Golden Age of Hollywood Book Club discussion

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Hob Nob > fave male star?

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message 1: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (last edited Apr 20, 2018 06:50AM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
Personal faves!

Not who you would vote for as best actor of all time; just the leading men you specifically admire for your own personal reasons! They 'speak to you' in some way.

I'll go first. Usually I do these things in batches of 'five'.

Tentatively, I'd say my top five male stars are these:

William Holden
Frederic March
Jimmy Stewart
Walter Matthau
Gary Cooper

hon mention: Sterling Hayden


message 2: by Mollie (new)

Mollie Harrison Pennock | 91 comments My favorite actors change periodically. An actor will stand out in a movie I am watching, and I become obsessed with them. I will learn as much about them as I can and watch as many of their movies as available (primarily within my bookend dates). My current favorites are listed below (in alpha order).

As I learn about them, I am struck by how short many of their lives were! Smoking, which was so common in their era, took a toll on many in health and looks. And the lack of advancements in the treatment of heat disease and cancer really shortened their lives. It makes me sad.

The exception is our friend Norman Lloyd. Going strong at 103!

Norman Lloyd
Chester Morris
George Sanders
Zachary Scott
Robert Taylor
Conrad Veidt
Warren William


message 3: by Jamie (new)

Jamie  (jaymers8413) | 88 comments Mod
Feliks wrote: "Personal faves!

Not who you would vote for as best actor of all time; just the leading men you specifically admire for your own personal reasons! They 'speak to you' in some way.

I'll go first. ..."


Great list of actors! There are so many its hard to decide.


message 4: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
I'm gonna amend my list. Probably drop Gregory Peck in favor of Walter Matthau. I love Matthau.


message 5: by Mollie (new)

Mollie Harrison Pennock | 91 comments I forgot Melvyn Douglas on my list. His career spanned many decades, which is not common.


message 6: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (last edited Apr 10, 2018 02:51PM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
aw yeah I often think of him as well. Everything from 'Ninotchka' to 'Being There'. He was always superb.

Fave role: 'Hud'


message 7: by Mollie (new)

Mollie Harrison Pennock | 91 comments We are currently in a remodeling project, so last week I watched Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House with fresh eyes. The experiences of house remodeling/building hasn't changed in 70 years. "Someday" I would like to read the books that many of these movies are based on. Despite his suave looks, Cary Grant does comedy well. Melvyn was unusual in that he certainly wasn't handsome, but still managed to pull off the leading man role.


message 8: by Mollie (last edited Apr 10, 2018 05:44PM) (new)

Mollie Harrison Pennock | 91 comments I have a lot of respect for Raymond Burr also. He was brilliant as Perry Mason, and that role was the antithesis of many of his movie roles where he played the heavy. There are not many actors who have two long-running television series. I'm not sure he received the credit he should have. It sounds like he was a nice fellow who supported his friends. There was an actor, whose name escapes me, from Raymond's early movie days, who lost most of his eyesight. Raymond hired him as regular on Perry Mason as a court reporter. Raymond continued to work at the end of his life so the staff on the new Perry Mason movies remained employed.


message 9: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
Hmmm. Interesting choice.

Me, I've never really taken to Burr. I admire him very well indeed for his years of work in radio, in which he played a cavalry captain in 'Fort Laramie' (well-respected series) and he was also the unforgettable hard-as-nails Inspector Hellman in Jack Webb's milestone radio noir series, 'Pat Novak for Hire'.

But visually, Burr (to me) is simply a menacing looking figure. Intense and riven in his gestures and expressions. Those large protruding eyes and fleshy jowls. I remember him vividly as the villain in 'Rear Window' and as the obsessed DA in 'A Place in the Sun'. (The way he brought that canoe paddle down on the canoe, which sends the diminutive Clift to the chair. Whew!)

Personal life: I heard one backstage story which really disturbed me. Burr was apparently homosexual and on the set of some movie he used his size and bulk to basically commandeer some young extra and essentially rape him. Or, he tried to. I forget where I read this anecdote so I am sorry to report it out of context, and it shouldn't detract from his fine character otherwise. I agree he was well liked in Hollywood and had many friends. But whew..pretty scary.


message 10: by Mollie (new)

Mollie Harrison Pennock | 91 comments I haven't read in depth about Burr's personal life. If the story is true, it is certainly disturbing.

