If you had to choose one actor who best defines the Hollywood Renaissance of the 1970s, it would be the versatile, charismatic Elliott Gould.
Thanks mostly to a career-defining role in Paul Mazursky’s 1969 comedy Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, Gould became one of American cinema’s most in-demand leading men at a time when Hollywood was redefining what exactly a leading man was. It was Robert Altman who launched Gould into the decade as the mischievous Trapper John McIntyre in M*A*S*H. Gould again worked with Altman three more times in the early part of the decade, including starring roles in The Long Goodbye and California Split. With an informal, rough-around-the-edges charm, the hirsute Gould straddled the line between everyman and New Hollywood chic. Not all of his appearances were box office sensations, but he holds the distinction of being the first Hollywood actor to star in an Ingmar Bergman film (The Touch). A closer look at his career reveals how Elliott Gould rode the highs and lows of American film with aplomb, making even the smallest roles entirely his own. This month, Lightbox salutes the inimitable Elliott Gould with eight classics from the decade that made him a star.
This series is supported by the Cinema and Media Studies program at the University of Pennsylvania. Special thanks to Harry Guerro and Jay Schwartz.