Today is Warren Beatty’s 75th birthday. I wanted to write a little post about Beatty, since he’s one of my favorite actors. He’s made some truly great movies, beginning with his first starring role in “Splendor in the Grass,” and on to other classics like “Bonnie and Clyde,” “Shampoo,” “Heaven Can Wait,” “Reds,” “Dick Tracy,” “Bugsy,” and “Bulworth.” Of course, there have been some failures in there too. (“Ishtar,” and “Town & Country,” among others.) Beatty quickly decided he wanted to be a producer as well as a leading man, and his first producing credit was for “Bonnie and Clyde.” From that point on, Beatty has usually been heavily involved in all of his film projects. Very seldom is Beatty just an actor for hire. In fact, Beatty is the only person other than Orson Welles to garner Oscar nominations for Acting, Writing, Producing, and Directing for the same film. Welles achieved this distinction for his classic film “Citizen Kane.” Beatty actually accomplished it twice, for both “Heaven Can Wait” and “Reds.” (Beatty won his only Oscar for “Reds” for Best Director.) Beatty gained fame early in his life for both his talent and for his strikingly handsome good looks. But he proved that he was more than just a pretty face with his great performance in “Bonnie and Clyde.” Beatty is excellent at light comedy, and he’s able to inject even the most serious of roles with some comic moments. For example, the scene in “Bugsy” where Beatty tries to simultaneously throw a birthday party for his child while also conducting business with his Mob associates is sublimely ridiculous. “Heaven Can Wait” is probably my favorite Warren Beatty movie, it’s such a funny, sweet film and Beatty gives a great performance in it. It also has James Mason as an angel, which is pretty awesome.
Warren Beatty the man is something of a contradiction. On the one hand, he’s a very private man who doesn’t talk much about his personal life, but on the other hand, he has also led a very public love life by dating so many famous women. The picture above, taken from the New York Times Book Review, shows Beatty with some of the women he’s been linked with over the years. Another contradiction in Beatty’s personal life is that he was known as a Don Juan during his bachelor days-which lasted until he was 55-but for the last 20 years he’s been known as a model of stability as Annette Bening’s husband.
Beatty has a reputation as a perfectionist, and he’s made very few films. Since starring in “Splendor in the Grass” in 1961, Beatty has made just 22 feature films. In this way, he’s the opposite of Clint Eastwood, who just keeps churning out great movies. Beatty is currently rumored to be at work on a movie about Howard Hughes. I really hope the rumor is true, as I would be very interested to see any movie that Beatty makes. And I also hope it’s true so the dreadful “Town & Country” isn’t Beatty’s last movie. He’s so much more talented than that awful movie. Here’s hoping that over the next few years that Warren Beatty adds some more great movies to his impressive filmography.