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Die 50 besten Schauspieler aller Zeiten

Die 50 besten Schauspieler aller Zeiten

Im vorherigen Artikel über Klaus Kinski war die Rede von der Liste der 50 besten Schauspieler aller Zeiten, die von der britischen Fernsehgesellschaft BBC aufgestellt worden ist. Da es eine Nachfrage nach dieser Liste gab, reiche ich diese hier nach.

Sie ist in englischer Sprache und stammt von Alex Crawford einem Filmkritiker und Kinofachmann der BBC/London.

Die 50 besten Schauspieler aller ZeitenDie 50 besten Schauspieler aller Zeiten

50) WILL SMITH (1968-?)
BEST PERFORMANCE: ALI (2001)

Will Smith may seem like an odd choice, but he has proved stellar in four very different genres, action, romance, comedy and drama. His performance as Mohammed Ali was sensational, suggesting a long-lasting and rewarding career is destined.

49) BILL MURRAY (1950-?)
BEST PERFORMANCE: THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU (2004)

Bill Murray’s career has taken a number of turns, most notably from comedy god to dramatic and romantic lead of choice for a new generation of American independent filmmakers. His work with Wes Anderson, if it continues, could ensure his career being remembered in hushed tones.

48) MARTIN SHEEN (1940-?)
BEST PERFORMANCE: BADLANDS (1973)

Sheen’s career has probably become defined by his performance as America’s greatest ever (fictional) President, in TV’s The West Wing, but his film career is equally impressive. From a young serial killer in Badlands to the world-weary assassin of Apocalypse Now to the moral conscience of Wall Street, Sheen is a versatile and hugely impressive screen actor.

47) GARY COOPER (1901-1961)
BEST PERFORMANCE: HIGH NOON (1952)

I very nearly left Cooper off this list, but was reminded of his performance in Sergeant York and his terrific work in Mr Deeds Goes to Town, which when added to High Noon gives him a stunning resume. Add in a performance in Pride of the Yankees that could make a stone cry, and the fantastic social protesting of Meet John Doe, and you have one of the great screen actors.

46) TONY LEUNG (1962-?)
BEST PERFORMANCE: IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE (2000)

Leung’s work with Wong Kar-Wai has established him as modern cinema’s peerless romantic lead, something echoed by his performance as a lovelorn martial arts master in Hero. It is the versatility that he has shown in the likes of Infernal Affairs that secures his place on the list.

45) KLAUS KINSKI (1926-1991)
BEST PERFORMANCE: AGUIRRE, WRATH OF GOD (1971)

There is a moment in Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man, when he remarks that he has “seen that madness before, on a film set”, he is, I’m fairly sure referring to his collaborations with Klaus Kinski. Kinski was a brilliant lunatic, a man so unhinged that you were never, ever sure whether or not he knew he was actually acting, but the performances his madness produced are beyond reproach.

44) MORGAN FREEMAN (1937-?)
BEST PERFORMANCE: UNFORGIVEN (1992)

Morgan Freeman’s great, everyone knows that, but how often does he actually differ from the twinkly eyed, ultra-charming persona that is synonymous with his name? The answer is, obviously, often enough; Seven and Unforgiven, and even when he falls back on his stock role, he’s still great, like everyone knows.

43) WALTER MATTHAU (1920-2000)
BEST PERFORMANCE: JFK (1991)

Matthau might suffer in comparison to his frequent screen partner Jack Lemmon, but his performances in films like Charade and The Taking of Pelham 123 are superb. His work with Lemmon produced his two greatest moments, completely against type in JFK, a brutal cameo, and as the gloriously relaxed Oscar in The Odd Couple.

42) ALAIN DELON (1935-?)
BEST PERFORMANCE: LE CERCLE ROUGE (1970)

Delon’s career is a remarkable thing, he’s been brilliant in a number of indisputably classic movies. Il Gattopardo, Rocco and his Brothers, Le Samourai and Plein Soleil, that’s some career.

41) JACK NICHOLSON (1937-?)
BEST PERFORMANCE: CHINATOWN (1974)

Nicholson may be a disappointment to me, although his last five films have seen a change in his standard persona, films like About Schmidt or The Pledge show promise for a glorious denouement. His earlier movies saw huge promise, and The Last Detail, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Five Easy Pieces have survived the legend of Jack.

