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5 Things I’ve Learned from Watching Richard Gere Films

May 2, 2011

Richard Tiffany Gere is a sexy screen legend whose oeuvre boasts an impressive 51 credits dating back to the year I was born. As the undisputed king of both the erotic thriller (a thriller is always elevated to “erotic” status when the lead is Richard Gere) and its more chaste cousin – the romantic dramedy – Gere’s work is often overlooked come awards season, but that’s just hateration. While his filmography doesn’t always demonstrate the best use of his talents, it does demonstrate being foxy and talented is sometimes a curse as much as it is a blessing. That said, Xena bless him for always giving us dedicated fans at least a film a year in which to bask in the glow of his radiant silvery mane. Over the last week or so, I’ve been binging on some of his choicest cuts and have come up a few notable lessons from his filmography, as it relates to matters of the heart.

1. His clothing default setting seems to be TUXEDO

Whether he’s a shy, serious man whose marriage has lost its luster (Shall We Dance), or a crabby industrialist who prefers hookers to emotionally available women (Pretty Woman) or even an ageing playboy who owns a hip restaurant (Autumn in New York) the films of Gere provide countless opportunities to showcase one of his greatest assets – his preternatural command of the tuxedo. When he’s not – you know – completely naked.

2. His hair length denotes his emotional fitness for relationships

If you’re looking to date one of Gere’s cinematic alter egos his gorgeous mane should be off his collar and neatly trimmed with military precision. Shaggy hair equals shaggy heart. Extremely shaggy hair all but guarantees he will stop at nothing to avoid a lengthy romantic entanglement resulting in either his love object’s death or his own. However, it will all feel very sensual and romantic.

3. Women engage in bizarre mating rituals in order to catch his eye, yet the one he desires remains elusive

In Dr. T and the Women, Gere as the titular Dr. T who was – wait for it – a gorgeous, Texas gynecologist was subjected to all manner of faked yeast infections, pregnancies and onsets of menopause in order for the women involved to spend a few moments having Dr. T examine their bits under the watchful sideeye of one of his long suffering nurses. Nurses who often refereed catfights in the waiting room. Some times they even pay him for a sip of that sweet, sweet, Gere love. Oddly enough, his cinema wives/lady friends don’t find him as delicious as the rest of us and often feel compelled to cheat on him, emotionally distance themselves, retreat into intricately constructed fantasy worlds or plot to kill him.

4.Gere’s characters might not be able to offer a relationship, but they dole out faux romance like candy

Steamy, faux sex is one of the parting gifts provided to female characters who happened to find themselves dazzled by his romantically unavailable charms. Sure they might initially rebuff his advances, but soon, they fall in love with the smell of his sweat (only Gere!) or the way he whispers romantically ambiguous promises into their ears.

5. You have not been really loved until you have been loved and left by one of his cinematic alter egos

It’s just not a proper Gere flavored romantic dramedy until the scene where the love interest crumples to the ground in anguish while clutching his clothes, his gifts to her or his dead body.

Selected Filmography

American Gigolo
Nights in Rodanthe
Final Analysis
Autumn in New York
An Officer and a Gentleman
Pretty Woman
Bee Season
Shall We Dance
Unfaithful
Intersection
Dr. T and the Women

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18 Comments leave one →
  1. May 2, 2011 3:39 pm

    Gere’s career stands in stark contrast to someone like a Hackman who, having not been blessed with beauty, has had to make do with showcasing an amazing range of acting ability. I don’t expect nearly as much from a Gere performance: it’s enough that I know he’s going to get his beautiful co-star feeling romantic, and hopefully naked.

  2. May 2, 2011 4:31 pm

    I love him so much, but he was “acting” a lot in Chicago. I mean you probably should measure your performance if a portion of your scene is spent in a sequin tuxedo jacket. Talk-singers everywhere have a patron saint in Gere. swooon!

  3. Emmitt permalink
    May 2, 2011 7:00 pm

    I like Gere but I suspect that has to do more with how dreamy he is than how good of an actor he is. It’s not that I think he’s terrible but that his roles would always seem better at the hands of another actor like, say, Nic Cage. Like just imagined if they had gotten Cage for Mothman Prophecies and let him go all wild like he’s prone to do. That alone would have elevated the movie.

