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TOP 10 ALPHA MALES FROM THE CINEMA OF THE 1970s - The Mitchelli - Modern Gentleman

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TOP 10 ALPHA MALES FROM THE CINEMA OF THE 1970s

STEVE MCQUEEN

Topping the list is Steve McQueen. There’s no doubting McQueen’s masculinity. The son of a stunt pilot and a prostitute, McQueen had something of a
tumultuous childhood, which may account for his quiet, tough guy persona.

A runaway, a gang member, a petty criminal, a U.S Marine, and member of the Presidential Honour Guard, Steve McQueen was something of a contradiction. Despite becoming a Hollywood leading man, he was more at home racing fast cars and rugged motorcycles than he was acting in movies and his collection of classic cars included a Ferrari 250 Lusso Berlinetta, a Jaguar D-Type XKSS, and a Porsche 356 Speedster. He also had a vast collection of vintage motorcycles.

In 1974 he was the highest paid actor in the world, having starred in films such as Bullitt, The Thomas Crown Affair, The Great Escape, The Towering Inferno and The Magnificent Seven. Despite this, he then gave up acting for four years.

He married one of the most beautiful actresses of the era – Ali McGraw – and had an ultra-cool pad in Palm Springs designed by Hugh M. Kaptur.

He was a man who rocked a suit, but also had his own dressed down sense of style that still looks fresh today – just ask Daniel Craig. He is still remembered as the “King of Cool” and who are we to argue with that?

Steve McQueen

ALPAH RATING: 10

ENDURING COOL: 10

BURT REYNOLDS

When it comes to the alpha males of the 1970s, Burt Reynolds is something of a legend. A genuine man’s man, Reynolds was the epitome the hirsute, mustachioed, macho man that typified the men of the era.

Reynolds was one of the most popular and highest paid movie stars of the decade and his films, including Deliverance, White Lightning, Smokey and the Bandit, The Longest Yard, and Hooper, were hugely successful.

To illustrate just how big a deal Reynolds was at the time, producer “Cubby” Broccoli offered him the role of James Bond after Sean Connery left the series. To his credit, he turned the role down, believing no American could play the part.

His role in Deliverance as the macho Lewis Medlock is arguably his best, but it his comedic turns in Smokey and the Bandit (and later The Cannonball Run), for which he is best remembered.

His style hasn’t exactly endured in the way that the likes of McQueen or Robert Redford’s has, but there can be no denying that Burt Reynolds is one of the quintessential alpha males of 70s cinema.

Burt Reynolds

ALPHA RATING: 10

ENDURING COOL: 6

JACK NICHOLSON

Jack needs almost no introduction. He’s a living legend and an icon in his own right. By the 70s he was already an established actor, and he delivered a cameo performance in Easy Rider that practically stole the movie. However, it was his turns in Five Easy Pieces, The Last Detail, Chinatown, and particularly One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, that really cemented his status.

These days, Nicholson is almost a pastiche of himself, but he still remains one of the greatest American actors of all time and, by all accounts, a man who still knows how to party.

JACK NICHOLSON

ALPHA RATING: 8

ENDURING COOL: 8

RICHARD BURTON

Hard drinking, hard living, Burton came from a tough, working-class background with twelve siblings and an alcoholic father. His mother died at just 43, before Burton was even 2.

Despite the hardships, he was one of the most prolific and well-respected actors of his time. Darkly good-looking and extremely masculine, he was a hit with the ladies and exemplified the rugged qualities of the alpha male.

His legendary and tumultuous love affair with Elizabeth Taylor spanned decades and saw them married twice and was often the cause of controversy.

Burton certainly lived his life fully, and there is no greater accolade to apply to a life than that.

richard burton

ALPHA RATING: 9

ENDURING COOL: 7

CLINT EASTWOOD

What to say about this man? In 2008’s Gran Torino, aged 78, he manages to scare a bunch of street thugs simply by pointing his finger at them like a pistol. It’s very doubtful any other actor could have made that work.

