Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Ten Biggest Stars of Classical Hollywood Relay Race


Well, John over at Hitchcock's World must be a machine, because he's been churning out blogathon after blogathon lately, and now he's added an interesting Relay Race to the mix.  This one follows the same formula as the one's we've all seen circling the web (and been awaiting our turn to participate in), but this one deals with the actors and actresses who started the whole Hollywood era!  

Yup, the only requirement here is that the actors or actresses included had to have had their heyday (or at least their start) during that classical period of 1930-1960, and what a bounty of riches is to be found there!

So far we've had the participation of Hitchcock's World (obviously), Dell on Movies and The Cinematic Spectacle.  Josh has been so kind as to lend to baton to me, and I'm totally running with this one, because I instantly knew who I was going to add, and who I was going to remove.

Let's do this!


First, let's rundown the current master list:











First, this is an extremely respectable list already.  Even those who have been sacrificed already (Lorre and Peck) were arguably very worthy of this list (I love Lorre's shtick, but find Peck to be a usual bore).  Still, this is all about a matter of personal taste, and so it was easy for me to pinpoint two of these inclusions that I wanted to exclude; Henry Fonda and John Wayne.  I've never connected to either of those two actors, and I've certainly tried.  Cagney, Bergman and Welles are a trifecta of NOBODY BETTER EVER REMOVE THEM, and the rest are all admirable and extremely worthy of this list, but those two just don't strike me the same way that they strike others.  Fonda is often vacant and dull, and Wayne had one trick, and I never warmed up to that trick.

But, for the love of handful of performances that rose above, I've decided to keep Fonda and oust Wayne!

But who will take his place?


Yeah, this was such an easy choice for me.  I've been exploring this man's filmography over the past few months, and while I already loved a few key performances, he's only gotten richer and richer in my eyes.  His range is impeccable.  Sure, he had that tough as nails, sinister thing down pat, but he was so much deeper than that.  He didn't get his acting start until 1950, but from that point forward he was a force to be reckoned with.  His brotherly convictions in On the Waterfront, his searing intensity in The Harder They Fall, the depth of character in The Pawnbroker and Across the Bridge.  Even his Oscar win (which is often contested) is such a brilliant turn (and so layered), and well into his old age he was still churning out marvelous performances.  Just look at his little seen turn in The Chosen; probably the most intimate performance of his career.

So there you have it!  I'm passing to baton over to my buddy Alex over at And So It Begins...  He always has such interesting insight on so many cinematic things, and I have a feeling he'll come up with something great here!

10 comments:

  1. Wow, I'll confess I did not expect to see Rod Steiger pop up here. He seems like a worthy choice but I guess I just assumed him to be a lot more obscure than the others.

    It probably also doesn't help that the performance that always comes to mind when I hear the name is his role of Juan Miranda in Duck, You Sucker (which came out in 1971).

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    1. Steiger would, in a heartbeat, make my top five greatest actors of all time. His range, and the impact he made in the 50's/60's, is nearly unmatched. Such depth of character development and some of the best performances of any actor I've ever seen. With each film, my love for him grows richer.

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    2. I will also confess was a bit surprised about your Henry Fonda remarks. I can sort of understand Wayne (though I'll confess I do kinda enjoy his one trick) but Fonda is not one I normally hear criticized. I thought he was pretty good in Twelve Angry Men and he made a very intimidating villain in Once Upon a Time in the West.

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    3. I've coined the phrase "I'm not fond of Fonda" many years ago, and I used it for the whole clan (Henry, Jane, Peter) because overall I just find them all so overrated and dull. They all have their moments (I really loved Henry in Grapes of Wrath, where his drawn out delivery is an asset, and Jane's FIRST Oscar win is brilliant) but overall I just don't get them.

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  2. Awesome man, thanks so much for passing it on to me. Definitely a tough decision to make here.

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    1. As long as you leave the trifecta of awesome and the newly crowned king (la'Steiger) alone and you'll get no complaints from me ;-)

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  3. Wonderful choice! Steiger is kind of an under-the-radar pick, but he totally deserves to be here. I can't argue with cutting Wayne either. I almost cut him, actually.

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    1. Yeah, it's sad how little people really think of Steiger. Like, most merely think of him as that guy who stole Paul Newman's Oscar...but he was so much more than that.

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  4. Interesting choice you made but I LOVE John Wayne. I get him all the way even if he played Genghis Khan. The Quiet Man, The Searchers, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, True Grit and The Shootist shows more in certain scenes than other actors can perform throughout the entire film. When his character sees his brother's home on fire in the Searchers, the pain across his face speaks volumes. I could not stand Jeff Bridges rendition of Rooster. His voice made me recall lee Majors in a dreadful TV Show where he played some drunken side kick and had that same gravelly voice. I would get rid of Fonda. I liked him in some films but his voice is grating and irritating and flat. I would always think he would be criticising me in some way. I saw him in The Lady Eve and even the Divine Barbara could not instill passion in him. He was at his best in the Cheyenne Social Club and in Once Upon A Time In The West. I will also have to give it to him for 12 Angry Men one of my personal favs. If I placed Rod Steiger's acting along side of Fonda's I would have to pick Steiger.

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    1. I'd place Steiger over everyone on this master list, sans Bergman.

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