10 Brilliant Acting Performances Defined by One Look

I LOVE LOVE this idea from Brittani that I came across earlier this week that I had to take part.

“Sometimes a simple look an actor gives is nothing short of brilliant,”

I totally agree with her sentiment. Sometimes the quietest, most subtle look or gesture has the power to generate the most emotional response, no words necessary.

It made me think of some of those scenes and really, there are SO many examples that it’s tough to narrow it down to just 10. The fact that I remember these scenes despite the length of time that’s passed since I’ve seen it means they definitely left a big impression on me. In fact, from time to time I still look on youtube to watch that particular scene again. Ok so technically there are 11 here, as I paired up one of them, but I think it still count as one as it happens in the exact same scene where the two actors interact with each other. Anyway, here goes:

Christian Bale in Equilibrium

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I always have a fondness for this dystopian sci-fi thriller despite its flaws. Bale’s Preston came too late to save the woman he loves from being incinerated… and he had to watch her die right in front of him. Bale’s expression of utter despair just breaks my heart. It’s one of my favorite Bale performances from all the amazing work he’s done, even if the film itself is far from perfect.

Emily Blunt – Jane Austen Book Club

Blunt_JaneAustenBookClub

I LOVE miss Blunt and she adds so much gravitas and emotional complexity to her character of a French teacher going through an unhappy marriage. She’s just about to have a rendezvous at a motel with a hot, young student but something precludes her from taking another step. I don’t remember much about the entire film but I always remember this scene.

Toby Stephens – Jane Eyre (BBC – 2006)
Toby_JaneEyreI have to include at least one out of a plethora of Toby’s masterful scenes as Rochester. The no-wedding scene is definitely one of the most emotionally-charged. Rochester’s anguish is so palpable here when ‘bride in the attic’ secret’s been revealed. He was so close to finally be with the woman he loves, but in a single moment, that elusive happiness is snatched away again. As cheesy as it sounds, there’s such mesmerizing beauty in his look of pain and agony. It takes a real craftsmanship to bring such tortured soul persona so beautifully and Toby does it with aplomb.

Angela Bassett in Waiting To Exhale

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Fireman: Ma’am, were you aware that your car was on fire?
[Bernadine nods her head while smoking a cigarette]

Fireman: Ma’am, did you start this fire?
[she puffs smoke and plainly looks at him]

Fireman: You know, it’s against the law to burn anything except trash in your yard.

Bernadine: [flicks off ashes from her cigarette] It is trash.

Miss Bassett is simply awesome, period. It’s been over a decade since I saw this film but I never forget Bernadine’s rage and heartache when her husband leaves her. She’s crestfallen, but yet she never loses that bad-ass sensibility. Her look says it all, ‘Don’t mess with Bernadine.’

Russell Crowe in The Insider

Crowe_TheInsiderI’ve always believed that Crowe got robbed of his Oscar in this film. As fantastic as his portrayal of Maximus was, the way he completely disappeared into Jeffrey Wigand is nothing short of astounding. This scene at the hotel room is mesmerizing, powerful and heart-wrenching and Crowe only communicates with his body language. There’s a bit of a dream sequence here that was crafted masterfully by Michael Mann, but it’s Crowe’s stillness and inner tumult that you won’t soon forget.

Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years A Slave

Chiwetel_12YearsASlaveThis scene is one of the most haunting, which is saying something given how many heart-wrenching scenes there are in this film. At first Solomon didn’t join the other slaves singing Roll Jordan Roll, but somehow, halfway through the song, he started singing. His facial expression stirs up so much expression as I watched it. It’s as if he’d reached the lowest point of his life, losing all hope of ever escaping his fate as a slave… all the grief, desperation, anger and sense of helplessness is all there. Yet there is a glimmer of defiance in him, a flicker of hope still left in him that gets him through another day. Ejiofor deserved an Oscar win just for this scene alone.

Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday

Peck_TheHolidayThe finale remains one of the most beautiful and poignant film endings ever. And I think Peck’s facial expression conveys so much. The restrained tears in his eyes, the rigid way he’s standing, it takes so much out of Joe not to say how he feels about Ann. Yet his expression speaks louder than words could ever do.

Kate Winslet in Titanic

Winslet_TitanicIt’s been ages since I saw Titanic but for some reason, this subtle scene of Rose during dinner with her family and Cal still stands out to me. There’s this glazed look on her face, like she finally stops caring about her privileged life that feels more and more like a prison. “That fire is gonna burn out,” Jack tells her at one point and it’s as if it finally sinks in that he is right and she wants out.

Joaquin Phoenix in Gladiator

Joaquin_GladiatorThis is truly one of the greatest scenes in film history IMHO. There’s just so much going on in this scene on psychological and emotional level. Of course Crowe is simply astounding in his ‘Maximus Decimus Meridius’ monologue but one thing that always struck me is Commodus’ stunned reaction. His lips quiver, eyes wide open with shock and his whole body trembles with a combination of rage and fright. It’s like ‘WTF! How could you still be alive?’ He knew at that moment, everything he’s planned so carefully is in shambles. As Lucilla said, at that moment, a slave did become more powerful than the Emperor of Rome, and it’s all written in Commodus’ face.

James Cromwell & Kevin Spacey in L.A. Confidential

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Spacey_LAConfidential

There are certain phrases in movies that will forever be stuck in my head. “Rolo Tomasi” is one of them, and thanks to both Cromwell and Spacey for creating such an iconic and chilling scene. That’s the name Exley (Guy Pearce) gives the unknown murderer of his father just to give him a personality. “Have you a valediction, boyo?” Capt. Dudley Smith asked the dying Sgt. Jack Vincennes. It’s a powerful and totally unexpected response, and one he never thought would eventually lead to his own demise. Even nearing death, Jack still manages to deliver quite a blow to Dudley.


Well, what do you think of my picks? Please share your own picks of great acting defined by one look.

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MSPIFF14 Reviews: JOE & Brave Miss World documentary

MSPIFF_Reviews

JOE

Review by Josh P.

JOEmovieposterOften grim, Joe is well made and gripping, though, perhaps, not for the faint-hearted. In the film’s first scene, writers Larry Brown & Gary Hawkins and director David Gordon Green define Joe as a harsh drama. In it, fifteen-year-old Gary (Tye Sheridan) accosts his father, Wade (Gary Poulter), for being an abusive alcoholic. Gary’s soliloquy helps solidify the film’s identity, of course, as does Wade’s response, but Green’s camera angle is even more effective; it is an unchanging over-the-shoulder shot, one that shows us the back of Gary’s head and most of Wade’s face.

From this first image, we know that Gary is not in control, that he will have to fight for success. Joe promises to be about a child on the precipice, one whom the world ignores.

