Before I step back in time to talk about a couple of actors who are actual classics, I figured I'd use the Ocean's Eleven segue to talk about a modern classic. Clooney. There's really nothing I need to say about the appeal of Clooney. Likes to play loveable scoundrels and rakishly charming thieves. Humorously self-deprecating. (well, he did suck as Batman.) Devastatingly handsome. Oscar winner. Outspoken lefty. Looks foxy in a tux. Still single.
The only difficult part is trying to narrow down my favorite film role of his, and I'm sure plenty of people would disagree with my choice. How can you go wrong with a bloody, violent, Tarantino/Rodriguez film which helped launch George's film career? From Dusk Till Dawn still boasts one of the best opening sequences in modern films. And one a line from Clooney near the end that still cracks me up every time I hear it: "Did they look like psychos? Is that what they looked like? They were vampires. Psychos do not explode when sunlight hits them, I don't give a fuck how crazy they are!"
Clooney's turn as Seth Gecko was about as big a departure from his ER role as possible. He flaunted his .44, he robbed, and he punched people out if they looked at him funny. And yet, in trademark Tarantino style, he managed to make the bad guy utterly redeemable. He was a bastard, but not a fuckin' bastard.
And yet, though I love me some Gecko, that's only the runner-up. A couple years later, Clooney perfected his "honor among thieves" coolness with sultry elan in the terribly underrated Out of Sight.
This movie was so good and Clooney and Lopez threw off so many sparks that they managed to make Detroit -- in winter -- seem exotic and desirable. Seriously. Directed by Steven Soderbergh and based on a novel by the great Elmore Leonard, this movie even features a superb supporting cast. And yet, for some reason, it tanked at the box office and is still overlooked to this day. People just don't know what they're missing.
Maybe it was Leonard's character of Karen Sisco that was the kiss of death. Carla Gugino couldn't strike success with her on a short-lived tv series, either. It wasn't Michael Keaton's fault, who reprised his brief role of Ray Nicolette for this flick, even though it was a different studio and director. (I do believe he's still the only actor to ever pull off that trick.) And it most certainly wasn't Clooney who sunk this vehicle. What he did do is manage to refine his irresistible bad-boy role with this choice of film. He upjumped Seth Gecko with his character of Jack Foley here, and then we got the ultra-suave, high class Danny Ocean which rocketed Clooney to riches just a few years later. And while this movie lacks the luster of the high-tech Vegas hijinks, it has every bit the panache and punch, with even more romance between the leads. Like I said. Detroit. In winter. Hot. It's a Clooney classic.