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The Good, The Bad & The Badass: Alec Baldwin

Last week, we took a look at the career of the late director, Michael Cimino. This week’s subject is on the other side of the camera, but seems like an actor that would have been a natural for any of Cimino’s movies...
Alec Baldwin
alec baldwin glengarry glen ross

Alec Baldwin has always struck me as a character actor born with a leading man’s mug. Often cast as a heartthrob in his younger days, it’s no coincidence that Baldwin’s career got hotter-and-hotter as he moved into middle age and started taking character parts that suited him perfectly, such as Wayne Kramer’s THE COOLER. For awhile, Baldwin was stuck in a bit of a rut, but he emerged from it big-time, with Tina Fey’s ‘30 Rock’ doing an especially good job catapulting him back into the limelight. Considering how hilarious he’s always been whenever he hosted Saturday Night Live (sixteen times, making him the most frequent host of all-time) it’s crazy no one ever thought to try him out in comedy before then.

alec baldwin miami blues

That said, with his dark looks, it’s no wonder Hollywood initially used him as a romantic lead. Following a low-key turn in Tim Burton’s BEETLEJUICE (where Michael Keaton chewed-up most of the scenery), Baldwin’s career hit the fast lane. In 1990, Baldwin acted in George Armitage’s amazing MIAMI BLUES, where he created an especially interesting anti-hero in the lead character, Junior, a sociopath who steals cop Hoke Moseley’s (Fred Ward) badge (and dentures) and makes a weird, twisted attempt at domesticity with a kind-hearted prostitute (Jennifer Jason Leigh), which doesn’t sit well with his killer instinct. While not a box-office smash, Baldwin’s next movie, THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, put him squarely on the A-list. For awhile, Baldwin along with his brothers, William, Daniel and Stephen were everywhere, something which only increased once he married former co-star Kim Basinger, making them Hollywood’s premiere golden couple of the nineties.

alec baldwin snl

Eventually, his career cooled a bit, with him having a hard-time scoring really meaty lead roles. His movies ranged from the underrated (THE EDGE), to the well-meaning but dull (GHOSTS OF MISSISSIPPI) to the abysmal (THE JUROR, MERCURY RISING), but Baldwin was always good and came back before long.

In addition to his acting, Baldwin’s political savvy has made him a frequent pundit, while his knowledge of classic films led to a well-received stint on TCM (Turner Classic Movies), which occasionally includes interview specials with people like Gene Wilder. A busy guy, Baldwin also currently hosts ‘Match Game’ on ABC, and has a cool interview podcast called ‘Here’s the Thing.’

His Best Work
alec baldwin the hunt for red october

Harrison Ford’s Jack Ryan movies, PATRIOT GAMES and CLEAR & PRESENT DANGER were both great, and Ford was good in the part. However, for my money no one has ever nailed the part of Tom Clancy’s CIA analyst like Baldwin. Perfectly cast as a guy who’s supposed to be brainy rather than brawny, the part made Baldwin a star, but the fact that he was never able to play Ryan again is a real shame. I’m of the mind that even now, Baldwin would be a perfect Jack Ryan in an adaptation of one of the later Clancy novels where the character becomes the U.S president. Oh well, at least we have one, perfect thriller with John McTiernan’s HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER. It’s my pick for the best techno-thriller of all time, and one I revisit pretty much every year.

His Most Overrated Work
alec baldwin kim basinger the getaway

In his prime heartthrob days, Baldwin made a bit of a miscalculation when he remade the Steve McQueen/Sam Peckinpah actioner THE GETAWAY as a vehicle for him and his then-wife Kim Basinger. While, as a teen-aged boy, I certainly appreciated the generous love scenes for Basinger (one of my all-time crushes) the movie is tailored too closely on the original. I love Baldwin, but he’s not Steve McQueen (no one is), although he’s not the first contemporary actor to try to imitate him. Outside of a memorably sleazy part for James Woods, this remake was pointless.

His Most Underrated Film
alec baldwin the shadow

Back in 1994, Universal Pictures and director Russell Mulcahy tried to launch a big superhero tentpole franchise with THE SHADOW. A period adventure based on the pulp novels and the old Orson Welles radio show, Alec Baldwin starred as the fascinatingly ambiguous hero, a former opium warlord-turned-playboy, Lamont Cranston, who used psychic powers to fight crime as THE SHADOW. Co-starring an impeccably cast John Lone as the villainous Shiwan Khan, the gorgeous Penelope Ann Miller as love interest Margot Lane, Ian McKellen as her father, Peter Boyle, Jonathan Winters, Tim Curry (who has a memorable death scene) and more - this was a really dynamic adventure. The visuals were outstanding and the score by Jerry Goldsmith ranks with his best, not to mention Baldwin’s performance, which is so good it’s a shame this only became a one-off. Nevertheless, it’s well-worth checking-out.

His Best Scene

Alec Baldwin’s part in GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS proves the old adage that there are no small parts. Although he only has one scene in James Foley’s screen version of the David Mamet play, his A-B-C (“always be closing”) monologue dominates the movie. That he wasn’t even nominated for an Academy Award for this is mind-boggling.

His Five Best Films

5. THE DEPARTED/BLUE JASMINE (Tie)

4. THE COOLER
3. GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS
2. MIAMI BLUES
1. THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER

Up Next

Always in-demand, Baldwin’s got a full slate for the next year or so, running the gamut from prestige pics (Alexander Payne’s DOWNSIZING) to family fare (BOSS BABY) and indies (BONJOUR ANNE). He’s even showing-up in Warren Beatty’s long-awaited RULES DON’T APPLY. Could a trip to the Oscar podium possibly in the cards for this guy? We’ll see.

Source: JoBlo.com

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