Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Longtime Companions

At Nathaniel's behest, as an XY companion piece to this:

Chaplin • March, Penn, Rains • Cagney, Clift, Day-Lewis, Grant, Mason, Newman
Brandauer, Crowe, De Niro, Fiennes, Hackman, Hopkins, Kinski, Powell, Redgrave, Widmark

Honorable mentions to the androgynes, Swinton and Hepburn, and to Matthew Barney

Edged out, but in the Top 50: Astaire, Bogart, Brando, J.Bridges, Cheung, Cotten, Freeman, Giannini, E.Harris, D.Hoffman, P.S.Hoffman, Hurt, S.L.Jackson, Jannings, Josephson, Krauss, Laughton, Mastroianni, McCrea, Mitchum, Nicholson, Oldman, Pacino, Scofield, G.C.Scott, Stanton, Stewart, Trintignant, von Sydow, and Welles

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Blogger NATHANIEL R said...

I always love that you tier them like that.

and i love many of the men here.

March is the actor I'm most interested in learnign more about because of your continual devotion.

10:45 PM, August 25, 2009  
Blogger Andrew K. said...

NooooOOOOOOOOOoooooooooo when he noticed that Spencer Tracy was not loved...

but Ralph Fiennes and Daniel Day Lewis...

fine you're forgiven.

10:48 PM, August 25, 2009  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@#$%! Just remembered I forgot William Powell. That's a problem.

Admittedly, I find the whiteness, the Anglo-ness, and the relative recentness of this list sort of embarrassing, but I couldn't force myself to sub in Werner Krauss for Ralph Fiennes, etc., just to make a point. I'm sure I'm forgetting people, too, but I realize that my problem with actors&#151possibly because they get so much more work over the course of a career than their female counterparts&#151is that even the great ones have delivered enough wackadoo performances over time, or have descended into some long phases of hamminess or laziness, that it's hard to name people who are always fascinating, or who are consistent. I realize that Meryl and Tilda and Claudette and (Lord knows) Jessica have blown it from time to time, too, but a bad Jessica Lange performance is delicious and fascinating to me, while a bad De Niro or Pacino performance is, to me, just an annoyance or a big dead fish.

@Nathaniel: March certainly has his share of bunts and whiffs, but Merrily We Go to Hell, A Star Is Born, The Best Years of Our Lives, Executive Suite... really good for a really long time in a wide range of parts.

@EE: Tracy often, often, often fails to do it for me, though I do admire him when he's on: Woman of the Year, Adam's Rib, Judgment at Nuremberg... It's just that I can barely stand him when he's off, and I think he was profoundly indulged by that "less is more" trope, when I often just feel that Tracy's less is a palpable less. And let's not forget what a plump ham he could be. (And yep, I voted in your poll.)

Oh, and Charles Laughton! He'd probably just miss anyway, but I wish I hadn't forgotten him.

11:09 PM, August 25, 2009  
Blogger tim r said...

You've got several of my favourites on here -- Rains, Mason, Widmark, Hopkins, Day-Lewis, Pacino, Brandauer, March. I think I would need Piccoli, Mitchum, P.S.H., Leung, G.C.S., Bogarde, Brando either on there or quite a bit higher, and I reckon Denzel and Viggo might both sneak on lower down. I might have Edward James Olmos in the Stanton slot. But it's a pretty great list!

5:45 AM, August 26, 2009  
Blogger Dan Callahan said...

I always want to like Fredric March, and he is very fine in "Best Years" and "A Star is Born." But I can't forget the many times when he is dull/indifferent, as he is in "Anna Karenina," or outright bad, as he is in "Inherit the Wind," "The Barretts of Wimpole Street," and the Jekyll parts of his "Jekyll and Hyde."

Interesting to see Brandauer on your list--I like him, but can't think of many movies he's in aside from "Mephisto" and "Out of Africa."

Two key "RR" names I haven't seen thus far: Robert Ryan and Ralph Richardson.

And I understand criticism of Spencer Tracy, who has been overrated sometimes. But when he's on, as he is in, say, Cukor's "The Actress," there's no one better.

1:47 PM, August 26, 2009  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Tim: I need to investigate more Bogarde, for sure, and I haven't seen enough George C. Scott to push him higher. Olmos is an interesting pick. Leung I am almost officially tired of, but don't tell Nathaniel.

@Dan: I've only seen Brandauer in those two films and Tetro, and parts of Colonel Redl and Hanussen, but he's been electrifying every time. And since so few male actors exercise the kind of charisma that, for me, tides me through the inconsistencies in their careers, I basically approached this list with the question, "Whose name in the credits gets me in theater, or in line for the rental, fastest?" March and Brandauer easily do that, and usually with high reward (though Anthony Adverse is a good index of what bugs you about March, which I'm happy to grant). Say "Spencer Tracy," and I go, "Okay, but who else is in it, and what's his role?" I was doing better with him recently and then walked straight into Tortilla Flat. Egads.

3:05 PM, August 26, 2009  
Blogger Dan Callahan said...

You know, having just looked at Tracy's filmography, I noticed that his work really deteriorates in his MGM films of the 40's. I don't know if it was personal issues, boredom, etc. but he is "less is less" in those mid-forties movies particularly.

Kazan tried to direct him in "Sea of Grass," but he wouldn't accept direction, did only one take usually. A problem is that a lot of his best work at FOX in the early 30's is unavailable. "The Power and the Glory" is really impressive, in every sense.

Oh, and March is very good early on in "Laughter" and "Royal Family of Broadway." Loose and funny. "Anthony Adverse," unfortunately, doesn't have a moment of loose or funny for him, or interesting, for hours!

8:15 PM, August 26, 2009  
Anonymous Guy Lodge said...

Bogarde would certainly make the upper reaches of my list, too -- alongside Lemmon, Belmondo, Brando, Penn, Burton, Mastroianni, Sellers and (yes) De Niro. Not a very adventurous selection, I'm afraid, but sometimes the right people are lauded for the right reasons.

And if he carries on the way he's going, Mathieu Amalric will join them before long.

6:13 AM, August 27, 2009  

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