Actresses and Actors
Posted 22 September 2012 - 08:06 PM
Just saw The Magnificent Ambersons (finally!) and I'm starting to wonder why I haven't seen more Anne Baxter movies. I saw The Razor's Edge earlier this year and these two movies are solidifying my need to see more. Her facial expressions and emotion can be just devastating... I may have to go back and see All About Eve (which I don't care for as much as most). Any other noteworthy Baxter movies? I have seen The Luck of the Irish, but that's just a crappy Tyrone Power movie.
Anyways, here are some favorites off the top of my head:
Ida Lupino (Stanwyck probably has better range, but Lupino's got a passion and intensity I find unmatchable)
Carole Lombard (Probably my favorite actress... comedy roles can always cheer me up whether it's Hands Across the Table or My Man Godfrey)
Barbara Stanwyck (Candidate for single most versatile actress ever)
Paulette Goddard (for Modern Times)
Gong Li (mostly for Story of Qiu Ju/Raise the Red Lantern/2046)
Sherilyn Fenn (I've only seen her in Twin Peaks, but yah)
Audrey Hepburn (90% of her inclusion is for Roman Holiday, however)
Loretta Young (Love is News)
Edward G. Robinson (not a fan of his Little Caesar type roles, but his work in Scarlet Street and Woman in the Window is genius)
Robert Mitchum (especially for Eddie Coyle)
Need to see more:
John Garfield, Van Heflin, Colleen Gray, James Mason.
Don't care for (or someone needs to convince me otherwise):
Rita Hayworth (still have to see Gilda. I couldn't stand her in Blood and Sand—Linda Darnell owns that movie—she's tolerable in You Were Never Lovelier and You'll Never Get Rich, and I don't even remember her in Only Angels Have Wings).
Gene Tierney... I love her movies, I just find she's too cold in them (that's probably what makes Leave Her to Heaven so good). I like her in Heaven Can Wait, but her performance in the remake of Love is News is like nails on a chalkboard.
John Wayne (The Searchers... maybe, but everything else just feels like a persona... I could be forgetting something).
Meryl Streep, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich (except for Scarlet Empress), Bette Davis, Kathryn Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, Charleton Heston, Richard Conte, Jack Nicholson, Robert de Niro, Marilyn Monroe.
Posted 22 September 2012 - 08:35 PM
You seem a little torn on Audrey Hepburn.
An interesting conversation to have would be to what degree sex appeal plays into choosing favorite actors of one's preferred gender. For example, do straight males find themselves drawn repeatedly to actresses they find unattractive? I'd doubt it. Similarly, do they find male actors they most wish to emulate to be their favorites? I suppose my theory would be that we tend to go for actors and actresses we either want to sleep with or be like, depending on preferences.
Posted 22 September 2012 - 11:12 PM
My favorite actors are Jimmy Stewart and Lee Marvin. After them it goes to Bogart, Cary Grant, William Powell, Robert Ryan, Mitchum, Holden, and a slew of others. Beyond the first handful, we'd have to break it down to tiers, really.
Posted 23 September 2012 - 01:21 AM
I suppose my theory would be that we tend to go for actors and actresses we either want to sleep with or be like, depending on preferences.
Do you find that the case for yourself? I certainly won't deny I find a lot of my favorite actresses very attractive. Sex appeal is kind of inevitable in the movies, because they so easily project our desires and wants—both physical and emotional. Movies (especially in Hollywood) are as much a business as they are an art-form. Attractive men and women, for better or worse, are likely to fair better; those without the looks will have a tougher time simply establishing a career unless they find a niche or are exceptionally talented. Even Stanwyck, who is probably less classically beautiful than most actresses, is still very attractive (Ball of Fire, Lady Eve); Hollywood is held to otherworldly standards. But I like to think looks aren't everything. For me, it's just as important (or so I like to think) to see a smart performer... where I get the impression of a brain ticking behind the facade. For me, Lupino or Lombard fit the bill of being extremely clever actresses. Yes, they are beautiful, but I feel they aren't as prone to the deer-in-the-headlights impression I get from Rita Hayworth. This of course gets rather touchy-feely and ultimately, I think it's difficult to convince someone that they should or should not like a particular actor.
