Thursday, January 01, 2009

Twenty Actors

When Rick proposed a Twenty Actors meme, I thought I'd better hurry, for because a lack of decision I missed the Twenty actresses one... basically, because of thinking too hard how to keep it just to twenty!

Mind me, it's equally hard in the case of actors, but then I decided to list at random twenty great guys whose work really tickles me pink... I am of course leaving out a lot great people, but since many bloggers are right now listing their choices, the 20 x infinitum thespians there will possibly form an online tapestry of unforgettable performers.

Incidentally, with the exception of the number one in the list, who, as some of you already know, is my number one above everything earthly and divine, the rest of guys rank ex-aequo in number two.

Charles Laughton

How much I love thee?
Let me count the ways:
one... two... Three...
... three thousand hundred and twenty one...
... umpteen gazillions and seventy-eight...

George Sanders
While he might be among those actors voicing their opinion that acting "sure beats working", Sanders, frequently billed in supporting roles, is in my pantheon of greatest film actors ever: he's got a place among the immortals thanks to "All About Eve", "Viaggio in Italia" or in his films he directed by Albert Lewin.

James Mason
An specialist in shadowy and troubled characters, he showed to the world that his range went far and beyond the beaux tenebreux of his early British career. And he could be great in comedy, too as in "A Touch of Larceny". Damn, I dig those cheekbones.

Pepe Isbert
"Como alcalde vuestro que soooy!": the town major of Spanish actors. Also, a demonstration that a good voice isn't always a requirement to act: his creaky, raspy and inimitable voice is unmistakable for generations of Spaniards. Mostly remembered for his comedic turns, as in "Bienvenido Mister Marshall", he was also highly competent with the decidedly black humour of "El Verdugo". Personally, whenever I see him again as the little old man giving a testimonial of a road accident in "La vida por delante", I crack up larfing.

Simon Callow
Not only a fine actor, but a staunch defender of acting as one of the fine arts. Also an excellent writer. And a great admirer of the guy atop this list ;)

Rolf Lassgard
I have only seen him in one film, "Under Solen", for Swedish films arent massively released at my place, but it is enough for me to put him on this list (and stay tuned for any other film with him that I have the chance to see)

Phillippe Torreton
So far I've only seen him in two films by Bertrand Tavernier's "Capitaine Conan" and "Ça commence aujour-d'hui", where he's just ex-tra-or-di-nai-re... As in Lassgard's case, I keep an eye for films where he's in.

Lluis Soler
How good can Catalan actors get? Well, damn good they do, and Mister Soler is a fine example of it

Bob Gunton
Always a solid presence in every film he appears in. The fact that he didn't get dozens of scripts with plum roles on a weekly basis after "The Shawshank Redemption" is one of the things that really make me hate Hollywood, you know.

Cary Grant
Everyone's favourite male war bride, also in peacetime.

Nicolai Cherkasov
I just shouldn't be giving an explanation as for why he is in this list. Towering. Awesome. Epic.

Masayuki Mori
One of the many Japanese actors worth of making anyone's favourite list, Mori was a versatile actor who would just as well play dignified samurais as contemporary heels capable of cheating both his wife and his lover. He worked memorably for Kurosawa, Mizoguchi or Naruse. In the picture we can see him in "Ukigumo" with Hideko Takamine (who, incidentally, is a native from Hokkaido like Mori)

Jean Renoir
Acting was for him only an occasional occupation (it was his brother Pierre the one to be a full-time performer), but he's a personal favourite: In "La Regle du Jeu" he's as indispensable in front of the camera as he is behind. He had a reputation of being a good director of actors, possibly, because he knew what was to be under their skin. I love him as a director, too.

Emilio Gutierrez Caba
One from a large family of Spanish comedians, his long career in film and theatre would be appreciated world-wide if he had just happened to be born in an English-speaking country. Early in his career he worked in watershed films of the Spanish new wave of the sixties, with roles as the clueless young hunter in "La Caza" or the disenchanted student in "Nueve Cartas a Berta", and he is still working tirelessly in Film, theatre and TV. Some of you outside Spain may remember him in a recent role as the leader of a creepy neighbourhood community in Alex de la Iglesia's black comedy "La Comunidad": ”Sporting against Real Sociedad... Tie!"

