October 6, 2016

What actor did JFK want to play the role of JFK in "PT 109" — the movie about JFK's WWII heroics?

Hint: It was the same actor who was also asked — by Oliver Stone and later by Ron Howard —  to play the role of Richard Nixon. He didn't play Nixon because he "was not treated compassionately" — even though "I think I was on his enemies list, but I grew to feel sad for him." He didn't play JFK because he thought the script was bad, which it was...



The actor is Warren Beatty, who considered running for President himself.
In 1976 he declined to enter the New Hampshire primary against Jimmy Carter. “There has to be someone better” is what he says to those who have urged him to run.... [D]espite being a lifelong Democrat, Beatty liked the Reagans, especially Nancy. When he screened Reds for Ronald and Nancy, he remembers, the former-movie-star president told him, “It’s beginning to look like there’s no business but show business.”
Lots more great stuff at the link, which goes to Vanity Fair.

47 comments:

teej said...

Reds was the single most boring movie I have ever seen in a movie theater!

Brando said...

"There has to be someone better" and they picked Carter?

rehajm said...

Here's more from Beatty about Reagan in NYT from 1998: ''I showed 'Reds' to Reagan,'' Beatty recalls. ''I always had a good time with Reagan. He was very funny about the movie. He's an actor, and he was very impressed that I had done all those jobs on the movie and still acted in it. He said he wished the movie had a happy ending.'' They discussed the marbling of meat and how, in ''Reds,'' Beatty had botched a joke. ''He was funny,'' Beatty says. ''Reagan was funny.''

Despite the propensity of others with similar politics he never seemed interested in openly berating others for theirs. Reagan. Nixon. He had no problem standing and applauding Kazan's lifetime achievement award, etc. Would doing so destroy the charm he utilizes so effectively?

Beatty always seemed to be an excellent example of what you could accomplish if you stayed in your lane and you gave enough women the drippy-thigh-sweats.

Nonapod said...

Who do you think Barrack Obama would want to play Barrack Obama? My guess is Jamie Foxx.

rhhardin said...

The hurricane is getting serious. They have reporters on the beach now, reporting that the sky is getting darker. Wind is heard hitting the microphone.

mccullough said...

Anthony Hopkins did a good job in Nixon.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

Thanks to the internet and the Bing! news feed, I now know that Warren Beatty missed the 1969 Moon landing because he was having sex.

Rob said...

Thanks to the internet and the Bing! news feed, I now know that Warren Beatty missed the 1969 Moon landing because he was having sex.
Sweet Jesus, Warren Beatty missed the entire Apollo Moon Program because he was having sex.

Paul said...

Considering Betty is was a sex crazed philander, I can see Kennedy's desire for him to pay the part.

bagoh20 said...

"Who do you think Barrack Obama would want to play Barrack Obama?".

Jesus, if his dad's not available.

Bricap said...

I've only seen a few clips, but I thought Brolin did a good job as W. James Cromwell played 41 in the movie, but wasn't quite as convincing in the clips I watched.

Jamie Foxx does a great Obama imitation. He sure did a great job playing Ray Charles.

Presidents can't be easy to portray. We already have our preconceived notions of them, more than we would of just about any other real person, and the idea that an actor could capture everything we already know, that's a pretty tall order.

William said...

I read the article. Beatty really seems to have led a charmed, perfect life from start to finish. It's nice to know that such things can be done. All those blessings and no nemesis.

Caroline Walker said...

Funny. I ran across Reds on TCM last weekend...it had a huge impact on me when it came out in 1981. I'm ashamed to say I married someone because our relationship mirrored that creative, intellectual pose -- didn't last a year. Throwing plates and hurling expletives is only "passion" when it's in a movie.
That being said, I couldn't get through more than 20 minutes of Reds, just for ol times' sake. Not ONLY is it boring and affected, but the philosophy behind it -- the "no rules," free love lefty soup that Beatty still, STILL pines for -- has been plainly discredited.
If we could pinpoint a ground zero for our current dysfunctional culture -- the accidental family structure, the debasement of relationships between the sexes to "friends with benefits," the ever increasing appetite for sex & violence in films, the substitution of Transgression for Beauty as the preeminent end for Art...you could trace the line in Beatty's career all the way back to Splendor in the Grass, where we were taught that the absolute worst thing in Life is Sexual Repression.
I think Bonnie and Clyde marks a cultural watershed for both its explicit depiction of violence and its portrayal of criminals as sympathetic.
At least I've repented. Beatty's new film is called No Rules Apply: pretty clear he's still pushing that exhausted trope.

Hunter said...

He's so vain,

He probably thinks that song is about him.

eddie willers said...

Sweet Jesus, Warren Beatty missed the entire Apollo Moon Program because he was having sex.

My favorite Woody Allen line:

When asked what he'd like to came back as if reincarnation was real he replied, "Warren Beatty's fingertips".

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Warren Beatty may be the single most overrated actor in the history of Hollywood. To my mind, his best movie was Bugsy, to which only give 3 out of 5 stars as opposed to his usual 2, and maybe then only because I felt he deserved to get offed at the end. And there was that atrocious speech he gave at the Oscars where he thanked the women of Hollywood for sleeping with him on the occasion of his marriage to Annette Bening.