Another problem with even defining favorite actors or listing them like I did is so much depends on the quality of the film. The trouble is actors have, for the most part, very little control over the picture (and often times even their own performance). Slogging through an actor's filmography is much less formative or consistent than exploring by director (or writer, even). I've seen so many bad Tyrone Power movies I sometimes wonder whether I can justify him among my favorites.
Hm, I was probably too harsh on Richard Conte. I just saw The Big Combo actually and I think he was brilliant, terrifying and charismatic. I suppose I was focusing on House of Strangers, Whirlpool and The Brothers Rico, which probably aren't the best representatives of his work. I like his performance in Thieves' Highway a ton, but I wonder how much of that is thanks to Dassin and the type of characters he himself gravitated towards (charismatic outsiders attempting to defy societal norms).
I wonder, too, if it's even appropriate to talk about actors and actresses in terms of favorites because their careers are usually more uneven than a director. Part of me thinks it's more appropriate to take performances on a case-by-case basis. So with Audrey Hepburn, I'm enamored by the sweet charm in Roman Holiday, but I often find her on auto-pilot in other movies. Too often, I get the impression she simply defaults to the role of Amicable-gamine-wearing-fancy-Givenchy-clothing. Granted, I still have to see Two for the Road.
Posted 24 September 2012 - 08:22 PM
Attractiveness, too, can obviously go beyond looks. One might be attracted to something else about an actor or actress, and I think Stanwyck is a pretty good example of this. She wasn't Hedy Lamarr in the looks department but that almost registers as a vulnerability of sorts which can add to the appeal. So whereas there's often a strength and intelligence to her characters, it's perhaps easier to develop sympathy for her because she didn't possess that classical beauty. And so on.
Have you seen Funny Face?
Conte's good in Cry of the City (opposite one of my least favorite performers - Victor Mature). He did need the right role to shine, but was effective playing either a hero or a villain.
On your other point, about actors only controlling so much, I'd agree to an extent but not entirely. Power was stuck at Fox. I don't know the particulars about his situation but I've never been a big fan of the Fox A-pictures of that era. They seem stodgy. On the other hand, there are plenty of actors who radiated almost regardless of the film. You'll find turkeys in most any star's career, but the presence alone of those like Grant or Stewart or Cagney could elevate the project single-handedly. Later, McQueen and Newman both had similar power, particularly since they tended to work with directors who maybe weren't the most talented or artistic guys.
Posted 25 September 2012 - 11:02 PM
Have you seen Funny Face?
Oh yeah, I forgot about that. That's probably her second best performance. I think my main problem with her work in Sabrina, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and even Charade is I feel she tries too hard to put on that "Audrey Hepburn" persona. Her performance in Roman Holiday has a spontaneity—a kind of awkward freshness—that I find lacking in later roles; it's probably because it's her first role—that lightning in the bottle. I like Funny Face and while I feel she's definitely got a more genuine spunk there, it ultimately seems, to me at least, that she's putting on that posh-gamine facade.
Posted 01 October 2012 - 06:32 PM
Tony Leung Chiu-Wai
I found this surprisingly difficult to do and I think most of the more current actors are based more on a performance or two instead of something more wide-ranging. For instance, if Ida Lupino is in a movie, I'm pretty sure I'll like her, but Nicole Kidman, maybe less so(especially after Just Go With It, goddamn). Tried to go out there a little bit and that's why I included someone like Val Kilmer, but then again, when I thought of him, I didn't think he was out of place. And then there's things like Bill Murray, who I enjoy immensely as a comedic actor, but don't think he fairs as well in more dramatic leading roles like Life Aquatic and Lost in Translation. I'll probably add more as I think about it.
On Catherine Deneuve:
I thought about her recently and how she is in movies and I don't know. I don't think she's a bad actress or anything and I like seeing her in things, but I have a hard time thinking she's great or anything. She just seems to kind of be there. I haven't seen Belle De Jour in a while. I've also never seen Repulsion so maybe that's preventing me from realizing her "greatness."
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