Sunday, June 20, 2010

Leading Man

Having watched two high-profile mid-sixties films in as many weeks -- first TO SIR WITH LOVE, and then COOL HAND LUKE -- I have a renewed appreciation for the current sentiment (which has probably been around since the early days of film) that there are no leading men now of the caliber seen in times past.

TO SIR WITH LOVE is a slight film with a less-than-credible premise and an uncomfortable atmosphere of encouraging teacher-teenager flirtation. COOL HAND LUKE is a well-written, well-directed, beautifully shot movie with a great ensemble cast. Neither movie would have worked nearly as well (and TO SIR would not have worked at all) without its charismatic leading man: Sidney Portier in TO SIR, and Paul Newman in LUKE.

How many current leading men (or women) can take a mediocre movie and make it memorable, or take a good movie and make it a classic?

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