Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Old-School Movie Idols: Gregory Peck

I watched the remake of The Omen last night. I knew it was going to be shit because most remakes are shit. I mean if it ain't broke, don't fix it. The new Omen lacked characters you cared about, tension and any real thrills. It was dull as dishwater. Maybe it would have been OK, had I not been a fan of the original but still.

Oh and the biggest thing. Liev Schreiber is no Gregory Peck.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm sure Mr. Schreiber is wonderful in whatever else films he's been in. But again, he is no Gregory Peck.

Bad Omen

Good Omen

Gregory Peck is one of my favourite actors of all time, and nothing short of the most handsome man on Earth. Not only is he a fantastic actor, a great humanitarian and one of the most personable celebrities of all time but...well, just look at him! That voice, those eyebrows, those lips, that hair, that tall, swimmer's physique.

Hmmm, I'm getting carried away here. Anyway, what also made Greg so great was the fact that I like/love pretty much every movie he's been in.

When first starting out, he was in the rare role of a geniune asshole in the 40's Western Duel in the Sun, as his character went around blowing up trains, being sully and raping his cousin (as slutty as she was).

He was also in Spellbound with the luminous Ingrid Bergman, and what I consider to be one of Hitchcock's most underrated films. He plays a "doctor" with amnesia, who may or may not be a criminal. Bergman plays a Freud-esque shrink who wants to get to the bottom of it, and of course, falls into twisted love with him (but who wouldn't). The film is most notable for the bizarre Salvador Dali designed dream sequence.

Of course, there was Roman Holiday, one of my favourite movies of all time, in which Peck is joined by Audrey Hepburn as they traipse around Rome for a day. Sigh. It's a sweet, funny and sad look at love and the duties we all face in life, the paths which we all must walk down. And that ending gets me everytime (and is great alternative to the usual, cheesey Hollywood Rom Coms).

He was also in a few notable war films, as he suited playing the strong, silent type, the one who reluctantly saves the day at the end. My favourites are two WW2 films: Twelve O'Clock High (see below) in which he plays an Air Force Commander trying to whip his crew into shape as they take part in dangerous, but crucial, daylight arial bombing over Germany.

And The Guns of Navarone. I've probably seen this film about 5 times and I never get tired of it. Set in Greece, Peck is part of a team (with the wonderful David Niven and Anthony Quinn) whose purpose is to destroy one of Germany's big guns on the island of Navarone, so that British war ships won't be bombed while trying to navigate the Mediterranean. If you love action or war films, you will not be dissapointed, even in this day and age.

Peck also stared in Moby Dick, Cape Fear (still better than the remake) and of course, To Kill a Mockingbird, which won him his Oscar.

His most underrated film is On The Beach, which teams him up with lovely Ava Gardner again (they were in Hemmingway's Snows of Kilimanjaro together). This is a film that not many have seen but I reccommend you drop what you are doing and go rent it now. This is a film that sends shivers down your spine, gives you nightmares for days and makes you realize that life as we know it can end any minute, beyond our control. It makes you want to live your life to the fullest and pass a copy of the film onto George W. Bush, Tony Blair, Stephen Harper, Kim Jong and every other world leader. It is a film that will leave you feeling full of dread but you owe it to yourself to watch it anyway.

Much later on, Peck was in the controversially brilliant The Boys From Brazil. What was this 1978 film about? Well, the cloning of Hitler. "(The boys from Brazil) are young boys all bred from genetic skin grafts taken from the body of Adolf Hitler during the war years. In Paraguay, in the '70s, one of Hitler's most feared accomplices, Josef Menegele (Peck), has been toiling away in a jungle laboratory trying to breed young Hitler clones." Once again, Peck took a departure from Handsome leading man, to play a twisted and insane villain.

Sadly, Greg Peck made less films as he got older (though was in the remakes of Cape Fear and Moby Dick), even though he was quite a good-looking man for his age (despite his shock of white hair and black-as-coal eyebrows) and was in good health.

Gregory Peck died in June of 2003, one of few surviving Hollywood legends. Sigh. And now it's slightly disturbing that I am in love with a dead man.

Next up on my Favourite Old-School Movie Idols: Jimmy Stewart. What's not to love?


M said...

Roman Holiday is also one of my all time favourites from way back when I was a kid even. I totally fell in love with him. Jimmy Stewart is great too - but Cary Grant, oh how I love CG!

Scorpy said...

Peck is brilliant. Jimmy Stewart in 'It's a Wonderful Life' was magnificent. Two of my favourite actors. A friend told me that David Nivens books are a must read but I haven't been able to locate any as yet. I may have to resort to amazon or ebay

Scorpy said...

PS: I agree with M on Carey Grant. he and Grace Kelly in 'To catch a thief' were amazing. (also directed by Alfred Hitchcock)

Wanderlusting said...

Which is why I LOVE The Philadelphia Story. Katie Hepburn having to choose between Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart. Sigh

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the original cape fear better too...Robert Deniro was crazier but Robert Mitchum was sexier.

sipwine said...

Gregory Peck, Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart... you are my kind of girl!!

If you ever want an old spooky movie try "Wait until Dark"
It has Audrey Hepburn and the-not-so-well-known-but-really-good Alan Arkin http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000273/

It will be better than the new "The Omen" movie... :)

Anonymous said...

I was always a Rita Hayworth kind of guy, but then I do admit to a soft spot for Audrey ~grin~

Wanderlusting said...

Thanks Sipwine! I have seen the movie and I thought it was great. They just don't make movies like they used to, huh?

Wanderlusting said...

Indiana ~ ah, Rita. If you knew my email address, you would realize that I am her biggest fan. I even have the Gilda poster above my bed.

I don't know. There are so many timeless beauties from back then, I wanna blog about them all...but Rita has this transcendent, scrumtrulescent princess beauty that is so, wow.