Sunday, July 24, 2005

Ten Actors I Love 

Okay, it's not always about politics. Inspired by the bonus materiel for Casablanca, here are ten actors I'll watch in anything, in no particular order...
  1. Lauren Bacall. This is one classy, ballsy lady, always bigger than life. Hard to believe she made her film debut at nineteen, but nice to know that she's still alive and kicking.

  2. Raquel Welch. A woman that all our current bimbos should learn from, because, while she had the looks, she also had the talent. And presumably still has it, although she's been wise in keeping herself rare. In her heyday, no one could hold a candle to her onscreen.

  3. Sophia Loren. I think the term MILF was invented with her in mind. And the phrase GILF will pop up soon. Again, a sexy woman who has talent, someone I could watch watching paint dry.

  4. Karen Black. She was flavor of the month in the 70s, and then mostly vanished, although she's popped up in various low-budget flicks since then (q.v. the under-rated Gypsy 83).

  5. Mae West. This woman was a goddess. She even made her last film, Sextette, an otherwise unwatchable piece of dreck, into gold. She and Raquel Welch are two of the three reasons that Myra Breckenridge is one of my guilty pleasures. And the films she made in the 30s are priceless.

  6. Humphrey Bogart. He actually started out as a bad-guy character actor, and it was Casablanca that turned him into a leading man. But any Bogart film I've ever seen, no matter how bad otherwise, was incendiary when he was onscreen.

  7. Claude Rains. In his first major role, 1933s The Invisible Man, Rains was mostly unseen, but it was his voice that made his character and was so creepy. I still shudder when I remember the scene in which he sent a rival to his death over a cliff in a fiery car crash. But, beyond that, Rains was one of the premiere film villains from the 30s through the 50s. And he was always a villain that we hated and hissed, but understood.

  8. Buster Keaton. Okay, in silent fan land, there are but three: Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd. And, of those three, I cast my vote for Keaton. Why? Because Lloyd always played his characters a bit too prissy and effete, while Chaplin played them a bit too nasty. In contrast, Keaton really was everyman, and he was brilliant. On top of all that, he was technically brilliant. He made a film in 1921, when he was only 26, The Playhouse, that was a technical tour de force -- he played almost every character in the film, and had a twin love-interest played by one actress, and did it all without advantage of anything even resembling modern CGI tricks. Watching this short film and remembering when it was made, all I can ever think is... "Whoa. How the hell did he do that?" And Keaton's silent career was nothing but. He made Chaplin and Lloyd look like amateurs.

  9. John Huston. Again, bigger than life comes to mind. Huston could read the phone book and be entertaining as hell. In fact, in that "Who would you invite to a dinner party" game, he's high on the list. The man was just fun onscreen, no matter who or what he was playing. And he gave us so many memorable moments. Along with Raquel Welch and Mae West, he made Myra Breckenridge watchable; he also lent his talents to another film classic, Winter Kills. And, of course, forget it Jake, it's Chinatown. And, like the others, Huston is just fun to watch. Period.

  10. W.C. Fields. This man single-handedly brought surrealism to mainstream movies, and while he's permanently linked to Mae West via a film or two they did together, his career was so much more. And, while they may not have admitted it, he's had a big influence on so many modern actors. Any time that Billy Bob Thornton is nasty to a kid in a modern film, W.C.'s fingerprints are all over it. Any time drunkeness or stonedness are glorified in film now, thank the great god W.C.. This man had a sense of humor and a sense of anarchy, and he died too young. But watch any of his features from the 30s, and you'll boggle, thinking they must have been made much, much later. Sadly, he made his last film in 1941, a year before Bogart impressed the world with Casablanca. But every film he made is worth re-watching now, for his anarchic spirit.

Okay, I'm sure there are more, but those are the people I can think of at the moment. Any one of them, I'd love watching just reading their shopping list. Which is a lot more than I can say of most famous actors nowadays.

Sad, isn't it?

Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?