Sunday, April 13, 2008

I'm Not Mad at Chuck

When Charlton Heston died last week, there were a number of obits that all focused on three things: his epic films, his physique and his political leanings. One of the best pieces that I read said that there no epics like 'Ben-Hur' or 'The Ten Commandments' anymore because there is no working actor who has the outsized personality of Charlton Heston. He was one of the few actors who seemed more at home in period films than contemporary ones. The late 60s and early 70s signaled the end of the the monumental extravaganzas that Heston carried on his broad shoulders. Among his last successful starring roles were the original 'Planet of the Apes' and 'Omega Man', based on the novel 'I Am Legend', recently revived successfully last year by Will Smith.

As time went on, Heston's politics took over. In his later years, he was the president of National Rifle Association and was a controversial lightning rod for conservative points of view.

I could really care less about all of that. While not the greatest of actors, within his range, Heston performed admirably and it's difficult to think of another actor who could stand in his shoes (or sandals) in his signature roles. There was a period of time when the movies were really big, not CGI big. In the middle of all that bigness, was Charlton Heston. Rest in Peace, Chuck.

Suggested viewing: Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments, Touch of Evil, Will Penny, Major Dundee

1 comment:

Max said...

It's hard to compartmentalize actors when they use the audience's association with them to advance their personal causes. Ronald Reagan, perhaps the most corrupt politician ever, went so far as to claim a war record when in reality he only served in *costume*.

I love Charlton Heston's movies, but the man himself was a despicable bastard who put the slimy sheen of conservative politics on the second amendment. His inexcusable behavior after the Columbine massacre (captured in Bowling for Columbine), shows that he was merely a tasteless panderer. Actors are empty shells, waiting to be filled up by audience's expectations and new roles - not concrete persons with true ideals. As Tom Stoppard perfectly wrote in Rosencrans and Guildenstern are Dead, "We're actors! We're the opposite of people!"

Besides the uber-macho California Republican Holy Trinity of Heston, Schwartzenegger, and Eastwood, the party also has to own up to Sonny Bono and Fred Grandy.