I just got back from the movie “State of Play”. What interested me was not the blogger versus reporter thing, but the fact that the Russell Crowe was such a schlub — crappy apartment, overweight, unshaven, junk-food eating. Some of the stuff they stole straight from “The Wire” — he listens to Irish music while driving around and drinks a lot of Jamo.
Anyway my question is this: are we returning to have regular schlubs as the heroes of our movies? I don’t mean like in those movies where some idiot becomes president and saves the world through his everyman decency. I mean movies where the hero is tough and determined and all that, but isn’t very glamorous.
A lot of 70s movies were like that (“Chinatown”, “The Long Goodbye”, etc.), but it really went out of style in the 80s. Roughly speaking, in 80s and 90s Hollywood movies, the hero prevailed by doing what was right, whereas in Hollywood 70s movies there really was no right thing to do. In 80s and 90s movies, the heros tended to be bad-asses or idiot savants or upper middle-classers with some remarkable store of courage and resourcefulness. In the 70s, they tended to be down-on-their luck idealists dealing, often unsuccessfully, with some kind of awful situation.
This seems to me to be indicative of a cultural shift: conservatives tend to believe that if one just stands tall for a grossly simplified set of American values, then one will always prevail, whereas liberals (speaking for myself at least), tend to think things are more complicated than that. Conservatives believe that the gods will always shine on the true and the good, liberals (at least me) believe being true and good will meet with no reward.
I realize that I’m oversimplifying: there were lots of dumb movies in the 70s as well. But Hollywood stopped making movies like “The Last Detail” and “Dog Day Afternoon” around 1980 and never looked back. “State of Play” is nowhere near as good or as complex or as realistic as either of those two, but it is a paean to a dying industry and the hard-working schlubs who work supposedly work in it. I feel like I see more tv shows and movies like this than I used to. Does this mean anything culturally?
Are there any other flicks that have come out recently in which this is the case? A single movie seems like not quite enough to hang a trend on.
I also have to point out that this applied only to male heroes. On the exceedingly rare occasion when there was a female main character in a Hollywood movie, she has never, ever been schlubby. And the schlubby male heroes usually have good looking romantic interests/sex partners.
As for State of Play, it was based on the British miniseries, and the guy was fairly unkempt in it as well. Though perhaps not as much as you’re describing here (I haven’t seen the movie).
True, even in the 70s that was true. Maybe “The Late Show” with Lily Tomlin is the one counterexample I can think of.
I agree. I don’t watch that many movies, I mostly just watch DVDs of “The Wire”. So I don’t have such a great perspective on this.
I’ve read a few pieces around talking about how Star Trek is kind a liberal secular humanist vision for the future. That doesn’t seem to be doing too badly at the moment.
I’ll add The Friends of Eddie Coyle to the list of realistic ’70’s films.
Nothing heroic about Mitchum’s low-level Boston gangster named in the title, but he was portrayed realistically as a tee-shirt-wearing schlub. If the movie was done today the character would be made very glitzy.
No. James Kirk in the new Star Trek is not unglamorous. Nor is Tony Stark in Iron Man. Granted, these are fantasy films, but they are also among the most popular.
Oddly enough, Russell Crowe is an interesting character when it comes to his protagonists. His take on Jeffrey Wigand, a research chemist who takes on Big Tobacco in The Insider (1999) is an example of a decidedly non-glamorous hero, as is his down-on-his-heels but honest cop who goes up against Denzel Washington’s charismatic drug dealer in 2007’s American gangster. But Crowe seems to love these kinds of characters as much as he loves larger than life figures like those he played in Master and Commander or Gladiator. But in these roles, as in the cop in LA Confidential, Crowe is excellent as a guy who is not particularly introspective, but who is almost surprised to find unexpected resources of heroism and decency inside himself.
But since the summer will largely be taken up with loud and bright spectaculars, it’s hard to predict what the later movie season will give us in terms of protagonists.
By the by, I think one of these types that I have the greatest affection for is worn out Frank Galvin in The Verdict.
Yes, you’re right.
I know this is not your point, but
made me think of something I wanted to mention anyway.
Y’all really need to spend some time viewing Maria Shriver’s Alzheimer’s Project on HBO. Most especially, the first 90 min. segment which ran Sunday night called The Memory Loss Tapes. Every profile was developed and shot so beautifully, but I gotta tell ya, if the last one, “The Last Show” (I think?) doesn’t make your heart bust wide open, you’re not human.
