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Battle de Los Georges: Who is the worse actor: Brent or Raft?

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Calling all haters:


This is one of those "a tree falls in the woods" type of things, meant to help clear the mind, overcome insomnia, or pass the time in traffic:


Who is the worse actor: George Brent or George Raft?


Bonus: name an actor who was consistently as bad or worse in all 1940's (relatively well known and decent) cinema- I will allow Ronald Reagan and Broderick Crawford into the mix, (although I feel they are both less bad than Los Georges.)


My vote goes to Brent- if only because he comes damn close to ruining a lot of movies that would've been better with a charismatic or handsome or even competent actor in his role: "Dark Victory", "In This Our Life," "The Old Maid," "My Reputation," and "Old Acquaintance"- that last one has problems aside from his non-performance, but still, he sucks.


And he has a dumpy butt. I know that's mean, but seriously! Check it out in "Dark Victory"- he should've taken out ad space on that thing!


(Not meaning to shortchange Raft here by any means though, has anyone seen "Manpower"?, EESH!) It's just that, while a lousy actor, he at least fits in with some of the stuff he did (ie- anything where he plays a crass, brain-dead hooligan.)


And TCM is apparently "saluting" Brent in March. For what?



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Raft wasn't all that bad in INVISIBLE STRIPES and THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT...... Brent couldn't have been ALL bad or Davis wouldn't have been asking for him time and again. Maybe she just wanted to be sure that no actor would outshine her...... Crawford may not have been a great actor, but I really liked his style and delivery.


Edited by: finance on Dec 10, 2009 1:22 PM

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Bad acting is not an unforgiveable offense. Old Hollywood routinely overlooked it. As long as the story held up, it didn't seem to matter. But a dumpy butt is inexcusable. Many a potential classic has been dismissed and forgotten due to that very syndrome. Andrew Sarris famously panned THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE as "an effective thriller rendered laughable by Brent's dumpy butt." It was this trait that finally drove the actor from society, restricting his company to fellow sufferer Ralph Bellamy.


Laird Cregar had a big head. More than once, production was shut down as he became stuck in a doorway, or knocked an actress unconscious during a love scene. Studio legend has him removing his hat on a hot day, only to have John Qualen mistake it for a lounge chair. The two never spoke again.

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One of the great things about TCM is that we're able in many cases to view movies from the breadth of an actor's entire career and get past decades-old stereotypes, i.e., Fred MacMurray as the sweater-wearing dad (he turns out to be quite a hunk in movies like NO TIME FOR LOVE, and have an interesting dark edge in others) and George Brent as boring or a bad actor.


I started looking at George Brent in a whole new light after seeing him in his "pre-mustache" pre-Codes like FEMALE and THE PURCHASE PRICE. He was really quite an interesting actor. His early performances were typically less somber and more energetic -- the subject matter of many of his later movies demanded more serious performances -- but I have since moved on to seeing many of his later films, like MY REPUTATION and TOMORROW IS FOREVER, and feel that he has been unjustly underrated.


I don't know enough about George Raft to comment, but I feel there are usually valuable things to be found in any actor's career, and I personally think it's more interesting to focus positively on what an actor brought to classic films. The more movies I see, the more I find to appreciate. JMHO.

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finally - a subject worth replying to! i'd just like to broaden the scope a little: say, a list of the 10 worst actors. notably those who somehow or other eked out a career. anyone can be wretched in one or two flics - it's an impressive feat to be consistently dreadful and get your contract picked up (singers turned actor - like bing crosby, elvis, sinatra - don't count; nor do comics). also, with special emphasis on those actors who - on some base biological level - rankle and offend the senses. i submit the following partial list for your consideration:


john wayne

dick powell

robert ryan

charles boyer

james garner

clint eastwood

van johnson

adolphe menjou

john barrymore

micky rooney

pat o'brien


ok - a partial list, so many more, but a start.

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George Brent was quite attractive in the pre-Code era (check out LILY TURNER). He wasn't meant to be Paul Muni or George Arliss. And I think George Raft would make a great SOTM...as long as his early Paramount pics are included.

P.S. I like B-movies and they don't require method acting.

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finally - a subject worth replying to! i'd just like to broaden the scope a little: say, a list of the 10 worst actors. notably those who somehow or other eked out a career. anyone can be wretched in one or two flics - it's an impressive feat to be consistently dreadful and get your contract picked up (singers turned actor - like bing crosby, elvis, sinatra - don't count; nor do comics). also, with special emphasis on those actors who - on some base biological level - rankle and offend the senses. i submit the following partial list for your consideration:


john wayne

dick powell

robert ryan

charles boyer

james garner

clint eastwood

van johnson

adolphe menjou

john barrymore

micky rooney

pat o'brien


ok - a partial list, so many more, but a start.


