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Riding the Gere-Stick to the Worst Poem in History! – Episode 112

In this episode, Dara wrestles with the conundrum that is Richard Gere. Self-satisfied narcissus or instinctive, id-driven sex animal? Is he a good actor? Is he just a fantasy figure beloved of Generation X moviegoers? Is he forever the man who rescued Julia Roberts from the streets? Dara examines Gere’s legacy through some of his most memorable performances and discusses in detail Breathless, the bizarre 1983 Hollywood remake of Godard’s A Bout de Souffle with an uncontainable turn from Gere at his most overtly sexual.

But a person’s entire career can be summed up, and even dismissed, in a single line of criticism, and Dara has never been able to shake a particularly astute sketch of Gere by the great film writer David Thomson when discussing Pretty Woman (1990), the Pygmalionesque story of Julia Roberts’s hooker with a heart of gold being shown the way to respectability by Gere’s wealthy playboy. Thomson brilliantly identifies something at the heart of the actor’s persona that is more than mere smugness. In a Vanity Fair profile from the same year, Gere is gently skewered by an ex-girlfriend whose insight into actors Dara thinks is spot on.

Spurred by the use of the word ‘pasha’ by Thomson, Dara goes in search of pasha-centric poetry. While far from successful, two poems are considered worth sharing, and Dara even dares to read one of them in a barely tolerable Scottish accent – but he hopes the accent might compensate in some way for the awfulness of the poem. The piece in question – The Tay Bridge Disaster by William McGonagall – is often cited as the worst poem ever written. Listen here and make up your own mind!

Time is also found to discuss The Bard of the Yukon, Paul Newman’s uneasy relationship with his good looks, and Dara’s Julia Roberts agnosticism.

The worst poem ever written – https://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/poem/tay-bridge-disaster/

Richard Gere Vanity Fair profile (1990) – https://archive.vanityfair.com/article/1990/5/high-gere

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