I see tonight’s “Caregivers” starts in 6 min, so I’m glad I mentioned this. “Funny enough”, the woman who does all my BJ ads, (including the adorable FH bday duo), and all the photoshop stuff for my cats’ blog, is a f/t caregiver in her own home for her elderly mom who is very ill with Alzheimer’s. Photoshop is her only form of recreation and release. She’s been doing this round-the-clock stuff for YEARS now. It is all consuming and never-ending. For her to get an afternoon out to run errands alone comes once every few weeks.
Guess I killed your thread buzz, DougJ.
But it’s well worth the watch.
Third Eye Open
“liberals (at least me) believe being true and good will meet with no reward.”
Wow, what a fatalistic view of the world. Sure in a coldly academic view of atheism/disinterested God(s) you can claim that being good does not, automatically, garner you anything but warm feelings about yourself. But what you didn’t wrap into this thinking is that “good” people tend to attract other “good” people, and together tend to buttress each other while moving in similar directions in their lives. This help is the most lasting path towards “reward” IMHO
I’d put Breaking Bad in the realistic, morally messy column.
I should say no *material* reward.
I’d say “schlub” is definitely making a comeback, especially with the rise of Seth Rogen…
@Betsy: Frances McDormand in Fargo was kinda schlubby…and pregnant. But, off the top of my head, I can’t think of another female schlub role in which the character is also a hero. It opens up a bit if you replace schlub with troubled and/or loose.
Yeah, but there’s always been room for the schlub in comedy. Actually, comedy would be nowhere without the archetype. Chaplin, Keaton, the Three Stooges, Lou Costello…
How about the Coen Brothers 1998 “The Big Lebowski” where the hero of the movie, Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski is an out of work pot smoking bowler.
You know, I think it’s also fair to say that there aren’t as many schlubby women as men in real life, either.
@tom c: You should read the guy over at stardestroyer.net who wrote a really REALLY long essay on how Star Trek is glorified communism.
In fact, I kind of hope John reads and the posts the highlights so we can all gape in wonder.
Yeah, but he was more of a comic figure.
@DougJ: I don’t know about that. Maybe it’s Maybelline.
Isn’t she more a female version of Peter Falk’s Columbo? Someone who seems inconsequential, but who is really the sharpest tool in the drawer? Quiet, seemingly ordinary, but taken for granted at your peril.
A schlubby protagonist might be one who unexpectedly (for himself or herself) rises to the equation. The Paul Newman character in Absence of Malice, perhaps. A guy kinda minding his own business until Sally Field’s reporter jams him up as she is going after bigger fish.
Is Doug’s premise due to a cultural shift – conservative polar view has affected Hollywood moves more than liberal multifaceted view for the last 30 years – or due to a change in societal outlook?
The ’70’s were a time of economical stagnation, reconciliation with the immediate aftermath of Vietnam, loss of the ’60’s idealism, and an upswelling of living-off-the-land self-sufficiency ethos (for this last point see: Mother Earth News, Firefox series, etc.). In the ’70’s there were lots of real people who were ditching upright societal standards (long hair, full beards, white shirt black tie corporate culture) that people could identify with and recognize shades of real-life versions of the schubs in the movies.
But starting in the ’80’s and through today the real-world schlubs morphed from an intentional lifestyle choice to one inhabited by loser, slacker and unstable types (for this last point see: Ted Kaczynski).
Today few people can identify with real-life shlubs that also have a heroic, or even basic normalcy, aspect about them. The schlub plot device just requires a greater suspension of disbelief today.
Though he’s not exactly schlubby, have you seen Michael Clayton? I thought it was a brilliant throwback to 70s cinema.
The Insider is probably my favorite film ever. I mean, I have like 20 or 40, but its way, way up there. To me hasn’t been a movie before or since that has been so well executed.
Crowe and DeCaprio were also good in last year’s Body of Lies.
There’s always an exception: “Falling Down” (1993) is evocative of what’s going on now and sadly prophetic.
She couldn’t have been 1/1000 as annoying.
Shawn in ShowMe
Other than Gladiator, Crowe’s most memorable performances have been all about the schlub: L.A. Confidential, A Beautiful Mind, The Insider, Cinderella Man.
