Tom Cruise

(Born 1962)

Valkyrie | Mission Impossible
Tom Cruise autographs, dvds, photographs, dvds and more @ (direct link to signed items) - just checked and a bigger selection than I have seen everywhere else

Thomas Cruise Mapother IV
b. Syracuse, New York

      Firstly, let's get one thing straight. Literally. Tom Cruise is not gay. Never has been, never will be. He's more of a man than you and I. He's all man, and I mean that in a tough guy, non-gay type of way. Phew, glad we got that straightened out!

    But joking aside, the baseless rumours on Cruise's sexuality are interesting only in the way he has dealt with them: sued, threatened to sue, denied and denial. In this day and age you would think they wouldn't matter but such is Cruise's obsession in remaining the biggest star in the world that nothing must be allowed to come out which is at odds with the all-American hero persona that has served him so well.

    With someone so powerful that his privacy remains private through having employees having to sign non-disclosure contracts and his money used as a barrier to keep the public at bay, the rumours take on an even greater life and add to the enigma.

    What indeed goes on behind the million dollar smile? It's a question still unanswered.

    So is there a clue to the real Thomas Cruise Mapother IV in his work? Hard to say. But what he does he does better than anyone. It usually doesn't reveal much of him but his work, taken only on entertainment value, rarely makes you feel you've been short changed. Perhaps that is all he owes his public: to entertain and be entertained.

    Still, up to the age of thirty, there were those who liked to jump on Tom Cruise as the representative of all that was most immature in American cinema. They saw the cockiness, the grin, the huge box-office success, and the sudden lapses. In that spirit, Cruise was the worst of the brats because he went the furthest.

    But consider Cruise and the career before his 30th birthday in this way: when Clark Gable was 30 (in 1931), he had only just begun to make movies like A Free Soul, Possessed, and Susan Lenox: Her Fall and Rise. Now, in our collective recollection, Gable may seem older, wordlier, and more grown-up than Cruise. But when did Gable ever risk playing the jerk to whom Cruise was totally committed in The Color of Money (86, Martin Scorsese)? When was Gable as uninhibitedly tender as Cruise managed in Risky Business (83, Paul Brickman)? And could Gable have survived the black-hole narcissism of Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man (88, Barry Levinson) and let us know we were watching a more complex and worthwhile character at the edges of the story, while Oscar was being won?

    Cruise was and is very good. Consider that pack of novices in Francis Coppola's The Outsiders (83). Cruise was not much noticed then among Matt Dillon, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Patrick Swayze, Ralph Macchio, and C. Thomas Howell (this team is a great tribute to the foresight of Coppola and his casting wizard, Fred Roos). But he has gone on to so much richer and more coherent a career and so little wish to impose himself or his attitude upon his pictures. That is where I came in, grumbling about knowing so little about him. Cruise has turned it into a strength, at least in a commercial sense.

    He was one of the first actors to come out of the '80s seemingly unaffected by the impact of Brando or Clift, instead inspired by the example of a Gable or a Cary Grant.

    Not that his early life was free from the bases for neuroses or unease. Cruise came from a broken home. His life was nomadic. He had a form of dyslexia. He had a very poor early relationship with his father. But a wrestling injury at school urged him into musicals, and after school he had a few roaming years, trying to learn, trying to stay alive. Very few.

    He had a small role in Endless Love (81, Franco Zeffirelli) and he made a big impression as the belligerent cadet in Taps (81, Harold Becker). Losin' It (83, Curtis Hanson) was a disaster lost in the dazzle of The Outsiders, Risky Business, and All the Right Moves (83, Michael Chapman).

    In the next 10 years his career took some odd or mistaken directions, increasingly because he was becoming more and more bankable - big stars can fall into the wrong hands: Legend (85, Ridley Scott); Top Gun (86, Tony Scott), the picture that made him, and a piece of high-tech jingoism so remarkably depressing it is all the more admirable that he survived. Cocktail (88, Roger Donaldson) was the silliest vehicle, and Days of Thunder (90, Tony Scott) was all vehicles and crash helmets, apart from introducing him to his second ex-wife, Nicole Kidman (he was previously married to Mimi Rogers). He and Kidman were teamed in Far and Away (92, Ron Howard), without much joy or chemistry.

    Born on the Fourth of July (89, Oliver Stone) was a key step in the decline of its director, but Cruise was unrestrained and passionate as the hero. But as a star now in his early 40s, he has not yet been in an unmistakably good film though he has shown range as an actor, and a willingness, that are impressive. But going back to the Gable analogy, by the time he was 40, he had done Red Dust, It Happened One Night, Mutiny on the Bounty, China Seas, San Francisco, Idiot's Delight, and Rhett Butler. Of course, careers do not know such ease now. Cruise is going to have to remake himself at every turn-and there may not be enough good people to trust. He is very professional-but is there now a profession? Thus he made himself the motor of A Few Good Men (92, Rob Reiner), and mounted a real challenge to Jack Nicolson in the climax. Similarly, he carried the long, complicated The Firm (93, Sidney Pollack) and let us see how his quick eyes were working out the story.

    Jerry Maguire (96, Cameron Crowe) was a breeze for him, Eyes Wide Shut (99, Stanley Kubrick) a mistake, and, let's be honest here, nothing since has been that great or led Cruise to the great performance that will lead him to Oscar-land. And underpinning it all is what is now the Mission Impossible triology with the third pic set to be released in 2006. It's as though Cruise sees them as a kind of crutch: when a Vanilla Sky (01, Crowe) or Last Samurai (03, Edward Zwick) disappoints the public at large he returns to this franchise as sure fire a box-office hit as night follows day. But as an actor they do not lead him anywhere.

    Time marches on, none of us are getting younger, and until Cruise leaves the Mission Impossibles behind, then that great performance in a great film will remain elusive.

  • Valkyrie

fritz lang | metropolis | m | ufa

nagisa oshima | julie andrews | yul brynner | romy schneider
the godfather | the godfather part ii
marlon brando | james caan | diane keaton | al pacino
laurence olivier | clark gable | vivien leigh | leslie howard | alfred hitchcock | robert montgomery | grace kelly
olivia de havilland | humphrey bogart | howard hawks | frank capra | charlie chaplin | lauren bacall | fritz lang
jean harlow | greta garbo | ava gardner | audrey hepburn | edward g. robinson | john garfield
erich von stroheim | wim wenders | madeleine carroll | marlene dietrich | rita hayworth

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Changes last made: 2015