I love listening to RadioClassics on SiriusXM, especially the noirs. Many popular TV shows, like Dragnet to name one, started on radio. A person uses different senses when listening to radio programs. I find it very relaxing compared to television.


message 11: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
I'm into radio as well; because I am emphatically not a TV viewer and I only get out to my repertoire cinema house (midtown Manhattan, may be the only one left) is not usually convenient for travel.

For sure, 'Dragnet' started on radio; that's where its fame towered for years. The TV version--as decent as it often could be--paled in comparison. Television broadcasters standards didn't apply to radio; a lot more seaminess and grittiness could be suggested that wouldn't fly on TV.

Naturally, there's a lot of media choices these days. But surprisingly I find radio plays and radio serials the most conducive to my style of multi-tasking. Because even music gets tiresome or stale after a while; (and I utterly despise audio-books & podcasts). So, while I'm concentrating on my own domestic projects its classic radio which is the most benign. You don't really have to pay attention to it actively, (with the front of your brain) except when you wish to. There's no expletives or blaring advertisements. Nothing jarring.

Some of the horror programs are truly riveting; and the noir/crime programs are a lot of fun. Top actors and thoughtful, meticulous, scripted dramas. My choice for sure.


message 12: by Mollie (new)

Mollie Harrison Pennock | 91 comments Until I started listening to classic radio, I didn't realize how many Golden Age actors were also busy making radio programs in addition to films. I like to listen to SiriusXM on Friday evenings as they have Suspense, Philip Marlowe, Dragnet, etc. And the Jack Benny Program is comedy at its best. With radio, one can use their imagination as to what scenery and people look like.


message 13: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
Oh yeah. Big stars would not only be in pictures, but radio and stage too! And maybe even the USO as well. All in the same year.


message 14: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
Plus: many of them could perform as comedians, they could dance in multiple styles, sing in multiple styles, seat a horse, swordfight, do their own stunts, drive in auto races, served in WWII. Prior to their movie careers they worked on oil rigs, as lumberjacks, as truckers, or wandered the country as hobos. And many were 'family men' on top of all that.

Just amazing diversity and accomplishments.


message 15: by Mollie (new)

Mollie Harrison Pennock | 91 comments I agree. The studio system provided excellent training in a multitude of areas. Today's actors pale in comparison.


message 16: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
I might just have to start a separate radio thread. Last night I listened to Sir John Gielgud as Sherlock Holmes and Ralph Richardson(!) as Dr. Watson...and not only that, Orson Welles playing Professor Moriarty. Superb quality.

Of the big-name Brit actors like Olivier, Gielgud and Richardson, Richardson is surely my favorite. Just love that guy (and I realize there are 'waves' of fabulous Brits; second wave after Olivier's being Burton's generation; third wave = names like Oliver Reed, Peter O'Toole, Anthony Hopkins, Alan Bates, etc)


message 17: by Mollie (last edited Apr 23, 2018 10:42AM) (new)

Mollie Harrison Pennock | 91 comments This morning I read an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education about the University of Wisconsin at Madison making the decision to NOT remove names from buildings when the names were previously associated with the KKK.

The article referenced that Fredric March has a theater named for him on the campus. According to the article, Fredric was associated with the KKK in the 1920s; however, during his later years worked to fight the persecution of racial groups by the House Un-American Activities Committee. It was determined his actions in later years showed his true character, and the KKK group in WI was not associated with hateful acts. This is a publicly-available article on the subject: https://advancetitan.com/news/2018/03.

I was surprised to see Fredric's name in a scholarly publication. I also didn't realize he had a theater named after him on a college campus.


message 18: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
Going back to Sterling Hayden for a moment, I see this odd reference in the Wiki page for 'Asphalt Jungle'

"Both (John) Huston and war hero star Sterling Hayden were members of the Committee for the First Amendment, which opposed the blacklisting of alleged communists active in the film industry during the Red Scare."

Based on our earlier chat, I don't understand this at all.


message 19: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
Just heard a fun country-western song all about Sterling Hayden.

So odd. Its like that other song I found a few months ago which is all about Mel Blanc and the history of the 'Yosemite Sam' character.