Crowe would have been right at home in the 70s flicks with De Niro, Pacino and Nicholson. Other big stars like Will Smith, George Clooney and Brad Pitt? Not so much.
Typical Hollywood nonsense: The reporter was a schlub while the blogger looked impeccable.
Yeah, another good example.
Good call with Absence of Malice .
I think it’s harder to pin female schlub on McDormand in Fargo, though, but only because the film plays as much as comedy as it does drama.
Columbo was a drama with a schlubby but eccentric character, much like The Rockford Files (which had three regular characters in there providing yuks), but because those characters were so central to the shows, they played as comedy. I don’t think you can put them in the same category as Chinatown or The Long Goodbye.
Mike in NC
In other words, just like George W. Bush — except for the heroism and decency stuff. I really like what Josh Brolin has done with his roles in “W”, “American Gangster”, and “No Country for Old Men” (haven’t seen “Milk” yet).
That’s Crowe in real life. Throw in a phone that he can toss and he wouldn’t be acting.
This is a trend especially in animated movies.
Kung Fu Panda was the hit of the summer last year. It featured a clumsy, overweight Panda who learns kung fu and becomes the hero of the land.
Here are a bunch more animated movies that have a “schlub” as a protagonist: the overprotective Dad in Finding Nemo, the out of shape father in The Incredibles, the outcast rat in Ratatouille, the three bungling prehistoric animals in Ice Age, the dysfunctional group from Madagascar, the lonely robot from Wall E, and both main ants from both A Bug’s Life and Antz.
I wonder if this is intentional. Can kids relate better to a protagonist that is more down to earth? Or is this trend an attempt to make a more multidimensional character for parental enjoyment?
I’m sure reporters would find this to fit their idea of reality. Bloggers just sit at home and type, leeching off of others’ work. They have lots of time to prepare healthy food and work out. “Real” reporters on the other hand are too busy for that.
On a related note, is it just me, or does Glenn Greenwald look particularly tired these days? He has bags under his eyes he didn’t have a couple of years ago.
I think it’s also fair to say that there aren’t as many schlubby women as men in real life, either.
Completely bogus. Your perception of the RL situation is based on two things:
1. women who are overweight and/or not trying hard to look attractive get actively ignored. I strongly recommend that you spend some time at a common-denominator location — the grocery store, say — and actually *look* at all the women, not just the ones that pass your preliminary “hot” filter.
2. women are held, by everyone, to much more demanding standards of physical attractiveness than men. Women are expected to try to look good at all times. I’m guessing that total strangers do not tell you to “smile for me!” as you pass them on the street, yet most women I know have had that experience at some point in their lives.
As for the situation in Hollywood, I call the phenomenon “Judd Apatow Disease”. I direct your attention to Sady’s masterful and self-sacrificing analysis.
Some of the stuff they stole straight from “The Wire”—he listens to Irish music while driving around and drinks a lot of Jamo.
Correction: he listens to Canadian (or, more accurately, Newfoundland) music. The song playing in Crowe’s car at the beginning of the movie is “The Night Pat Murphy Died” by awesome Newfoundland group Great Big Sea. Crowe’s a friend of the band and has played with them at their concerts.
Shawn in ShowMe
What, no love for Shelley Winters classic ham job in “Bloody Mama”? Or Sissy Spacek’s decidely unglamorous performance in “Carrie”? Or Sally Field’s textile worker in “Norma Rae”?
The ultimate female schlub: Tyne Daly as Dirty Harry’s partner in “Magnum Force.”
Runner-up: Holly Hunter in “Broadcast News.”
And let’s not forget Estelle Parsons in “Bonnie and Clyde.”
Shawn in ShowMe
If you want to extend it to second bananas, I can come up with plenty of schlub performances — hell, Shelly Winter’s entire career she was a schlub. Ditto for much of Cloris Leachman’s career.
More recently, Charlize Theron took the Schlub Challenge in “Monster” and proved she has enormous talent.
No way!! She was pregnant, but there was nothing about her that was dirty or unkempt. If being early-middle-aged and pregnant is all it takes to be considered a schlub, that is too depressing for words.
Main characters in the best dramatic television have been getting more morally complex recently and sometimes, although mostly only the men, getting less absurdly attractive. Think The Wire (Bunk, Bubs, McNulty when drunk) or any of several other HBO shows, or some of the best British exports (including State Of Play, in which Simms plays a fairly unkempt guy, though he can clean up better; but the Brits have long empkoyed a broader cross-section of types).
