You’d have to be practically cinema illiterate, to not realize the importance of Warren Beatty to 20th century film making. Leading man handsome, Mr. Beatty made his motion picture debut in Elia Kazan’s “Splendor in the Grass”. Before long, Warren would become renowned as a producer, screenwriter, and director too. Of course, his first Oscar nominations arrived after the runaway success of Arthur Penn’s “Bonnie and Clyde” in 1967–for both Best Actor and for Best Picture as producer of the classic. Beatty starred in 1971’s “McCabe & Mrs. Miller” from Robert Altman, and it’s quite simply one of the finest westerns ever made. 1975’s “Shampoo”, from Hal Ashby, was co-written by star Beatty, and the hit brought Lee Grant an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, and a Screenplay nom for Warren. In 1978, he produced the smash “Heaven Can Wait”, in which he also starred, co-wrote and co-directed. That brought nine total Oscar nominations. He did quadruple duty again for 1981’s “Reds”, garnering twelve Academy Awards noms, winning 3–including the big Director prize for Mr. Beatty. Warren was the star, producer and director for 1990’s blockbuster “Dick Tracy”–it won three golden statues. Beatty starred and co-produced 1991’s “Bugsy”. It received ten total noms, and triumphed twice. That’s a sterling resume right there…and I still skipped a number of features. Then for the last quarter of a century…just three total releases.
1994’s “Love Affair”, with Beatty as star and co-screenwriter, was a critical and financial disaster. 1998 saw a brief return-to-form with “Bulworth”. It was quadruple duty again for Mr. Beatty, and he grabbed an Oscar nom for his contributions to the script. But the film didn’t even make its budget back. Warren simply starred in 2001’s oft-delayed “Town & Country” from Peter Chelsom. Critics destroyed it, and the box office was so poor, that I actually dare you to find someone who admits to attending it. What followed has been 15 years of almost complete silence. Until now.
“Rules Don’t Apply” is scheduled to be released on November 23rd after completing most of its actual filming in early 2014. Back for quadruple-duty once again, the film is widely expected to be Warren Beatty’s swan song, after a legendary 55 year movie career. It’ll be his fifth film as director, and Beatty has assembled a cast that includes wife Annette Bening, Matthew Broderick, Alec Baldwin, Candice Bergen, Dabney Coleman, Ed Harris, Amy Madigan, and Martin Sheen. If you thought to yourself that that cast has seen their fiftieth, sixtieth, seventieth, or even eightieth birthdays–no one’s arguing. Well, in a market that increasingly skews young, twenty-somethings Lily Collins (Snow White in 2012’s “Mirror Mirror”) and Alden Ehreneich (so good in this year’s “Hail, Caesar!” from the Coen brothers) are cast in major leading roles. Mr. Beatty plays the part of billionaire Howard Hughes in this period piece set in 1958 Hollywood. And despite its troubled distribution (and awful title) its trailer has me cautiously optimistic for one last gem from the old master. That would be very nice.