It delivers. When Gary meets Joe Ransom (Nicolas Cage), an ex-convict with a good heart but uncontrolled anger, the former convinces the latter to hire him and his father for laborious work as corporate tree killers. In his excitement, Gary runs home to tell his family he’s found work, but neither his mother nor father reciprocate his elation. Worse, Wade refuses to help Gary get groceries in town, only finally agreeing to join his son after lengthy conversation. Upon enlisting his father’s aid, Gary sees a stranger, Willie (Ronnie Gene Blevins), and asks for a ride. But Willie does not help. And neither does Wade, no matter what Willie says or does to his son.

Gary is too young and uninformed for such a life, but only Joe and Connie (Adriene Mishler) care. And only Joe helps. Helps so much, in fact, that he becomes Gary’s role model and surrogate father, his own emotional issues notwithstanding. Brown, Hawkins and Green’s plot, then, effectively adheres to theme: as Joe himself asks, more or less, how does society allow its children to be this disadvantaged? Why don’t people help them?

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It is an upsetting question, made all the more so because Green immerses in it. When Joe should be disturbing, the directoruses every filmmaking element to fuel the audience’s anxiety. Consider when Wade stalks a homeless man. We hear soft, beat-heavy music mixed with natural footstep sound editing, at the same time we see a wide-angle shot that frames both men. The shot is held so long, the walk so drawn out, that we dread the scene’s resolution. When Wade lights a cigarette, our dread turns to fear. It is only one example of Green’s directorial skill, but it is emblematic. Joe would not be half so effective without the director’s artistic touches.

A narrative that sufficiently develops most of its characters helps, as well. As do powerhouse performances from Nicolas Cage, Tye Sheridan and Gary Poulter. All three men are note-perfectly captivating. Ditto that for Joe’s occasional flights of humor, which lighten the mood just enough to make the film entertaining.

If still imperfect, mostly because Willie is poorly written. Why, really, does he hate Joe? Why he is so bent on revenge? Why does he freak out at Gary the first time they meet? Why, in other words, is he who he is? We can only begin to answer such questions, and none of our answers move beyond theories.

Despite this significant flaw, Joe accomplishes its objectives and merits a recommendation.

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Review by Josh

JJamesReviews


Brave Miss World

BraveMissWorldDocI’ve always been attracted to documentaries about social issues and this one immediately grabbed my attention. Linor Abargil seemed to have the world on her feet at 18. I mean she beat hundreds of contestants to win the Miss World title in 1998. But little did most of the world then knew that she was abducted, stabbed and raped in Milan by someone she trusted, her travel agent, just six weeks before she was crowned.

Some documentaries are tough to get into, especially when the subject is as bleak as rape. Yet this film kept my attention from the start thanks to the protagonist of the film. Linor became the reluctant ‘face’ if you will for survivor of sexual violence. Though she had the support of families n friends, she was still haunted by the horrifying event. I applaud her for speaking out however, and using her Miss World fame to help others. Though at times it wore her out and took an emotional toll on her that she had to revisit that terrible night every time another woman confessed she had been raped, she kept going. I wonder why at times, and so did her family members, as her parents candidly shared to the camera how they dread her taking on this cause. It helps that how open and candid her family & friends were, including her then-boyfriend who’s now her husband, about sharing how they felt about Linor and her journey.

As the documentary took us on a journey along with Linor though, I’m inspired that Linor chose to turn a brutal act into be something that brings light to a lot of suffering women around the world. At the same time, the experience of talking to fellow survivors was sort of a healing process for her. It was also a quest to bring her rapist to justice. Turns out her rapist has done this crime before and so she was determined to keep him behind bars when he became eligible for parole. The mix of Linor’s personal journey and the cause to bring sexual violence to light wasn’t always seamlessly done however, and editing could’ve been tightly done to maintain the focus on the protagonist. The abrupt detour showing Hollywood stars (Joan Collins, Fran Drescher) who shared their own experience of being raped felt a bit jarring, as it sort of took me out of the film a bit.

BraveMissWorld_Linor

Towards the end of the film, we saw quite a striking transformation of Linor. Her conversion to Judaism may seem quite drastic but I for one didn’t think that her new-found faith was merely a spiritual *crutch* nor that it was merely an act of desperation of some sort. I felt that her desire to be closer to God is a natural passage as she somehow starts to see herself in a different light. I respect that and I’m glad that her spiritual journey was not cut out from the film. I felt that she’s far more beautiful in her natural state, without any makeup or glamorous clothing, as her inner beauty really shines through.

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BraveMissWorldWebsiteFor more info and how you could take action to support this cause, check out Brave Miss World’s official website. She will be making the film festival rounds for the next few weeks. Hope you’ll check out this film when it’s playing near you.

You can also read (and share your own) stories on the site, as well as info on how to get help if you need it.


What do you think of these films?

February 2014 Blind Spot: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

MrSmithGoestoWA_Poster

I didn’t realize that I’m doing another Frank Capra film back to back in the BlindSpot series! Well, I had initially wanted to do a James Stewart marathon after the Gregory Peck one, but I never got around to it. Well, I finally got to see it on President’s Day last weekend, what a fitting time it was and this film certainly lived up to its classic icon status. According to IMDb trivia, it’s ranked #5 on the American Film Institute’s 100 Most Inspiring Movies of All Time (2006), and #26 Greatest Movie of All Time (2007) also by AFI.

It’s always wonderful to see when ‘the actor and the role meets,’ that is when a role seems to be tailor-made for an actor that it’s as he disappears into that character. I felt that was the case with Peck as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, and here, Stewart seemed to have become Jefferson Smith despite not being the first choice for the role. The role was for Gary Cooper who’s supposed to reprise a similar one he did in Mr Deeds Goes To Town (also by Capra), but he was unavailable. Having seen this film, I can’t picture anybody else but Stewart in the role.

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What’s interesting about this film is that even though the subject matter is about American politics, it doesn’t concern a specific party, we’re never told if Jefferson Smith was a Republican or Democrat. The state that he and Senator Joseph Paine (Claude Rains) come from was never mentioned, either. It’s a classic David vs Goliath story as Smith was a nobody in the grand political scheme when a governor of the unnamed western state picked him to replace a deceased senator. He’s picked because of his wholesome Boy Scout (or Boy Rangers in the film) image, the corrupt political boss Jim Taylor and his minions think Smith’s lack of experience think he’d be easy to manipulate. Of course things don’t go exactly to their plan.

