Tuesday, March 15, 2005


The April 2005 issue of Premiere is a “special issue” (oh, please) featuring what they deem the 50 Greatest Movie Stars of All Times. In an attempt to sell issues, or piss off old-style film fans, or both, the cover features Tom Cruise.

For myself, I wouldn’t disagree with Cruise belonging in that roster. Certainly he’s the biggest movie star of the last 20 years, and he’s amazingly canny and even ambitious when choosing his projects. Look at his last ten films: War of the Worlds, Collateral, The Last Samurai, Minority Report, Vanilla Sky, Mission: Impossible II, Magnolia, Eyes Wide Shut, Jerry Maguire and Mission: Impossible.

Not every one of those films is a classic—The Last Samurai particularly was a flawed picture—but still, it’s and impressive slate. It’s also nicely varied. The list includes sci-fi, drama, action, art house fare and romantic comedy. Also notice the tendency of Cruise, as a producer as well as an actor, to work with strong directors: Steven Spielberg, John Woo, Stanley Kubrick, Cameron Crowe, Brian De Palma, Paul Anderson, Michael Mann. Cruise is at least secure enough not to worry about being the only 800-pound gorilla on the set.

In contrast, let’s look at the last ten films of the man widely considered America’s greatest actor, Robert De Niro: Hide and Seek. Meet the Fockers. Shark Tales. Godsend. Analyze That. City by the Sea. Showtime. The Score. 15 Minutes. Meet the Parents. Which list would you rather have to watch? And which list has more films you think people will still be watching in twenty years?

If I rolled my eyes, therefore, it’s having Cruise as the cover representative for the 50 Greatest Movie Stars ever. Again, though, it’s hard to argue with the marketing logic. Who’s going to sell more issues? Tom Cruise, or John Wayne? (Or James Stewart, my choice for America’s greatest film actor. Or Henry Fonda, etc.)


At 8:52 AM, Anonymous twitterpate said...

Tom Cruise will probably not receive the critical acclaim he deserves (as opposed to popular success) because, to put it bluntly, he's very good looking. This, for some reason, threatens male critics, who prefer the "lived-in" looks of Robert De Niro.

Yeah, I know, everyone's crying for poor Tom. But its strange that while good looks are essential for success as an actress, they can be detrimental to male actors, even one as talented as Cruise. (Cruise has been pegged as the arrogant hot-head, but as he's shown, he can lose himself in any role, which is difficult with a persona as well-known as his.)

I read someone on another blog bemoaning the fact that "acting should not be a beauty pageant". He was, of course, speaking about the casting of someone he considered a "pretty boy". Turn that around, and think of it applied to actresses - not a common complaint, is it?

At 10:46 AM, Blogger Ken Begg said...

Frankly, I think he's also hampered because he's so successful. But yes, the combination has definately worked against him. For instance, Tom Hanks is up for an Oscar almost every year. I'm not saying he shouldn't be, and he has amazing instincts too, but I do think Cruise is underestimated by many people, even if I'm not a huge fan of his myself.


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