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The Prancing Prince

July 30, 2019 (379 words)

Some actors hit the ground running and are enjoyable to watch from their very earliest film roles right on through to the end of their careers. William Holden comes to mind.

Others get off to a less auspicious start. As neophytes they appear drunk on their own handsomeness, unable to do little more in front of the camera other than pose. Richard Gere would fall into this latter category for me.

Desperate for something to watch the other night, I picked up a copy of First Knight in the remainder bin at the grocery store. A very young Mr. Gere plays Sir Lancelot to Sean Connery’s King Arthur.

The movie opens with Gere the expert swordsman challenging local amateurs in a small village square, winner-take-all. The prowess he displays with his weapon, and a small leather pouch of jangling coins, is meant to strike us as remarkable. But it’s downright painful to watch this scene as he hops about in an awkward, coquettish manner.

One is reminded this was early days for the thespian, when he was flavor-of-the-month and every female moviegoer swooned at the mere sight of him. (Even though as a native of upstate New York, he was widely rumored at the time to be an active member of the burgeoning gay community in New York City.)

To his credit, Richard Gere went on to eventually grow up and calm down as an actor. He was able to come to terms with his appearance, and his attractiveness was no longer an impediment to relating believably to the other actors and actresses in a given film.

Which just goes to show we should never judge a book by its cover, even in real life. Yes, being catnip to the opposite sex can be its own sort of curse, its own sort of affliction, as it can interfere with the development of empathy and a consideration for others.

But over time it’s possible for those endowed with above-average looks to tame their vanity, overcome their natural inclination towards narcissism, and evolve into a level-headed, well-adjusted human being. Being easy on the eyes doesn’t always have to translate into being hard to put up with.

Robert J. Cavanaugh, Jr.
July 30, 2019

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