Norm Geras loves those polls! This one’s a request from Norm to list your ten favorite movie stars.
It’s a bit embarrassing to admit that I’m not much of a moviegoer. Over the years I’ve gone to the movies less and less, and liked far fewer of them than I used to. That’s not to say I don’t have favorites. And the movies I do like, I tend to love inordinately.
Same for whatever passes for movie stars these days. To me, there aren’t any current ones, although there are certainly excellent actors and actresses (or, in the interests of gender equality, aren’t they all called “actors” these days? So hard to keep up with these trends). But to me, the real movie stars are all in the past.
So, this will be my very idiosyncratic, and exceedingly retro, list. What do these stars have in common? Well, as with movies—the ones I like, I tend to love. And so I have some feelings of love—not just admiration, or interest—for each of the following movie stars. Listed in no particular order:
1. Cary Grant
The most charming guy in the world, who always seemed to be mocking himself ever-so-slightly, and letting the audience in on the delightful joke.
2. Audrey Hepburn
If Cary Grant (see above) was the most charming guy in the world, she was definitely the most charming lady. Nobody ever looked remotely like her, and nobody ever will.
3. Gary Cooper
My idea of a hero—complex and somewhat tormented. Watch the amazing play of emotions on his deceptively immobile face in “High Noon.”
4. Henry Fonda
I fell in love with the achingly young Fonda (“Drums Along the Mohawk;” “Young Mr. Lincoln”) when I was about seven years old. The movies were in black and white, on our tiny TV, but it didn’t much matter. Fonda as Abe Lincoln? Forget about historical accuracy—just watch the movie.
5. Jack Lemmon
He could do pathos (“Days of Wine and Roses”). But no one has ever been funnier than he was in “Some Like it Hot.”
6. Sophia Loren
See her in anything she made with the wonderful Marcello Mastroianni. Then watch her as an Italian Mother Courage in “Two Women.”
7. Steve McQueen
I told you this was about love, not acting. My favorite bad boy. Brando didn’t hold any interest for me; McQueen did. Go figure. Especially in that exciting hymn to male pulchritude (not a woman in the entire cast) and courage, “The Great Escape.”
8. Natalie Wood
If you haven’t seen “Splendor in the Grass,” you may wonder why she’s in here. If you have seen it, then I bet you don’t wonder.
9. Liv Ullman
Transcendent and luminescent in “The Emigrants” and “The New Land,” two of the greatest movies of all time.
10. Paul Newman
Another childhood crush, in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” and “The Hustler.” He had an edge. And boy, has he aged well!