Who is this generation's Burt Lancaster?

Just to have a name from my parents’ generation to serve as a reference point. That would be the group born in the 1900-1920 range.

Perhaps the counterpart from the next 20-year period might be Steve McQueen, might be somebody else.

The 1940-1960 period representative could be somebody like George Clooney.

But who of the younger leading-man types in the 40-50 year old range can compare favorably to Burt?

Do them by decade if you prefer, but help determine the star power of the younger generations.

Also, don’t leave out the ladies!

Good question. I don’t think much of our ‘current’ actors but will throw out a few names…

Leonardo DiCaprio: I didn’t care much for him for a long time cause I thought he was ‘too pretty’, but he’s aged into having a lot of character.

Robert Downey Jr.: His ‘look how natural I am’ bit can get a little old, but I like him a lot.

Josh Brolin: Love me some Josh Brolin because he reminds me so much of his dad, and I do love me 70’s actors also.

Jeff Bridges: a carry-over from the late 70’s-early 80’s who still does impressive work.

Matt Damon: No real explanation. I just like his near-insane dedication to whatever movie he is in, when he could have skated by on his looks.

As for women…I think Jennifer Lawrence could be a once in a generation actress, but that’s just my opinion.

Lancaster played Army/Navy/Air Force/USMC, was plausible as a prizefighter or a professional football player when he wasn’t playing a lawman or a gun-toting crook, and racked up multiple Oscar nominations, so I’m thinking – Mark Wahlberg.

This is something I have often observed - since about the late 1960s we have moved away from the manly-man lead actors in general. Think John Wayne, Gary Cooper, Burt Lancaster, Clark Gable, Robert Mitchum… Since the late 1960s we moved into the anti-hero as lead types: Dustin Hoffman, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino. Then getting into the 1980s it’s boyish types: Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Leo DiCaprio - and cartoon muscle-men: Arnold, Stallone. Where are the rugged manly-man types?

Well…a lot of the ‘many men types’ were self-made drifters who kind of stumbled into their professions, loved it and embraced it. Just the very nature of the kind of movies made today and the entire process seems to inhibit that somewhat.

It seems like the closest you’ll see today are actors from Australia. Russell Crowe…etc…

ALSO, practically the entire medium of TV is shut off from what we consider old-time character actors and they go with “Beautiful people”

Of course there are exceptions but for the most part, I am correct.

If you want broad-shouldered manliness and a grin to rival Burt Lancaster’s, you could do a heck of a lot worse than Dwayne Johnson.

Burt Lancaster was an unusual combination of athleticism with a certain otherworldly-oddness. He had that mannered way of speaking and presenting himself. And of course he was undeniably a “movie star.”

The closest I can think of: James Franco. He does have star quality, but he’s sort of unusual in his affect, possibly in a way similar to Lancaster’s. I don’t think he’s the first performer who comes to mind when “athleticism” is discussed, though (he’s certainly fit, but one wouldn’t cast him as an acrobat, necessarily).

Good pick on James Franco. When I first saw Spider-Man, I liked everyone well enough, but felt Franco made his peers look like amateurs.

Russell Crowe is the answer to this question. Gladiator, The Insider, A Beautiful Mind, Cinderalla Man, L.A. Confidential, The Quick and the Dead, 3:10 to Yuma, etc. Those are wildly divergent characters that are both physical and cerebral.

Honorable mention to Christian Bale.

After some thought I believe a better choice from the 1920-1940 births period would be Clint Eastwood and not McQueen. Clint was able to convey things with his voice that Steve usually avoided, preferring the action to the speaking. Burt was excellent at both. In fact, I challenge you to come up with anybody to rival Burt as Elmer Gantry, just as a for instance.

Others from Burt’s era who would be hard to match in later generations:

Kirk Douglas
Robert Ryan
Ernest Borgnine
William Holden
Ben Johnson
Jack Palance

Your post brings up ANOTHER reason why there aren’t “manly-men” anymore. Bale and Crowe (and Gibson and Alec Baldwin, a couple of others who could have qualified at one time) are known for flying off the handle and having crazy meltdowns.

Now I’m not saying that the stars of yesteryear didn’t have crazy moments, I’m saying people these days have a much longer memory about that sort of thing.

And finally…(I wish I had thought of all this at once so I didn’t multi-post) How many of those manly men of yesteryear served in the army or even in a war? Whereas these days to attain that kind of…“gravitas”…you’re more likely to see it in actors that have done time.

Just a side-note, mini-hijack: has anybody else seen a resemblance to Burt in Damian Lewis (Homeland)?

Yeah, he was a real Hugh Jackman.

Are you comparing Jackman to Eastwood (whom he physically resembles) or to McQueen?


Actually, I think Jackman is a good comparison to Lancaster. He has a lot of the same extroverted energy and athleticism. Eastwood is a lot more low-key than either of them - neither Jackman nor Lancaster are particularly subtle actors.

Thing is, Jackman has the Clint-Eastwood-Raises-One-Eyebrow thing down cold, and the Wry-But-Matter-Of-Fact-To-The-Point-Of-Plainspoken-Calmness bit goes a long way.

That said, how about factoring in Ryan Gosling? I figure he’s the current king of talking like he doesn’t want to start any trouble while making clear that he’s ready to knock your teeth out: he does it when playing an honest cop, he does it when playing a hardworking mechanic, he even does it when playing a crusading attorney…

Has Jason Statham spread his wings outside the ‘Thud & Blunder’ genre recently?

diCaprio reminds me of Clark Gable.

Y’know, when you say “Thud & Blunder”, I can’t help but think “Channing Tatum”.

I can see it.

You had me up to:

I have never seen the appeal, either for looks or talent. There is no comparison with Lancaster, who I first dismissed as a pretty boy but who I have begun to suspect was the Greatest Movie Star of All Time. He’s not a great actor but he owns the screen. Franco is annoying.

Clooney, of course, and DiCaprio and Damon are good choices.

ETA: And Tom Hanks is Jimmy Stewart.