Tom Russell - 'Sterling Hayden' - (album: 'Mesabi')


message 20: by Mollie (new)

Mollie Harrison Pennock | 91 comments I found the song on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8sMmJ...). Who would think such a song existed?! I hadn't heard of Sterling Hayden until recently, perhaps from this site. Now all roads seem to lead to him. Recently I watched a movie with him and Bette Davis--The Star (1952). It was an ok movie, but the pairing of the two was somewhat unbelievable. Their real ages were 36 and 44, respectively, but she looked older than 44 by today's standards. (I've been wondering where everyone from this page has been. There haven't been any posts for a long time.)


message 21: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (last edited Apr 24, 2019 05:18PM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
Sterling Hayden is a huge star. And he had longevity--long after the studio era was over, he was still turning up in wonderful movies like 'The Godfather' and 'The Long Goodbye'. As well as 'Dr. Strangelove', of course. His biggest hit is surely, 'Johnny Guitar' but he's also a memorable 'noir' actor. 'The Asphalt Jungle', 'Suddenly', and 'The Killing', for example. I agree with you about 'The Star', it was very odd. But I think if you view more of his films, you'll see what superb presence he lent to any role.

This group--well, I joined on as co-moderator last year or so, and stirred up some action but then I found another movie site for a while. Now I'm back, but frankly I don't like to park my hat anywhere for very long. I'd rather have my nose in an actual book, a printed book--than any website. I'm obsessed with the printed page. I don't even like looking at 'pixels'.

Anyway so now what about this song? by Matt Bunsen and the Burners!
https://youtu.be/4ghxrR-PRj4


message 22: by Mollie (last edited Apr 25, 2019 03:57PM) (new)

Mollie Harrison Pennock | 91 comments I think the main reasons Sterling hasn't been on my radar is because I rarely watch movies made after 1950, and I'm not a fan of westerns. I checked his filmography, and movies of his I've seen and recognize are Crime of Passion, Crime Wave, The Killing, and The Star. It's possible I've seen more.

I agree about avoiding pixels. I stare at a computer screen all day, so try to avoid computers when not working. After sitting at work all day, I don't need to sit in front of a computer at home. Reading a real book is more relaxing than staring at a screen, and it's not as hard on the eyes.

This song isn't quirky like the two you recommend, but check out the Mills Brothers singing On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away (https://youtu.be/9qVjOJq9IXQ). I drive by the Wabash River every day.


message 23: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
That's a classic song. I'm a fan of that folk tradition. 'Knoxville Girl', 'Peat Bog Soldiers', 'On the Banks of the Ohio', 'Duncan & Brady', etc etc etc.


message 24: by Mollie (new)

Mollie Harrison Pennock | 91 comments I ran across music of Al Bowlly's on YouTube. I've heard his songs in old movies, but wasn't familiar with his name. His death at age 43 is sad and noteworthy. From Wikipedia: "On 16 April 1941, Bowlly and Messene had given a performance at the Rex Cinema in Oxford Street, High Wycombe. Both were offered an overnight stay in town, but Bowlly took the last train home to his flat at 32 Duke Street, Duke's Court, St James, London. He was killed by a Luftwaffe parachute mine that detonated outside his flat at ten past three in the morning. His body appeared unmarked. Although the explosion had not disfigured him, it had blown his bedroom door off its hinges, and the impact against his head was fatal. He was buried with other bombing victims in a mass grave at Hanwell Cemetery, Uxbridge Road, Hanwell, where his name is given as Albert Alex Bowlly."


message 25: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
p.s. I've got a cut-off date too for cinema so you're on the right path as far as I'm concerned. I just don't much like the people left in the movie biz after all the classic era folk are gone. I wouldn't sit down and eat with these people. I'd have sat down at any table anywhere or any time, with someone like Glenn Ford or Greg Peck or Frederic March.


message 26: by Mollie (new)

Mollie Harrison Pennock | 91 comments I agree. I wouldn't walk across the street to see someone from today's movies. After the studio era ceased, stars just weren't the same.


message 27: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia Resnick | 14 comments Feliks wrote: "p.s. I've got a cut-off date too for cinema so you're on the right path as far as I'm concerned. I just don't much like the people left in the movie biz after all the classic era folk are gone. I w..."
Oh how right you are Felix. At one time movie fans could get lost in what was showing on the screen. We wanted to know everything we could about our favorites but today ........well it's a far different story. I,personally, have adopt a "who the heck cares" and just don't go to the movies . Instead I repeatedly watch what was once upon a time movies that take me to another place, another time or tickle my funny bone with good humor. I feel sad that our adult children and our grandchildren have missed out.


message 28: by Doubledf99.99 (new)

Doubledf99.99 | 251 comments Hollywood has changed drastically since I started going to the movies in the early sixties, and I still love to go to see a movie at the big screen been doing it since I was a kid, and will continue until I can't walk anymore, went to something like 30 movies last year, but my pace is down this year, just went to see the Marvel movie, and enjoyed it immensely. I love sitting down at the theatre with my coffee and popcorn, suspending all belief, and immersing myself into the show.


message 29: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (last edited Apr 27, 2019 08:11AM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
Hmmm. Well bravo to you, Double99. 'You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!'