40) MICHAEL REDGRAVE (1908-1985)
BEST PERFORMANCE: THE LADY VANISHES (1938)

Redgrave has starred in two of my favourite films of all time, The Lady Vanishes and Dead of Night. Those two films, and the vastly different performances he gives would be enough, but when you factor in the likes of The Browning Version and The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, he has to be on this list.

39) CHARLIE CHAPLIN (1889-1977)
BEST PERFORMANCE: THE GREAT DICTATOR (1940)

Confession time: I prefer Buster Keaton to Charlie Chaplin; I would rather watch The General than any of Chaplin’s films, but there’s little question that Chaplin was the better actor. The Great Dictator features a simply brilliant performance, one of cinema’s greatest.

38) GREGORY PECK (1916-2003)
BEST PERFORMANCE: TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962)

Atticus Finch is one of the great characters of American fiction, and film. Gregory Peck’s work in realising Finch is sensational, and his trademarked decency improved several films, he suffers from never being, quite, able to live up to Mockingbird, but his career is marked by its glory.

37) EDWARD G ROBINSON
BEST PERFORMANCE: DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944)

Robinson, one of the original screen gangsters made his name in the likes of Little Caesar. However, it is his soulful and brilliant performance as the investigator, in love with his associate Fred MacMurray, in Double Indemnity that sealed his reputation as one of the all-time greats.

36) MICHAEL CAINE (1933-?)
BEST PERFORMANCE: HANNAH AND HER SISTERS

Get Carter, The Italian Job, Alfie, The Ipcress File, Michael Caine has done iconic as well as anybody else alive. It is his later career, shining in Hannah and Her Sisters, Batman Begins and The Quiet American that will ensure he goes down as one of the greatest British actors of all time.

35) BASIL RATHBONE (1892-1967)
BEST PERFORMANCE: THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938)

There has never been a better Sherlock Holmes or Sheriff of Nottingham than Basil Rathbone, two of the most iconic characters of British mythology. He shone in everything he ever did, and was one of the most engaging screen presences of all time.

34) TONY CURTIS (1925-?)
BEST PERFORMANCE: SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS (1957)

I’m as surprised as anyone to find Tony Curtis on this list, but how can you possibly ignore a CV as varied as his. Some Like it Hot, The Defiant Ones, The Boston Strangler, The Great Race and Winchester ’73 are absolute classics, and he is well worth his place here.

33) SPENCER TRACY (1900-1967)
BEST PERFORMANCE: INHERIT THE WIND (1960)

Tracy should possibly be higher, he’s a brilliant actor, one of only two to have won consecutive Best Actor Oscars, and one half of THE cinematic partnership. His work with the unequalled Katharine Hepburn was superb, but in Judgment at Nuremberg, Bad Day at Black Rock and Fury, he reaches great heights all on his own.

32) JEAN-PAUL BELMONDO (1933-?)
BEST PERFORMANCE: PIERROT LE FOU

Belmondo is a great actor, but his association with the brilliant Jean-Luc Godard hasn’t harmed him. A Bout de Souffle, Pierrot le Fou, Une Femme est Une Femme, saw him turn from great actor into unassailable style icon.

31) ROBERT DONAT (1905-1958)
BEST PERFORMANCE: GOODBYE MR CHIPS (1939)

Donat is a curiously underrated performer, imagine being able to convince as the genial schoolmaster in Goodbye Mr Chips just 4 years after playing Richard Hannay in The 39 Steps. He died terribly young, with only 20 film roles, but made such an indelible impression that one can only imagine how much higher he would have been, given another 20 years.

30) DONALD SUTHERLAND (1935-?)
BEST PERFORMANCE: DON’T LOOK NOW (1973)

Sutherland may go down as one of the most versatile actors of his generation, working comfortably with maverick directors like Nicolas Roeg, Alan J Pakula and Federico Fellini. Fellini referred to him as a “sperm-filled waxwork corpse with the eyes of a masturbator”, that’s fine, but what he should have said is that he is one of the greatest, most interesting and reliable actors of all time.

29) HUMPHREY BOGART (1899-1957)
BEST PERFORMANCE: THE AFRICAN QUEEN (1951)

Bogart is, perhaps, more icon than actor, but his development from hood for hire to romantic lead is a genuinely impressive one. He owes much of his career to Casablanca, but it is The African Queen that truly showcases his talent.