During the 70s, having already affirmed his place in cinema history by playing the iconoclastic “man with no name”, Eastwood doubles up by adding “Dirty” Harry Callahan to his list of legendary roles.

His style in the 70s might be associated with the plaid sports jacket, but remember, this is a man who wore a poncho and made it look good.

Eastwood has made a career out of playing tough, no-nonsense alpha males and at age 83 still manages to inspire.

Clint Eastwood

ALPHA RATING: 10

ENDURING COOL: 10

PAUL NEWMAN

Cool, lean, and good-looking, Newman was already a cimematic heart-throb by the 1970s, having the likes of Hud, The Hustler, Cool Hand Luke, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid under his belt.

During the 70s he starred alongside Robert Redford in The Sting, and Steve McQueen in The Towering Inferno. In fact, in a war for top billing, McQueen and Newman were each afforded exactly the same number of lines and had their names appear diagonally on the opening credits.

Newman, like McQueen was also passionate about motor racing. He loved fast cars and motorcycles, and he raced professionally into his seventies.

As to his alpha status, well, how many men can sell salad dressing and still remain an icon of cool?

ALPHA RATING: 9

EDDURING COOL: 9

Paul Newman

ROBERT REDFORD

Quite a handsome fellow, this Redford chap. In a career that has spanned half a decade and still going strong, by the 70’s Redford was already a firmly established actor with a number of film roles under his belt. But it was 69’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid that really established his name.

Equaling Paul Newman is no easy task, but Redford carried it off with ease. In fact, this was such a great pairing that 1973 saw them partnered up again for The Sting. With his fair looks and easy charm, Redford was the epitome of cool and was perfectly cast in The Great Gatsby. So much so, it’s almost impossible to read the book without Redford’s face flitting into your mind.

Also starring in two of the decade’s great conspiracy thrillers – Three Days of the Condor, and All the President’s Men – Redford became an icon of 70s cool, with a style that still endures to this day.

Robert Redford

ALPHA RATING: 8

ENDURING COOL: 9

CHARLTON HESTON

The alpha and the Omega Man, Heston has played some of the most famous alpha males in cinema. Few men have had the Biblical presence and machismo that Heston brought to his roles, which included John The Baptist, Moses, and God. He played Marc Anthony in 1950’s Julius Caesar then played the character
again 20 years later in the 1970 production.

His turns in The Omega Man, Soylent Green, and Earthquake in the 70s showed the world that, even in his fifties, Heston still had the requisite cojónes to show the younger men who was boss.

Charlton Heston

ALPHA RATING: 10

ENDURING COOL: 5

GENE HACKMAN

Gene Hackman? Yes, Gene Hackman. Whilst not the most obvious choice for alpha male, Hackman’s turn as Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle showed us a man who was not afraid to break a few rules, bones, or cars in pursuit of his foes, as one of the best car chases in cinematic history aptly demonstrates. Uncompromising and hard as nails, Popeye makes modern cinematic cops look like pussy(cat)s. Hackman’s performance in The French Connection earnt him a Best Actor Oscar. This, and the fact he can wear a ridiculous hat and still look completely serious makes Hackman’s inclusion in the list a must.

Gene Hackman

ALPHA RATING: 8

ENDURING COOL: 6

RICHARD ROUNDTREE

“Who’s the black private dick that’s a sex machine to all the chicks? Shaft!” Damn right. Richard Roundtree exploded into the public consciousness with this “blacksploitation” thriller that showed us a black actor who was tough as nails and took no prisoners.

Few black actors since have had the impact Roundtree had with Shaft and those that have had the doors kicked down for them by his performance. Yes, Shaft is exploitative, there are too many racially motivated jokes, and it is essentially a pastiche noir, but Roundtree gives the character iconic status and helped change social attitudes towards black people in American.

Richard Roundtree

ALPHA RATING: 10

ENDURING COOL: 8

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