The word ‘filibuster’ seems to have become a dirty word in Capitol Hill. Frankly I don’t know much about the intricate and twisted world of politics, so it was fascinating to see Smith getting lectured from his own secretary Clarissa Saunders on how to get a bill passed. It’s certainly one of my fave scenes from the entire film:


This is the first time I saw Jean Arthur in anything and her portrayal of Saunders is brilliant. Nice to see a smart and sassy female character, not unlike another heroine in another famous 1939 film, which took the Best Picture that year, Gone With The Wind. Now, Saunders is nowhere near as manipulative as Scarlett O’Hara of course, but she’s also beautiful and knows her way around a man’s world.

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The whole conflict revolves around building of a dam by the Willett Creek, which is the same area of land where Smith wants to build his national boys camp. Naturally Smith is no match for the Taylor Machine in terms of money and clout, and the political Goliath is determined to crush David by any means possible. Having been *crucified* (that’s the exact word used by Rains’ character) by the Taylor Machine, Smith was ready to give it all up when Saunders persuaded him not to. That propels him to launch a filibuster to clear his name just before he’s kicked out of the Senate.

I was totally engrossed in the story from start to finish, and the third act is certainly the most rousing part. It’s certainly an inspiring story told with an unapologetic sense of virtue. A dissenting voice against this film is perhaps that it lacks subtlety. At times perhaps the audience, especially those on the cynical side might feel they’re being hit over the head with the morality lesson. But you know what, I happen to think it’s great to see a film that celebrates goodness and everything we should aspire to as a human being. I wrote in this post that people may find a hero that stands for truth, justice and the American way so darn boring. I beg to differ on that front. Smith is no superhero, he has no superpower of any kind, but he certainly has the power to inspire others to stand up for what’s right no matter what the cost. In essence, that’s what a true hero is all about.

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As I mentioned before, Stewart is perfectly cast as Smith and he certainly makes for a protagonist worth rooting for. The supporting cast is superb all around. Speaking of GWTW earlier, well, it’s fun to see Pa O’Hara here, aka Thomas Mitchell as journalist Diz Moore who’s in love with Saunders. My favorite is Claude Rains as the Senator whom Smith looks up to but ends up betraying him. His emotional struggle throughout the film is palpable and fascinating to behold and Rains has the charisma and gravitas to own a scene. I’ve only seen him in Casablanca before this, so I’m hoping to catch more of his films.

This film is full of rousing scenes as well as humorous moments. Smith’s obvious naivete is amusing and endearing but never ludicrous. There’s a hint of romance between Saunders and Smith, but yet it never took over the story which I thought was refreshing.

The ending doesn’t end with a neat little bow as our protagonist collapsed in exhaustion after talking non-stop for 24 hours, but he remains defiant and even hopeful to the end.

Jefferson Smith: I guess this is just another lost cause Mr. Paine. All you people don’t know about lost causes. Mr. Paine does. He said once they were the only causes worth fighting for and he fought for them once. For the only reason any man ever fights for them. Because of just one plain simple rule. Love thy neighbor. And in this world today of great hatred a man who knows that rule has a great trust. You know that rule Mr. Paine and I loved you for it just as my father did. And you know that you fight harder for the lost causes than for any others. Yes you’d even die for them. Like a man we both knew Mr. Paine. You think I’m licked. You all think I’m licked. Well I’m not licked. And I’m gonna stay right here and fight for this lost cause. Even if this room gets filled with lies like these. And the Taylors and all their armies come marching into this place. Somebody will listen to me.

The change of heart of the antagonist may seem abrupt here but I think Mr. Paine have been convicted that what he did was wrong long before he finally had the courage to confess it.

MrSmithGoesToWashington_Finale

Cap·ra·esque

[kap-ruh-esk] relating to or in the style of the movies of Frank Capra, focusing on courage and its positive effects and the triumph of the underdog.


Well, this is the third film from Frank Capra and I definitely see a definite pattern in his films. There’s a timeless quality about it, as his film seems to be relatable for any era because its message and its ideals are not confined by a specific time frame. No matter what year it is, greed, oppression and exploitation are never a good thing, and we’ll always root for someone who perseveres to rise above improbably odds.

I’m so glad I finally caught Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. It’s definitely enjoyable and thought-provoking. A true classic that I certainly don’t mind watching again.

four and a half stars out of five
4.5 out of 5 reels


This is the first entry to my 2014 Blind Spot Series, as first started by Ryan McNeil at The Matinee, and continued by Dan Heaton at Public Transportation Snob .

Here’s my full Blindspot List.


What do you think of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington? I’d love to hear what you think!

My [California] Weekend Roundup

Hello everyone! Hope y’all had a nice weekend. Yes I know it’s a bit late of a weekend roundup, but I spent the last five days in sunny California, which was a much-needed break.

Two of my best friends recently moved to San Diego and Tempe, Arizona respectively, so it was sort of a mini-reunion for my hubby and I as the four of us spent the entire Fourth of July weekend together. It’s quite a hectic trip as we ended up not only visiting San Diego and La Jolla but we also made it to Los Angeles, Long Beach and the picturesque Catalina Island. Suffice to say, there’s no time left for movie-going, which actually suits us just fine. It was awesome to watch the spectacular San Diego fireworks right from our hotel as it’s right on the Bay! Thankfully they didn’t have the snafu like last year when it all exploded at the same time.

As you might’ve guessed, my La Jolla visit wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the La Jolla Playhouse at the University of California San Diego. Classic Movie buffs would know the non-profit theater was founded by my crush Gregory Peck, along with Mel Ferrer and Dorothy McGuire.

LaJollaPlayhouse

Though I wasn’t at the movies, I did spend some time with some iconic movie characters in Hollywood ;) We didn’t originally set out to go to L.A. but we sort of decided on a whim Friday afternoon and it turned out to be a blast! Here are some pics we took of the character impersonators on the famous landmark by the the TCL Chinese Theater (formerly Grauman Chinese Theater). Only on the streets of Hollywood that lifelong nemesis Batman and The Joker would be the best of friends :D Too bad the photo was blurred but it was a hoot seeing superhero rivals Superman & Spider-Man counting money together, ahah. I wonder how much these guys make in a day.


My favorite is Wolverine as the guy’s looks just like Hugh Jackman it’s uncanny! There were actually two Wolverines in the same spot by Jackman’s Hollywood Walk of Fame’s star, but the bigger guy’s sideburns actually looks more like Elvis, ahah.

