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Great Actors, Bad Movies
by Andy York

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I always write about the good in movies. That's how I am in the real world as well. I would much rather spend my time on what I like than what I don't. So, in direct violation of those traits, I'm writing this week about what I don't like. Each one of these actors and actresses are excellent. They will stand forever as some of the greatest faces to ever grace a movie screen. Each one has made countless classics, but that's not what I choose to write about today. Today I'm writing about the movies these icons shouldn't have made.

Tom Hanks - Every Time We Say Goodbye

Tom Hanks is our classic movie star. Not many actors are like him anymore, unfortunately. He's the closest we have to James Stewart and Henry Fonda. Though despite his brilliance he's made some bad movies. The Lady Killers can be explained away through his desire to work with The Coen Brothers. The Bonfire of the Vanities was simply a novel that couldn't transfer to the big screen. The Man with One Red Shoe, Joe Versus the Volcano, Volunteers, Dragnet and Bachelor Party are all at least enjoyable and fun. The only movie in his career I really don't understand is Every Time We Say Goodbye. In the 1980's Tom Hanks was a comedy star. Now maybe he wanted to do something different, but a boring and dull drama/love story isn't going to keep you from being type cast. When you see Tom Hanks in a love story you expect a sweet and fun movie. When what people get from watching the movie is neck pain from looking at their watch constantly its not changing your image. It's disappointing your audience. Words like somber, sad, lame, boring and dull hardly ever enter the conversation of Tom Hanks. They all enter the conversation for Every Time We Say Goodbye.

Paul Newman - The Drowning Pool

Paul Newman is the man. He's one of the greatest actors ever, made amazing films, had a legendary marriage, raced cars in France, was the face of a food company, worked for charity before it was trendy and now at the age of 83 he's trying to restore parts of his community. Paul Newman has lived his life. Among his many successes he's had a few failures along the way though. In his older years some of his films like Where the Money Is, Message in the Bottle, Harry & Son, Fort Apache the Bronx and a few others have all been underwhelming. The same can be said for some of the films he made early on like The Silver Chalice, The Young Philadelphians and From the Terrace. Though the film that bothers me the most is The
Drowning Pool. Its a sequel to another one of Newman's movies called Harper. In both films Paul Newman plays a private detective named Lew Harper. The first film is a little dated, but it's still very good. It's witty and slick at the right parts, but serious and compelling as well. The Drowning Pool is none of that. The movie leaves all of the wit and style with the first film and ends up with a very luke warm murder mystery. Paul Newman made some good movies after this, but The Drowning Pool is, for me, was when his prime came to a close.

Julia Roberts - The Mexican

Several times I've noticed that when two huge movie stars are in a movie together the movie sometimes, well, sucks. If you wanted to pick the best movie to represent that idea you'd pick The Mexican. Brad Pitt is one of the biggest male stars of our time and no female is bigger than Julia Roberts today. I remember a joke I heard back when Julia was on her way to winning her Oscar for Erin Brockovich. The joke was that if anyone was considering giving her an Oscar they should watch The Mexican first. Well, she does over act, but that's not the worst part for Julia here. She is annoying and plain unattractive in this movie. The love story of Brad Pitt's character being kind of a screw up and Julia's character being needy, demanding and unlikable doesn't rival Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman to say the least. The theory on the requirements for a woman to be successful in becoming a star has been said to be either women have to want to have you as a friend or men have to want you. That may be sexist, but it's kind of true if you think about it. In The Mexican, Julia does neither.

John Wayne - The Conqueror

John Wayne's been in some great movies and a lot of bad ones. Though, he might just be the biggest movie star of all time. I can't think of any other star past or present that has carried such a big following for so long. Seriously though, John Wayne as Genghis Khan? I don't care how bad some of his gazillion westerns were, nothing is worse than the guy George Bush wants to be playing an Asian Emperor. Do I really need to go any further?

Anthony Hopkins - Fracture

If you were to make a list of the best actors of the last twenty years Anthony Hopkins would surely be on it. Though, as is the case with all stars, sometimes you do a movie to play on your image rather than act. Hopkins does fall into a bit of type casting with Fracture, but he does act. You can't fault
Anthony for Fracture's suckage, but what I do fault him for is choosing to do such a mediocre thriller. There's never a hint at something great or even that good in this movie. It's completely run of the mill and by the numbers for a thriller. It reminds me of a movie Humphrey Bogart did towards the end of his career called Sirocco. It was a movie that so much wanted to be Casablanca. Watching Fracture you know that Anthony Hopkins is a great actor, but also it becomes clear that he's done what he's going to do in the realm of film history. Anytime you see that old movie star walking out of the building, so to speak, it's sad. It's the tail of a comet. Fracture is all of that for Anthony Hopkins.

