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I am watching NIGHT AFTER NIGHT, a *George Raft* precode from Paramount, circa 1932. *Mae West* is fourth-billed and this is her first film. She just steals this movie.

 

Have there been other debuts this memorable...?

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>Richard Widmark as Tommy Udo in 'Kiss Of Death' instantly comes to mind. But that's just off the top of my head. I'll have to think more about it.

 

Good example. He was on fire, like Mae West, right out of the box.

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Spencer Tracy in UP THE RIVER

Katherine Hepburn in A BILL OF DIVORCEMENT

John Garfield in FOUR DAUGHTERS

Orson Welles in CITIZEN KANE

Montgomery Clift in THE SEARCH

Paul Douglas in A LETTER TO THREE WIVES

Marlon Brando in THE MEN

 

Edited by: Arturo on Jul 7, 2011 6:59 PM

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Barbara Streisand in FUNNY GIRL is probably one of the biggest that I've seen in my lifetime. She tied with the longtime veteran Katharine Hepburn for an Oscar.

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*Roman Holiday was Audrey Hepburn's first Hollywood appearance, and one for which she won an Oscar.*

*Her charm in that movie and the follow-up, Sabrina, has yet to be matched by anyone.*
I don't think it's Best HOLLYWOOD Screen Debut, but best debut, period.
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Jef, much as I love Audrey Hepburn in *Roman Holiday*, it's not her screen debut, though it's her first starring role and her Hollywood debut. For instance, she'd played small roles in a couple of the Ealing comedies.

 

For those too young to remember, the screen debut of Barbra Streisand was eagerly anticipated. I knew two women who went to the first show in town when *Funny Girl* opened, and they started crying before the movie even began. This is excessive, but it does show how much some people wanted to see her on screen.

 

Because many people were upset that Julie Andrews hadn't had the chance to repeat her role in *My Fair Lady*, her debut in *Mary Poppins* was also eagerly awaited. It's hard to think of any comparable debuts in recent years, given that Broadway is now much less central to American culture.

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Thanks everyone for the great comments.

 

I have to say that I re-watched NIGHT AFTER NIGHT. I just thoroughly enjoyed this film today, the entire cast is fabulous. West is definitely inserted for comic relief, but all the players, including her, are given some very good roles with excellent opportunities for characterization. *Alison Skipworth* is particularly noteworthy, especially when she and West hook-up. In fact, they remind me of *Jean Harlow* and *Marie Dressler* together!

 

Highly recommend this title if you have not seen it yet.

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*I have to say that I re-watched NIGHT AFTER NIGHT. I just thoroughly enjoyed this film today, the entire cast is fabulous. West is definitely inserted for comic relief, but all the players, including her, are given some very good roles with excellent opportunities for characterization.*

 

After her illustrious and notorious Broadway career, West was not happy to make her debut in a secondary role. She was mollified by being allowed to rewrite her own dialogue, and THAT was the start of the Mae West legend on film.

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> ..... Audrey Hepburn. The fact that she had played a few bit parts is a technicality.

 

Another technicality:

Spencer Tracy's "debut" in UP THE RIVER (1930) was mentioned earlier. That was actually only his feature film debut. He had made three Vitaphone shorts before that.

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Richard Widmark, Kiss of Death

 

Burt Lancaster, The Killers

 

Sidney Greenstreet, The Maltese Falcon

 

Lauren Bacall, To Have and Have Not

 

and Al Pacino, Panic in Needle Park (1st feature role)

 

 

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Some notable ones that haven't been said:

 

Orson Welles in Citizen Kane (First Feature Film)

Joseph Cotten in Citizen Kane

Jean Seberg in Saint Joan

Haji in Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

Edward Norton in Primal Fear

Mark Hamill in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (First Feature Film)

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If we're mentioning CITIZEN KANE, Agnes Moorhead has a memorable first screen appearance.

 

By the way, Welles' earlier short film THE HEARTS OF AGE is on You Tube. He made it at age 19.

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