Warren Beatty: Overrated or Underrated?

Teenagers could certainly be forgiven for saying, “Warren who?”—since the impossibly handsome actor-filmmaker hasn’t been seen gracing the screen in a new film since 2001’s Town & Country. And before that, we have to go pre-millennial, with the still-bitingly-relevant political satire Bulworth…which was also the last film Warren Beatty has directed to date.

Ah, but we remember him in classics such as Splendor in the Grass, Bonnie and Clyde, and Reds, yes? Looking back, Dick Tracy looks a little ahead of its time. (And has there ever been more perfect casting than Beatty as Tracy? If we ask Irv, my guess is he’d probably answer Robin Williams as Popeye)

With so many “senior” filmmakers still going strong, might it be fair to feel cheated by Beatty’s absence in front of and/or behind the camera? Or has the Oscar winner already done more than enough to secure his reputation as one of Hollywood’s best leading (and, sorry ladies, now spoken for) men?

Here’s Irv:

Do you swoon at the thought of Warren Beatty…or are you steamed at the idea of him being ranked with the all-time greats? Submit your verdict below.

  • Tfalcon200

    How can you say that Warren Beatty is a Good director, good actor, good writer and at the same time say he is overrated. To me that is a contradiction in terms. But you are entitled to your opinion.

    • Beth Palladino

      “Good” is a pretty middle-of-the-road term for a critic to use. I understand this to mean merely good as opposed to great or excellent. I also understand Irv to mean that Warren Beatty is good, but may have been a whole lot better if he had worked faster and had a larger output for us to consider.

  • Leonard Ulman

    Irv: James Dean: overrated or underrated?

  • david hartzog

    I think Irv has it right, good but not great. Shampoo was his best moment, a film that transcends the decades.

  • WEC

    I think Dick Tracy was a very good movie. Warren was good as Dick Tracy. The movie did win three academy awards.

    • mike j

      never did like warren to much as a actor. just something about him that does not appeal to me. unlike his sister (Shirley) who I always enjoyed in most of her movies. maybe it was over acting on his part. the only one that comes close to liking is when he played the gangster who started las vegas , and I liked it cause of the story.

  • John

    Warren Beatty is an OK actor…tends to play himself in all his films….better in some films than others. Bonnie and Clyde – his best, Bugsy – not bad, and Heaven Can Wait – his worst, no match for the original Here Comes Mr. Jordan. Sister, Shirley, is the better of the two who has played all her characters flawlessly.

  • Bruce Reber

    My favorite Warren Beatty movies (the ones I’ve seen) – “Splendor In The Grass”, “Bonnie And Clyde”, “$”, “Heaven Can Wait” and “Bugsy”, my least favorite – “Mickey One”, “Lilith”, “The Only Game In Town”, “The Fortune” and “The Parallax View”. IMO he’s a very good actor, but not one of the greats.

  • BernardS

    I remember seeing a coming attraction trailer from Warner Bros way back in the 60s where they
    were promoting three BRIGHT, HANDSOME, TALENTED young actors, namely TROY DONAHUE, HORST BUCHHOLZ and WARREN BEATTY, all coming up in NEW exciting movies
    from WB, for me, I thought we are in for a BIG TREAT—now, for the successor of James Dean !!! Horst did an impressive job in “Fanny”, Troy was equally dashing in “PARRISH”, then theres
    Warren—soooo good looking ! Soooo sexy in “Roman Spring of Mrs.Stone” . So many years
    had gone by now, do we frock to movies only to see a good looking actor, OR does he really
    have the talent in for the long haul? My answer about Warren is since “Mrs.Stone”, I was only
    impressed by “All Fall Down” and ” The Only Game in Town”, the others where he got raves
    such as “Bonnie & Clyde”, “MacCabe and Mrs Miller”, ” Reds” and ” Heaven can Wait” were
    only tolerable because of his female co-star! I don’t care if he is a good director, producer
    or writer (?), IMO he is overrated. He is nowhere near Paul Newman, Montgomery Clift or even
    Alain Delon . Maybe if he can do a musical , ( Brando, Day-Lewis, O’Toole all did !) then I
    will put him in with the GREATS.