Char Char Binks said...

Robertson looked more like JFK. Beatty was too handsome to play him. I was once told I looked like WB; I never saw that, but I liked the compliment.

William said...

Gareth Jones was killed by Chinese bandits. My bet is that he led an interesting life. You probably haven't heard of him but he was the first journalist to report first hand on the Soviet famines.......I don't think that it would occur to anyone in Hollywood to make a movie about his life. Instead we get movies about John Reed, Dalton Trumbo, and Lillian Hellman. The one about Hellman was fraudulent and based upon one of her many self serving lies.

Paul said...

No...Obama would pick.. Obama to play the part of Obama.

Say it hasn't been done? Well it HAS been done before.

William said...

I have read that some theologians now claim that hell is living in the absence of God and knowing that others live in his divine presence. No fire and brimstone. Just the knowledge that someone has a better deal and will have it for all eternity.......When you think about it, that's kind of a metaphor for bourgoise democracy. We don't suffer, but our society is based on envy and emulation and we get to contemplate the glamorous lives that the blessed lead........Warren Beatty seems to have hit all the marks for a blessed life. He was the star quarterback of his school team. His sister was Shirley MacLaine. (Ok, there's a downside to that, but not compared to my sister.). He was a movie star before the age of twenty five. He got to sleep with most of the leading ladies of his era. He got to sleep with Julie Christie on multiple occasions. He got to have a happy marriage. He got to sleep with Julie Christie. He got to lead most of his adult life as an extremely wealthy man. He slept with Julie Christie...... Even if the fates take their revenge and throw him a bean ball, he's seventy nine years old and there's no way he doesn't win on points........OK, so here's this guy who enjoys every perk that bourgeoise democracy can possibly offer. You would think that he would be a bit sanguine and at ease with the world. Not so much. He seems smug about his ability to see through all the false dreams that America generates all the while generating false dreams himself, making tons of money while doing so and sleeping with Julie Christie. He's very annoying.

uffda said...

The Vanity Fair "interview" is 90% filler gleaned from the internet. Still, a decent overview of one of Hollywood's overrated legends.

Lydia said...

Frank Langella did a great job as Nixon in the Frost/Nixon movie. Here's a clip.

buwaya said...

The people who badly need a movie - or, well, for whom some such recognition is deserved, and it would make a fine flick, or better than "Reds" anyway -
Yay Panlilio
Wendell Fertig
William Ramsey
James Cushing

david7134 said...

Kennedy was not much if any of a hero in the sinking of his ship. First, he was supposed to be on patrol looking for destroyers. His boat was supposed to be quiet in the water and all hands at alert. Instead, the destroyer ran over the boat and did not even know that it had hit it. That means that Kennedy, as the skipper, was not alert and that he was letting his men goof off. The survivors then made it to a near by island. When help did not immediately come, Kennedy would swim out into the channel to explore. Thankfully he had been provided with a chaperon by his father who was an excellent officer. After seeing Kennedy make a fool of himself, he just walked up the beach and found a village that arranged a return to civilization. Kennedy was sent home to face court marshal. By the time he got back to the US, his father had changed the court marshal to a medal. The crew was paid off and kept their mouth shut and did nothing but praise the virtues of Kennedy, just like his old man wanted.

Bob Ellison said...

That clip: did men have any facial or body hair at all in 1963?

buwaya said...

The "Yay Panlilio Story" (to use the old Hollywood formula, or maybe "Yays War") would make a terrific vehicle for an actress. Sex (lots of sex), spies, romance, heroics and derring do, exploding carabaos, melodrama (lots of melodrama, incl. re little kids), 1940's Girl-Friday rapid-fire smartaleckisms, retro weapons and plenty of scope for the splendor of CGI. And, if desired, lots and lots of SJW/PC validation that may actually work in context.
Its academy award material. It may even suit Tarantino.

David said...

Beatty may have been one of the few guys with a higher score rate than JFK. He would have been a good choice in that respect.

Robert Cook said...

"Warren Beatty may be the single most overrated actor in the history of Hollywood."

I'm not aware that Beatty has ever been particularly highly rated as an actor. He's a "star,"--a presence, a personality--which is entirely different from being an actor. This is also true of many of Hollywood's leading lights, present and past.

tim in vermont said...

Didn't Beatty play himself in Shampoo? McCabe and Mrs Miller wasn't bad, at least I liked it when I saw it.

tim in vermont said...

I heard somewhere that a large number quality racehorses these days are descended of Northern Dancer. If we started breeding humans for qualities, and women had anything to say about it, there would be a substantial tranche of men in fifty years from the "Warren Beatty line"

http://www.drf.com/news/northern-dancers-male-line-reigns-supreme

Tom from Virginia said...

I understand JFK wanted Cary Grant to play the role of JFK in a movie about his life. Funny, me too.

rcocean said...