Oh, and of course I had to take a picture on Gregory Peck’s hand/footprint at the TCL Chinese Theater. Look at how tiny my hand is compared to Mr. Peck’s :D

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DespicableMe2MinionsNow, as far as box office is concerned, even as I looked up to The Lone Ranger statues atop the Masonic Temple Building next to the El Capitan theater, somehow I knew the movie’s gonna be a big bomb for Disney. Sure enough, according to Terrence’s Movie News Monday and Tim’s Box Office Prediction, Despicable Me 2 left that ultra expensive ($200 mil) Western Comedy in the dust. Certainly the 25% rating on Rotten Tomatoes didn’t help matters, though some folks actually dug it, i.e. Fogs actually gave the movie an A-. I probably would end up renting The Lone Ranger as I missed the screening, but I might see a matinee showing of Despicable Me 2 as I adore those overalls-wearing yellow minions!!!

Well, as I said last week, it’s been a s-l-o-w return to blogging for me. I even missed Five for the Fifth this weekend which is a bummer, but ah well, it’ll definitely be back next month. In any case, I’ve got some post ideas in the works and of course reviews and guest posts from our *staff* Jack Deth and Ted S. I’ll be seeing a screening of Pacific Rim tomorrow, so hopefully I’ll be able to review it by this weekend.


Now indulge me, how was YOUR weekend movie watching? Any new favorites?

Classic Flix Review: The Purple Plain (1954)

Quite early on in The Purple Plain, I realized the main character was going to be a different Gregory Peck role than any other I had seen. Pilot Bill Forrester (Peck), a Canadian serving in the Royal Air Force during World War II, is suffering from suicidal tendencies and what we today call post-traumatic stress disorder (you’ll see why in a couple of seamlessly done flashbacks). He’s rude and reckless, having spent his RAF career trying to get killed. “You’d think that would be easy in a war,” he says, “but I just keep getting medals instead.” Despite being considered “a loony” by the rest of the squadron, he’s been promoted to squadron leader. They are stationed in Burma, fighting the Japanese, and the squadron physician Dr. Harris (Bernard Lee, familiar to millions as M in the James Bond films) has been ordered to gauge Forrester’s sanity and suitability for continued duty. But instead of conducting a physical or psychological exam, Harris takes Forrester to the home of an English missionary, Miss McNab (Brenda Banzie), where he meets Anna (Win Min Than), a quiet, beautiful Burmese girl.

It’s pretty much a given that if you watch movies, particularly classic movies, you either believe in love at nearly first sight or you are able to suspend whatever disbelief you may have. In this case, Peck and Than make it plausible that Anna would be calming to Forrester’s troubled soul, and vice versa. Anna also suffers from PTSD, as she, like many of the Burmese in the story, is a refugee from the Japanese destruction of Rangoon [per Wiki].

Forrester now has something, someone, to live for, and rather quickly, he begins to return to what was apparently his former, more genial, self. If Plain were a different kind of movie, it would just stop there. But Forrester and his new navigator Carrington (Lyndon Brook) are sent on what’s supposed to be a routine flight, with another RAF man, Blore (Maurice Denham), as a passenger. One of their plane’s engines begins to leak oil and bursts into flame; they crash land in the Japanese-controlled wilderness, with barely any water and limited everything else. Carrington is horribly burnt and can’t walk, and Forrester and Blore are at odds and can’t agree on how to survive — should they stay with the wreckage and hope to be rescued, or save themselves by walking toward the river miles away?

In short, after spending the first half of the film chasing death, Forrester now wants to live, only to find himself in the perfect position to die.

I am always reluctant to use biography to explain someone’s excellence (or lack thereof) in a particular role, because there’s no way to really know what was going on in their minds. But Peck was going through a tough divorce at the time this film was made and I wonder if he wasn’t able to use that experience. However he did it, he makes Forrester’s angst and recovery very real. When he first sees Anna, he slowly begins to relax. By the time the plane has crashed, his entire bearing has  changed and he is no longer troubled, even when angry.

Director Robert Parrish uses visual motifs, subjective camera, and triangle setups to subtly suggest mood, imply alliances between characters, and foreshadow events. Parrish and cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth particularly distinguish themselves when depicting the oppressive heat and light, and the gorgeous scenery of Burma (actually Sri Lanka). (The saturation of the color reminds me of another film set in South Asia, Black Narcissus, though that film incredibly was not shot on location.) There’s one pan shot about an hour in that shows both the beauty of the surroundings and the enormity of what the men are up against if they want to survive. The score serves to build the tension and hint at Forrester’s mood. There’s big Hans-Zimmer-style staccato horns in the wilderness and a serene theme reinforcing the stability that Anna represents.

The film invites contemplation on a few themes. A scene with a child and a lizard is a comment on the savage side of human nature that is made explicit elsewhere in the film. “To kill or not to kill…. Strange how fascinating death can be, isn’t it?” Forrester says. “The purple plain” is apparently a British nickname for Burma, but given the setting of the film around Easter, I also think it has religious significance as well. There is certainly some exploration of the role of faith — “God will provide” vs. “The Lord helps those who help themselves.”

Check out this amusing scene of the dinner scene with miss McNab and singing the Easter hym:

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At any rate, none of the themes are heavy-handed. One person who watches may think the film is saying that God works in mysterious ways (that would be me); another may see it as a comment on the transitory nature of life; and yet another sees an anti-war statement; and the fact that all are correct, along with its excellent overall quality and really perfect ending, indicates to me that The Purple Plain, though under-appreciated, deserves a place in the “timeless classic” category.

– review by Paula G.


Check out Paula’s Bio and her blog Paula’s Cinema Club



Leave me your thoughts on The Purple Plain below.

Classic Flix Review: The Omen (1976)

I was 5 years old when this came out – about the same age as Damien, the demon child destined to be the antichrist. While I didn’t see this movie until the mid-eighties (thanks to the advent of video rentals), I read screenwriter David Seltzer’s novelization just right before. It was a good and creepy read and encouraged me to check it out on the screen.

Almost 20 years later, and now in glorious blu-ray format, the film retains its fairy tale quality and lustre. And as a father of  2 very young boys, The Omen brings a whole new perspective on the parental tragedy along the lines of Nicholas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now and later Lars von Trier’s Antichrist). This perspective also made the film effectively disturbing.

Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck), an American ambassador to the UK, and his wife, Katherine (Lee Remick), lose a child at birth while in Rome. A Roman chaplain/priest convinces Thorn the unthinkable: adopt another child born at the same instant – its mother apparently dying at the same time – as his own without Katherine’s knowledge.  Things are perfect for a while until strange and macabre occurrences take place a few years later at the child’s 5th birthday party. A nanny’s suicide, a strange rabid dog and a journalist’s (David Warner in a non-villainous role) foreboding photographs of impending death. Add to that an evil and manipulative governess (Billie Whitelaw winning the Mrs. Danvers of the 70s award) and you have the Thorn family helpless and betrayed. Thorn discovers later that Damien holds the number of the beast on his scalp (it’s not a barcode though very graphic designed) and tries to kill the child.