Eric Von Stroheim
Seen here with girls who wanna have fun in "The Wedding March", Stroheim's career as a director was, to the regret of many film lovers, terribly short-lived, even though he would still keep working in films... as an actor. Billy Wilder allowed him to direct again -well, sort of- in "Sunset Boulevard".

Timothy Spall
Another good example of Britain's fine crop of thespians.

Herbert Lom
Because Chief Inspector Dreyfus rocks

Phillipe Noiret
Another French delicatessen: ever worth watching

Robert Mitchum
It's likely that he would define his work with the same lack of passion of George Sanders, but he always managed to keep you watching his side of the screen. Worked for the guy atop the list ;p

Vittorio Gassman
He worked briefly in Hollywood, but wisely realised that he would be condemned to the category of "exotic import", and returned to grace the Italian stages and screens with his great talent. I think that those who dubbed him "The Italian Olivier" completely miss the point, for, while I can well imagine Vittorio being a memorable a Hamlet, I cannot possibly picture Olivier being as gloriously funny as Mr. Gassman was in "L'Armata Blancaleone" or "Audace colpo dei soliti ignoti".


Marilyn said...

Awesome! You've picked a number of lesser-known actors I've seen and admired: Gassman, Toreton, Mori, Spall, Noiret, and Lom. I think I like your list better than mine!

Gloria said...

hey! Your list is very good!

the only bad thing about them is... we have to stick to 20! So we'll always leave great people out *sigh*

Anonymous said...

I gotta side with Marilyn: this is a great list, Gloria. I especially like your inclusion of Mason and Simon Callow. And recognizing my favorite director's (Jean Renoir's) acting is fabulous.

Well done!

Gloria said...

Rick, I knew that mentioning Renoir would be an unorthodox choice, but I must say that I really enjoy his little forays as an actor.

I have opted massively for old-time actors... but I got to state that I appreciate more recent one like Sean Penn, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Alan Rickman, Edward Norton or David Warner (well, Warner ain't recent crop, but anyway...), just to mention a few AngloAmerican specimens ;)

Francesco said...

I know you separate your passion for movies from DD, but come on, I would have expected a honorable mention for Jon Favreau for the sole reason of having impersonated Foggy Nelson ;p

Gloria said...


Francesco, While I think that Jon favreau is one of the most interesting items of an otherwise godawful movie, I must say that the selection of twenty actors obviously leaves a lot of interesting people out.

Or maybe the thing is that, while not a bad approximation, I don't think Favreau got the best possible Fogster, which to me would require character elements of the Miller and Miller & Mazzuchelli eras and/or the lawyer as presented by Bendis and Brubaker.

Favreau's is a mix between the classic Foggy, the kesel Foggy and the early Miller Foggy... that gives us sense of humour, but mostly at the expense of Foggy, rather than Nelson's sarcastic comments in the Bendis era (where we could laugh with him and not only laugh at him)

Stacia said...

Fabulous list! Oh, and Timothy Spall... I'm positively ashamed I had forgotten about him. He was so good in so many things. I recently saw him in "Secrets & Lies" and he was practically the backbone of the whole movie. He reminds me of Oliver Platt.

maryrhudy said...

I would only add two actors to this list. The Norwegian actor, Sverre Anker Ousdal, and the English actor, Ronald Colman. Both men have the perfect actor's face. They can be anyone or portray any situation. They are simply a delight to watch. Extremely talented, too.

Gloria said...

MaryHurdy: I haven't seen Sverre Anker Ousdal (as i mention about Rolf Lassgard, Spanish distributors unfortunately tend to ignore scandinavian films), but I'll keep an eye for him if any film in which he works comes my way.

And Ronald Colman was a grand actor: I recall Raffles and The Late George Appley with fondness... Please notice that I have listed 20 because the meme was about twenty actors, and of course this limits the choice, but of course, there are more than 20 actors worth watching!

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