My B Movie Hero

Dennis Quaid. There I’ve said it. Hero of the straight-to-DVD flick. No actor works harder not to make it to the  Big Box Office. And I’m not knocking him. Every performance is solid and he makes good with what he’s given. I find most of his films worthy and interesting, sometimes even exciting, but I can’t think of another current actor who’s as generally popular, who makes as many movies, and who isn’t in those blockbusters all the peeps tweet about. From DOA to Vantage Point and recently, Pandorum, he makes films I’ve enjoyed, but not ones I’ve seen in a cinema.

All this might not be a bad thing, and it’s certainly not a reflection on Mr Quaid’s abilities. I even liked Day After Tomorrow. And why is there such an emphasis on cinema takings anyway? DVD rentals and sales and film downloads earn a bucketload. They for sure got Serenity made after Firefly was cut…

Anyhoo, maybe it’s more about the Hollywood system. He didn’t become a Brad Pitt, Russell Crowe or Will Smith (whose Independence Day is Day After Tomorrow, but with Aliens instead of Weather). But not everyone can be. One wonders if it’s better to have a long, regular career (and still earn yourself a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame), than the kind of career that burns brightly, but potentially burns out quickly or gets cut short (James Dean?). Maybe there’s more pressure on the like of Leonardo DiCaprio and Keanu Reeves – if their films tank an entire economy could be at risk.

Quaid’s near contemporary, Patrick Swayze might have had some higher profile hits with Dirty Dancing and Ghost, but he too joined that same league, now also populated with Val Kilmer (who works very much for a DVD profile) and likewise Billy Zane. All of whom must have once considered themselves on the cusp of superstardom. Bill Pullman too, is a slightly less busy actor in the same category. But there’s always roles for Presidents, Senators, harried father/heroes and old soldiers/astronaut commanders for the likes of these actors.

It could go the same way for Nathan Fillion,  an actor worthy of the Big Box Office, who has so  far found TV (the aforementioned Firefly plus Castle) and smaller films. Perhaps his career is headed on the same estimable trajectory? Maybe it doesn’t matter, perhaps it only matters to get work and make the most it.

Then I think of British actor Bernard Cribbens, surely no Star, and not even a B Movie Hero, but an actor who’s worked since he was 14 with everyone from THE Alfred Hitchcock to John Cleese and had top 10 (song) hits to boot. And he hasn’t stopped. And everyone loves Mr Cribbens. And if Dennis Quaid lives as long, hopefully it’ll be the same for him.

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