MCM: Christian Bale

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How does Kendra like ’em? Tall, dark, and handsome. So it’s saying something that I make an exception to my thing for dark-haired men and include Christian Bale among the list of men-I-stare-lustfully-at. It helps that he was SO DAMN CUTE in one of my favorite historical movies, Little Women (1994), and that I still keel over when I watch him dance in Swing Kids (1993). He’s also got that slightly gawky thing that makes me want to comb his hair and check that his socks match. And, honestly, he’s so damned talented that it makes up for his blond/dirty blond hair color (yes, I have very specific tastes!).

Let’s take a wander through Mr. Bale’s quite extensive oeuvre of period films and fan ourselves a bit, shall we?

 

Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna (1986)

This shmaltzy biopic of Anna Anderson, the woman who claimed to be Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia in the 1920s-30s, was PIVOTAL in my young life, and I WILL be doing a detailed review on it soon. In the meantime, please to enjoy a very young Bale as Grand Duke Alexei, heir to the throne of Russia just before/during the Russian Revolution:

Anastasia- The Mystery of Anna (1986)

Okay, he’s far too young to lust over…

Anastasia- The Mystery of Anna (1986)

But he’s pretty darn cute!

 

Empire of the Sun (1987)

Bale’s first real chance to show his acting chops, and man did he have them, even when he was this young, as an English boy in World War II Japan.

1987 Empire of the Sun

I get tingles just seeing this pic!

1987 Empire of the Sun

It’s a really moving film — see it if you haven’t!

 

Henry V (1989)

Yes, apparently Bale has a bit part in Branagh‘s film as “Robin the Luggage-Boy”:

1989 Henry V

Cleary things don’t end well.

 

Treasure Island (1990)

A TV movie version of the famous Robert Louis Stevenson novel:

1990 Treasure Island

Still too young, but still too cute!

1990 Treasure Island

I appreciate a boy who can rock a tricorn.

 

Newsies (1992)

The film that launched many a crush, or so I’m told — I still haven’t seen it! It’s a musical based on the New York City newsboy strike of 1899.

1992 Newsies

LOOK AT THAT SMILE

1992 Newsies

I think he’s standing up to The Man!

 

Swing Kids (1993)

Where *I* fell in love with Mr. Bale — he’s a German teenager during the Nazi years who rebels through swing dance, and he’s ALL SWAGGER.

Swing Kids (1993)

Oh god, the jaunty hat…

He OWNS the nightclub!

Swing Kids (1993)

Ok so he doesn’t end well…

If you haven’t seen the film, or just haven’t seen it in a while, please to enjoy Bale and Robert Sean Leonard dancing their ASSES off:

 

Royal Deceit (1994)

A Viking-y version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

1994 Royal Deceit

Oh the nubby linen… But hey, Kate Beckinsale is in it!

 

Little Women (1994)

1000% confirming my crush as Laurie, THE BEST (faux) BROTHER AND BOYFRIEND EVER in this classic adaptation of the Louisa May Alcott novel.

SO CUTE IN A CRAVAT AND FLOPSY HAIR!

1994 Little Women

So in love with the March family!

1994 Little Women

Fuck feminism, Jo, SAY YES! (Especially when the alternative is an old German teacher — if you’re going to get married at all, Laurie is your guy!)

1994 Little Women

Thank god Amy grows up to be semi-fabulous, because even though Laurie SHOULD HAVE ENDED UP WITH JO, I can live with this pairing. But I’m not happy about it.

 

The Portrait of a Lady (1996)

Another chance for Bale to yearn and glower, as the English suitor of Nicole Kidman’s repressed step-daughter in this Henry James adaptation.

1996 The Portrait of a Lady

SO POUTY.

1996 The Portrait of a Lady

SO FOILED-BY-EMOTIONALLY-ABUSIVE-FATHERS!

 

The Secret Agent (1996)

Apparently this film exists? Spying in late 19th-century London. I have no idea.

The Secret Agent (1996)

I got nothing!

