Warren Beatty is not an actor that I can say has fared especially well in my reviews so far. I did like him in Bonnie and Clyde, but in his other two nominated performances have been lacking in confidant characterizations. Here with Joe Pendleton Beatty technically has his least complicated, and in some ways least challenging character. This though may be the reason that Beatty actually gives one of his better performances here.
Pendleton does not require much from Beatty actually, just as it required little from Robert Montgomery although even less for Montgomery because of the way the plot basically rammed through as fast as possible. Beatty is given a little more time to develop Pendleton but in the end Joe Pendleton is just an average decent guy who wants to do the right thing, as well as achieve his life dream in this case be the quarterback for a football team in the Super Bowl.
What is required of Beatty as Pendleton is just to give a charming, nicely handled performance, and well Beatty most certianly does do that. He is not all that complex of a character, and Beatty knows that making it so he just focuses on giving a charismatic romantic lead performance. Beatty honestly does give one too, he never tries to make Joe Pendleton what he is but what he is is nice enough to watch due to Beatty.
When Beatty needs to be romantic he is well enough, although I won't say the romance in this film is amazing by any means since both characters are rather simple but it still works at being just a nice romance. Julie Christie and Beatty are not the greatest of on screen couples but what they do together is properly sweet, and it certianly works well enough for the film.
Beatty, although does not do a great deal as Pendleton what he does do is enjoyable enough. He is funny when he needs to be particularly in his reactions to his rather bizarre situation. He certainly is charming, and is just an easy person to watch through every moment, and the entire strange journey of Joe Pendleton. What Beatty does here is not the greatest characterization ever seen on film, but it is an entirely likable performance, and exactly as it should be.