But as for me...eh, the way I feel about it, my primary reaction is one of 'distrust'. Sitting down in front of a giant 40' wide theatre screen and "turning over control" would be (for me) putting far too much trust in the movie's producers and directors when these days they can't be trusted at all. They just aren't meeting even a basic level of competence. For decades, what traditionally was simply proven, solid, nuts'n'bolts movie-making isn't even being cleaved to now.

For instance, you might attend a WWII commando movie, (story set in 1943 behind-the-lines of Nazi Germany) and yet on the soundtrack for the film, you will encounter music from David Bowie. This is ludicrous. To me, it means I can't trust these guys to get even the smallest, most innocuous little detail correct, such as even the music score.

Or you might be watching a recent-release romantic comedy and a character might suddenly be sickeningly decapitated (as in a slasher flick). There's just no rhyme or reason; and audiences today simply accept it.

But as we all know, a poor or incompetent production stays with you forever. You can almost never get bad acting, movie glitches, or unfunny jokes completely out of your memory.

Yes, I still occasionally attend a theater to see a flick but I can only trust arthouse / revival / repertoire theaters where I can see something from Hitchcock or Welles or Ford or Sturges or Capra. There's still a vast wealth of classic movies for me to explore.

Sylvia's sentiment (above) echoes my attitude. "Why the heck should I care?" There's simply no excuse for sitting through a bad movie; no one to blame but oneself for making that choice. I'd rather be out of the loop altogether. So be it! Besides, it's refreshing and freeing. Not to be a slave to the 'latest' big thing all the time.

And how really necessary is it that I sit down to view a 'Scooby-Doo' movie? Or a 'Dukes of Hazzard' movie? Am I really 'missing out'? It just gets silly. I can't turn off my brain...sorry, Hollywood!


message 30: by Doubledf99.99 (new)

Doubledf99.99 | 251 comments When I was stationed at Fort Richardson Ak, a few miles away on the outskirts of Anchorage, was an arthouse theatre, played nothing but old movies, one weekend would be comedies, the next drama, or noir, then some action, I did see Herzog's Aquirre the Wrath of God there. That was about the recent movie they put up on the big screen.


message 31: by Doubledf99.99 (new)

Doubledf99.99 | 251 comments It's all about personal choice, I pick and choose my movies pretty carefully now days if I think I won't like it I won't go.
Have seen a few BBC produced movies make it over here, and I've found them pretty good in detail of the period/era the movies are set in.


message 32: by Doubledf99.99 (last edited Apr 27, 2019 03:57PM) (new)

Doubledf99.99 | 251 comments Feliks wrote: "Hmmm. Well bravo to you, Double99. 'You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!'

But as for me...eh, the way I feel about it, my primary reaction is one of 'distrust'. Sitting down in front of a gia..."


Even on the movie channel.I'd give scooby do and dukes of hazard a very wide berth


message 33: by Mollie (new)

Mollie Harrison Pennock | 91 comments About 30 years ago I went to a movie and was actually embarrassed to be seen walking out of the theater as the movie was so inane and vulgar. (I'm sure it's even more embarrassing today!) I committed to being extremely selective on movie selection from then on. Excluding children's movies when my son was growing up, I average about one current movie every decade. I get the theater experience of old movies as a local theater, which was originally built for vaudeville shows, occasionally shows silent movies accompanied by Ken Double on the Wurlitzer organ. One new movie I highly recommend is the WWI documentary "They Shall Not Grow Old," which airs in select theaters/locations. I was fortunate to see it a few months ago--one of the advantages of living in a university town. Haunting. http://www.theyshallnotgrowold.movie/


message 34: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
Was just reading a little about Gregory Peck. Charlton Heston said Peck accidentally clouted him on the jaw during their fight scene in 'The Big Country'. Said it felt like a sledgehammer or something like similar.