Meanwhile the standard for physical beauty in most broadcast shows gets ever more ridiculous. If I ever saw a group of people like in the CSI shows I’d be helpless with laughter at the sheer improbability of seeing so many perfect specimens so impeccably attired. This goes double if I ever saw them in situations resembling the hyper-clean settings they usually inhabit.
Crowe is essentially doing what Newman did in his glory years, turning his back on the glamour-boy roles and taking star turns as down-in-the-heels schlubs, like in “the Verdict” and, though it was a comedy, “Slap Shot.”
Billy Bob Thornton was doing some of the same, but he’s an ass. John Cusack has done it better, though both of them have the seriocomic angle.
Once one of these guys wins an Oscar, the floodgates will open and we’ll see a lot more of these roles. Working-Class Schlub will become the new Mentally Handicapped as far as the idiots at the major studios go, and they’ll ride it just as hard.
This isn’t a “schlub” example per se, but I always thought French Connection was a huge deal. Popeye wasn’t just a schlub, he was downright unlikable. The “bad boy” cop in most movies today step out of bounds in ways that mostly make you root for them, Doyle was a real prick.
Which is why they are less likely to be schluby.
I was just thinking about The French Connection. You beat me to it.
Here’s one for you: Walter Matthau in The Taking of Pelham 123. BTW, there’s a remake coming out this year with Denzel in the Matthau role, and Travolta playing Robert Shaw’s hijacker.
The most unrealistic part of State of Play was portraying journalists whose journalism wasn’t merely superficial fluff. I don’t think journalism as shown in the movie actually exists any longer.
Fried Green tomatoes? Not too schlubby, I know.
Shawn in ShowMe
Another way of looking at it is the movies are ahead of the curve. Network, made in 1976, predicted reality TV twenty years before it became common. So the journalism being portrayed in State of Play should be here by 2029.
I wasn’t sure if you were defining a “schlub” as “someone who doesn’t try to look good”, or “someone who is not all that naturally attractive”.
In the case of men, I think Apatow Disease (and I’m not sure whether you’re talking about something like that or not) involves men who feel entitled to demand the kind of appearence that takes hard work from women, while providing no particular scenic value of their own. The point I’m making is that “Return of the schlub” is gender-specific: since part of femininity is “making yourself look good”, one way to be masculine is “take no care for your appearence”. They are not “everyman”, they are “Every *MAN*, and don’t you forget it.”
When there’s a wave of romantic comedies in which the men are distinctly more attractive than the women I might change my mind.
Probably not, but man, I’ve been rooting for a return to that ’70s vibe forever. Somebody—I think it was Patton Oswalt—was just going off about the Taking of Pelham remake, not dissing it or anything, just lamenting that, back in the day, Walter fucking Matthau could be an action hero.
You can find plenty of onscreen schlubs from the present day, but their schlubbiness is the point, y’know? Big difference between Seth Rogen kicking ass in Pineapple Express and Gene Hackman doing the same back in his heyday.
I originally phrased that as “a young Gene Hackman,” but I seriously doubt such a person existed.
Fried Green Tomatoes, like the various Cinderella flicks, doesn’t count, because while they have got a shlubby lead woman (until after the transformation in the Cinderella flicks) the shlubbiness is integral to the story. The question is whether Hollywood can imagine casting people remotely resembling those we see inhabiting similar jobs and social status every day, people who are shlubs but whose shlubbiness doesn’t matter, not whether the occasional movie ABOUT a shlub being a shlub gets made.
Well, I didn’t think of it that way. Anyway, obviously with Hollywood, it would be about great-looking people dressing down a bit. And I think that, for example, Tilda Swinton in Michael Clayton fits that to a tee.
t jasper parnel
If you watch in the Heat of the NIght with Sidney P, there is a scene in which he is chased and then surrounded by thugs who are clearly going to beat the crap out of him. It might have been the last movie in which the hero was not some bulging-muscle fool.
I totally agree with you about Judd Apatow, btw.
But I don’t think “State of Play” necessarily fits that mold.
Oh yeah, she looked terrible. I could never date anyone who looked like that [rolls eyes].
Haven’t seen the film yet and don’t plan on it. My recommendation is get the BBC miniseries version and watch it. This was one of the best TV productions I have ever seen. I am totally hooked on BBC productions, wish we could watch them here in the US (not BBC America, though it is better than nothing).