Okay, I can see where you are going here, but I think you are confusing some really bad actors with some really fine ones. Now lets be clear about this. I agree that many actors are not worth their salt and high pay, but to include the above group is not really doing justice to a list of the worst actors.

Which I am NOT going to list here.


Instead I am going to take the list you made above and list some of these actor's best roles.


Dick Powell


Philip Marlowe in Murder, My Sweet (1945)

Billy Lawler in 42nd Street (1933)

Brad Roberts in Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)

Scott 'Scotty' Blair in Footlight Parade (1933)

Jimmy Higgins in Dames (1934)

Lysander in A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935)

Jimmy MacDonald in Christmas in July (1940)

John Forbes in Pitfall (1948)

James Lee Bartlow in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)


John Wayne


Ethan Edwards in The Searchers (1956)

The Ringo Kid in Stagecoach (1939)

Lt. J.G. "Rusty" Ryan in They Were Expendable (1945)

Capt. Kirby York in Fort Apache (1948)

Tom Dunson in Red River (1948)

Sgt. John M. Stryker in The Sands of Iwo Jima (1949)

Capt. Nathan Cutting Brittles in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949)

Lt. Col. Kirby Yorke in Rio Grande (1950)

Sean Thornton in The Quiet Man (1952)

Frank W. (Spig) Wead in The Wings of Eagles (1957)

John T. Chance in Rio Bravo (1959)

Lieut. Col. Benjamin Vandervoort in The Longest Day (1962)

Tom Doniphon in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

Sean Mercer in Hatari! (1962)

Cole Thornton in El Dorado (1967)

Reuben J. 'Rooster' Cogburn in True Grit (1969)

John S. Chisum in Chisum (1970)

Wil Anderson in The Cowboys (1972)

John Bernard Books in The Shootist (1976)


Robert Ryan


Jim Wilson in On Dangerous Ground (1951)

Monty Montgomery in Crossfire (1947)

Dr. Evans in The Boy With Green Hair (1948)

Smith Ohlrig in Caught (1949)

Bill 'Stoker' Thompson in The Set-Up (1949)

Earl Pfeiffer in Clash By Night (1952)

Ben Vandergroat in The Naked Spur (1953)

Reno Smith in Bad Day At Black Rock (1955)

Nathan Stark in The Tall Men (1955)

Master-at-Arms John Claggart in Billy Budd (1962)

Brig. Gen. James M. Gavin in The Longest Day (1962)

Gen. Grey in Battle of the Bulge (1965)

Hans Enrengard in The Professionals (1966)

Col. Everett Dasher-Breed in The Dirty Dozen (1967)

Deke Thornton in The Wild Bunch (1969)


Charles Boyer

Pepe Le Moko in Algiers (1938)

Archduke Rudolph of Austria in Mayerling (1936)

Napoleon in Conquest (1937)

Paul Durmond in History Is Made At Night (1937)

Michael Marnet in Love Affair (1939)

Theo, Duc de Praslin in All This, And Heaven Too (1940)

Walter Saxel in Back Street (1941)

Georges Iscovescu in Hold Back the Dawn (1941)

Gregory Anton in Gaslight (1944)

Adam Belinski in Cluny Brown (1946)

Cesar in Fanny (1961)

Victor Velasco in Barefoot in the Park (1967)


James Garner


Jason McCullough in Support Your Local Sheriff (1969)

Cash McCall in Cash McCall (1959)

Doctor Joe Cardin in The Children's Hour (1961)

Flt. Lieut. Bob Anthony Hendley in The Great Escape (1963)

Nicholas Arden in Move Over, Darling (1963)

Dr. Gerald Boyer in The Thrill of It All (1963)

Henry Tyroon in The Wheeler Dealers (1963)

Lieut. Comm. Charles E. Madison in The Americanization of Emily (1964)

Pete Aron in Grand Prix (1966)

Wyatt Earp in Hour of the Gun (1967)

King Marchand in Victor/Victoria (1982)

Zack in Tank (1984)

Murphy Jones in Murphy's Romance (1985)

Zane Cooper in Maverick (1994)

Tank Sullivan in Space Cowboys (2000)

Shep Walker in Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (2002)

Duke in The Notebook (2004)


Clint Eastwood


"Dirty Harry" Callahan in:

Dirty Harry (1971)

Magnum Force (1973)

The Enforcer (1975)

Sudden Impact (1983)

"Spaghetti" Western films of Italian director Sergio Leone:

A Fistful of Dollars (1964)

For a Few Dollars More (1965)

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (1966)

Jed Cooper in Hang 'Em High (1967)

Deputy Sheriff Walt Coogan in Coogan's Bluff (1968)

Lieut. Morris Pimpennel Schaffer in Where Eagles Dare (1969)

