I got to make my heist film with Gene Hackman. Like many of the stars in the above-instanced works, he is an actual tough guy. Lee Marvin was a marine commando in the Pacific, Hayden in the Adriatic. Hackman was a China marine, racecar driver, stunt pilot, deep-sea diver.
These men, and their performances, are characterised by the absence of the desire to please. On screen, they don’t have anything to prove, and so we are extraordinarily drawn to them.
They are not “sensitive”, they are not anti-heroes. They are, to use a historic term, “he-men”. How refreshing.
There will always be the same number of movie stars. There is a table of operations, and the vacant places must be filled, as with politicians, irrespective of the distinction of the applicant pool.
But I vote for the tone of a less sentimental time. Look at the photographs in the family collection, of dad or granddad during the war, or the Depression. We see individuals captured in a moment in their lives, not portraying themselves for the camera. I used to look at them and think one didn’t see those faces today.
I saw them on September 11. I was in the air when the bombings took place, flying back to Boston from the Toronto film festival. We landed at a small commercial aviation field. A customs officer escorted us to a room, where a group of pilots and passengers watched the immediate aftermath on television.
I had never seen faces like that in my life. They were so intent, resolved, completely unsentimental, trying to make sense of a disordered and a very dangerous world; as were the men and women who created the genre of film noir, to which I respectfully submit my addition.David Mamet