Modern Heat author Heidi Rice celebrates the release of her new book featuring a bad boy British duke (yes really!!) by taking a trip down memory lane and enjoying all over again some of the great movie bad boys of her youth... Plus some recent additions.
All right, so anyone who knows me, or has read any of my books, knows I've got a bit of a weak spot for bad boys. Tough, taciturn and dangerously irresistible, the bad boy is an archetype that I have always adored. With his battered cowboy boots, his worn jeans, his t-shirt stretched over rippling biceps and that oh-so-sexy glint of mischief in his eye, he oozes the sort of smouldering sexuality that just makes me drool. But quite apart from the sexiness, and that devil-may-care attitude which promises the thrill of a wild ride to your happy ever after, what really makes the bad boy so appealing I think is the vulnerability that lurks beneath the tough exterior. Bad boys have baggage, they have scars, they've had to struggle to survive and it's only when you find that tender spot that you will be able to tame them....
So now I'm going to take you on a sentimental journey through some of the best bad boys ever to grace the big or small screen, IMHO!
First off has to be James Dean in East of Eden. He's perhaps best known for his role as the iconic American fifties teen, the emblem of misunderstood youth, in Rebel Without a Cause (which is another of my favourite movies) but I always think his uniquely tortured performance as the rejected son in this John Steinbeck adaptation has the edge for me. Cal Trask is a boy who has never had the love of a mother and whose father has never understood him, and as he struggles to win his father's approval teenagers everywhere can't help but identify him. I certainly did! Plus there's the tentative romance with his brother's girlfriend Abra (beautifully played by Julie Harris) - a good girl drawn to Cal's wildness. Watch this film and then watch Robert Pattinson's performance in Twilight and you'll known exactly where RPatz is coming from...
Okay, so Jimmy Dean is the quintessential bad boy. But what happens when the boy becomes a man... Hold on to your hearts ladies, cos three actors in the fifties and sixties made these parts there own.
Marlon Brando, who before he became the size of a small-semi detached house, exuded raw sexuality in films such as Streetcar Named Desire and The Wild One. My favourite though has to be On the Waterfront. I've blogged about it before, so I won't rant on about it now, because frankly I could write a novel about how good this film is. Surfice it to say, Terry Malloy, the beaten down ex-boxer in the film is the perfect combo of tough and tender. Inarticulate and tortured by guilt, Brando's performance is a work of genius... Not least in the justifiably famous 'I coulda been a contender' scene where he takes his gangland brother to task for selling him and his hopes of becoming a real fighter down the river. It's a heart-breaking scene done with just the right balance of tenderness and disillusionment.
Then there's Paul Newman. Almost too beautiful to be real with those piercing blue eyes and chiselled cheekbones, he's at his sexiest in The Long Hot Summer, where he plays the ultimate outsider (another important bad boy trait!!). A man who's hustled and cheated and charmed his way through life and seems to have very little substance until Joanne Woodward's smart sassy spinster discovers the truth... That what he's really doing is running from a miserable childhood and punishing himself for the sins of his father.... My heart was lost, and Joanne's was too - the pair fell in love while making the movie and boy does it show.
And finally, Steve McQueen. Who was actually the real McCoy, a guy who had survived a stint in reform school as a teenager to become a Hollywood star. My favourite of his film roles is probably The Magnificent Seven, in which he has about three lines as a laconic mercenary but manages to steal the film out from under it's star Yul Brynner.... And can fire a six-shooter with pin-point accuracy while leaping over a wall! But here he is smouldering fabulously in Bullitt. They didn't call him the King of Cool for nothing.
Those four are my favourites. Let's face it they don't make bad boys like that anymore... Or do they? I've gotta give a few honourable mentions to more recent screen bad boys who have certainly captured my attention... And been inspiration for a few of my books.
Josh Hollway's Sawyer in Lost is a delicious example. The McQueen-like con-man with his whip-cord lean physique and straggly blond locks was the dark side to Jack's heroic doctor. Skulking around in the background on that beach in Series One, cheating the rest of the survivors out of the spoils from the plane crash and busy making everyone hate him... But of course, he's a bit more complex than that, and the scene in which Kate discovers that he isn't nearly as bad as he wants to make out is an absolute doozy....And this being Lost, of course Sawyer kept getting more and more complex! Another great moment comes in Series Two (or was it Three!!) when Sawyer and Kate finally get it on in a cage.... Oh my, I'm fanning myself here just thinking about it.
Another top pick has to be Russell Crowe as maverick cop Bud White in LA Confidential. With his buzz cut hair and flash-fire temper, White is at first pretty scary, a violent man with a badge. But when he falls head over heels for Kim Basinger's prostitute we get a tantalising glimpse into his past, and just where that uncontrollable temper comes from and your heart can't help but melt. And given good ole Russ's well documented moments of madness in real life, there's a ring of truth to his performance here that only adds to the impact.
And last but not least there's Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the superlative USTV series Mad Men. A sleek superficial sixties ad man who exudes confident charm on the surface, Don is actually a deeply troubled soul beset by the demons of his childhood and his complete inability to make honest human connections with anyone... Including his wife who he's put on a pedestal but cannot remain faithful to... Yup, Don really is a very, very bad boy indeed. And about as far as it's possible to get from Jimmy Dean's misunderstood teen. But hey, who said bad boys can't come in lots of different varieties?
And needless to say, I love em all!
So do you love bad boys too? And if so, who's your favourite, and why? I'm always eager to add a new one to the Hall of Fame.
Heidi is currently working on her next book for Modern Heat and doing heaps of bad boy research into the bargain.... Her latest book Unfinished Business with the Duke is in shops in the UK now and will hit the US as a Presents Extra in October. And then she has her Christmas romance Surf, Sea and a Sexy Stranger due out in the UK in December. Come have a natter on her blog, her website, or her Facebook page...