'Rules Don't Apply' to the long-rumored Howard Hughes film by Warren Beatty
When I was in high school, one of the things I did was devour entire careers on home video as a way of educating myself about various filmmakers and eras. I was aware of Warren Beatty before that, certainly, and remember Heaven Can Wait in particular as a big commercial moment for Beatty. I loved that movie and the weird goofball guy who starred in it, but it was almost a decade later when I finally plunged headlong into his filmography and suddenly realized that I kind of adore Beatty.
And why not? Look at that body of work in front of the camera first. He’s been relatively selective over the years, and considering what a giant movie star he was considered at one time, he never really became omnipresent like some of his peers. He didn’t need to when he was making films like Bonnie and Clyde, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, The Parallax View, and Shampoo. That run alone would make him an all-timer. He had some missteps, like $ or The Fortune, but he seemed to pick films based on a genuine interest in the story being told, not just to make his next movie.
And once he moved behind the camera as well? There’s the aforementioned Heaven Can Wait, a fairly inspired remake of Here Comes Mr. Jordan, as well as Reds, Dick Tracy, and Bulworth, and each of those movies feels personal and like something he had to make, even Dick Tracy. No one else would have made that movie that way, and his insistence that he still wants to make a sequel to it is admirable if a little weird.
Through most of the ‘90s, Beatty was said to be circling the Howard Hughes story, and it seemed like a perfect match of filmmaker and subject. I always assumed that it would be a biopic of sorts. After all, Hughes seems like no stretch at all for the notoriously secretive and meticulous Beatty, and I can see how the slow slide from adventurous businessman to crazy recluse might be a seductive story to try to tell. He’s not the only one who has been desperate to figure out how to make a movie about Hughes, of course, and while Martin Scorsese eventually got The Aviator made, other filmmakers (Chris Nolan, for example) have crashed and burned while trying to tell their own version of the tale.
It’s been almost 20 years since the last time Beatty directed, and he’s finally starting to do some select press about Rules Don’t Apply, the just-titled film that will finally arrive in theaters in November. 20th Century Fox is releasing the film, which is set in 1958 according to a delightful first look at the film published by Chris Nashawaty over at EW this morning. One of the things that he revealed in the interview was that he’s been too busy parenting to make movies, and I can empathize. If I could somehow make hanging out with my kids a full-time job, I would. They are easily my favorite people. Beatty’s kids are evidently grown now, and at 79, he’s finally wrangled this long-time interest into a form that he’s ready to release.
He was careful to establish that his film is not a biopic, and it sounds like the main focus will be on the characters played by Lily Collins and Alden Ehrenreich. She plays an actress who moves to Hollywood after signing a contract with Hughes, and he plays her driver. The two of them wrestle with their feelings for each other and their obligations to Hughes, and it’s an intriguing way of telling a story about him without getting bogged down in trying to tell his whole story.
I’m curious to see what impact the presence of Ehrenreich will have on the film’s fortunes now that he’s been announced as the new Han Solo in the film that Chris Miller and Phil Lord are making for Lucasfilm. I thought he was a highlight in Hail, Caesar! this spring, and people are going to be more curious than ever about him at this point.
You should read the EW piece, and as we rev up to this one in the fall, I’m going to run a series about Beatty and his movies, allowing me to finally write about some of my favorite movies and one of my favorite old-fashioned movie stars. It’s exciting to finally have some new Beatty on the schedule, and I hope it is a reminder of just why his voice has always been so vital.
Rules Don’t Apply will be in theaters November 11, 2016.