Damien (Harvey Spencer Stephens) is very good as the toddler antichrist. In fact, some scenes, such as the meltdown at the Episcopal Church and the near fatal tricycle sequence are so matter of fact, you could mistake them for innocent child behavior – all the more creepy! Richard Donner keeps things simple here in a good way, letting the story which feels like a fairy tale (albeit a scary one), carry the movie. Donner, who is an alum of the classic Rod Serling Twilight Zone series, uses more atmosphere and light rather than fast-paced violence.  The fight scene between an aging Gregory Peck and the governess is about as fast-paced as the classic fight scene between Peck and Charlton Heston in The Big Country.

However, the real anchor here is Peck, who just exudes humanity within every scene. While still acting in the classic Hollywood style, Peck’s Robert Thorn is a dignified but flawed everyman. Credit that, if you will, to the story, the pacing and direction – but none could have carried this into the ‘Classic’ category as well as Peck’s very believable performance. Belated happy birthday to the GP!

– review by Vince Caro

Three and a half stars out of Five
3.5 out of 5 reels


The Omen TRIVIA (per IMDb):

Having changed its title from The Antichrist to The Birthmark, the film seemed to fall victim to a sinister curse. Star Gregory Peck and screenwriter David Seltzer took separate planes to the UK…yet BOTH planes were struck by lightning. While producerHarvey Bernhard was in Rome, lightning just missed him. Rottweilers hired for the film attacked their trainers. A hotel at which director Richard Donner was staying got bombed by the IRA; he was also struck by a car. After Peck canceled another flight, to Israel, the plane he would have chartered crashed…killing all on board. On day one of the shoot, several principal members of the crew survived a head-on car crash. The jinx appeared to persist well into post-production… when special effects artist John Richardson was injured and his girlfriend beheaded in an accident on the set of A Bridge Too Far.

Harvey Stephens, as Damien, was largely chosen for this role from the way he attacked Richard Donner during auditions. Stephens screamed and clawed at Donner’s face, and kicked him in the groin during his act. Donner whipped the kid off him, ordered the kid’s blond hair dyed black and cast him as Damien.

According Gregory Peck’s biography by Gary Fishgall, he took this role at a huge cut in salary (a mere $250,000) but was also guaranteed 10% of the film’s box office gross. When it went on to gross more than $60 million in the U.S. alone, The Omen became the highest-paid performance of Peck’s career.


Check out Vince Caro’s other FC posts here


Have you seen this classic horror? Well, what do you think?

Scene Spotlight: Easter Hymn scene on ‘The Purple Plain’

image courtesy of river valley church

Happy Easter Sunday, friends!

Today’s always a special time for me, a reminder how each day is a gift from the Lord and I’m always thankful for the Christ’ unparalleled sacrifice on the cross on my behalf and every creature living on earth.

Last year, I posted three film recommendations for Easter  if you’re in the mood for some spiritual-themed films to watch not just this weekend, but any other time of the year. I don’t know if people have any Easter movie-viewing traditions the way they do around Christmas. I might watch parts of Ben-Hur Sunday afternoon after church, it’s been a while since I saw it and reading Max’s review recently made me want to see it again.

Another one I might actually watch is David and Bathsheba, which is fitting considering this past Thursday was Gregory Peck’s birthday. I have mentioned that film last year on one of my GP marathon updates, it’s one of Peck’s lesser-known films that was actually pretty huge back in the day, earning five Oscar nominations including Best Screenplay and the biggest box office success of 1951. Though the title role suggests where the film’s focus, that is the romance between the two leads, it’s Peck’s David that carry the whole film. The highlight for me is towards the last 20-min of the film, a solemn sequence of David is praying in front of the Ark of the Covenant, it packed an emotional punch and as Martin Scorsese once said, that scene”…showed Peck’s ability to convey the darkness of the human soul.” I do think that scene is truly the heart of the film. I highly recommend that one if you’re looking for an alternative to The Ten Commandments. 

Ok, now on to the scene spotlight…  this time it’s from Peck’s most underrated WWII drama The Purple Plain.


I’ve mentioned this film before here — Peck played a suicidal squadron leader who found a new purpose in life when he met a Burmese girl Anna, at a Christian missionary camp near his base. In this scene, Forrester is introduced to Miss McNab, the Christian missionary Anna’s family is living with. The most amusing part of the movie is seeing Peck singing the Easter hymn ‘Hallelujah,’ all the while he couldn’t take his eyes off the girl. Definitely a small indie that’s worth your while, it also boasts one of the most-unexpected yet heart-warming movie endings ever.


Have a blessed Easter, everybody! What film(s) are you watching this Easter weekend?

Beauty is Forever: Happy Birthday, Mr. Gregory Peck!

The Hollywood icon would’ve turned 96 years old today. Though he has passed away for almost a decade, I do think his legacy lives on. I feel like I’ve been preparing to pay tribute to Mr. Peck for over a month now, but suddenly when the time comes, I find it ever so daunting a task as I feel like there’s so much to say I don’t know where to start!

Most of you who’ve read my Spellbound post knew I fell head over heels for him in that Hitchcock film. It really was like ‘lightning striking‘ when I first beheld the 6’3″ lanky then-29-year-old man with magnificent cheekbones, melancholy eyes, and THAT deep, rich voice that can be as commanding as it is soothing. Anna @ Defiant Success said in her email to me that the “Gregory Peck bug” didn’t bite you. It pretty much ate you alive. Ahahaha, well I can’t refute that. I mean how else would you explain the plethora of Gregory DVDs all over my basement, ordering multiple sheets of Atticus’ Forever Stamps, AND devote a Tumblr all to just to this one man? :D

But really, can you blame me?

Peck in a promo pic from one of his early theater productions

Few actors possess the kind of charisma, looks and talent that Gregory had. But what makes me respect him more is that he never capitalized on his looks, far from it. After reading his biography by Gary Fishgall, which is such a fascinating read that I kept going back to it repeatedly, I’m struck by such a humble beginning he had, especially his years as a struggling theater actor trying to make it on Broadway. Theater work was really his first love, so much so that when Hollywood beckoned, he wasn’t easily swayed. He even made MGM’s famed producer Louis B. Mayer cry when Peck refused to sign his offer of seven-year contract  — promising the then unknown to be the next Clark Gable — as he wanted to fit in more theater work in between films. He was the first actor of that era who refused to be ‘bought’ by the studio. Clearly he didn’t need such a contract to succeed!

