A couple of months ago, I did two top 5s where I counted down my favorite actresses both classic and modern. Today I have decided to have a follow up to my actresses top 5s and count down my favorite actors from Old Hollywood. This is when studios were king and most actors worked on several films in the space of a year. Each one of these actors have massive filmographies, but I will point out which ones I like them most in. These are not necessarily the best actors, but my favorite actors.
5. James Dean
This man was only in three films and yet he had such a fire that his presence is still felt today, especially in modern actors like James Franco and Heath Ledger (who also passed away too soon in his career.) Each film has him leaning against objects, muttering his words, emoting from his eyes only and generally being a sexy beast. I recommend watching East of Eden and Rebel without a Cause before watching the way to long film Giant, although he is the only magificent one in that film.
4. Paul Newman
He did plenty of films after the studios collapsed, but I love his studio films just as much as his more lauded ones. His baby blue eyes shine even in black and white films. His performances are smoldering and subtle and I love him. That’s it. He is just awesome. My favorite films from this period are The Hustler and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. His later collarborations with Robert Redford are also magnificent but I am not talking about that period. So there.
3. Humphrey Bogart
I love his gruff voice. I love his age lines and his delivery. I love the roles he plays and the movies he is in. My favorites are Sabrina, Casablanca, The Big Sleep, Dark Victory, and the Petrified Forest. His pining for Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca is so subtle and yet over the top. He delivers dialogue so well that his lines are always worth repeating.
2. Jimmy Stewart
The epiony of silly leading men, he is suave and geeky at the same time. I love his affable smile and his ability to say “Aw shucks” and mean it. My favorite films are Harvey, The Philadelphia Story, Rear Window, The Shop Around the Corner, and Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. If you haven’t noticed I don’t have It’s a Wonderful Life on the list. That is deliberate. I hate that film with a passion.
1. Cary Grant
This actor could do anything. He could be scoundrel and still be charming. He could be charming and still be suave. He could deliver dialogue at a breakneck speed or be as slow as drunk. He also had amazing chemistry with one of my favorite actresses, Katherine Hepburn. He was so dead sexy in every single film he ever made. I say that with full authority despite the fact I haven’t seen every one of his films. My favorite films with him it are The Philadelphia Story, His Girl Friday, Notorious, North by Northwest, Arsenic and Old Lace, The Awful Truth, Bringing Up Baby, and I’m No Angel.
Gene Kelly (Man could this guy dance. I wanted him to take me up in his arms and whisk me around the dance floor.)
Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin (these two men are probably the best comedians ever. They both just missed my list.)
Clark Gable (Him alone in Gone with the Wind is enough for me to consider him for inclusion. His performance was just as great as Vivien Leigh’s.)
James Cagney (I am not as familiar with his body of work, so I can not speak to his abilities across the board. However I was severely impressed with The Public Enemy)
Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis (both for their roles in The Sweet Smell of Success, one of my favorite films of all time.)
Marlon Brando (This is also one that just barely missed a spot on my list. I love his performances in On the Waterfront and A Streetcar Named Desire.)