Friday, August 29, 2008

Cocks of Hollywood's Walk: Gable & Crowe


Two sweaty men in combat for their lives against a tyrant whose subjects don't respect him. Two actors who are notoriously fond of themselves. Two alpha males of Hollywood's pantheon. It's the second consecutive showdown of 30's icon Clark Gable & 00's icon Russell Crowe in our "Best Pictures From the Outside In" series.

You can read the whole discussion over @ Goatdog's Blog


It's fun how closely the Gable/Crowe stars align.
  • Blatant self-regard
  • High school dropouts
  • Late blooming -- both started acting young but became huge stars in their early 30s
  • Storied prickly relationships with other movie stars
  • Heighth, well, by Hollywood standards at least ...Crowe is nearly 6' and Gable was 6' 1"
  • Public adoration and true box office power
  • Gable had songs written about him / Crowe sings songs with his band
  • And finally, most importantly to our purposes here, there's the Oscar magnetized filmographies: Crowe starred in 5 Best Picture nominees, 2 of them winners in a span of seven years: LA Confidential (97), The Insider (99), Gladiator* (00), A Beautiful Mind* (01) and Master and Commander (03); Gable starred in 5 Best Picture nominees, 3 of them winners in a span of seven years: It Happened One Night* (34), Mutiny on the Bounty* (35), San Francisco (36), Test Pilot (38) and Gone With the Wind* (39)


For Nick this episode was all about realizing how little he'd seen from 1935 (and new 2000 indecisions). For me this BPFTOI episode was all about reconsidering both Gable and Crowe, neither of whom I've been all that attached to in the past. Crowe's Oscar'ed turn as Commodus Maximus improved for me a lot on this revisit (though I still think either Javier Bardem or Ed Harris' would have made a stronger choice for Best Actor in 2000 --and those are both biopic turns so, whaddya know? I'm not entirely predictable)

I admired Gable's 1935 performance, too. After his work in Mutiny on the Bounty (I'd only seen the 1984 Mel Gibson version) plus that recent return trip to It Happened One Night and my virgin screening of Red Dust, plus his connections to two of my favorite leading ladies (Carole Lombard, his wife pictured left with their siamese kittens awwww and Norma Shearer, his three-time co-star), I am officially considering membership in Team Gable.
*
and you?

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

wow. i can't believe Gable is manhandling Crowe so much in this poll.

Arkaan said...

Interesting to see both films re-evaluated to the extent that they were.

I voted for Gable if only because his comedienne parmour (Carole Lombarde) would be worth betraying me for. It's not worth being impaled by Crowe just for Meg Ryan. And I don't dislike Ryan, but Lombarde is a dame for the all time lists.

Jonathan Lapper said...

Gable always gets my vote. Crowe's a terrific actor but Gable has charisma for miles and miles.

Casey said...

I voted for Crowe but I love both of them. I'm probably in the minority when I whole-heartedly say Gable wiped the floor with Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind. I think she looked like an amateur in comparison. however I'm also a big Russell Crowe fan as I know Nathaniel really is not.

Robert said...

Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe Crowe and Gable are the only actors to have starring roles in back to back Oscar winners.

NATHANIEL R said...

robert --i do believe that's correct. any oscar trivia buffs in the audience who disagree?

Arkaan said...

Starred in? Yep

Acted in? John Gielgud (Gandhi/Chariots of Fire), Walter Pidgeon (How Green Was My Valley/Mrs. Miniver)

Anonymous said...

I think Russell Crowe is a fantastic actor too, and I can't think of any other actor who could have played the part in "Gladiator" so well in terms of action and emotion that made you empathize with the character.

There'a a reason "swords and sandals" movies went out of fashion - they can just look stupid. It needs an incredibly grounded and realistic performance by the lead to get audiences to suspend disbelief.

I love Connie Neilsen too, and I think she doesn't get nearly enough credit for being an excellent actress in this and other movies. In "Gladiator" she works with 3 different and "difficult" actors (alt: brilliant artistic perfectionists): Crowe, Phoenix, and Harris. She gets along with each of them, adapts her style to each of them, makes the scene believable, and gets absolutely no credit.

It's like watching 4 people play basketball, alternating partners and one of them is a woman. At the end of the game, all the guys do is talk about how they played each other.