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I Think, Therfore I Am


maximillian1917
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Film has recorded such feats as a pirate's leap, an embattled cavalry charge, and a balletic dance, but there's one human activity that the most accomplished actors and actresses strive to suggest to an audience--THINKING.

 

Could you name any classic actors or actresses who are especially adept at drawing us in and suggesting that they are wrapped in thought? Or, conversely, anyone who might want to leave the cogitating to others on the silver screen?

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I always thought that Norma Shearer was always deep in thought. She would even do little things to stress the point that she was deep in thought. Whether it was biting her lip or teasing her hair she just always seemed to strike home the point that something was always on her mind.

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Tracy came to mind for me too. I think his introspection is especially noticable to me in two diverse roles about justice-"Fury" (1936) & "Judgement at Nuremburg"(1961)--though now I realize that his expressions (plus the funny narration), in "Father of the Bride"(1950) indicate a very thoughtful & funny character.

 

Gary Cooper often seemed to be thinking about something as well, and, from what I've read about those who worked with him, it came across on the screen much more vividly than in person, on the set. "High Noon" (1952) seems to be the high watermark for Cooper's contemplative quality, though he is said to have been struggling with a very bad ulcer at the time as well--leading to that worried look as the clock hands moved toward 12.

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He isn't yet a "classic" actor in the sense that he's relatively new to the screen, but Kevin Spacey can THINK on film. I once heard or read that he is the only actor who could overact without saying a word or changing his expression. I wouldn't call it over-acting, just able to BE and make everything look natural.

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Lewis Stone always seemed to have a thoughtful quality, even before his best remembered role as Mickey Rooney's father, as Judge Hardy in the Andy Hardy series. Stone's role seems to have consisted of his listening, evaluating and commenting on the foibles of the people around him, especially Andy.

 

Yet even in earlier, livelier appearances in such movies as "Strictly Dishonorable" (1931) the 1936 version of "Three Godfathers" Stone usually played a philosphical sort, observing the world around him, often in silence--though with a consoling drink or a secret shame from his past to keep him warm. Maybe he struck alot of audiences as a pompous old coot, but his bemused understanding often seemed to me to be one of the best things about his movies.

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