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What is the greatest classic movie performance?


MovieMadness
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There are some movies where i think the actor was amazing, showing a range of acting. It may be a peaceful guy to start and turns mean like Tracy in Fury or is a cheerful young teen girl and later is older and broken like Shearer in Marie Antoinette.

 

What is the greatest performance, if there was only one or two Oscars to give out for all time?

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Bogart in Casablanca and Falconetti in The Passion of Joan of Arc.

Falconetti in the magnificent "The Passion of Joan of Arc" most certainly gets my vote for greatest classic performance.  Simply riveting with mind boggling emotional range and depth.  A performance for the ages.

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Now, THAT'S a loose question if I ever read one.

 

Strictly, of course, a matter of opinion.  Someone who may be a big CLARK GABLE fan might pick something of HIS.  Then again, a CLAUDE RAINES fan would make a different choice.  OR that one nice lady, I forget her screen name, who died a few years ago, but was a HUGE John Garfield fan, and would have come up with a performance of HIS.

 

I think it best I just wrap this commentary up and sit this one out, or just for laughs, I may choose something by HUNTZ HALL!

 

 

 

Sepiatone

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Now, THAT'S a loose question if I ever read one.

 

Strictly, of course, a matter of opinion.  Someone who may be a big CLARK GABLE fan might pick something of HIS.  Then again, a CLAUDE RAINES fan would make a different choice.  OR that one nice lady, I forget her screen name, who died a few years ago, but was a HUGE John Garfield fan, and would have come up with a performance of HIS.

 

I think it best I just wrap this commentary up and sit this one out, or just for laughs, I may choose something by HUNTZ HALL!

 

 

 

Sepiatone

On a board choked with personal threads and uninteresting questions, I don't mind the question at all.

 

My problem is coming up with just one answer. Of course it's subjective, and of course it's personal. 

 

Heck, I might just offer up Warren William in Skyscraper Souls. :wub:

 

Lionel Barrymore in On Borrowed Time, at least the first time I saw it.

 

Ann Harding in everything. James Cagney in everything. Philip Seymour Hoffman in everything.

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Still, I must ask:

 

How many actors in the HISTORY of cinema have so realistically expressed within ONE film SO many real human emotions that run the gamut from youthful exuberance to crushing desperation as...YES folks...JIMMY STEWART in...YES folks..."It's a Wonderful Life", HUH?!!!

 

(...YES folks, I STILL think that THAT'S one of THE greatest performances ever done on film, and WITHOUT that performance, that movie would NOT be the perennial holiday favorite that it has become...period!)

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It's a fair question, I suppose (so primos, don't be telling me I'm begrudging someone's right to ask it and post it. Not at all), but for me, I don't think in terms of superlatives. There are just too many different types of movies, actors, and performances to give one definitive answer.

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I really like Lon Chaney Jr's performance as Lenny Small in Milestone's 'Of Mice and Men' (1939). In my opinion he owns that role (as no one else has been able to improve on that performance - again in my opinion).

 

Actors who "own" roles might make for a highly discussable thread of its own. Another who meets the criteria would be Brando as Stanley Kowalski.

 

Chaney as Lenny; Brando as Stanley - it's not easy to improve upon perfect.

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I've always thought Vivien Leigh for Gone With the Wind. It was a huge part in a greatly anticipated film. She was a 26 year old Brit who was basically unknown in America and chose to tackle the part. I think she acquits herself quite wonderfully.

 

She's fantastic as Blanche Dubois. I consider that to be her crowning achievement as an actor.

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It's a fair question, I suppose (so primos, don't be telling me I'm begruding someone's right to ask it and post it. Not at all), but for me, I don't think in terms of superlatives. There are just too many different types of movies, actors, and performances to give one definitive answer.

Understood.

 

Hence my answer. I don't have an answer. Except for my forever favorites, the last great movie or television show is my choice for greatest performance. I just finished watching Happy Valley with Sarah Lancashire and her performance is amazing.

 

But I'll defend MM's right to ask the question on this, of all boards.

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I agree that this question is difficult to answer.  I liked Darkblue's idea of stars whose renditions of a particular role are considered "the definitive version." 

 

I don't know if I want to interpret this question in terms of skill, or in terms of iconic, or what.  I don't think I could narrow down my selections to only two Oscars.  There are so many great performances out there that are great in different ways.  I would award an Oscar to many people and performances.

 

I'll try to come up with a couple selections:

 

Lead Roles:

 

ROSALIND RUSSELL- Auntie Mame

MONTGOMERY CLIFT- From Here to Eternity

 

Supporting Roles:

 

GEORGE SANDERS- All About Eve (I know he won the Oscar, but it was well deserved)

THELMA RITTER- All About Eve

 

*I think almost everyone deserved an Oscar for All About Eve

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It's a fair question, I suppose (so primos, don't be telling me I'm begruding someone's right to ask it and post it. Not at all), but for me, I don't think in terms of superlatives. There are just too many different types of movies, actors, and performances to give one definitive answer.

 

I am thinking about a performance within a movie, forgetting everything else. You only have one or two Oscars to hand out is all and who gets them. Somebody could of coarse just give it to their favorite actor and be done with it, but then that isn't fair to everyone else.

 

I would imagine it would go to someone who has to have a range of acting skills and delivers them to extreme perfection in a single movie.

 

In sports a question like this is asked all the time, they are forever looking for who is the greatest in a game.

 

In movies it is not a far stretch to think of what may be the greatest performance.

 

As an example, could it go to someone who acts the same way throughout a movie?

