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MacBride

Character Actors

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I'll watch any film if certain actors show up in the credits. Any thoughts on actors like Richard Lane, Allen Jenkins, Patsy Kelly, Lucille Ball, Marc Lawrence, Jack Carson, Chester Morris, Kenneth Toby or on any of the hundreds of bit players whose pressence always helped elevate a mere "B" movie beyond the expectations of a particular studio which always seemed to show more interest in their "A" movie product due to higher bugets. I don't know about you, but movies like "Detour", "Dressed To Kill" and "Hoodlum" to name a few have made a deep impression on me, more than some of the Studios' bigger bugeted releases could ever have.

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Yes - I agree with you on Allen Jenkins, and Richard Lane was a one of my favorite faces. I've always loved the reporters in "His Girl Friday"....Ernest Truex, Roscoe Karns, Cliff Edwards, and Frank Jenks! So very good!

 

Character actors enrich a film just as much as the star whose name goes "above the title"....!

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A few favorites (including some still at it):

 

Whit Bissell -- if he's in it, I'll watch it

Timothy Carey -- if he's in it, I'll watch it over & over if only to watch him

Neville Brand -- I feel a menace

Joe Sawyer

Lionel Stander

William Demarest -- maybe the best at second (or third) banana

Arnold Stang -- I feel a smile coming on

Wallace Shawn -- The smile is immediate

Bob Balaban

Steve Buscemi -- the modern Timothy Carey?

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I've enjoyed the work of all the actors everyone has mentioned so far, and I'm sure there are hundreds more whose talent and face, if not the name has enriched a film viewer's enjoyment over the years. Lack of recognition for character actors is true today as it was in the past, atleast from popular ententaimnet magazines and tv shows(thanks for TCM.com and many other nostalgia websites currently on the net!). Where are the profiles--with photos and/or film shots ofcourse of character actors like Regina Taylor, John Finn, Chris Bauer, Jose Ferrer, Stephen Trobolowski, Kurt Fuller or Lindsay Crouse just to name a few? I know this forum is mainly for actors from older films, and while the filmworks of the unsung bit players speak for themselves, I just wish the media could shower these hard working talented artists with some well deserved praise instead of spashing one more celebrity's public display of poor judgement across the magazine pages and on the airwaves...ofcourse this is just my opinion for what its worth.

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The thing that I love about many of "Old Hollywood's" character actors is that they almost ALWAYS played the same character in each film they appeared in. They didn't even TRY to branch out and diversify their "schtick"....but somehow that's what endears them to us. They're RELIABLE in what they play....there's a certain "comfort zone" there for us, and when we see them appear on the screen, we KNOW what kind of a fun time we're in for.

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The wealth of character actors from the movies of the 30s and 40s is what made the TV of the 50s-60s, and even 70s so interesting - they had this wealth of great character actors to draw on for both costarring roles and bit parts. William Frawley, Demerest, Edgar Buchanan, and so on.

 

Next time you watch an I Love Lucy, since you know the episodes by heart anyways,watch Frawley, and ONLY Frawley. Even though he supposedly took his script, tore out only his bits, and threw the rest away - he always REACTS totally in character to whatever is going on. Only years of being a bit player/3rd banana can train you for that sort of thing, NOT two years at The Actor's Studio or whatever...

 

Well in to the 60s and 70s TV able to mine the movie character actor motherlode - what is Star Trek without DeForest Kelley? Or Hart to Hart with Lionel Stander?

 

Message was edited by: exapno

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10 FAVORITES

 

Edward Van Sloan

Dwight Frye

Douglas Fowley

Nat Pendleton

Harold Huber

Ralf Harolde

Noble Johnson

J. Carroll Naish

Ian Keith

Harry Cording

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If you're having problems recalling the names or faces of Hollywood's greatest character actors, go to www.dougmacaulay.com It's the best site I've seen devoted to those individuals who saved many a picture. Each actor has a mini-biography, listing of movies, and other trivia information. I keep it in my favorites and have refered to it numerous times.

 

MovieFan

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