Warren … who?
Back in 1967, when Warren Beatty was fast on his way to becoming one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, Esquire writer Rex Reed was so frustrated by a long, rambling interview with the actor that he wrote up a hatchet job called “Will the Real Warren Beatty Please Shut Up?” that opened with a visit to the UCLA campus in which he asked five random students what they thought of the star. Only one even recognized the name, a point Reed took as damning proof that Beatty wasn’t nearly as big a deal as everyone seemed to think — when in fact, you could go down to UCLA now and perform the same poll with the name “Joe Biden” or “Mike Pence” and the recognition would be even lower.
For Beatty, that profile was so embarrassing that he swore off press for the next quarter-century, contributing to a mystique (coupled with his mythology as the industry’s most seductive star) that makes him uniquely suited to the role of eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes in “Rules Don’t Apply.”
And yet, it has been so long since the last time Beatty made a movie (15 years since “Town & Country,” an R-rated flop seen by no one under the age of 17 … and by very few adults) that a proper repeat of Reed’s mean-spirited experiment would be hard-pressed to find anyone of the college-aged generation who knows Beatty’s work — which surely explains why the poster for “Rules Don’t Apply” reads, “From the Academy Award winning filmmaker of ‘Reds,’ ‘Heaven Can Wait,’ ‘Shampoo,’ ‘Dick Tracy,’ ‘Bonnie and Clyde,’ ‘Bugsy’ and ‘Bulworth.'”
That’s one helluva track record — listing seven of Beatty’s proudest producing credits, four of which the star also directed himself. How many of them have you actually seen? What follows is a ranking of those seven Warren Beatty movies from Variety’s chief film critic, Peter Debruge.