After you watch that then start on MI 5 (Spooks in GB). You’ll be hooked, you must start at the beginning though.
What a fascinating theory Sady has over there at Shakesville! It was almost as fascinating when I read it 20 years ago, except it was called The Peter Pan Syndrome.
Good thing Sady stuck with using the term ‘man-child’ because that in no way resembles Peter Pan.
pseudonymous in nc
As a fan of the BBC version, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at what they did with it for the film version. The ending is a botch, but in both, the journey’s the thing. Crowe’s schlub is different from Simm’s ratty Cal, but they’re of a similar type.
On the remake/star thing, Mel fucking Gibson is starring in the movie version of Edge of Darkness, where Bob Peck had the original role. Jesus wept.
@Doctor Science: I’m with Doctor Science on this. It’s specifically a male thing, and the fact that people are struggling to name one or two women who fit the mold proves the point. I also agree that when men start being more attractive and fit than the women in heterosexual love stories, I may give a damn about Hollywood movies.
Oh, and of course, Asian American women who aren’t dragon ladies or china dolls or geisha girls or totally devoid of any Asian environment. That would be appreciated as well.
I prefer to watch foreign flicks where the people actually look like real people.
@Brachiator. Beat me to it. Got sucked into The Verdict last night, in fact. Newman’s character is not likable at all in that movie-we root for him because he’s going against the sleazy docs and their slimy legal team, not because he’s a great guy or anything. I like movies from that era, in part because they have shots that last longer than 2 seconds, and also because they took the time to establish real characters in a real setting. I’m always struck by how patient movies from back then are-heck, even the original summer blockbusters like Jaws or Star Wars take their time to establish the characters and the setting-that’s what makes them so rewatchable.
The Other Steve
I rented “Dog Day Afternoon” on my netflix account about a month back and watched it.
It’s really quite a bad film.
Anyway, DougJ has obviously forgotten about all the movies made by Steve “My name is synonymous with Kick-Ass” McQueen. Although in fairness, even he played a regular joe. :-)
Yep. Yep. I see your points. However, Columbo by design always pitted Peter Falk’s blue collar cop against upper class or snobbish villains who thought that they had got away with murder. Rockford was a whole different vibe.
Chinatown is a more complex movie. JJ Gites is a snazzy dresser and is smarter than the cops, but he is no match for John Huston’s Noah Cross or Cross’ daughter.
But it is absolutely the case that Robert Altman reinterprets Phillip Marlowe as a schlubby incarnation of Raymond Chandler’s private eye in The Long Goodbye.
I wonder whether Robert Downey will bring a little schlubbiness to his interpretation of Sherlock Holmes. Probably not.
At the beginning of The Verdict, Newman’s character is a failure, reduced to ambulance chasing work because he has become an alcoholic, even though he started out as a promising attorney. Director Sidney Lumet crafts Frank Galvin’s redemption magnificently. I think that at one point, his adversary, played by James Mason, is referred to as the Prince of Darkness.
By the way, Sidney Lumet also directed the wonderfully complex 1981 ensemble drama Prince of the City. Treat Williams’ morally compromised cop is not a schlub, nor are any of his partners (including Jerry Orbach’s tragic Gus Levy, Treat Williams’ partner).
A somewhat schlubby female protagonist, though not on the big screen, is Helen Mirren’s Jane Tennison in the Prime Suspect TV series.
You need to lay off the crack pipe.
Whole different thing. Theron’s take on serial killer Aileen Wuornos was of a woman consigned to the underbelly of society. The only match for this performance is Dustin Hoffman as a paroled con who cannot adjust to the regular guy world in the 1978 film Straight Time.
I think it is more a fact that modern film-makers are re-discovering films like “All The President’s Men” and “The Last Detail”, having exhausted the obvious Tarantino references. The most obvious film I can think of is David Fincher’s “Zodiac,” which is more a scruffy procedural than anything else.
I’m surprised no one has pointed out that STATE OF PLAY (like TRAFFIC) was originally a Brit-TV mini-series, remade (and somewhat sanitized) by Hollywood.
This was about journalism and politics in the UK, not the US, hence the confusion I detect.
Besides, you couldn’t get a series like that on TV here in a million years.
Lupin, I don’t know which thread you’ve been reading, but (without going back to re-read it now) I’d guess that the majority of the references to State Of Play in this thread have been to the British miniseries rather than the US film. Certainly there have been a fair number of them.
