Friday, October 08, 2010

Book review – “Charlton Heston Journals 1956-76” by Charlton Heston

I never really thought much of Charlton Heston until I read this book - he was just this swaggering, noble looking guy who wasn't much of an actor and showed off his teeth through a bunch of epic films. This diary reveals an intelligent, thoughtful man, very serious about his craft, always capable of taking risks. It made me revisit his performances - sorry, nope, I still don't think he was much of an actor (I went through the same thing with Mark Wahlberg after Entourage - respect him more as a person, still don't think much of him as an actor).

But he certainly had a worthy star career: he backed Orson Welles for Touch of Evil and tried to use him on other films (including Anthony and Cleopatra, which Welles wasn't available for but really should have done instead of Heston); he backed Sam Peckinpah on Major Dundee to the point of giving up salary for him; was involved in Civil Rights and went on the March to Washington; backed newbie Tom Gries for Will Penny; pushed through The War Lover; took chances on films like Pro and The Planet of the Apes (which could have been a disaster); constantly took off time to do theatre.

His film career became unexciting in the 70s when he was bogged down in too many disaster films - although successful, they were very same-y, and when the tide ran out on the cycle, Heston's career never quite recovered. (I think part of the problem was he wouldn't read a script unless it was accompanied by a firm offer - he should have looked around a bit for other parts in films by top directors.)

Very stiff and Protestant, not a barrel of laughs, Heston didn't become a big time gun-toting right-winger until after this journal, where he's still considering the Democrat Party - personally I think his primary motivation for this was because it offered him a great role. Fascinating reading - a lot more interesting than most Heston performances.

No comments: