Remember when your mom was gushing over how gorgeous Richard Gere was (back before the whole hamster rumor)?
Gere was a hot commodity in Hollywood a few decades back, with films dominating both the ‘80s (An Officer and a Gentleman) and the ‘90s (Pretty Woman). Gere’s heartthrob status was cemented when he played “Julian” in 1980’s American Gigolo, and it served him well. His acting credits read similarly to those of Ryan Gosling in that he didn’t accept crap just to print money simply because he was eye candy.
A significant amount of Gere’s films were quality work. Here’s a list of some of his best, in no particular order.
Pretty Woman (1990)
Pretty Woman is many a lady’s favorite Gere movie, and can you blame them? Infinitely quotable with lines you’ll remember for years, and starring pretty people who made an otherwise class-less situation classy, Pretty Woman put Julia Roberts on the map as the young hooker with a heart of gold. And Gere helped us understand how “frosted” hair works - i.e. it makes a younger guy look older, and yet somehow better.
Final Analysis (1992)
One of a few films to feature a hot sex scene between Gere and Kim Basinger, Final Analysis was a gripping thriller involving Basinger, her sister (Uma Thurman), and her husband (Eric Roberts). Thurman and Roberts give particularly memorable performances here.
A Don Draper story long before there was Mad Men, Sommersby was an interesting “is he or isn’t he?” tale, featuring Gere as Jack Sommersby (or is he?) and Jodie Foster as Laurel, his loving wife.
We were horrified to hear that Gere would be singing and dancing as “Billy Flynn” in this Broadway classic-turned Oscar winner. Though, when we saw him in action, he was actually quite good, and we were pleased to see that Chicago transitioned rather well to a film format. His Flynn was significantly convincing, and he complemented Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones fairly well.
Primal Fear (1996)
Gere has a knack for picking quality material, even if the focus isn’t so much on himself as it is on his co-stars. Edward Norton gets a good deal of credit for Primal Fear's being so good, and it is deserved. The twist ending is one that will stay with you for years, similar to that of The Usual Suspects.
First Knight (1995)
Melodramatic at times, sure, and with a great deal of artistic liberty, but First Knight was a fun period piece that explored the potential love triangle existent between King Arthur (Sean Connery), Lancelot (Gere), and the lady King Arthur is due to marry, Lady Guinevere (Julia Ormond).
While Unfaithful is remembered more for its steamy sex scenes between Diane Lane and Olivier Martinez, Gere does a good job as “Ed Sumner,” the sorry sap whose wife is cheating on him with a much younger and spicier model. This film’s ending will haunt you, too, though not for the reasons of a twist.
No Mercy (1986)
Like in Final Analysis, which came much later, Basinger and Gere’s chemistry in No Mercy is believable. Losado (Jeroen Krabbé) is an enjoyably evil villain, and thankfully, while Gere played a cop here (and relatively early in his career, too), the role didn’t typecast him as a cop for all eternity. (We’re looking at you, Reginald VelJohnson.)