John Cusack has been in 50 films so far, and out of these, he tells the Guardian‘s Ryan Gilbey, ten have been “good.” I would say it’s more like twelve — The Sure Thing, Eight Men Out, Say Anything, The Grifters, Bullets Over Broadway, Grosse Pointe Blank, Con Air, The Thin Red Line, Being John Malkovich, High Fidelity, 1408 and Grace is Gone. (I haven’t seen Martian Child, but isn’t that supposed to be reasonably decent as well? Maybe not.)
John Cusack, Kirk Douglas
On top of which Max, Identity and Pushing Tin weren’t half bad also, and Cusack had a tiny part in Broadcast News also. So let’s make it 15 or 16. To be genuinely or somewhat proud with slightly less than a third of the films you’ve made over the last 24 years is, I think, a pretty good track record.
Put in perspective, this is a better percentage than Kirk Douglas managed to rack up over the course of his 89-film career.
Douglas said almost the exact same thing to me in a chat we had in ’82 — “I’ve made a lot of crap but I’ve made a pretty fair number of good ones also, and that ain’t bad.” By my count, Douglas made 17 films that are either good, very good or classic-level — Out of the Past, A Letter to Three Wives, Champion, Young Man With a Horn, The Glass Menagerie, Ace in the Hole, Detective Story, The Big Sky, The Bad and the Beautiful, Lust for Life, Paths of Glory, The Vikings (love that film!), The Devil’s Disciple, Spartacus, Two Weeks in Another Town, Lonely Are The Brave and Seven Days in May. And they were made over a 17 year run (’47 to ’64).
Cusack started earlier (he was 16 or 17 when he made Class) while Douglas’s career didn’t really get going until he was pushing 30, but Cusack is nonetheless batting about .300 while Douglas’s lifetime average is less than .200.
Until fifteen minutes ago I had never once analogized Cusack and Douglas. I don’t think anyone else has either, and I doubt if anyone ever will again. But they’ve both tried very hard (when at all possible) to be in films of quality, and they’ve done better than most in this respect.