Or that John Simm and Phil Glenister, who plays Detective Chief Inspector Bell in the series, starred in Life On Mars.
“You are surrounded by armed BASTARDS!”
I hear you. Yes, I love Gene Hackman as an actor and know exactly what you mean. Although I don’t like his work anywhere near as much, I think Philip Seymour Hoffman fills a similar role. No, he doesn’t bring the understated sense of menace Hackman did to his roles. But now that he doesn’t do those goofy comedies anymore, Hoffman’s at least one schlubby Academy Award winning actor, still active today.
But I think your point can be extended down several different paths.
For example, what about actors that can get films made, films with big budgets, without concern over whether or not the under 21 crowd likes them? The actor, not necessarily the film. Could graying middle-aged actors, those who were not ever really schlubby but were still not what we would call handsome today, bring box-office sucess to their films?
I once saw an interview on Henry Rollins’s show, where he was talking movies with his guest. The question was raised, “Hollywood being like it is now, who would end up playing Robert Shaw’s character in “Jaws”. Both Rollins and his guest, with no small amount of disgust in their voices, almost said it together, “Orlando Bloom”. This wasn’t a shot at Bloom himself, as much as it was a criticism of the film industry.
I saw “Network” with William Holden recently and wondered if he’d ever have been a star today. This isn’t limited to just the 1970’s though. Another example, I saw a movie called “The Big Clock” the other night, made back in the late 1940’s I think. It starred Ray Milland, who is perhaps best remembered as the wronged husband who plotted Grace Kelly’s death in Hitchcock’s “Dial M for Murder”. While watching it I thought how good Milland was and wondered about him too.
Then I thought about actors like Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable, Peter Fonda and Humphrey Bogart. They weren’t just stars of their day like Milland or Holden, they were huge stars, actors that became huge legends. But if they had to make their way in the Hollywood of the late 20th and early 21 centuries, would have they faired that well? What if they had to worry about taking their shirts off? I could see a guy like Cary Grant being able to make it but I don’t know how many others. Especially those actors unlike Hoffman or even Tom Hanks before him, actors that can’t build a following for their work in comedic films, where their looks are never a hinderance.
Hey, good news for any other fans of BBC Drama: since the last time I looked, the BBC is finally planning to release Life On Mars in Region 1 (it’s now available to save to your queue for when it’s released on Netflix). I guess they were waiting for a full run of the US version first …
Apologies for missing the comments of those who referenced the original British miniseries.
more importantly the state of play bbc mini series has the actres who played Dianne in Train spotting.
ANyway, the kind of journalism that’s in state of play is alive and well in Canada and the UK. Americans just like to pretend that its alive and well here.
Dr. Science and asiangrrl are so correct about the “no schlub chicks” rule that it is almost too obvious to state. Tilda Swinton was not playing the lead in Michael Clayton, she was playing a villain. A complex villain, not in a spandex suit with a whip, but still. Not the lead, not the protagonist. There is no female Russell Crowe and there never will be. I would say, “not until women make movies” but a) women are never going to make movies men don’t want to see, and b) women are, by and large, offended by schlubby women, as they have internalized the whole have-to-be-pretty bit. They want to see that woman get a makeover, ASAP, at best. Like that British talent show woman, Susan whatsherface. There. I’m done bitching, and, again, it’s so obvious it goes without saying, except that some have tried to contradict it.
Now: I second whoever up there cited Breaking Bad. He is schlubby and he is goddam awesome, as is the series.
This whole concept of Russell Crowe as an actual schlub is highly amusing.
He is still a good looking man that gains a few pounds and had some makeup done to acheive ‘schlubiness’.
Using this as a lynchpin for your argument that Hollywood is anti-schlub only whereas women are concerned need to get a grip. Yes, there really aren’t any female schlub roles. But neither are there male schlub roles for actual male schlubs.
Hollywood likes their beautiful people, no matter what the gender.
Yeah, Russell Crowe is a fox, but at least he gets to put on a few pounds and have a clod haircut and be the hero. Insider is – well, if you think he’s a fox in that, then you are, like me, a pervert.
Doug J is right about the resurgence here, and that we haven’t seen this since, really, the 70s. You know who was the schlub archetype? Walter Matthau. And he was a comedic actor who would not have got (or, I like to think, wanted) the Robert Redford roles. Except 3 days of the Condor. He could have done that. Also, the Taking of Pelham 123 was not a comedy. Now I’m just babbling.
