Alan Alda on recovering from a flop

Nobody's perfect, not even Hawkeye.

Hollywood's a town where you're only as good as your last picture, bub. 

You're either hot or cold in show biz. America loves to shoot someone to untold levels of fame, only to revel in their downfall. And if there's anything viewers love more than that, it's a comeback. But it's always arcing, for a lot of stars. They're either on their way up or on their way down. For most of them, one movie is enough to turn the tide in either direction. 

Alan Alda was a bankable name for a decade. After M*A*S*H's unprecedented ratings, Alda starred in all sorts of movies, and wrote and directed most of them, too. After a string of success, though, he hit a dud with Sweet Liberty.

"Unfortunately, it was too inside. Not that many people have had that experience," said Alda. At the time, he was looking back on the flop in preparation for the release of his next film and spoke to the Sioux City Journal about both.

"People don't sit around saying, 'What do you want to see tonight?' 'Hey, there's a movie about a guy who wrote a history book. Let's go see that.'" While Sweet Liberty might not have been everybody's idea of a hot Friday night date, the movie undeniably has its charms. For his part, Alda was mostly unfettered by its tinier box office draw. 

"It was a shock, but actually, it was good for me to get back into the real world. Nobody gets an unbroken string of successes. My god, think of Katherine Hepburn's career and what it must have been like for her to go through that period when she was called box office poison.

"Look at Orson Welles. He was called the genius of film and then he didn't work. When you think of that, I'm really lucky that I can make one at a time like this," said Alda. Then, he paused and flashed his trademark smile. "I feel great."

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5 Comments

WGH 19 days ago
This guy always was full of himself.

Never once gives credit to his father, Robert Alda. Having a daddy in the business makes it much easier to get into the business.
Runeshaper 19 days ago
Glad Alda was able to come back!
15inchBlackandWhite 19 days ago
I actually kind of liked Sweet Liberty, but yes, it bombed at the box office. When history professor Alda signs on as a technical advisor to turn his novel about the American Revolution into a movie, and the Canadian director shows up wearing his Toronto Blue Jays cap, you know things are not going to go well.
I still remember Sweet Liberty, but not especially for Alda. It had Michelle Pfeiffer in the first role that I saw her in the daytime (after Into the Night and Ladyhawke where all her scenes were at night), Michael Caine teaching the rest of the cast bawdy British drinking songs, and the *next* to last movie in the 75-year career of Lillian Gish.
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