28) MAX VON SYDOW (1929-?)
BEST PERFORMANCE: THE SEVENTH SEAL (1957)

Von Sydow’s association with Ingmar Bergman rewarded him with a number of choice roles in brilliant, iconic roles. His later career, in English-language cinema has also been littered with great performances like Minority Report, The Exorcist and Hannah and her Sisters.

27) DENZEL WASHINGTON (1954-?)
BEST PERFORMANCE: HE GOT GAME (1998)

Denzel Washington is 50, how on earth did that happen? Equally as comfortable playing historical icons, like Malcolm X, Rubin Carter or Steve Biko and fictional characters as in He Got Game, Glory and Devil in a Blue Dress, Washington has a magnificent career behind him.

26) JAMES MASON (1909-1984)
BEST PERFORMANCE: ODD MAN OUT (1947)

Cinema’s greatest ever voice, and one of its greatest ever actors, James Mason had a rich, rewarding career as a leading man and character actor. He played one of Hitchcock’s greatest villains in North by Northwest, a sympathetic IRA man in Odd Man Out and the quintessential cinematic pederast in Lolita.

25) MARLON BRANDO (1924-2004)
BEST PERFORMANCE: ON THE WATERFRONT (1954). Then: THE GODFATHER (1972) and JULIUS CAESAR (1953)

Marlon Brando’s career is something that tends to provoke wistful thoughts about a severely wasted talent. Aside from the fallow years, Brando will probably be remembered as one of the most important, talented and iconic actors ever. From On the Waterfront to The Godfather, his range and versatility is something to behold, the emotional scenes in The Godfather are overwhelming.

24) ROBERT DE NIRO (1943-?)
BEST PERFORMANCE: RAGING BULL (1980). Then KING OF COMEDY (1983) and THE GODFATHER PART II (1974)

Robert De Niro, if his career had ended in 1991, after Goodfellas, or even 1995, after Heat, would have made the top ten of this list, but the sudden loss of his screen presence, charisma and ability is so alarming that he may be slightly fortunate to be this high. The brilliance of his work in the 70s and 80s is untouchable though. His performances in films like The Deer Hunter, Mean Streets and Once Upon a Time in America are part of the very fabric of cinema.

23) ORSON WELLES (1915-1985)
BEST PERFORMANCE: CITIZEN KANE (1941). Then TOUCH OF EVIL (1958) and THE THIRD MAN (1949)

Welles’ status as a true cinematic legend, a pioneer and a great innovator is undeniable. His work as a director and icon will endure for ever more. As an actor, he is criminally underrated, his performance as Charles Foster Kane is one of the finest of all time, and he followed it with a career of increasingly entertaining lunatic turns.

22) JOSEPH COTTEN (1905-1994)
BEST PERFORMANCE: SHADOW OF A DOUBT (1943). Then GASLIGHT (1944) and THE THIRD MAN (1949)

Joseph Cotten’s career was often linked with Orson Welles’. They worked together on The Third Man, Touch of Evil and Citizen Kane, but it is as Uncle Charlie in Shadow of a Doubt, that Cotten reached his greatest heights. It’s a splendidly nefarious performance from an actor who played good-natured more often than not.

21) WILLIAM HOLDEN (1918-1981)
BEST PERFORMANCE: SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950). Then THE WILD BUNCH (1969) and STALAG 17 (1953)

William Holden’s career longevity and development alone make him worthy of inclusion on this list. His performances for Billy Wilder were superb, but as he grew older, and into the face of a craggy old character actor, new depths were discovered. Network is the perfect end to a great and brilliant career.

20) CARY GRANT (1904-1986)
BEST PERFORMANCE: HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1940). Then THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (1940) and NOTORIOUS (1946)

Grant is often regarded as a one-trick pony, wrongly as it goes. The Cary Grant persona was often tweaked, subtly, most obviously in his collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock, specifically Notorious and Suspicion. That persona was one of the great performances, in and of, itself as well, and his ability as a romantic lead and as a comedic lead is unequalled.

19) GEORGE C SCOTT (1927-1999)
BEST PERFORMANCE: PATTON (1970). Then THE HUSTLER (1961) and DR STRANGELOVE (1964)

George C Scott was both an imposing presence and an incredible actor. He refused an Academy award for Patton, and didn’t turn doing so into a gimmick, unlike some other, more famous and celebrated actors. Despite a short career, a career with only precious few great films, add Anatomy of a Murder to the three above, Scott is absolutely worthy of this placing due to the fire and power of his work.