Robert De Niro - Showtime

Anthony Hopkins may have fallen into doing a poor man's version of what made him a star, but Robert De Niro has been simply making fun of himself for almost a decade now. The brutal tough image that made him one of the great movie stars of all time, it's an image he's laughing at now. There's nothing wrong with doing that occasionally, but when you're career becomes that joke it really damages your legacy. You look at the movies De Niro has made the past ten years with Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers, Analyze This, Analyze That, The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, Men of Honor, 15 Minutes, City by the Sea etc. Virtually all of his movies have either been parodies of his image or have under performed to his standards. Showtime is a comedy that also stars Eddie Murphy, a guy who hasn't been worth a damn for almost twenty years. The stars of Taxi Driver and Beverly Hills Cop teaming up for a weak buddy cop comedy is a little sad to see. I really doubt De Niro needs money. Maybe he just wants to have fun now that he's made it into immortality. I hope he has fun with these movies because Showtime certainly wasn't any fun for anyone else.

Elizabeth Taylor - The Flintstones

Now I guess you could say that this was the old icon making a "guest appearance" in the big blockbuster. Well, The Flintstones wasn't that blockbuster, so the logic doesn't work. In her prime Elizabeth Taylor may have been the greatest female movie star of all time. She was absolutely beautiful and enormously talented. Sure she had some misses with Raintree County or Butterfield 8, but her successes shined much brighter than her failures. So to see her virtually end her career with a movie that was a bad movie for even Rick Moranis might just sum up her public
life. She has obviously gone a little off the deep end in her later life. The one resounding thing I've noticed about my selections this time is that it's always sad to see the icon fall. Well, the next two selections can't claim that as an excuse.

Audrey Hepburn - The Unforgiven(1960)

Audrey Hepburn might have been the anti-Elizabeth Taylor. Where Taylor had curves, Audrey had none. Where Elizabeth was an American star, Audrey was a treasure from Europe. One thing Audrey Hepburn was not was a Native American. Not many people have heard of this because, well it sucks, but because Clint Eastwood has his own Unforgiven movie. The story in this Unforgiven movie is that Audrey Hepburn was an Indian baby that a white family took. Well, the Indians find out when she's grown and are pissed. The movie ends with the white family fighting off those "savages" and saving Audrey to be white. Now after you push aside the horrible racism, the last scene of the movie is Audrey's brother in the white family, Burt Lancaster, kissing her and vowing to marry her. So, to sum up, we've got racism and incest. I think that's about as far from Roman Holiday and Sabrina as you can get.

Tom Cruise - Mission Impossible 2

Up until I rented this movie I could say I never paid to see a man masturbate. I can't say that now after having paid the three bucks to see MI2. The first Mission Impossible had its moments of "that could never happen" but it was still a spy movie. The only idenity this movie can claim is to being a rip off of Notorious. That's not what even was so bad though, Tom Cruise has a bad guy on the ground and to slam home how cool he is, for some reason, he must do a flip in the air and kick the guy. Apparently just kicking the guy wouldn't work. He had to do a flip too. I just wrote a column on how I feel Tom Cruise is a great star, but I do understand why some people can't stand him. I don't know if I've ever seen a movie where the star strokes his ego more than Tom Cruise does in Mission Impossible 2. You mix the horrible action with a movie star fully buying into his own BS, it's bound to be really bad. Mission Impossible 2 was really bad.

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I don't know why, but I like stopping at listing nine selections. It's not a top ten list. I could easily add another nine selections, but these were the ones that came to mind first. Maybe there's other more dubious offenses that stars have committed. Though I think these will do for now......

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Out of the Past
Every other Tuesday

Discussing classic films from City Lights to Apocalypse Now and everything in between and beyond.


Other Columns
Other columns by Andy York:

Top 10 Coolest Movie Characters

Stewart-Mann Western Connection

Academy of Irrelevance

Ride of Terror Showdown

A Guide to the Fiercely Divine

All Columns


Andy York
Andy is a life long movie fanatic. The first movie he saw in the theater was Back to the Future, Part 2 at the age of 3 and he has loved movies ever since.



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If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Andy York by clicking here.


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