 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999)

Bale plays Demetrius in this Shakespeare adaptation. I admit to not having seen it!

1999 A Midsummer Night's Dream

Whatever, he looks good in his bowtie/cravat-thingie.

1999 A Midsummer Night's Dream

And he gets his kit off!

 

Mary, Mother of Jesus (1999)

Bale plays Jesus in a TV movie, which gives me the heebie jeebies, but at least he looks good!

1999 Mary, Mother of Jesus

ROWR.

 

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (2001)

I REFUSE to see this shmaltzy take on a love story set in WWII Greece because the idea of Nicolas Cage and shmaltz makes me throw up in my mouth. But I will appreciate a shirtless Bale:

2001 Captain Corelli's Mandolin

I also like the unbuttoned trousers.

 

The New World (2005)

A stunningly great movie about the first colony at Jamestown. Bale plays John Rolfe, husband of Pocahontas.

2001 The New World

That’s a niiiiiice doublet!

2001 The New World

He’s REALLY GOOD at smizing!

 

The Prestige (2006)

Dueling magicians in the late 19th century.

2006 The Prestige

shrug

2006 The Prestige

OK so I do like the curly mustachios!

 

3:10 to Yuma (2007)

Remake of a classic Western. Pass!

2007 3:10 to Yuma

I wouldn’t mind Bale protecting my homestead, of course…

 

Public Enemies (2009)

Gangsters in 1930s Chicago, I think Bale plays a federal agent?

2009 Public Enemies

I’m just enjoying those cheekbones…

2009 Public Enemies

And a man who can rock a fedora!

 

The Flowers of War (2011)

Getting beardy in this story set during the 1937 Japanese invasion of Nanking, China.

2011 The Flowers of War

He’s posing as a priest, apparently.

2011 The Flowers of War

Hence the beard?

 

Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)

Questionable casting, ethnicity-wise, with Bale playing Moses in the biblical story.

2014 Exodus- Gods and Kings

He certainly looks badass.

2014 Exodus- Gods and Kings

And I’m not gonna say no to a bit of guyliner!

 

What’s Next?

The Promise (2017)

According to IMDB: “Set during the last days of the Ottoman Empire, The Promise follows a love triangle between Michael, a brilliant medical student; the beautiful and sophisticated Ana; and Chris, a renowned American journalist based in Paris.” Bale plays the journalist, Chris.

2017 The Promise

I wouldn’t mind a little trim on the goatee…

 

Hostiles (2017)

IMDB says, “In 1892, a legendary Army captain reluctantly agrees to escort a Cheyenne chief and his family through dangerous territory.”

Hostiles (2017)

Dirty Western, I’ll skip it.

 

What’s your favorite historical costume film featuring Christan Bale?

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About the author

Kendra

Website

Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

40 Responses

  1. thedementedfairy

    Leaves me cold I’m afraid- he’s got one of those squinty faces with mumbly voice that makes me think he’s constipated. Meh. You can have him…

    Reply
  2. Catherine

    I love Swing Kids! But I’ll admit I watched it for Robert Sean Leonard, that man had cheekbones that could cut glass.

    Reply
  3. Susan Pola

    Gosh. Maybe Empire of the Sun and Little Women. Laurie and Amy have chemistry. Jo and Laurie didn’t. Maybe it was the fact that Laurie wasn’t Jo’s intellectual equal. Amy was.

    Reply
      • Susan Pola

        You said it. But I would have said they were intellectually challenged. They had other interests. Amy Art and Fashion. Laurie…

        Reply
    • Cartlin

      I read all the books in the series, and I never got the impression that Laurie was ever truly happy with Amy. I honestly believe that Laurie married Amy, because she was the closest he believed he could get to marrying Jo.

      I also don’t know why Jo and Laurie had to be intellectual equals to have a happy marriage. They were best friends in the first place, so obviously they had things in common.If anything, the foundation of friendship would have made their marriage all the better. Nor do I think that Laurie was that dim either, unlike Amy, who was vain, superficial, and spoiled, even as an adult.