18) CLINT EASTWOOD (1930-?)
BEST PERFORMANCE: UNFORGIVEN (1992). Then PLAY MISTY FOR ME (1971) and DIRTY HARRY (1971)

Clint Eastwood helped to redefine screen acting and what it has meant for those that have followed him. His performances embody a world of stillness that has become part of the cinematic landscape. He’s given several brilliant performances, and become the icon of the Western in a way that John Wayne never managed.

17) TOSHIRO MIFUNE (1920-1997)
BEST PERFORMANCE: YOJIMBO (1961). Then RASHOMON (1950) and SEVEN SAMURAI (1954)

Mifune, the male muse of Akira Kurosawa, the visible alter-ego of one of the world’s greatest ever filmmakers was also a remarkable screen presence. He was also a brilliant actor. His performances in all of his collaborations with Kurosawa are simply terrific.

16) BURT LANCASTER (1913-1994)
BEST PERFORMANCE: THE LEOPARD (1963). Then SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS (1957) and ELMER GANTRY (1960)

Burt Lancaster is perennially underrated. His performances in the films above are as good as anyone else could have managed. He managed to portray several different characters with a great deal of style and assurance, his other performances in films like Judgment at Nuremberg, The Killers and Birdman of Alcatraz add up to a fabulous career.

15) JAMES CAGNEY (1899-1986)
BEST PERFORMANCE: ONE, TWO, THREE (1961). Then THE PUBLIC ENEMY (1931) and ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES (1938)

Cagney’s career went from song and dance man to seminal screen gangster. My favourite of his performances, though, was as a Coca Cola executive in Berlin in a Billy Wilder comedy. His performance, on its own, would have merited consideration for this list, attached to a career where he shone as a hoodlum; it is good enough for the top twenty.

14) PETER LORRE (1904-1964)
BEST PERFORMANCE: M (1931). Then THE MALTESE FALCON (1941) and CASABLANCA (1942)

Peter Lorre had the perfect face for a character actor. His trademark persona as a ratty, nervous man gave him a sustainable career with several standouts. His best turn, though, came in Fritz Lang’s brilliant chiller M, in which he is gloriously, terrifyingly depraved.

13) CHARLES LAUGHTON (1899-1962)
BEST PERFORMANCE: WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION (1957). Then HOBSON’S CHOICE (1954) and MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY (1935)

There have been few performances with more flair than Laughton’s remarkable turn as the lawyer at the centre of Billy Wilder’s Witness for the Prosecution. It dominates the film with an all-encompassing power that overpowers everything else. His Captain Bligh in Mutiny on the Bounty is similarly impressive.

12) TREVOR HOWARD (1913-1988)
BEST PERFORMANCE: A BRIEF ENCOUNTER (1945). Then THE THIRD MAN (1949) and RYAN’S DAUGHTER (1970)

Alec and Laura are one of cinema’s most enduring couples, and the performance of Trevor Howard is sublime. He’s been just about brilliant in everything he’s ever done. His performance in The Third Man, in a supporting role, is particularly good.

11) GENE HACKMAN (1930-?)
BEST PERFORMANCE: THE CONVERSATION (1974). Then THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS (2001) and THE FRENCH CONNECTION (1971)

The three films above, as well as Unforgiven and The Poseidon Adventure give some hint as to just how polished an actor Hackman is. He has been fantastic for almost four whole decades, giving one of his best performances in a small indie comedy for Wes Anderson just four years ago. There is no limit to his talent, and it was incredibly hard leaving him out of my top ten.

10) ROBERT MITCHUM (1917-1997)

BEST PERFORMANCE: THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955). Then OUT OF THE PAST (1947), CROSSFIRE (1947), HEAVEN KNOWS MR ALLISON (1957) and CAPE FEAR (1962)

Robert Mitchum is an oddly underrated actor. He gave, perhaps, the murkiest, most fascinating villainous performance in cinematic history in The Night of the Hunter. That performance, aside, he shone in films noirs, westerns and alongside the luminous Deborah Kerr in Heaven Knows Mr Allison. He will probably remain underrated, but not by me; Max Cady and the Reverend Harry Palmer? For one man to portray that level of evil twice, he had to be blessed by something pretty powerful.

