I love old movies. Most of the movies that come out now-a-days are crappy. Some are even crappy remakes of awesome old movies. So in an effort to properly educate my generation on quality film, I give you my favorite classic leading men:
If you haven’t seen The Great Escape, stop reading this right now and go rent it, but it, pirate it, whatever. Just WATCH it. It is one of the best movies of all time (see AFI Top Movie List and any other list). Steve McQueen was a butt-kicking leading man who was rough around the edges on and off the screen. He spent his youth in reform schools and served in the U.S. Marine core. He spent his life living for himself but when he was diagnosed with cancer he found God.
“When I believe in something, I fight like hell for it”.
Suggested Films: The Great Escape, Papillon, The Magnificent Seven, Bullit
It’s Easter weekend, which means you’ve probably come across The Ten Commandmentswhile channel surfing. Well, I’d like to introduce you to Moses. Charlton Heston not only starred in some of the greatest movies but played a huge role in the world in which he lived. Heston became President of the National Rifle Association after spending his adult life promoting the “God-given right” for men to defend themselves. He was a strong advocate for civil right many years before it became fashionable, and has been a recipient of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, plus the Kennedy Center Lifetime Achievement Award. He also fought in World War II. Heston married his wife in 1944 and they remained married until his death in 2008 from Alzheimer’s disease. One heck of a guy.
“For an actor, there is no greater loss than the loss of his audience. I can part the Red Sea, but I can’t part with you, which is why I won’t exclude you from this stage in my life . . . For now, I’m not changing anything. I’ll insist on work when I can; the doctors will insist on rest when I must. If you see a little less spring to my step, if your name fails to leap to my lips, you’ll know why. And if I tell you a funny story for the second time, please laugh anyway.”
-Heston on his Alzheimer’s
Suggested Films: The Ten Commandments, Ben Hur, Planet of the Apes
Most famous for his role as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, Peck almost always played courageous, nobly heroic good guys who saw injustice and fought it.In 1967 Peck received the Academy’s Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. He was also been awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom. Always politically progressive, Peck was active in such causes as anti-war protests, workers’ rights and civil rights. He even marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. Not to mention, while studying at UC Berkeley, Peck was a houseboy for the school’s chapter of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority. Imagine that? Though I disagree with his politics and his personal beliefs, I respect him for being a man of principles who stood up for what he believed in.
“Faith is a force, a powerful force. To me, it’s been like an anchor to windward – something that’s seen me through troubled times and some personal tragedies and also through the good times and success and the happy times.”
Suggested Films: To Kill a Mockingbird, Cape Fear, Roman Holiday, The Omen
For those of you who don’t know, that Spartacus TV show you’ve been watching? Well, its a remake of a frick’n awesome movie with this guy: Kirk Douglas. Now for those of you who are thinking, “Man… this guy looks familiar!” I’ll let you in on a secret (AKA: a well-known fact). This guys is the father of Michael Douglas: famous actor and husband of Catherine Zita Jones. Douglas was born Issur Danielovitch Demsky. No wonder he changed his name. He came from a russian-jewish background and had two bar-mitzvahs. One at 13 and one at 83, when he recommitted his life to his faith. He saw growing up in extreme poverty a huge advantage and reason for his success, claiming, “There was nowhere to go but up”. Unknown to many, Kirk has long been involved in humanitarian causes and has been a Goodwill Ambassador for the US State Department since 1963. His efforts were rewarded in 1981 with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and in 1983 with the Jefferson Award.
“In order to achieve anything you must be brave enough to fail.”
Suggested Films: Spartacus, Paths of Glory
Need I explain the awesomeness that is John Wayne? Wayne is a man’s man. The Duke. Known for his westerns and his war films. Many of you know him from Ryan Stiles impression of him of Whose Line is it Anyway?but did you know that he was born Marion Robert Morrison? Yep, that’s right. John Wayne has a girl’s name, which explains the stage name… ha. Wayne holds the record for the actor with the most leading parts (142), was a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity, and was a Free Mason. He believed in all things “American” which inspired a lot of his movies. He had a hardcore drinking and smoking problem which claimed his life.
“Courage is being scared to death – and saddling up anyway.”
Suggested Films: The Searchers, The Alamo, True Grit
LOOOOOOVVVVVEEEE HIM. If you don’t know who Clint is, then you live under a rock. Not only is a famous for his acting, but he directs, produces, writes, and even wrote and sang a song for his movie Gran Torino, which won an Oscar in 2008. His characters have been said to often be men struggling to overcome their past and atone for their crimes, which leads to epically long movies which I love. I love long movies with lots of character development. He likes to keep his films as real as possible, even asking for as little make up to be used on the actors as possible. He weighed 11 lbs at birth! So came out of the womb proclaiming he was kind of a big deal. He hates films that push a political agenda and has always maintained that all of his films are apolitical and what he has in mind when making a film is whether it’s going to be entertaining and compelling.
“I don’t believe in pessimism. If something doesn’t come up the way you want, forge ahead”
Suggested Movies: Dirty Harry, The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, Gran Torino, Million Dollar Baby
Poitier grew up in poverty as the son of a dirt farmer and had little education. Growing up in the Bahamas, the racial disparity in the U.S. was a big shock for him. He was determined to find and/or create opportunities for African Americans. He bombed his first audition due to his thick accent and stage fright but went on to being the first African American to win an Academy Award. He received the SAG Life Time Achievement Award and is a prostate cancer survivor.
“I had chosen to use my work as a reflection of my values.”
Suggested Films: To Sir With Love, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?, Lilies of the Field