      Reply
  4. Stephani

    I have to admit to not having seen the majority of these flicks. I love Midsummer Night’s Dream though. He’s good in it.
    I do really like The Prestige though.
    I think I once caught the Yuma movie halfway through on tv and felt pretty meh about it.
    I like Bale well enough, he’s hot and all, but his rumored a-holishness is kind of a turnoff.

    Reply
  5. SpecialSundae

    My favourite Laurie ever and I still think he could have made a better Antonio Corelli than Cage (but then so could the puppets from the Dolmio ads!).

    Reply
  6. Adina

    The Flowers of War is hands down my favourite movie. Zhang Yimou knows how to made a visually stunning film that doesn’t lose sight of the actors in it.

    Reply
  7. LoGirLoo

    Swing Kids, Little Women, The New World, The Prestige…all great (and Midsummer Night’s Dream mostly is, I just can’t stand Callista Flockhart), but I’m a Newsies girl first and always.

    Reply
  8. Karen K.

    The Prestige, hands down. Victorian magicians with Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, AND a cameo by David Bowie? YES PLEASE. One of my favorites!

    Reply
  9. Cartlin

    You have to watch Newsies! It really is fabulous, as is his singing in it! You can’t be a Christian Bale fan, and not have heard him singing Santa Fe!

    Not to mention, you’ll have another crush once it’s over. “Never fear, Brooklyn’s here!” (the Brooklyn boys all have CANES…I never knew seeing a newsboy with a cane could be so hot.)

    Reply
    • LoGirLoo

      Oh, Brooklyn! More than half a lifetime after I first fell in love with him, I still go to goo over Spot Conlon. Those eyes! That smirk! That swagger!

      Reply
  10. Maria

    I like Christian Bale but for some reason I just feel meh towards most of these movies – I did love him in Little Women and I always, always had problems with the Jo/Laurie relationship because I thought that Jo was very short sighted when it came to him. I too believe he only married Amy because he was desperate to be a part of the March family and he wanted to remain close to Jo.

    Reply
  11. sara lehmann (@gloredhel)

    I have seen The Secret Agent, due to my obsession with Eddie Izzard. I also adore Bob Hoskins, but…

    DO NOT WATCH THE SECRET AGENT. It may be the most depressing film I’ve ever watched. Bale plays Bob Hoskins’ developmentally disabled brother-in-law. It does not end well.

    Reply
  12. ladylavinia1932

    I first saw Christian Bale in “EMPIRE OF THE SUN”. I was sooo impressed by his talent. Who ever heard of a 13-14 year-old carrying a Spielberg epic on his own? And he did it.

    “PUBLIC ENEMIES” and “LITTLE WOMEN” are two of my favorite choices featured in this post. Although I was really impressed by his performance in “AMERICAN HUSTLE”, his physical appearance would not have appealed to anyone and the movie was set in the late 1970s.

    Reply
  13. Teresa

    I see that “Exodus: Gods and Kings” (which is reputed to be even worse than the usual movie set in ancient Egypt) has gone in for the nemes headdress on soldiers. Clunky examples of the nemes, but still–it’s a royal headdress! Only one (or two, in the case of a coregency) person gets to wear it.

    And why is Mr. Bale wearing a pseudo-medieval outfit (or is it pseudo-Roman?) in ca. 1250 BCE? Are those leather boots I see? And golden greaves on the priest on our left? Inquiring minds want to know.

    Reply
  14. Charity

    One of my girl friends went through a Bale phase a few years ago. I never really got into him — I don’t mind him, and think he makes a great Batman, but I don’t seek him out, either.

    That being said — my first reaction to the first two films listed:

    OH MY GOSH LOOK HOW TINY HE WAS.

    Ahem.