I have even more respect for his intelligence and exemplary work ethic. His preparation for every role was a labor of love, beginning with committing every line to memory, he then ‘assembled the character to the best of [his] ability.’ That dedication shows in every single film he did, and he continually challenged himself with every role in various genres, from drama, thriller to westerns. After reading every available articles on Peck known to man, as well as that biography, it’s clear that he’s a hero on and off screen. All the honors (both acting and humanitarian) and legacy he’s achieved, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Lyndon Johnson. Truly, a beautiful man inside and out.

Just yesterday I read that President Obama will introduce a screening of To Kill a Mockingbird, both at the White House Family Theater and also on the USA network airing on April 7 as part of the 50th Anniversary celebration of that iconic film (per THR). I do think that Atticus Finch — voted by AFI as the greatest hero in American film — is a rare occasion where the actor and the role meets. Just as effortlessly he had fought against anti-semitism in Gentleman’s Agreement, Peck championed for racial equality with such integrity and grace.

“…[Peck] embodied the best in all of us… He gave idealism a good name, made it seem possible in the flawed state of this human condition,” stated this msnbc article titled Gregory Peck, the last noble breed. On the year he died, TIME magazine ran this article citing “…Peck was the sonorous pitchman for movie humanism. He showed how a strong man could also be a gentle man.”

No doubt he earned the respect of not just critics, moviegoers, but also his peers. Liza Minnelli called him “the ultimate movie star.” His co-star in Designing Woman, Lauren Bacall, said it best I think:

“His values and his standards are very high, which is why Bogie respected him so much. You don’t meet many people, much less actors, who have that kind of character.”  (per Films42 tribute post)

His Forever Stamp inauguration was attended by the likes of Sidney Poitier, James Darrin, Morgan Freeman, and hosted by Sharon Stone. It’s Freeman’s story of meeting Peck that made me grin ear to ear, “… he told of sitting in the very same Academy theater, seeing Peck walk up the aisle and jumping from his seat to stop him dead in his tracks as Freeman dropped to knees in front of him and mumbled something about the honor of being in presence of Captain Ahab.” Oh my, would I love to be a fly on the wall at that moment!

What few people know though, that this regal and elegant man has a dry wit and great sense of humor. “He can be funny,” said Peck’s Paradine Case costar Louis Jourdan, “which is fortunate. Otherwise, such perfection would be unbearable.” (per Peck’s Kennedy-Center bio) If you’ve seen Designing Woman, you too would wish he had done more comedic roles. The scene where his ex-girlfriend dumped a plate of ravioli on his lap, his deadpan expression made the scene even more hilarious, especially as he calmly asked the waiter for a pair of pants! “George Burns used to call it the funniest take he ever saw on the screen,” Peck told the msnbc writer.

Need proof? Check out this clip of Peck appearing on the Jack Benny show with the host himself and George Burns!


For his birthday festivities, I invited a few of my friends to participate by sharing their posts on Mr. Peck, be it a tribute or reviews of his films. As you can see below, this ever so versatile acting legend covered pretty much any genre and he’s always convincing in every one of them. That’s why I picked him as one of the Then Best Actor of All Time in this relay race blog-a-thon.

So to those of you who have NOT seen any Gregory Peck movies, you no longer have any excuses not to watch at least one or two. We’ve got all kinds of suggestions out the wazoo here! :D

To Kill a Mockingbird

Front Room Cinema (includes interview with Mary Badham)

Inspired Ground
….
The Guns of Navarone

Paula’s Cinema Club

Duel in the Sun

Cinema Romantico

Musings on Duel in the Sun*..

On The Beach

Defiant Success


On The Beach Mini Review*
Birthday Tributes

It Rains… You Get Wet     |  The Focused Filmographer

I Think Therefore I Review    |   Via Margutta 51

A retrospective on Peck & Hitchcock 

I Luv Cinema


Top Five Favorite Scores from Gregory Peck Films

Peck and Hitchcock on the set of The Paradine Case

Beloved Infidel

Via Margutta 51

………………………
The Boys From Brazil


My Film Views

Roman Holiday

Inspired Ground

///
Defiant Success

59 Reasons I Love Roman Holiday*
,,,
Spellbound
../
The Case of Being Spellbound*

Defiant Success



…..
Yellow Sky

I Think Therefore I Review

The Omen

Top 10 Films
Cape Fear
../
Jack Deth’s Guest review
*

Defiant Success

…..
Mirage

Ruth’s guest review @ The Focused Filmographer

Note: The one with the * (asterisk) is a FlixChatter post


I think I will forever be a Gregory Peck fan. You know that old saying ‘they don’t make ‘em like him anymore‘? Well in the case of this one Hollywood icon, it’s not a cliché at all.


Please join me in celebrating this wonderful man by reading one of the posts listed above. What are your thoughts of Mr. Peck and his work? I’d love to hear ‘em in the comments!

Classic Flix Review: Cape Fear (1962)

Greetings, once again! It isn’t often that I’ve been given the opportunity to indulge in a Trifecta or triple play regarding one of Hollywood’s premier Tough Guys, Robert Mitchum. I covered his Scary attributes in The Night of the Hunter. His being made for the genre of Noir in Out of the Past. Now, I want to delve into the actor’s ability to basically write the book for being a malevolent nemesis in one of, if not the first, great Psychological Thrillers in film!

Cape Fear (1962)

Made in 1962 and directed by J. Lee Thompson. With a screenplay by James R. Webb from the John D. MacDonald novel, The Executioners. The film begins in bright, sunny Savannah, Georgia. In and amongst the city’s square whose busy, intersecting streets are full of some of the finest big, shiny, bullet bumpered and finned cars of that time. Weaving between them is Max Cady. Recently released convict with a Gibraltar-sized chip on his shoulder after spending eight years for a rape charge in Baltimore, Maryland.

Tall, broad and obnoxiously brooding. With a Panama Hat and a large, vile cigar stuck in his face. Robert Mitchum’s Max Cady confidently, nonchalantly revels in a role that reeks and sweats of malevolently boiling evil. Cady climbs the steps of the court house. Knocking some books from the arms of a female clerk, without a backward glance on his way up the stair case. Cady finds the proper court room for a look at defense attorney, family man and pillar of the community; Sam Bowden. Magnificently played by Gregory Peck. With hints of General Frank Savage in Twelve O’ Clock High and just beginning to gently grasp the mojo of Atticus Fitch in To Kill A Mockingbird. Equal parts stoic and humane. Peck is in superb form as the man whose testimony had put Cady away.

