Monday, October 6, 2014

The lesser Bridges?


When you hear the name Bridges, who do you think of?  No doubt, you think of Oscar winner Jeff Bridges.  Jeff is, without question, one of the greatest actors of any generation, and his varied and sustained career have only proven his legend status.  He's been a staple in films for five decades and continues to take on challenging and diverse roles that keep us entertained and compelled to bow to his innate acting ability.  He's truly an actor who has grown within the bounds of cinema and has achieved a level of naturalism that many actors never truly achieve.  

But there is another Bridges, one who is often forgotten.

I'm talking about Beau.  It's funny to me how celebrity, fame and the whole nine hits.  There are many families who attempt to enter this game called show-business and it's funny to me how it all pans out.  The same genes, the same talent level even and then the cards fall and one if forgotten while the other is considered a legend and you walk away wondering why.  You find out that Jeff has a brother and that he acts and you think to yourself, really?  Why haven't I heard of him?  Well, you have and you've seen him around, but he doesn't carry the same impact or status as his brother.

In fact, much of Beau's later career has been relegated to television work, where he's been nominated for an Emmy 15 times and even won 3 times, but still, the average movie watcher probably has no idea who he is.

I was thinking this the other night while watching Norma Rae.  In the film, Beau portrays Norma's (played by Sally Field) husband Sonny.  It's a beautiful performance, one that really touched me and made me question why his career as a film actor never really panned out.  Despite having loads of natural talent, much like his brother, and the ability to convey such earthy and organic naturalism, he never really became a big star.  He's the older brother and got his career started first, but most of his resume is filled with TV movies, pilots, and guest spots on television shows, while his brother has been a cinematic staple and Oscar contender since his earliest years on film.

So, anyways, I was just pondering and thought I'd open it up.  There are quite a few examples of this very scenario.  The Quaid brothers are another great example.  Despite being the Oscar nominee of the two (for his breakout work in The Last Detail), Randy doesn't even half half the career his kid brother, Dennis, has had.  In fact, most people forget that Randy even exists until he pops up as the drunk in some tacky action movie.

What other examples can we think of?  Why do we think this happens?  Is it solely a charisma thing (Jeff and Dennis both have a natural charisma, off camera and in front of, that surpass their brothers) or is it just luck?  What do you think of these 'lesser' siblings?  Are they truly lesser?  Personally, I really wish that Beau had a more noteworthy career.  I nominate him for his work in Norma Rae and give him the win (a bit of a spoiler there) in 1989 for his astonishing work alongside his brother in The Fabulous Baker Boys.  It's a shame that the film world never fully embraced him.

8 comments:

  1. I wouldn't consider Beau to be the lesser Bridges. Not at all. The man has a great career and he's still kicking ass. He just knows what to do. Besides, he's the sensible one while Jeff is the cool one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I don't consider him lesser, but I find it sad that not many even know who he is.

      Delete
  2. I will be blunt...in the world of image and what people want to see, Jeff Bridges is more typically good looking plus he can play those types of men women drool over-a dangerous man with a wink in his eye. Beau seems the more "nice guy" type. It is a shame because both are equally great in their field. I know I may get flack for this but let's look at even stunts that were done on 20/20 and other shows. When a person breaks down with their car and they are considered "average" in looks, most other cars did not stop. When a typically "good-looking" person breaks down many cars stopped within 5 minutes. Most people are aghast and say they would never be that type but yet we can see time and time again. When one sees Randy Quaid next to his brother, Dennis, Randy will be sitting on that bench while Dennis's dance card is all filled up. Talent, ethics, humbleness, intelligence often do not take hold in that glitter land called Hollywood. As individuals, we may look or go out with that guy whom I call "dangerous"(I don't mean killer type either)or men may take out a T & A blond for a night in the sack but when it comes down to it, we want someone we can talk with, enjoy their company and share the same philosophy in life and in what we enjoy. OK I am going way off target but I try to make the point about image and how we can be swayed by that. Now at least Beau is not only a great actor but the family is strong which is rare in Hollywood. Lloyd Bridges and his wife raised great kids. As for Dennis and Randy, Dennis had some issues but seems much more stable than Nut Randy. If you recall that Randy and his wife wanted to live in Canada because aliens were taking over the U.S. and they were being watched, something like that, well he just lost his marbles out of that sack he calls a brain...what a shame. I believe I am a bit long winded here:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do think you're on to something with the whole image thing. Really, a lot of times, with regards to celebrity at least, it is everything and it can cloud the reception someone who isn't as typically good looking can have in the industry.

      Delete
  3. I like Beau, he's a fine actor with a warm approachability but he doesn't have that movie star charisma that Jeff has. There are so many factors that play into these sort of careers but looks play a large part and without being mean Jeff is simply more universally attractive and always has been. Same goes for the Quaid's although Dennis's stardom is a rung of two lower than Jeff's.

    That doesn't make them more talented but from a business perspective they are looked at as more viable leading men while Beau and Randy fall into a supporting or television category. Beau has worked that to his advantage by becoming a highly respected TV actor rather than trying and failing to headline features of ever decreasing quality like John Cusack. Speaking of Cusack his sister Joan has followed a similiar path to Beau although she was always a respected character actress but because of that moves freely between both mediums.

    There are many actor/actress siblings and probably just as many reasons why usually one is venerated while the other has a career of lesser magnitude. Many different kinds of luck, along with other aspects surely plays a part.

    Sometimes it's who got there first. Both Lorna Luft and Roslyn Kind are fine singers but their sound is similar to their respective sisters Liza Minnelli and Barbra Streisand. However both Liza & Babs have that indefinable something extra that registers when the camera turns on them that their sisters lack.

    Sometimes it's level of talent. Peter Fonda is a good actor but not terribly distinctive while sister Jane is far more forceful and honestly a much more varied talent with an engaging presence.

    The list could go on and on but I can only think of two sets of siblings that had an approximate level of success and fame, Joan and Constance Bennett and Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine.

    The Bennett sisters were both golden age stars but Joan emerged as a classic noir heroine just as Constance's star went into decline. Their personalities were quite different, Constance was a brittle sophisticate while Joan was a tough straight shooter, as were the times when they rose to prominence. Perhaps that's part of it too, different personas fit different eras.

    The only two who were equally famous at the same time were de Havilland and Fontaine. Even though they were full sisters they were radically different in most every way each possessing a unique image and were famously bitter enemies fueled by competition, envy and the very dissimilarity that set them apart on screen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love the de Havilland and Fontaine example because they are so distinct and both had so much success, but I wonder, had they shared a last name on the screen, would it have been so?

      Delete
  4. Ooh, great topic! Thrilled to hear he's your winner in '89, where he's either my #2 or #3. (Some days I'd put him behind Sean Penn in Casualties of War.) He doesn't get the credit, but 3 Emmys is impressive for an actor most people don't know.

    I wonder if Joaquin Phoenix would be as successful if River was still alive. I'd like to think he'd still have appeared in films like The Master, Her, The Immigrant, Two Lovers and Quills, but you never know. Then again, maybe River's career would've fizzled by the time Joaquin arrived in the early 00's.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's something to ponder. Phoenix himself is already so anti-fame and somewhat an outcast in Hollywood that I wonder if he would have become even more obscure than he is now had his brother not passed.

      Delete