But the 80’s, it’s true, I noticed this halfway through, that everything seemed scrubbed up and happified, like the Back to the Future series. That series seemed to sum the whole thing up, I don’t know why.
So true it hurts. For a second there I thought Orlando Bloom was the black guy from the “make 7-up yours” campaign—his name’s Orlando something, right? Anyway, I realized halfway through typing the last sentence that he did play the Robert Shaw role, in “Primeval.”
Surprised nobody’s brought up the Janeane Garafolo/Chloe dynamic on “24” this season. That’s a schlubfest right there, though I suppose it’s yet another example that doesn’t quite count, since it’s an overt bit of pandering to those of us with a technobabblin’ she-dork fetish.
You know what is every bit as complex and realistic as those great 1970s films? The BBC miniseries “State of Play” upon which the movie was based. I’m Netflicking it right now. It is awesome.
Someone above mentioned William Holden in Network and wondered if he could have been a film star today. Actually yes, in his younger days he was a bit of a screen idol who took his shirt off a lot and did both romantic (Sabrina) and action movies (Bridge On The River Kwai).
I would like to apologize for entertaining the idea of the existence of female schlubs. Rummaging through the dusty, coffee stained, dirty dish strewn caverns of my mind in search of one was a bad idea and a momentary lapse of reason. Further, I would like to add my doubts about the true nature of male schulbs as well. The male schlub’s whole existence may well owe unpaid debts of gratitude stuffed in the glove compartment of a rusty old clunker to the smokin’ hot non-schlubby ladies who permanently broke their little preschlubby hearts. Sorry for getting mustard on you.
I don’t see much of a difference between Nicholson in Chinatown and Crowe in LA Confidential.
And you’re forgetting Jeff Lebowski. De Niro in Brazil is a similar character in a different sort of world; realistic in its own way. A lot of modern noir fits in your realistic picture too, I think… Blood Simple for a more serious Coen bros. example… ditto Fargo… Hudsucker Proxy. The Keaton Batman movie is about as schlub as you could make the story.
A lot of these are crime dramas where regular people get involved in irregular things, but so is Chinatown, Dog Day Afternoon, and The Long Goodbye … I think really you just like modern film noir? I suppose there aren’t as many of these in the 80s and 90s, but there certainly are more than a few.
“But Hollywood stopped making movies like “The Last Detail” and “Dog Day Afternoon” around 1980 and never looked back.”
I think folks are missing the primary and most obvious reason for why that is. Films like THE LAST DETAIL and DOG DAY AFTERNOON usually don’t make that much money, even when the qualify as hits, and if they’re not any good or the public mood isn’t right for them they don’t make crap.
That does’t just mean that studios no longer want to make such films. It also means that when people do make that kind of movie they don’t expect it to make any money, which often translates into the filmmakers not caring if the damn thing is even the least bit entertaining.
There are plenty of schlubby women in British serial TV, particularly in the detective/police procedural genre. We just don’t like them much here in the U.S. “The Closer” is the closest we might come, but even she’s gotten more “put together” over the seasons.
wasabi, you were correct about this:
“It opens up a bit if you replace schlub with troubled and/or loose.”
I think Jane Fonda played one in a movie, an alcoholic, in some movie I forgot that didn’t do too well. Also there was Silkwood, but that was the early 80s that kind of still was the 70s [see also the aforementioned by someone, “Prince of the City”]. It’s very rare, the female schlub as protagonist, and please do continue searching your glove compartment.
Gene Hackman in the Conversation.
Paul Newman in Harper although at times he was more creep than schlub.
Another overlooked Lumet film: Q&A with great performances by Nick Nolte, Timothy Hutton and Armand Assante.
I think those kind of gritty, realistic movies have still been made. I think two things changed:
1) there are just a a ton more movies made nowdays.
2) ever since Jaws and Star Wars the studios have been chasing blockbusters so these types of movies aren’t the big realeases from studios anymore, so they fall through the cracks, they are more likely independant movies or basically indepnedant like branches of studios, they don’t get the big ad campaigns or open in the big multiplexes. Rare exceptions like Michael Clayton may get noticed if there is someone like Clooney in them, or a Mystic River if Clint Eastwood directs it.