9) SIR JOHN MILLS (1908-2005)

BEST PERFORMANCE: GREAT EXPECTATIONS. Then ICE COLD IN ALEX, GOODBYE MR CHIPS, TUNES OF GLORY and HOBSON’S CHOICE

Sir John Mills, who died last year will go down in history as one of the finest screen actors of all time. He graced more than 100 films, and all of them were far better for his presence. Great Expectations stands out, Lean’s film is one of the greatest British movies ever made, but Mills was the best thing about average films, and even the occasional poor one as well. I will remember him most fondly, I think, as the returning schoolboy in the tear-some Goodbye Mr Chips. RIP.

8) ALEC GUINNESS (1914-2000)

BEST PERFORMANCE: KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS (1949). Then THE LADYKILLERS (1955), THE LAVENDER HILL MOB (1951), GREAT EXPECTATIONS (1946) and THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI (1957).

By all accounts, Guinness was not a terribly pleasant man. To an entire generation he will be known as Obi Wan Kenobi, something that he himself found galling, yet despite both of those facts, he had to be this high on this list. His best work came in the several Ealing comedies he made, with The Man in the White Suit a low-key delight. It’s amazing that Great Expectations was his first major film, in a career that spanned fifty years. Had he made more films than the fifty he managed, he would have contended for the top spot on this list.

7) CLAUDE RAINS (1889-1967)

BEST PERFORMANCE: NOTORIOUS (1946). Then MR SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON (1939), CASABLANCA (1942), THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938) and NOW, VOYAGER (1942)

This is the highest position for someone who was never a leading man. Rains was a wonderful treat, a side dish that often overshadowed the main course in films in which he co-starred with several of his contemporaries, with high placings on this list. He was a wonderfully Machiavellian Prince John in the marvellous The Adventures of Robin Hood and stole Casablanca from one of the greatest central love stories. In Notorious, he makes a spineless Nazi, keeping Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman’s star crossed lovers apart and in Mr Smith Goes to Washington he provides the perfect muddy reflection of James Stewart’s idealism. Rains’ absence would have made Hollywood and cinemas the world over much, much poorer.

6) DUSTIN HOFFMAN (1937-?)

BEST PERFORMANCE: LENNY (1974). Then MIDNIGHT COWBOY (1969), ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN (1976), THE GRADUATE (1967) and LITTLE BIG MAN (1970)

I thought Dustin Hoffman would be higher, a lock for the top five. I rank his performance as Lenny Bruce as one of the finest I have ever seen. He was just as comfortable playing real life characters like Bruce or Carl Bernstein as he has been in fiction, which he has addressed with a voracious appetite. He has conquered comedy, drama and everything in between, giving wonderful recent turns in films like Moonlight Mile and I Heart Huckabees. It will always be the 10 year period that included the five films above, as well as Papillon, Straw Dogs and Marathon Man that will see him go down as one of the finest actors of not just his generation, but of all time.

5) HENRY FONDA (1905-1982)

BEST PERFORMANCE: TWELVE ANGRY MEN (1957). Then ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (1968), THE GRAPES OF WRATH (1940), THE WRONG MAN (1956) and THE LADY EVE (1941)

It must have been a great surprise for cinematic audiences, watching Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West, to have it revealed to them that the coldblooded killer of the McBain family, children and all, was Henry Fonda. His blue eyes peering from under the brim of his hat must have felt like an arrow to the heart for an audience that adored Fonda’s decency, kindness and honour. These were qualities that he had displayed in comedies, like Mister Roberts, dramas like The Grapes of Wrath and thrillers like Twelve Angry Men. Fonda grew into an actor with enormous range and huge popularity that he hardly ever took for granted. His career is truly special, having worked with great directors like Preston Sturges, John Ford, Sidney Lumet, Alfred Hitchcock, Sergio Leone, Otto Preminger and Fritz Lang.

4. PAUL NEWMAN (1925-?)

BEST PERFORMANCES:
1) THE HUSTLER (1961)
2) COOL HAND LUKE (1967)
3) BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID (1969)
4) THE STING (1973)
5) HUD (1963)
6) THE HUDSUCKER PROXY (1994)
7) THE VERDICT (1983)
8) SLAP SHOT (1977)
9) THE COLOR OF MONEY (1986)
10) SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME (1956)

While I was compiling this list in my head, I thought Newman would be my winner, or at worst my number two. What stopped him from winning is the fact that I really had to start searching for the worthwhile roles after the above number 7. Had he have won, it would have been richly deserved, he burned brightly as a solitary star, and as part of the greatest platonic screen partnership, with Robert Redford. He was staggeringly beautiful, but used his looks and presence to make edgy films with certified anti-heroes at the centre of them. From Eddie Felson in The Hustler and The Color of Money to Henry Gondorff in The Sting, the best Newman characters live in a shadowy world, somewhere slightly seedier than we might expect from his flawless facial features. History will remember him as a true great, someone at ease in lightly comic and tragic-dramatic roles, with great screen presence, enormous talent and huge charisma.