Pvt. Kelly in Kelly's Heroes (1970)

Corporal John McBurney in The Beguiled (1971)

Dave Garland in Play Misty for Me (1971)

The Stranger in High Plains Drifter (1972)

Josey Wales in The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)

Frank Morris in Escape from Alcatraz (1979)

Bronco Billy McCoy in Bronco Billy (1980)

The Preacher in Pale Rider (1985)

William Munny in Unforgiven (1992)

Frank Horrigan in In the Line of Fire (1993)

Red Garnett in A Perfect World (1993)

Dr. Francis D. 'Frank' Corvin in Space Cowboys (2000)

Frankie Dunn in Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Walt Kowalski in Gran Torino (2008)


Van Johnson


Ted Randall in A Guy Named Joe (1943)

Marcus Macauley in The Human Comedy (1943)

Lieut. Ted Lawson in Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944)

Major Thomas Milvaine in Thrill of a Romance (1945)

Capt. James Hollis in Week-End at the Waldorf (1945)

Tech. Sgt. Immanuel T. Evans in Command Decision (1948)

'Spike' McManus in State of the Union (1948)

Pvt. Holley in Battleground (1949)

Andrew Derby Larkin in In the Good Old Summertime (1949)

Eric Wainwright in Too Young to Kiss (1951)

Joseph T. Gresham in Washington Story (1952)

Jeff Douglas in Brigadoon (1954)

Lieut. Steve Maryk in The Caine Mutiny (1954)

Charles Wills in The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954)

Maurice Bendrix in The End of the Affair (1955)

Phillip Hannon in 23 Paces to Baker Street (1956)

Pvt. Arthur Hugenon in Miracle in the Rain (1956)


Adophe Menjou


La Bessiere in Morocco (1930)

Walter Burns in The Front Page (1931)

Major Rinaldi in A Farewell to Arms (1932)

Lewis Easton in Morning Glory (1933)

Anthony Powell in Stage Door (1937)

Oliver Niles in A Star is Born (1937)

Jim Conover in State of the Union (1948)

General Broulard in Paths of Glory (1957)


John Barrymore


A.J. Raffles in Raffles, The Amateur Cracksman (1917)

Dr. Henry Jekyll/Mr. Hyde in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920)

Gordon Bryon "Beau" Brummel in Beau Brummel (1924)

Don Juan in Don Juan (1926)

Francois Villon in The Beloved Rogue (1927)

Maestro Svengali in Svengali (1931)

Baron Felix von Gaigern in Grand Hotel (1932)

Hillary Fairfield in A Bill of Divorcement (1932)

Larry Renault in Dinner at Eight (1933)

Prince Paul Chegodieff in Rasputin and the Empress (1933)

Prof. Auguste A. Topaze in Topaze (1933)

Oscar Jaffe in Twentieth Century (1934) (tie)

Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet (1936)

Col. Neilson in Bulldog Drummond Comes Back (1937)

Nicolai Nazaroff in Maytime (1937)

King Louis XV in Marie Antoinette (1938)

Georges Flammarion in Midnight (1939)


Mickey Rooney


"Andy Hardy" series of films (from 1937-1947)

Puck, or Robin Goodfellow in A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935)

Dick Tipton in Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936)

Dan Troop in Captains Courageous (1937)

Andy Hardy in A Family Affair (1937)

Whitey Marsh in Boys Town (1938)

Huck Finn in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1939)

Mickey Moran in Babes in Arms (1939)

James 'Jimmy' Connors in Strike Up the Band (1940)

Tommy Williams in Babes on Broadway (1941)

Danny Churchill, Jr. in Girl Crazy (1943)

Homer Macauley in The Human Comedy (1943)

Mike Taylor in National Velvet (1944)

Dooley in The Bold and the Brave (1956)

Henry Dailey in The Black Stallion (1979)


Pat O'Brien


Hildy Johnson in The Front Page (1931)

Jim Brogan in Bombshell (1933)

Biff Martin in Here Comes the Navy (1934)

Jake Lee in Ceiling Zero (1935)

Jerry Connelly in Angels With Dirty Faces (1938)

Knute Rockne in Knute Rockne, All-American (1940)

Father Duffy in The Fighting 69th (1940)

Gramp in The Boy with Green Hair (1958)

John Gorman in The Last Hurrah (1958)

Mulligan in Some Like It Hot (1959)

Delmas in Ragtime (1981)


Message edited by Fxreyman

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Yeah, again, mad props to Mr. Foxey- even punctuated to perfection!


As far as the proposed "ten worst" list, I'd have to say I'm NOT on board with most of the choices, I think Rooney, Boyer, John Wayne and Robert Ryan in particular are really GREAT actors.


