Has Hollywood finally washed its hands of Warren Beatty? Indications are that it has.

Beatty is nearly 80 years old now, and unlike in Europe, age most often doesn’t wear well among Hollywood luminaries.

Especially when the subject in question is one of the town’s legendary lotharios, bedding  a virtual who’s who of internationally renowned actresses: Natalie Wood (above) Isabelle Adjani, Brigitte Bardot, Leslie Caron, Cher, Julie Christie, Joan Collins, Britt Eklund, Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton, Elle Macpherson, Madonna, Michelle Phillips, Vanessa Redgrave, Diana Ross, Barbra Streisand, and Liv Ullmann, among many others.

Beatty has been dubbed “Prince of Hollywood” — one of the most famous actors of the 20th century. But even that doesn’t do him justice.

Among his some 35 credits are movies that have had a lasting impact on how contemporary films are conceived and made. Beatty has been a director of note, and canny producer as well as a leading male star. Always fiercely control-and-detail oriented.

It may surprise you to learn that he has been Oscar-nominated a whopping 15 times with the eight movies he produced nabbing a HUGE 52 Academy Award nominations. Only Beatty and Orson Welles (Citizen Kane) have been nominated as actor, director, writer and producer of the same film. And only Beatty has managed this feat twice with 1978’s Heaven Can Wait and 1981’s Reds.

Sure, he’s slowed quite a bit in recent years.  His last feature (Town & Country) came out 15 years ago, and disappeared quickly.  His last acting-directing effort dates back to 1998’s Bulworth, a reasonably well-received but a modest boxoffice entry (less than $30 million in all in the U.S. and Canada).

And Beatty has certainly mellowed personally, married for 25 years to actress Annette Bening.  They share a house high in the Hollywood Hills with their four children.  Beatty has been a wealthy man for some time, and could easily afford to develop his projects slowly free of financial pressures.

For example, his latest movie — Rules Don’t Apply, a romantic comedy set in the 1950’s about RKO mogul Howard Hughes interacting with a young couple (played by newcomers Lilly Collins and Alden Ehrenreich with Beatty as Hughes) — has supposedly been germinating for four decades.

The similarities shared by Beatty and Hughes — another of Hollywood’s legendary lotharios — are obvious.  So Beatty’s movie project was watched with interest, not the least by us given its subject matter and time frame.

Then the picture opened.

We quote in its entirety the box office report published Nov. 28 in The New York Times:

Bombing outright was Warren Beatty’s ‘Rules Don’t Apply,’ a romantic comedy drama set in the late 1950’s.  Independently financed for $27 million and distributed by 20th Century Fox, ‘Rules Don’t Apply’ collected a breathtakingly bad $2.2 million for the period.  

An opening gross that spells disaster.

This may not end Beatty’s Hollywood career, which coincidentally began in the late 1950’s, but it most certainly will delay timely returns to the actor-director-producer’s phone calls. In any case, we look forward to seeing Rules Don’t Apply, rotten box office not withstanding.


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