When I was a kid, Robert Redford was the hunk my mother and her friends yakked about as they smoked and drank coffee before Another World began. As I got older, I became a fan of Redford but mainly because he directed one of my favorite films of all time, 1980's Ordinary People. There was something about the film and Timothy Hutton's performance that hit a cord in me. (Kudos to Ordinary People, FH 2010) It has only been the last couple of years however that I have begun to appreciate Redford as an actor and an icon of male hunkdom.
Below: With Natalie Wood in This Property Is Condemned(1966)
With the increase in cable movie channels, there is an opportunity to see Redford in his prime and I have been able to watch many of his movies, especially those from the 70's. The Way We Were probably gets the most play, and after several viewings, the latest this week, I finally see why. I am not sure the movie is one you can truly relate to until your older. The pleasure and pain of a lost love, one so important in forming you have become is something most of us don't really understand until we are older and have been through it. I think my deepest love (except the one yet to come) occurred in my twenties and now that a decade has past since it ended, and only now with distance, can I look back on the time without pain taking over my memories.
The Way We Were (1973)
Both Barbra Streisand and director Sydney Pollack have talked about how hard it was to convince Redford to take on the role of Hubbell. Initially Redford saw the role as simply eye candy and resisted roles that played to his heartthrob image. Eventually he saw what we did. Hubbell is one of my favorite Redford roles and not only a more difficult role than Streisand played, but also more complex. Hubbell was certainly man candy, Redford always was, no matter how hard he fought. The actor also created a rather unlikable, yet totally irresistible character, that drew you in even though you knew he would never be able to totally commit.
Redford is an interesting actor to research. Like Hubbell, there are complexities to his relating to his image of a romantic hunk. Redford fought it, but maybe not really that hard. He focused on the work, yet there always seemed a part of him that knew his looks were what set him apart. It would almost be impossible to do anything else really, but embrace it.
Ads for Baz Luhrmann's new version of The Great Gatsby play pretty constantly on television these days. I loath most remakes, and wish instead, that older versions of classic movies would just be released in theatres instead. Will be interesting to see, although Leonardo DiCaprio is a good actor, I am not sure anyone could capture the magic that Redford had on screen, and am not sure why anyone would try.
The Great Gatsby (1974)