    Newsies was a “thing” at a sleepover I went to once; the house was divided between Jack (Bale) fans and Spot (dark-haired Brooklyn kid) fans. I didn’t go for Jack (nor many blondes, point of fact). ;)

    I also preferred Professor Bhaer to Laurie. My bad. (Is it because I like Gabriel Byrnes or because the professor engaged Jo in the sorts of ‘deeper conversations’ I like to have, or is it just my older man complex kicking in again? It’s probably the latter.)

    Ugh, his Jesus movie was HORRIBLE. I think I watched 20 minutes of it. :P

    Gotta say it, though it may get me hanged: I died of boredom watching “The New World.” I saw it in a theater with two other people and walking out, the woman ahead of me said, “I thought that would NEVER END.” I felt the same. It’s the only movie I was ever tempted to walk out of midway through. And yet, it’s had what, three Blu Ray releases while I’m still pining for “Emma” (1996)?

    The world. It isn’t fair.

    I loved “3:10 to Yuma,” though. Great movie about honor. Plus, Russell Crowe was a scoundrel with a heart and I like that sort of thing…

    Reply
  15. ladyaquanine73551

    Didn’t he also play Jesus in “Passion of the Christ?” Of course, I can understand why you wouldn’t include that one. None of you likes Mel Gibson, and frankly, the film was way too bloody even for me. I kinda passed on it when it was released in theaters all those years ago.

    I think he was also in an interesting “talk-across-time” story called “Frequency,” where somehow, through talking through his dad’s old ham radio in the 90s or early 2000s, he talks to his actual father, still alive in the 60s, at the same time!

    He also played Batman in the new movies, though I’m not a big fan of dark, depressing versions of Batman.

    I had no idea he was in “Little Women!” I saw that in theaters ages ago, though back then, he wasn’t well-known as an actor.

    Many of these movies, I’ve never even heard of, or I did hear about them, but I didn’t watch (with good reason).

    Reply
  16. Erica

    As a child, Christian Bale as Laurie in Little Women was one of my first period film boyfriends in my head.

    Reply
  17. Frannie Germeshausen

    I guess I need to see New World. Family lore has us descended from Pocahontas.

    Reply
  18. lmmerrill

    Loved him in Empire of the Sun and Little Women. He was good as the luggage boy in Henry V – small part in a big cast. Kenneth Branagh carried him in a severe minute long-shot across the battlefield after he was killed. No dialogue, just music and the horror of war. Haven’t enjoyed or haven’t seen any of the other movies.

    Reply
  19. Jamie

    This has made my Monday. I’ve been a fan of his since Little Women (*swoon*) and he’s always good even if the movie isn’t.

    Reply
  20. Sonya Heaney

    I loved that Midsummer Night’s Dream movie (was it not filmed almost entirely in Tuscany?). Mind you, I haven’t seen it for years, and I’m not entirely sure how it holds up now. I was always involved in Dream productions, so I was a bit biased back then.

    I get the love for Jo/Laurie, but I’ve also never felt the need to demonise Amy, and am happy with how that turns out. But the Jo and the German romance gives me the same vibes as the Winslet/Rickman Sense and Sensibility – a tad creepy…

    Reply
  21. Kathy

    Lord, he was a beautiful child. The New World was all Colin for me. Guess I’ll have to watch again.

    Reply
  22. totchipanda

    When my mum asked if I wanted to see the Newsies play, I asked her if she wanted a one-woman rendition of it. I still have the cassette tape of the soundtrack! It remains one of my fave movies to this day :D I saw the play last summer and told one of the staffers how much I had LOVED the movie, and she said that she had heard that a lot (but hadn’t seen it). Oh the bad fanfic I wrote as a young teen. I saw Little Women just because of Bale and was always so mad that Jo turned him down (now that I’m a lot older, I can appreciate the old doctor but a part of me will always be wailing for Laurie!)

    I’ve watched more than one movie just for Christian Bale that I just didn’t care for otherwise… He’s on the Future Husband list ;)

    Reply
    • Emily

      I have ALSO watched more than one movie just for CB–Exodus and The New World being two that I never would’ve watched otherwise. Sigh. Love him.

      Reply

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