3. AL PACINO (1940-?)

BEST PERFORMANCES:
1) THE GODFATHER (1972)
2) THE GODFATHER PART II (1974)
3) DONNIE BRASCO (1997)
4) SERPICO (1973)
5) DOG DAY AFTERNOON (1975)
6) THE INSIDER (1999)
7) INSOMNIA (2002)
8) CARLITO’S WAY (1993)
9) LOOKING FOR RICHARD (1996)
10) GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS (1992)

First things first, the portrayal of Michael Corleone is the finest piece of screen acting I have ever seen. Pacino is simply remarkable in a role that could conceivably have gone to a lightweight like Ryan O Neal. It is the most complicated, detailed and scary portrayal of the descent into evil that has ever been assayed on screen. While his contemporary, Robert De Niro has faded since his heyday, Pacino continues to go on strong, with terrific performances for Michael Mann (Heat, The Insider), Mike Figgis (Donnie Brasco) and Christopher Nolan (Insomnia) recently. He has become more comfortable in effortlessly crowd-pleasing bad films, honing his shouty Al persona to such a degree that you don’t resent being short changed by the best actor of his generation co-starring with Matthew McConaughey or Colin Farrell. His heyday was undoubtedly in the mid 70s, where along with the connection he made with Frances Ford Coppola (The Godfather movies) he teamed up, to great effect with the brilliant Sidney Lumet (Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico).

2. JACK LEMMON (1925-2001)

BEST PERFORMANCES:
1) THE APARTMENT (1960)
2) GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS (1992)
3) DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES (1962)
4) SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959)
5) THE ODD COUPLE (1968)
6) MISSING (1982)
7) THE FORTUNE COOKIE (1966)
8) JFK (1991)
9) MISTER ROBERTS (1955)
10) IRMA LA DOUCE (1963)

Jack Lemmon is my favourite actor. He plays the lead in my favourite film, and worked frequently with my favourite director. His career lasted for nearly five decades, in which he rarely, if ever, gave a bad performance. He was equally capable of playing comic, romantic and dramatic leads, and shone in small, colourful supporting parts. The major criticism of him, I suppose, would be that he never played an out and out villain, although that is discounting his lovely performance in Blake Edwards’ The Great Race. Instead of playing two-dimensional characters, bringing the third dimension out with a terrific performance, Lemmon played flawed men with notions of their own heroism dashed by their palpable failings. So it is in James Foley’s Glengarry Glen Ross, where Lemmon’s character could conceivably have been CC Baxter 30 difficult years later. His range was complete, and unlike the rest of this final four, he was a genuine screen comedian. I don’t like to think of him second, on this list. I’ll call him first and a half.

1. JAMES STEWART (1908-1997)

BEST PERFORMANCES:
1) VERTIGO (1958)
2) REAR WINDOW (1954)
3) MR SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON (1939)
4) IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946)
5) ANATOMY OF A MURDER (1959)
6) HARVEY (1950)
7) THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (1940)
8) THE MAN FROM LARAMIE (1955)
9) THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE (1962)
10) THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER (1940)

But, Jimmy Stewart always played himself! I can hear the cries from here, Jimmy never really acted! Jimmy picked his roles well, that’s all! Well, that’s all absolute nonsense. If Jimmy Stewart really was George Bailey and Scottie, if he really was Paul Biegler and Elwood P. Dowd, then he was a man suffering from a severe strain of multiple personality disorder. There was nothing that Stewart couldn’t do. He breathed idealism into the audience, allowing us to believe in the good natures of his characters in the films he made with Frank Capra (It’s A Wonderful Life, Mr Smith Goes to Washington) and dread the terrible turns he might take working for Hitchcock (Vertigo) or Anthony Mann (Bend of the River). He was able to essay romantic leads, heroes and creepy old men hiding behind the veneer of decency. He was, simply, brilliant from the very start of his career to the very end.

(c) by Alex Crawford

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Peter Wilhelm

Peter Wilhelm

Fachjournalist Peter Wilhelm schreibt hier über die Nebensächlichkeiten der Welt.
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