Could it go to someone who looks the part the best and acts the part like he/she looks in real life?

Can it go to a comedy actor who always does comedies?

Could it go to an actor of Westerns only?

 

This is kind of like what is the definition of acting after all. If I look like a playboy and act like myself in a movie as a playboy, can I win an Oscar? Should I win?

 

Anyway I don't want to spoil this thread with what I think the criteria are to pick, I see some have already given interesting selections.

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There are some movies where i think the actor was amazing, showing a range of acting. It may be a peaceful guy to start and turns mean like Tracy in Fury or is a cheerful young teen girl and later is older and broken like Shearer in Marie Antoinette.

 

What is the greatest performance, if there was only one or two Oscars to give out for all time?

 

Peter Finch as Howard Beale in "Network" (1976)  I know exactly how he feels.

 

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Peter Finch as Howard Beale in "Network" (1976)  I know exactly how he feels.

 

I was thinking of Finch's performance in Network too.  There are some days when I just want to yell "I'm mad as hell and can't take it anymore!" too.  I know this movie is rather bleak, but I really enjoyed it.  I would also say that Faye Dunaway's performance was fantastic as well. 

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I was thinking of Finch's performance in Network too.  There are some days when I just want to yell "I'm mad as hell and can't take it anymore!" too.  I know this movie is rather bleak, but I really enjoyed it.  I would also say that Faye Dunaway's performance was fantastic as well. 

I happened to be an extra in Network in the studio audience sequences during the Howard Beale show.  After wrapping the scene where Howard faints an elderly extra cornered him and said, "Oh, Mr. Finch I just know that you are going to win an Oscar for this film."  Mr. Finch took the lady's hand and said "You shouldn't say that my dear.  It brings bad luck."

Turns out they were both right.  He did win the Oscar - posthumously. 

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Man cannot survive except through his mind. He comes on earth unarmed. His brain is his only weapon. But the mind is an attribute of the individual, there is no such thing as a collective brain. The man who thinks must think and act on his own. The reasoning mind cannot work under any form of compulsion. It cannot not be subordinated to the needs, opinions, or wishes of others. It is not an object of sacrifice.

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Man cannot survive except through his mind. He comes on earth unarmed. His brain is his only weapon. But the mind is an attribute of the individual, there is no such thing as a collective brain. The man who thinks must think and act on his own. The reasoning mind cannot work under any form of compulsion. It cannot not be subordinated to the needs, opinions, or wishes of others. It is not an object of sacrifice.

 

Yeah, well, I suppose there ARE some folks who think "speechifyin'" their lines as a mark of "great acting", huh!

 

Especially IF they happen to agree WITH what the actor is "speechifyin'" ABOUT, huh!!!  LOL

 

(...sorry Jake, but I CAN think of at least HALF a DOZEN roles that Coop did a HELL of a lot better job with than THAT one, dude...and perhaps starting with "Pride of the Yankees" and "Sergeant York"!!!)

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I happened to be an extra in Network in the studio audience sequences during the Howard Beale show.  After wrapping the scene where Howard faints an elderly extra cornered him and said, "Oh, Mr. Finch I just know that you are going to win an Oscar for this film."  Mr. Finch took the lady's hand and said "You shouldn't say that my dear.  It brings bad luck."

Turns out they were both right.  He did win the Oscar - posthumously. 

Wow! What a great story!

 

Well... except for Finch's bad luck... that part is not so great.

 

I would love to be an extra.  Except I think my "dream" extra job, would be being a seat filler at the Oscars.

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Certainly one of the greatest performances . . .

 

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That Laughton could evoke such pain and sympathy in his characterization behind that incredible application of makeup is truly a reflection of some special kind of genius that existed within him as an actor.

 

Particularly heart wrenching is his scene on the w h i p p i n g post, after he has taken a public f l o g g i n g, in which Esmeralda (Maureen O'Hara) becomes the first person to ever offer him an act of kindness, pouring some water over his lips from a canister.

 

At first Laughton resists, pulling his head away from her, too ashamed to accept the water from this girl. Then, in a moment that can tear the heart out of a statue, he suddenly looks at her, his lips begin to tremble, tears welling in his eye, as he then tips his head back and hungrily laps at the water he desperately needs.  

 

This "great malformed monster" is suddenly transformed by Laughton into the equivalent of a beaten animal grateful for an unexpected kindness. 

 

Not long after he is freed from the w h i p p i n g post, a weakened Quasimodo stumbles his way back to the church. When the priest, his master, sees him, he is surprised to hear the hunchback's only words.

 

"She gave me water," a weeping Laughton says, as he stumbles away to hide or lie down somewhere.

 

It's a moment that is both sublimely painful and beautiful, a towering achievement for an actor who was always keenly aware of his own ugliness, and was able to convey the sensitivity of a social outcast in his portrait of the hunchback.

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James Mason as Johnny McQueen in ODD MAN OUT, his best performance in a career replete with excellent performances.

Lawrence Olivier in RICHARD  III.  Electrifying best describes him in this movie.

John Gielgud's Cassius dominates JULIUS CAESAR (which is hard to do with Mason and Brando co-starring.

Sean Penn's performance in DEAD MAN WALKING set the bar so high that 90% of the "stars" we gush over couldn't reach it.

 

 

Katherine Hepburn in LONG DAYS JOURNEY INTO NIGHT (why is this never shown anymore?)

Ingrid Bergman in NOTORIOUS.

Vivian Leigh as Miz Scarlett

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