Cady takes a seat in the back of the court and sizes Bowden up as the counselor argues against a continuance and finds Bowden wanting. Outside the court house. Cady reacquaints himself with the good counselor. Hinting that he is going to be around for a while and they have some catching up to do with typical non-threatening, Jailhouse Lawyer hubris. Bowden takes this all with a grain of salt as he returns to hearth and home. Dinner and bowling afterwards. While at the lanes, Bowden senses more than sees Cady having a beer and eying his wife, Peggy. Well and dutifully played by Polly Bergen in one of her rare cinematic roles. And his daughter, Nancy. All of fifteen and deftly played by Lori Martin. No longer a child, but not a woman. With about one one hundredth of the angst and drama associated with that age today. Definitely Daddy’s little girl.

Bowden feels a chill go up his spine. Misses an easy spare and decides to call his friend, Police Chief Mark Dutton to see if there might be a way to persuade of roust Cady into leaving their fair city. Terrain very familiar to Dutton.  Realized with a career cop’s mindset and perseverance by always reliable Martin Balsam. Who suggests checking on Cady’s finances and parole officer to possibly gain some leverage. The following morning becomes evening and finds Cady in a smoky basement bar quietly flirting with a stunning brunette with a taste for slumming. Barrie Chase, whose time and scenes are brief, but part and parcel of what is to come.

As if on cue, Dutton and a clutch of cops arrive and take Cady downtown. Where Cady is surprisingly prepared for evening’s events. Down to a bankbook with $5,400 and the business card of Cady’s personal physician, should blood or a physical be needed. Vagrancy and drunk and disorderly go out the window as Cady leaves to up the ante and pick up where he left off. Tormenting his quarry the next afternoon by poisoning the Boden’s dog. Then taking off that night in his pickup truck. With the brunette from the previous night by his side. Discovering too late the dangers of walking on the wild side.

A phone call brings Dutton, his entourage and recently hired private detective, Charles Sievers. Telly Savalas being Telly Savalas with hair and a seersucker suit to a flea bag hotel. Where Ms. Taylor doesn’t say much of anything useful as she packs her things and wants to get far, far away. Frustrated, Sievers suggests using some off the books talent to find and possibly punish Cady. Bowden balks and the next afternoon, his wife and daughter go into town to shop. Nancy wanders off towards the library and finds Cady in slow ominous pursuit. Nancy panic. Runs through halls and out into traffic and is almost struck by an oncoming car. Her mom finds her and Sam returns from  work to close to sheer pandemonium. Peggy is close to freaking out while Nancy is in bed, sedated.

Close to being at his wits’ end. Bowden finds Cady at a rather upscale bar. Where Cady details his life immediately after being released from prison. Where he found his wife who had divorced him while in stir. Kidnapped her for a ‘Second Honeymoon’ that lasted about two weeks. Then had her write her new husband a ‘Dear John’ letter full of dirty words. Hinting that he may have beaten his ex half to death in the process. Cady slyly photocopied the letter before it was mailed and had the copy mailed to his lawyer.

Bowden calls Sievers and tells him to unleash the hounds. To no avail. Cady is attacked under a pier by what looks like three leg breakers with appropriate accessories. Bicycle chain. Meat hook and switchblade. Cady takes a shot below the ribs from the chain. Gets really mad and sends the three to the hospital, but not before they talk. Now with the upper hand, Cady hires himself a nice bleeding heart, liberal civil rights lawyer to have Bowden disbarred. Then calls Bowden and tells him that he has something in special in store for his wife and daughter. Knowing that Sam will be in Atlanta on other business.

The good counselor gets clever and creative. Arranging for his wife and daughter to be on their house boat on the Cape Fear River. While Sam flies to Atlanta and doubles back by rental car. To lay an ambush with his family as bait while he and an off duty stand guard.

I’ll leave it right here, so as not to violate Spoiler Territory.

What Makes This Film Good?

A well assembled cast of proven A-List talent telling a tale under the masterful touch of director, Thompson. Who had held the reins previously for Mr. Peck in The Guns of Navarone. Working from a tense, compact screenplay derived from the novel by John D. MacDonald, of Travis McGee fame. A writer well versed in the illicit goings on along the southern seaboard.

Reinforced by mood drenched, shadowy, sometimes sweat-sheened B&W cinematography by Samuel Leavitt, who knows the value of darkness. And an ominous cello rich and brass soundtrack by Bernard Herrmann. If you are one of those who think the opening tracts of John Williams’ work in Jaws is the yardstick by which others are measured. Sit back to be swept away on a roller coaster by a true master!

Film editing by George Tomasini is fluid with no wasted scenes. Set direction by tried and true Oliver Emert works with nary a flaw. Wrapping the city of early 1960s Savannah, Georgia. Heat, cloying humidity and all, around those watching. While never letting on that three different locations were being utilized.

What Makes This Film Great?

Gregory Peck at the top of his game. Playing a character steadfastly loyal to the law. Living an idyllic, sedate life until fate rears its ugly head in the form of Max Cady. Who taunts, flaunts and intimidates until Peck’s Sam Bowden finds himself hamstrung by those same laws it when his family is threatened. First obliquely. Then overtly and profoundly.

Robert Mitchum towering over any and all. Completely content in his own skin. And that of his character. Holding the whole world in complete contempt as he flat out frightens many. Those foolish enough to not be impressed, he stares down and grimaces until they wise up. I’d mentioned in previous reviews how Mitchum can be scary. As his Reverend Harry Powell in The Night of the Hunter and intimidating as Jeff Bailey in Out of the Past. As Max Cady, Mitchum enters an whole and entirely new arena. Arrogant. Impervious and oozing with slovenly creepiness. Creating an iconic character until Martin Scorsese tried his hand at it. And created a film that stands alone, but still comes up short.

The supporting cast of Polly Bergen, Lori Martin, Barrie Chase, Martin Balsam and Telly Savalas all turn in memorable, exceptional work. With the lion’s share of attention given to the ladies in attendance who advance the story along believably and briskly. While Balsam and Savalas reveal some of their greatness to be realized in future films.

All meshing together in a Classic that has solidly and frighteningly withstood the test of time and still grabs attention today!

The Film’s Mystique:

The proper amounts of Peck in Mitchum in a project produced by Mr. Peck’s production company, Melville, which bought the rights to Mr. MacDonald’s novel very early on. Creating copious buzz when Robert Mitchum was Peck’s first and only choice for Max Cady. Rod Steiger’s agent lobbied hard, but was turned down on several occasions. Though Mr. Steiger did get to dance close to Cady’s character. As serial killer with a make-up kit, Christopher Gill in No Way to Treat a Lady in 1968.

Cape Fear is a superbly tense amalgam of Action. Reaction and scarily bullying while messing with one’s mind. Distinctly sloshing around in the kiddie pool of What if? Attention should be paid in regards to how Max Cady reacts when his taunts and threats are ignored or challenged. Each of Cady’s reactions are more violent and brutal than the one before. All offset by Cady’s near serene, inhuman Frankenstein smile when he has a woman right where he wants her.