Beatty would've been terrible as JFK and even worse as Nixon. Whatever his IQ off screen - on-screen he doesn't play "smart" very well.

I love the condescending quote about Reagan. Was there a single Liberal in the 70s and 80s who didn't think themselves oh so superior to "Ronnie Raygun"?

Now its true about Trump.

Quaestor said...

I understand JFK wanted Cary Grant to play the role of JFK in a movie about his life.

Cary Grant, b. 1904 as Archibald A. Leach in Bristol, UK

JFK, b. 1917 in Brookline, MA

Not a good match for a biopic. JFK wasn't the brightest bulb on the tree, methinks.

Looking at JFK's photo as a newly commissioned reserve ensign, it seems clear to me that the best physical type for the skin-and-bones commander of PT109 would have been Robert Walker, Jr.

Quaestor said...

Most Hollywood movies about WWII have utterly failed to communicate the extreme youth of the enlisted men and the junior officers who led them.

Darrell said...

LBJ got a Silver Star for taking a short ride on a multi-passenger plane that saw no action. He was the only one that got a medal of any kind--including the pilot and crew. How lucky was that?

Darrell said...

LBJ could have been played by a 200-pound sack of potatoes.

rcocean said...

"Most Hollywood movies about WWII have utterly failed to communicate the extreme youth of the enlisted men and the junior officers who led them."

True dat. The median age of Navy/Marine Corps men killed in WW II was only 22. But most movie stars - at least in before 1980 - didn't become stars until they were 25-30, and then remained stars until they were in their 50s.

So 50 years old Henry Fonda becomes "Mr. Roberts" and 54 year old Bogart becomes 30 year old "Captain Queeg" - even Audie Murphy was 10 years too old to play Audie Murphy in "To hell and back".

rcocean said...

To give LBJ a little credit, he was in some danger. Not a lot, and certainly not deserving of a silver star but some danger.

Of course, before WW 2, LBJ - in his early 30s - was the biggest War Hawk ever. But he assured the voters that when we got into war, he'd be in the front lines leading the the charge into Berlin and personally hanging Herr Hitler.

After Pearl Harbor, he left Congress and joined the Navy and after touring Naval facilities on the west coast eventually made it to the South Pacific where he went on his ONE bombing raid.

After that, he high-tailed it back to Congress, and spend the rest of WW2, sipping martni's and making speeches how we had to sacrifice American lives to destroy the "Japs" and the Nazis.

Roadkill711 said...

Bonnie and Clyde is a classic; Beatty and Dunaway were superb. I enthused about 'Reds' when in came out, a few years after I left college and was still a crypto-socialist (even buying/reading a bio of Jack Reed and a copy of "10 Days that Shook the World" to better understand the story), but recently watched a re-run of the film and found it overly emotive and in fact rather tendentious. I wonder what Beatty thinks about the USSR now, 25 years after the ignominious collapse of the Worker's Paradise?

buwaya said...

"I wonder what Beatty thinks about the USSR now, 25 years after the ignominious collapse of the Worker's Paradise?"

The other movie to watch to "balance" "Reds" would be this one
- The Chekist - Aleksandr Rogozhkin
Full Movie - Warning - not for the sensitive -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RQVSHfuPCQ

eddie willers said...

The other movie to watch to "balance" "Reds"

"Doctor Zhivago" would suffice. Just watching how his house became his apartment should make every American bend down and kiss the Good Earth.

Zach said...

Frank Langella played Nixon better than Beatty ever would have. Beatty always comes across as a little bit of a young man on screen -- breezy and confident, but kind of callow and naive. Whereas Langella played Nixon as an old man -- confident, competitive, and wounded that he was locked out of his rightful place in the world.

Bart said...

If we are talking about movies that balance out Reds, Burnt by the Sun is a top notch film. It is set in the 1930's purge of the Soviet Army by Stalin. Definitely worth the time/effort to watch.
Also I read 10 Days that Shook the World and it is terrible. Reed does not even speak Russian while he is "reporting" on the revolution, so he does not really know/understand what is going on. One last thing to remember is that Reed is buried in the Kremlin wall, where Stalin is buried after they removed him from the mausoleum with Lenin, this is also where many of the old Bolsheviks are buried, quite a big deal to be buried there.

Quaestor said...

I often wonder what would have been the fate of Nixon and his America had the Left not been devoted to his destruction from his days as Eugene McCarty's adjutant. I am convinced that Nixon's paranoia would have been reduced to insignificance if the poor man had been granted an even break by the likes of Cronkite, Mudd, et al.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Kennedy was very reckless as a PT-boat skipper - which was consistent with the rest of his life.

SeanF said...

rcocean: The median age of Navy/Marine Corps men killed in WW II was only 22.

In Vietnam, it was nineteen. Ni-ni-ni-ni-nineteen.

buwaya said...

"I often wonder what would have been the fate of Nixon"

If he had been permitted the same leeway as his predecessors had been accustomed to, actually. Nixon wasn't a patch on LBJ, Kennedy, even Eisenhower as far as abusing his authority. Much less Roosevelt, who did it willy-nilly and with near-complete secrecy.