    Regardless, my picks for Gere movies:

    -Days of Heaven
    -Breathless
    -Internal Affairs

  4. May 2, 2011 7:14 pm

    @Emmitt – I love Breathless and Internal Affairs. And I totally agree, his being dreamy is usually the driving force (for me) in deciding whether or not I want to view one of his films.

  5. unscrambled permalink
    May 2, 2011 8:21 pm

    The idea of watching all of those in series gives me the flux. Cheers to you for enduring a dreckathon for popnalysis!

  6. May 2, 2011 9:26 pm

    @unscrambled! Ha. It wasn’t such a hardship for me since I like Gere, but if this was another actor like say Ryan Reynolds I would probably be decidedly less charitable.

  7. IrishUp permalink
    May 3, 2011 10:54 am

    I just saw “Interception” on the TV for the first time last night. Never would have stuck with it had I not read this post, but watched right through just to verify the hair theory – data point confirmed!

    Other than O&G & PW (both of which I was outvoted for on movie night), I have studiously avoided Gere roms. I have liked his other work better, like in IA, “No Mercy” and “Primal Fear”. Unlike say, Clooney, it seems like Gere’s pretty limits his roles in a way I associate more with women. Of course, Hollywood being what it is, he’ll get cast pretty for far longer than any leading lady.

  8. May 3, 2011 11:07 am

    Intersection is sooooo terrible in this overwrought, way too earnest, emotionally punishing sort of way. Yet I really was rooting for all those hammy performances. I was a bit burnt they didn’t just give up and run that film completely into the ground. Though Martin Landau gave it his best shot.

    I think Gere’s range and his tendency to substitute squinting for emotionality (in some of his early roles) might have something to do with it. He also sounds like he’s whining when he yells. But I still love him deeply and fiercely, because he always looks like he’s having a blast and of course, that whole being gorgeous and charming thing.

  9. IrishUp permalink
    May 3, 2011 11:52 am

    HAH! I just realized I wrote -ception rather than -section. My bad.

    I actually really love O&G, just never would have (paid) to see it if left to druthers. Even now -oh yes, I stop for “May-o-NAYZE” when I clicker surf!- it hits the working-class-scrabbling notes right.

    That’s a good point about the squinting & etc – though it never stopped Eastwood. Then again, Clint avoided sounding like whinging when he was young n pretty; note to pretty squinters – cultivate raspy whispers for your rage mode!

    Perhaps the fun-factor is the key to the roles Gere has picked, b/c I agree with you there. It would certainly make sense of “First Knight”, which I had much rather have been in the cast than the audience. YIKES

  10. May 3, 2011 12:09 pm

    I am scared of First Knight. I just can’t bring myself to watch that. It looks so awful.

  11. evmaroon permalink
    May 3, 2011 12:20 pm

    Wasn’t he in some Nicholas Sparks’ movie with rugged stallions running on a beach and a major house flood? Or am I making that up?

  12. May 3, 2011 12:35 pm

    I like him in long white coats. In Days of Heaven he wears a light colored duster sometimes while working in the fields, and it looks great. When he gets mad he blinks a lot. My favorite two scenes of him are in Unfaithful when he loses it and attacks that guy, and in DoH when he’s sitting with Linda Manz at the fire and he tells her that he saved her life. You can’t even see his face much, but it’s good. I’m not a big Gere fan, but I like him (and his nose); I think Josh Hartnett is my version of Richard Gere.

  13. May 3, 2011 12:36 pm

    @evmaroon – I think that’s Nights in Rodanthe.

  14. evmaroon permalink
    May 3, 2011 12:44 pm

    @hsofia: I watched it on a plane, half asleep. Gere was great, the movie was terrible. But it would make a great drinking game for classic erotic images in a film. Horses: drink! Crashing waves: drink! Lusty love letters on fine stationery: drink!

  15. May 3, 2011 1:01 pm

    I saw First Knight in the theater. The person I was with enjoyed it, which made me doubly uncomfortable afterwards.

  16. May 3, 2011 1:02 pm

    Do people still write lusty love letters on fine stationery? I used to wish Hubster did that, but I decided to settle for him paying all the bills while I read this blog.

  17. evmaroon permalink
    May 3, 2011 1:07 pm

    @hsofia: In that movie they did! And they read them with quiet, panting undertones…

  18. kristen permalink
    May 16, 2011 10:21 pm

    OMG you left out The Cotton Club!!! One of my all time favorite movies

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