I did not realize that George Brent was apparently such a red-hot ball of sexual charisma in his pre-code stuff, I will have to check those out some time in March.


I still say he got a dumpy butt. Check it out the next time they show DARK VICTORY, Hey! Bette! You're not going blind! It's just George Brent's giant, dumpy butt eclipsing the sun!


My point being: Robert Taylor wasn't exactly Chekhov material either, but hey, he hit the gym on occasion.


And we also haven't taken the time to beat up on Raft. I mean, really, have any of you seen MANPOWER (I think that's what it's called, it's the story about two utility pole workers battling it out over Marlene Dietrich and seriously, it's almost as hilarious as TOMORROW: THE WORLD!)

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> {quote:title=finance wrote:}{quote}

> The performance that Raft REALLY took a critical drubbing on was as the detective in BLACK WIDOW.



OH MY GOD! It is NUTS that you mentioned that! I Netflixed BLACK WIDOW the other night and it SUUUUUUUUUPER SUCKS! I pinned it to my mailbox the minute I was done with it, AND it was pouring rain at the time. TACKY, TACKY 1950'S Technicolor 2oth Century Fox TWADDLE. Tons of extras on the dvd, but Raft is awful, Van Heflin is awful, awful, and Gene Tierney is awful (poor thing),


Ginger Rogers has her moments in it though...

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Maybe Bette Davis requested George Brent time and time again for two reasons: 1) He NEVER overshadowed the leading lady and 2) He left black hairdye stains all over her pillowcase when they had an affair. Also, some interesting tidbits about Mr. George Brendan Nolan -- he was a licensed pilot, and when asked why their marriage failed, Ann Sheridan famously quipped "Brent Bent!."

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I always find Brent way more interesting that Raft. With Raft it always seems like you can see the machinations of his acting--stand here, say line, walk and hit your mark, say another line. For the lack of a better word, wooden. And worst, uninteresting.


Brent, especially in the 30's, had a lot of juicy roles where he actually displayed some emotion.


However, you can't find 2 guys with more interesting back stories than Mr. Brent & Mr. Raft.

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i also enjoy the story on the "DOUBLE INDEMNITY" DVD extras about how Billy Wilder and company just could NOT find a leading man because the material was so dark and salacious. finally, they scraped the bottom of the barrel and went to George Raft.


Wilder told him the story and Raft interrupted him 2/3 of the way through and said (something to the effect of): "where's the badge scene?" Wilder was like, "do what now?" and Raft was all: "the badge! The badge! Where's the scene where the guy whips out his badge and takes the dame in to headquarters?"


Ultimately, Thank God for Fred MacMurray, you know?

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I always liked George Brent--he was understated, but held my attention. In his defense, the only man he had to act over in"Dark Victory" was Ronald Reagan, and that wasn't hard. (Fortunately he didn't have any scenes with Bogart). By the time Brent's leading-man career was over, he got the best part of his life in "The Spiral Staircase". There he showed himself to be a controlled-compelling screen actor.

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May I submit, as well, that Farley Granger is annoying? Hero, villain or psychopath, his characters share one common trait. They're annoying! Angst-filled, indecisive, self serving. And funny looking! His expression is always halfway to grimace, but he just can't quite get there. He looks like you feel when you've had novocain, and one side of your mouth is in contrast with the rest of your face. Annoying!

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Grab a copy of CHRISTMAS EVE and you'll see the two Georges get wiped off the screen by Randolph Scott. Their time together is brief though.


Raft was actually better before he hit Warners. He shows life in THE BOWERY, SPAWN OF THE NORTH and SOULS AT SEA. While I like MANPOWER, I find it hard to believe there's anything hot going on between Dietrich and Raft as they have one expression between them.

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George Brent was SOTM in May 1997. There were rarely seen films which gives one an even better appreciation for him than always seeing "Dark Victory" repeated.


For those who've not heard this trivia about his life, from Wikipedia (and read in other souces):


"Brent was part of an IRA Active Service Unit as early as 1920, carrying out IRA directives. He fled with a bounty set on his head by the British, although he claimed only to have been a courier for guerrilla leader and tactician Michael Collins."

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Both are cool IMO.


Brent seemed to undergo some sort of transformation around the time of his mustache appearance. I could be wrong but before that, he seemed more carefree and easy going on screen. After it appeared in most of his roles, he seemed more uptight for some reason. Dunno just my impression! I loved him in pre-codes and mid-30's films, not as much later, but he was good in some B films in the early 40's.


Raft, man, I can see why some might not think he's not a great actor, cos he doesn't really come off as that to me either, but the dude had some wicked screen presence. I can never take my eyes off him when he's on-screen, much in the way that Eddie G or Jimmy Cagney are for me, but I would say that they are also awesome actors to go along with their screen magnetism. Love the Raft though!

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