    • Bruce Reber

      Brando played the role of Sky Masterson in “Guys And Dolls”, which Frank Sinatra very much wanted, and he was bitterly disappointed when he was relegated to the role of Nathan Detroit. No matter how much Brando was coached-up by a voice teacher, he couldn’t carry a tune to save his ass. If Sinatra had played Masterson, he probably would have been nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for GAD instead of “Man With The Golden Arm”, but he got some sweet payback when he had a huge hit with one of the songs from GAD, “Luck Be A Lady”, which went on to become one of his all-time standards. As for O’Toole, when he did the 1969 musical remake of the 1939 classic “Goodbye Mr. Chips”, his “singing” in that was just as awful as Brando in GAD. O’Toole in an interview said that he couldn’t sing a single note. So why was he (mis)cast in this totally unnecessary remake?

  • Vincent J. Anello

    Very over rated, just another good looking man as a lot of today’s actors.

  • ron a.

    One good movie: Bonnie and Clyde. Even there, his acting wasn’t great—just quirky; but, it worked well.

    • nicolas

      I have never really seen Bonnie and Clyde, at least not from beginning to end, only bits and pieces. Have you never seen McCabe and Miss Miller, Shampoo, Paralax View, Reds. I think much more than one good movie.

  • lovestorun

    Warren Beatty was a good looking guy but lacked in the acting department. He wasn’t the most boring actor of his time however.

  • Nicolas

    I think the film REDS took a lot of of him because if you look at his work he did not act for a long time afterwards, and only directed two films after. REDS was a great film, and I probably am in a minority here, but I felt at the time he had made a better DICK TRACY then Tim Burton had made with Batman. BULWORTH was a flop, when I saw it on TV, I was amazed by the film, and how he somewhat with his character really walked a tight rope. I just thought of this now, in the late 60′s and 70′s, I think he was the American Marcello Mastroianni. For me he epitomized the new American white male, filled with anxieties. Just look at his films back then after Bonnie and Clyde, McCabe and Miss Miller, Parallax View, Shampoo. He has had his share of flops, though none when he has directed. With him apparently not doing anything for over 10 years, I suppose it is fare to say he is living a different life from what he led before, being a married man and I believe also a father. To say though that he is overaated because he has not done enough is like saying the same thilng about Stanley Kubruck, Orson Welles, or Sergio Leone. .

  • Sherrytc

    I’d say Warren Beatty is over-rated, but to be honest he’s never been one of those actors that hit a top 10 list for anything. Not even looks. I love old movies and not one of his movies is a favorite of mine. It just wasn’t much to him. He really seemed to have a flat personality that didn’t move viewers.

  • Al Hooper

    Warren Beatty’s film “Dick Tracy” was an artful triumph, both parodying the genre and paying homage to the source. That was it for Beatty, though. He had neither the range nor the on-screen presence to ignite a film. I agree, however, that “Reds” was a heroic slice of Cold War history.
    – Al Hooper (E-HOOPER.COM)

  • Michele Wood

    He never impressed me with his acting…it seems to me what I have read about his private life was more exciting!

  • The G-Man

    Personally, I’ve never really gotten why Warren Beatty is considered highly; I think he’s very over rated. Consider some great actors, and then think of WB. Think of them all being about 30. Then think of some great roles. You could concievably think of Dinero, or Pacino playing the Marlon Brando role in On the Waterfront…it would be a comedy-of-bad-acting if Terry was played by Warren Beatty. How about young MIchael Corleone? Dinero, Brando playing the Pacino role; ok. Warren Beauty….oh brother.

  • Daisy


  • Sandra

    Overrated; his ego always showed through in all his performances. He should have probably tried for the role of God; would have suited his personality better.

  • cc

    cc overrated. his looks also

  • wade

    liked some of his movies but thought his sister Shirley MacLaine was much better at acting