After recently watching “Class Action,” a legal/courtroom drama starring Gene Hackman and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, I decided to do a little research into Mr. Hackman. He is one of my favourite actors, and was at his best in “Class Action,” which pitted the two stars as father and daughter on opposing sides of a legal tort.
Gene Hackman is 91 years of age this year, retired from acting, and living in New Mexico. His retirement is well-deserved, as he has a trophy room that includes two Oscars, (Best Actor for “The French Connection” and Best Supporting Actor for “Unforgiven”), a number of Golden Globe awards and two BAFTA awards. His versatility has always been evident, whether as the cop, “Popeye” Doyle in “The French Connection,” the very evil “Little” Billy Daggett in “Unforgiven,” or comedy turns in “Young Frankenstein” (as a blind monk), and “The Birdcage,” (as a senator compelled to dress in drag; and not a pretty sight).
His screen breakout was “Bonnie and Clyde,” and then there were “Superman” and Superman II (as Lex Luthor), “French Connection II,” “Crimson Tide,” “I Never Sang for My Father,” “The Firm,” “Get Shorty,” “Mississippi Burning,” “No Way Out,” “Hoosiers,” “Absolute Power” and “Runaway Jury” (in which he had this great line, “…the thing of it is, I don’t give a shit. What’s more… I never have“). All of the aforementioned movies are worth your time.
Gene Hackman’s last movie was “Welcome to Mooseport.” Truly a dud; but not the fault of Gene Hackman. The critic, Roger Ebert, in his assessment of the movie, gave Hackman his blessing, writing that, “Hackman could charm the chrome off a trailer hitch.” I have heard that line spun a little differently …
It was prior to retirement that he took up writing, co-authoring three novels, followed since by two solo efforts. His latest effort, “Pursuit,” was published in 2013. A police drama; it is quite good.
Gene Hackman, often described as “a character actor who can lead a movie,” with Danny DeVito, below in “Get Shorty.”