Check out Jack’s profile page and links to his other reviews


Thoughts on the original Cape Fear film? Do share ‘em in the comments.

The Ten Best Actors of All Time: Relay Race

My friend Nostra at My Filmviews started this back in mid March, as if he needed to prove to anyone that he lives up to the title ‘King of all Blog Series’ that I gave him :D What’s this relay race all about? I’ll let Nostra himself explain:

“So what’s the idea behind the relay? I’ve created a list of what I think are the best actors. At the end of the post I, just like in a real relay race, hand over the baton to another blogger who will write his own post. This blogger will have to remove one actor (that is an obligation) and add his own choice and describe why he/she did this. At the end the blogger chooses another blogger to do the same. The idea is to make this a long race, so that enough bloggers get a chance to remove and add an actor. We will end up with a list (not ranked in order) which represents a common agreement of the best actors”

Since then the baton has been passed on to Terrence @ The Focused Filmographer, Scott @ Front Room Cinema, then off to Pete @ I Love That Film who then passed it on to yours truly!


All right, so here we go:

Robert De Niro

robert Thursday List   The Ten: Best Actors of All Time   Relay Race

Although he may not have had any roles that stood out in the last couple of years, he has proven what an amazing actor he is. Just think of his roles in Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Godfather: Part II, Goodfellas, The Untouchables, Heat and Cape Fear.

Daniel Day Lewis

daniel day lewis 6 Thursday List   The Ten: Best Actors of All Time   Relay Race

Although he might not have appeared in as many movies as some of the other actors in this list he makes up for it in the amazing performances he gives. He really disappears in his roles. Some of his best work includes My Left Foot, There Will Be Blood, Gangs of New York, In the Name of the Father and Last of the Mohicans.

Charlie Chaplin

charlie chaplin1 Thursday List   The Ten: Best Actors of All Time   Relay Race

Now this might not be someone you’d immediately think of, but when it comes to comedy and silent movies he was perfect, funny and knew exactly how to make his audience care about the character he played. Some of his best work can be enjoyed in The Kid, City Lights, The Great Dictator and Modern Times.

Gary Oldman

garyoldman e1331475012125 Thursday List   The Ten: Best Actors of All Time   Relay Race

He has proven that he is a true chameleon, with a very distinct look in every movie he appears in. His acting is always a joy to watch. Some of his best known work is that in the Harry Potter series, Leon, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the latest Batman movies and Dracula.

Philip Seymour Hoffman

psm Thursday List   The Ten: Best Actors of All Time   Relay Race

He started acting in 1991 and really has had a very versatile career appearing in movies that are loved in art houses, but in mainstream movies as well. His movies include The Ides of March, Synecdoche, New York, Charlie Wilson’s War, Capote and Magnolia.

Marlon Brando

marlon brando Thursday List   The Ten: Best Actors of All Time   Relay Race

Now I must admit that I haven’t seen many of his movies, but he was stunning in his most famous role in The Godfather, but also roles in Apocalypse Now, On The Waterfront and A Streetcar Named Desire he wowed audiences.

Robert Duvall

robert duvall Thursday List   The Ten: Best Actors of All Time   Relay Race

Robert Duvall has had an amazing career as well. I don’t know much about his early work, but I always enjoy to see him on the screen. His characters always are injected with something that grounds them into reality. He appeared in movies like Get Low, The Godfather, Colors, Apocalypse Now and THX1138.

Christian Bale

christian bale Thursday List   The Ten: Best Actors of All Time   Relay Race

With quite the diverse range in roles, Oscar-winner Christian Bale goes to great lengths for many of his roles. From losing weight to almost unhealthy standards twice (The Machinist, The Fighter) to taking dance and martial arts lessons for 10 weeks for Newsies (a film which he dislikes), Bale consistently goes to incredible lengths to bring a role to life. Other examples of his great work include: Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Prestige, Empire of the Sun, Equilibrium, and 3:10 to Yuma.

Edward Norton

The star of one of the greatest films of all time; David Fincher’s Fight Club.  He has made a career out of playing characters with two sides to their personalities.  From an ‘innocent’ abused choirboy with a dark side in Primal Fear right up to his turn as The Incredible Hulk, Norton does Dr Jekyll and Mr Nutcase Hyde better than anybody!  American History X and Fight Club are the standout performances of his career and though he might not have a huge filmography, his casting with Brando and De Niro in The Score was a significant baton-passing to the best actor of a new generation.

My Choice: Gregory Peck

Yes I realize my pick is quite predictable to most of you, ahah. But hey, we are talking about the best actors of ALL TIME here and after seeing twenty eight of his feature films in the last six months, I can confidently say he wasn’t just a great and versatile actor, he’s an acting legend! I think even fellow AFI Lifetime Achievement Award recipient DeNiro (and his co-star in the Cape Fear remake) would vouch for him. Interestingly, Mr. Peck passed away the night DeNiro received the AFI honor, and he called Peck “elegant, distinguished and a film icon” (per People).

Most of you know he won an Oscar as the quiet hero Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, but few know that it was his fifth Oscar nomination. He nabbed the other four Best Actor nominations within the first five years of his career. Though he’s known for portraying serious roles and a lot of noble men, I think he’s as adept and convincing in his more comic roles such as in Arabesque, Designing Woman and Roman Holiday. He’s also fun to watch as an all-out bad guy, such as in Duel in the Sun and Boys of Brazil (based on what I read anyway as I haven’t seen it yet), though by his own admission he wasn’t as keen on playing. I really think Mr. Peck is the real deal, a quintessential movie star with enormous acting talent and strong screen presence to boot.

Who I Replaced: Paul Giamatti

slice paul giamatti 01 Thursday List   The Ten: Best Actors of All Time   Relay Race

Oh man, I am in tears that I have to remove Giamatti from the list because I really like this guy!! I’m so sorry Scott, since you’re the one who added him to this list but if it’s any consolation, I do think he’s excellent, excellent actor but I guess out of all the nine other actors on this list, I feel like Giamatti is the one who’s perhaps more successful as a character or supporting actor, but doesn’t necessarily have that ‘star quality’ to get people to see a film simply because his name is on the marquee. I guess you could argue that about Philip Seymour Hoffman as well (which was my second choice to take out), but I do think Hoffman is the stronger and more compelling performer one of the two.



Ok, since it’s been mostly guys who’ve been picked to do the relay, I’m going to pick another girl for the next one. So I’m handing the baton over to… Kristin @ All Eyes on Screen. All right Kris, you’ve got a week to take part in the relay. Looking forward to see who you’d add and replace!
… 


So what do you think of my pick? Who would you replace if you were me? Let’s hear it in the comments!