each of his three other features he helmed got progressively worse ending his non-TV directing career with a bang in ‘85, with the hilariously awful Elmore Leonard adaptation, playing ‘Stick’ Stickley in the inevitably titled Stick.
The two macho would-be auteurs appeared together only once in the unbearably boring City Heat (1984), ironically, directed by actor Richard Benjamin (AKA Adam Quark) who hit it big his first time out yelling ‘cut’ & ‘action’, thanks to Peter O’toole’s brilliant perforce My Favorite Year (1982). But like his fellow mustache-man Reynolds, Benjamin has been relegated to the boob-tube ever since he made the universally hated Lisa Kudrow disasterpiece Marci X (2003).
So, on with some lists....
You have your first tier of Actors like Eastwood who have become just as accomplished as directors Woody Allen, Richard Attenborough, Warren Beatty, Albert Brooks, John Cassavetes, Charlie Chaplin, George Clooney, Kevin Coster, Mel Gibson, Laurence Olivier, Robert Redford, Orson Welles.
Some were established as directors first branched out and became actors for hire in other director’s films, John Huston, Sidney Pollack, Otto Preminger (and to some extent Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarintino).
Others who once were known as actors, are not considered actors anymore like Penny Marshal, Rob Reiner and Ron Howard. Acting has become more of a hobby for them (and a chore for us to have to watch).
Some big-time actors have directed more sporadically but found some success... Robert Duvall, Ed Harris, Dennis Hopper, Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Billy Bob Thornton, Cornel Wilde.
Others major stars have dabbled but not yet had that film that gives them full credibility as directors, but it still could happen for them... Robert De Niro, Ethan Hawke, Al Pacino, Kevin Spacey, Denzel Washington.
And there have been a number of working class actors who have made a nice transition into directing like Tony Bill, Peter Burg, Nick Cassavetes, Bill Duke, Jon Favreau, Todd Field and Keith Gordon to name a few.
Jodie Foster is probably the biggest name actress to attempt the transition to director.
Lillian Gish directed once the 1920 flick Remodeling Her Husband.
In the 40s and 50s Ida Lupino probably had as interesting a career as any actor turned director in that period.
Jennifer Jason Leigh had a terrific outing co-directing The Anniversary Party (2001) I’ve been looking forward to seeing what she would do next.
And of course more ugly, Nancy Walker somehow took the reins of the horrid Village People epic Can’t Stop the Music (1980).
Eastwood’s ex wife actress Sandra Lock has become a director and his daughter actress Allison, directed a film this past year, Rails And Ties, will she direct another?
Lets take a look at the big-time established actors (A-list more or less, so no Robert Culp, Talia Shire or Bert Convy) who only dipped their toe into the directing world ONCE (as of writing. Feature films only/ TV and docs don’t count).
THE GOOD, THE BLAH AND THE UGLY
OF A-List ACTOR’S ONE-TIME DIRECTING
Ben Afleck - Gone Baby Gone (2007)
Marlon Brando - One-Eyed Jacks (1961)
James Caan - Hide in Plain Sight (1980)
Albert Finney - Charlie Bubbles (1967)
Tommy Lee Jones - The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005)
Charles Laughton - Night Of The Hunter (1955)
Jack Lemmon - Kotch (1971)
Gary Oldman - Nil by Mouth (1997)
Kevin Bacon - Loverboy (2006)
James Cagney - Short Cut to Hell (1957)
Matt Dillon - City of Ghosts (2002)
Sally Field - Beautiful (2001)
Morgan Freeman - Bopha! (1993)
Bill Murray - Quick Change (1990) (co-dr)
Ed Norton - Keeping the Faith (2000)
Anthony Quinn - The Buccaneer (1958)
Martin Sheen - Cadence (1991)
Frank Sinatra - None But the Brave (1965)
Dan Aykroyd - Nothing But Trouble (1991)
Anne Bancroft - Fatso (1980)
Richard Burton - Doctor Faustus (co-dr) (1967)
Nicolas Cage - Sonny (2002)
Johnny Depp - The Brave (1997)
Shirley MacLaine - Bruno (2000)
Eddie Murphy - Harlem Nights (1989)
Peter Sellers - Mr Topaze/I Like Money (1960)
NEXT TIME: B & C LEVEL ACTORS, DIRECTING