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The Greatest Performance on Film


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I love so many performances, I go with tear jerkers, I also go for classic tear jerkers, but usually the build up, the story, the scene, the camera angles, the looks, more than GREAT acting evokes all the sentiment ( which I don't mind at all... love those movies to DEATH.) However, Sally Fields in Steel Magnolia's is such a completely well portrayed, natural performance- and her emotion at the cemetery, with all her friends surrounding her, following her as she virtually breaks down and says all the things we feel when we lose a child or immediate family member but don't feel it's proper to say. I geuss because my brother died and I saw my mom go through that same turmoil- she just seems exactly like my mom, and that is how natural and believable she is. I am always blown away at how you feel your intruding on someone's private grief when you watch that scene. I basically haven't watched that movie in years bacause that scene is so emotionally draining bringing back floods of memories. Great great performance .

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That's an easy choice for me.

 

I've always thought that OLIVIA DE HAVILLAND and VIVIEN LEIGH gave two of the greatest of all time:

 

1. Olivia in THE SNAKE PIT ('48) and THE HEIRESS ('49).

 

2. Vivien in GONE WITH THE WIND ('39) and A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE ('51).

 

And, of course, over the years both of them gave many other remarkable performances in films too numerous to mention. Never a question to me as to their greatness in the above-mentioned roles.

 

Among the actors, I have no immediate favorite but Cagney, Stewart,Gable and Olivier gave some mighty impressive performances in a varied list of films.

 

Neil

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well I don't think I'm qualified to guess the greatest performances ever, but here are some of my favorites.

 

Vivien Leigh-A Streetcar Named Desire. I was completely floored when I first saw this one. Right away in that opening shot of her coming through the smoke from the train, I just knew this was going to be special. (She's wonderful in anything she's in including Waterloo Bridge, Anna Karenina and GWTW)

 

Jane Wyamn-The Yearling. I have to admit that before seeing this, I had never considered Ms. Wyman a great actress. But, boy, did she prove me wrong here. This performance is so heartbreaking...it just moves me every time I see it. She never hits a false note and her character's transformation from a cold, bitter woman to a warm and loving mother is done with such subtlety and realism...astonishing.

 

Greer Garson-The Miniver Story. I know this is a very unconventional choice for Ms. Garson since this isn't one of her best remembered films, but I think it's her finest performance. There's just something about it that is so beautiful thought I can't really explain it. Just a wonderful and touching portrayal that is another addition to her many, MANY terrific performances.

 

Anne Baxter-The Razor's Edge. Absolutely heartwrenching performance here. I was mightily impressed by Baxter here and this one stayed with me for quite a while. I was so impressed with her big drunk scene. I feel many actresses would have gone overboard here, but her characterization is perfect...not too over the top but still very convincing. Beautiful.

 

I have many others, but I think I've talked enough:)

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