Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): Say Hello to My Little Friends...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Say Hello to My Little Friends...

(This is a - very late - response to Dean Treadway's 20 Favorite Actors meme at filmicability. Also check out his post on Reds, which was incorrectly linked up on my year-end round-up.)

After weeks of delay, er, deliberation [by now it's been months!], I've finally tackled Dean Treadway's 20 actors challenge. This list feels even more arbitrary than the last; but for whatever reason, when the dust settled, this dozen and a half (plus two) were left standing. Those at the top were always destined to be there. Some others in the top ten surprised me, emerging triumphant from recent viewings to become new favorites (by "new" I mean new to me; both actors were at the peak in the 1930s). All in all, these are not necessarily the greatest actors of all time (though many of them are) but rather the ones I most enjoy watching. As with the previous list, I've included You Tube clips highlighting a favorite performance (not necessarily the favorite, but a favorite). If you are concerned with spoilers, you may want to avoid some of these. It is not a very diverse list - all old white guys (at least they're old by now - the five who are still alive, that is). Unlike the actress list, everyone is either British or American - with one exception (and even he worked in America for decades). The names and videos follow after the jump, in ascending order.


20. George C. Scott


19. Erich von Stroheim
(I've never seen The Great Gabbo, but I had to include this clip, even though in one sense Stroheim is a "supporting" character in it. Did he do the voice? I don't know. I hope so.)


18. Humphrey Bogart
(Originally a clip from High Sierra, which was unfortunately deleted from You Tube.)


17. Orson Welles


16. Jack Nicholson


15. Joe Pesci
(Maybe one-note, but what a fucking note!)


14. Vincent Price
(More for his 40s work than his horror classics which, believe it or not, I have seen few to none of.)


13. Charlie Chaplin


12. Buster Keaton
(For those of you wondering, I'm actually more a Chaplin guy, but when it comes to performance, I'll give Keaton the slight edge - yeah, I know, apples and oranges, but that kind of describes this whole exercise...)


11. Charles Laughton


10. John Wayne


9. Robert De Niro


8. Errol Flynn
(Included on the strength of a recent viewing of Captain Blood)


7. Wallace Beery
(Likewise, except in this case Dinner at Eight and especially the magnificent Champ)


6. John Garfield
(Another relatively recent addition to my canon - I just saw Force of Evil, The Postman Always Rings Twice, and Body and Soul in the past few months.)


5. James Stewart


4. Al Pacino
(His greatest performance, and pretty much a stylistic aberration, is the cold fish Michael Corleone. But I also love his flamboyant style, best demonstrated in the fantastically vulgar and vital Scarface. I debated over which clip to choose, but not all that long...)


3. Henry Fonda


2. James Cagney
(Could be #1, and is kind of my fall-back guy whenever anyone asks for a favorite actor, certainly he's my favorite actor with a singular persona; not that he wasn't diverse - see his musicals - but everyone knows what you're speaking of when you say "Cagney" - that grin with a gun in the rain.)


1. Marlon Brando
(Always, man, always...)

3 comments:

hokahey said...

Okay - you hooked me! Thought I'd just glance briefly. Even though I've seen that John Wayne scene countless times, I had to watch it again. Love Wayne's lines! And the telephone scene from It's a Wonderful Life - amazing! I will definitely return to this post. Great job!

MovieMan0283 said...

Glad you enjoyed it, hokahey. Due to the conditions of this post's creation, I wasn't able to watch many of these clips in their entirety - I just had to hope that they were as expected!

MovieMan0283 said...

Hey, that's not Von Stroheim! Argh, it's been fixed (as I said, conditions of creation, etc...)