May 29th, 2005

Normblog poll: movie stars

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!

8 Responses to “Normblog poll: movie stars”

  1. neo-neocon Says:

    Gregory Peck, Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, and Deborah Kerr–sorta, sorta, sorta, and no. I only liked Peck in “On the Beach,” for some reason. Otherwise, he left me cold, cold, cold. Tracy and Hepburn were fun, but no love for them at all, not from me, anyway (except for “The African Queen,” and for Hepburn and Bogart in it). Deborah Kerr didn’t even register on my radar screen.

    But meander, I know exactly what you’re talking about!

    And against the wind, thanks!

    As for Cary–words cannot describe how much your visit to my humble blog means to me.

    Pancho–glad you understand about McQueen. I’ve taken quite a bit of flak in my life for my devotion to him.

  2. against the wind Says:

    Whoops, it’s rare, but the stars don’t grab me and never did. Odd that, because I love images, and they are nothing if not about images. Anyway, just dropped by to say thanks, and that I’ve linked to your blog on why the name. I almost always enjoy your writing… scratch almost. Even when on a subject I don’t give a rats behind about, like the present one, I still enjoy reading your comments.

  3. meander Says:

    Ahhh, Paul Newman….when this then 13 yr old (or so) looked up into those amazing blue eyes when he was in Exodus, something sooo visceral happened. I fell deeply and loyally in love and any boy in highschool who remotely struck me as looking like Paul Newman was the object of an intense crush. And I could only have crushes on the boys because my mature “love” emotion was all reserved for Paul. I remember when I joined his official fan club, my membership card and autographed picture arrived in the mail on my birthday.It was like, “oh, my god, a sign from the heavens that Paul and I are destined to be together” I hated to think about the fact that he was closer to my mother’s age than mine. I would project the age difference into the future so it didn’t sound so shocking. According to my calculations, I’d be just about right for him now…we wouldn’t raise any eyebrows at all! OK, I’ve totally embarrassed myself and your readers know way more about the impressionable, early adolescent meander than they care to. In my defense, I always did recognize he was an outstanding actor and brought a convincing intensity to any role he played. Actually, I also loved his lighter, fluff stuff. I will now stop writing about the youthful Paul Newman…yes, I can do this. Hey, Cary, loved your post…made me smile big!

  4. Anonymous Says:

    I also like your list. But what about Gregory Peck? Spencer Tracy? Katherine Hepburn? Deborah Kerr? Bet you like them also. Your taste and mine coincide. I especially agree with you on your first two picks…Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. Remember the killer movie “Charade”. Had my favorite line in a movie. Audrey Hepburn looks Cary Grant straight in the eye and says “You know what’s wrong with you?” He shrugs that he doesn’t and she says “NOTHING!”. LOL

  5. Pancho Says:

    I like your list. And being of your age group I can tell you that most teenaged boys thought Steve McQueen was pretty cool too!

    I would add several to the list, but one for sure would be Sam Elliott. I got a chance to spend time with him during the filming of We Were Soldiers. In person he is exactly as you would expect him to be, quiet, humble and soft spoken. Not to mention a patriotic guy and a conservative!

  6. Cary Says:

    Well Neo, Neo, Neo! I’m flattered, a blushing Brit I am. Was just discussing the subject (of movies, not myself) with Rosalind and Ralph – you might recall we did a perfectly lovely movie together, all credit to Rosalind for the lovely aspect of it, indubitably, while Ralph played the straight man and I the clowning rogue. Sharing some warm memories, we were, when the three of us decided to logon and visit the eminently sensible and talented Neo-neocon. ISP’s are a bit expensive up here as you might imagine, but our credit is endless you see, not a taxing burden in the least, a perfectly enjoyable arrangement it is.

    Well, gotta go, there’s this lady I’ve been looking for up here, seems forever I’ve been calling her name, keep calling her over and over, nice lady she is, lovely, perfectly lovely I say. Only thing a bit odd about her is her first, middle and last names are all the same! Imagine that will you. Goes by the name of Judy she does. Bye now and do take care. Now, where is that lady?

  7. Raisa Cadrette Says:

    Vielen Dank für Ihre Hilfe!

  8. Dumbbell Set Weights %0B Says:

    i am a movie addict and i watch a lot of movie in just one night, the greatest movie for me is Somewhere In Tome ,.-

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.


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