Y'know, Robert Ryan and Lee Marvin co-starred in several flicks. Marvin, a Marine and Ryan, a former Golden Gloves boxer. Pretty even match. Wonder would would have came out on top in that one.


message 35: by Doubledf99.99 (last edited Oct 10, 2019 12:35AM) (new)

Doubledf99.99 | 251 comments One of my favorite Ryan/Marvin films is The Professionals, also with Burt Lancaster and Jack Plance who steals the show.


message 36: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia Resnick | 14 comments on a different but interesting subject about Lee Marvin. He once boarded a plane from Hawaii to L.A. in bathing trunks. Just a casual type guy who didn't give a hoot what anyone thought of him.


message 37: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
Ha! I have some Marvin anecdotes. Legendary 'angry drunk' of course. On the set of one flick he was once again in a rage and everyone was afraid to approach him; finally a British cameraman was pressed forward by the others with the day's call sheet or whatever. Marvin was about to explode until he hears the British accent. Then, he was as placid as a pussycat. Lee Marvin was secretly an anglophile; Lord only knows why but he adored Brits and everything about them.

Personally I like his career a lot --grew up watching many of his films -- but I can't quite credit that he truly deserved an Oscar for 'Cat Ballou'. That had to be a political snub to the other choices that year.


message 38: by Joyce (new)

Joyce Reid | 11 comments Feliks wrote: "Ha! I have some Marvin anecdotes. Legendary 'angry drunk' of course. On the set of one flick he was once again in a rage and everyone was afraid to approach him; finally a British cameraman was pre..."

I thought he was pretty good in Cat Ballou. He had a great voice.


message 39: by Doubledf99.99 (last edited Oct 12, 2019 12:54PM) (new)

Doubledf99.99 | 251 comments "I was born under a wandering star".

Marvin was pretty good in portraying drunks in a few movies.


message 40: by Spencer (new)

Spencer Rich | 747 comments It was Cat Ballou that gave the Beatles such annoyance at the same party that Peter Fonda kept going up to people and saying that he knew what it's like to be dead. I guess Peter thought he should show everybody this goofy western that his sister was in. Probably not the best thing to watch on acid. Too bad she hadn't done Barbarella yet.


message 41: by Spencer (new)

Spencer Rich | 747 comments As for actors, I am a huge Paul Newman fan. He also seems like a great human being. His food company was ahead of the game in the all-natural thing and all proceeds went to charity. I suppose his daughter still runs the company.


message 42: by Spencer (new)

Spencer Rich | 747 comments As for modern film--it really isn't all bad. Like, Linklater still makes great films.


message 43: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
Yah Paul Newman. I can share some anecdotes about him. He and Redford were both very socially-conscious. Redford was into solar energy early on; and of course indie filmmaking; and also his choice of politically topical storylines for many of his films. Both great guys.


message 44: by Spencer (new)

Spencer Rich | 747 comments You can also usually tell if a film is going to be decent by the acting talent. Like, Scarlett is a fine actress, but she'll sometimes take a superhero movie for the bucks. But you almost never see Parker Posey in a completely lousy film.


message 45: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (last edited Oct 15, 2019 07:27AM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
Could be. I wouldn't know. I have to think for a moment who you're referring to, ha. One was on a magazine cover once that was considered risque, wasn't she? That's my mental image of her. But her face is an utter blank in my mental library. 'Parker Posey', someone once mentioned that name to me around ten yrs ago, that's the last time I even heard these syllables! Is it a male or a female?


message 46: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (last edited Oct 15, 2019 07:36AM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
Lulz, I was researching American small town names for my spec script a while back because I wanted to name my town 'Cedar...(something)'. But I wanted to make sure my fictional town wouldn't be cramped by any other currently-recognizable, popular movie small-town-name.

Came across this comedy and read this plot synopsis:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cedar_R...

So it's like, for me, the definition of what is 'good' and what is 'poor' doesn't even mean the same thing anymore. I can't pay any attention when pals and cronies of mine inform me of a 'must-see' film. We don't speak the same language!


message 47: by W (new)

W Gregory Peck
Sean Connery
John Wayne
Clint Eastwood
Robert Mitchum


message 48: by Betsy (last edited Dec 16, 2019 08:12PM) (new)

Betsy | 1892 comments My favorite male star will always be Peter O'Toole, but I also like many of the actors from the 30s, 40s, and 50s such as Cary Grant, Errol Flynn, Laurence Olivier. Humphrey Bogart and Leslie Howard.

I have never been big on John Wayne, James Stewart or Gregory Peck. I suspect actor preferences are just like food preferences--why analyze, just enjoy!


message 49: by Spencer (new)

Spencer Rich | 747 comments I just can't get into the John Ford/John Wayne thing. I suppose my leftist bent enters into it. Oh, and by the way, Parker Posey is one of the queens of 90's indie film.


message 50: by Jill (last edited Dec 16, 2019 06:54PM) (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2069 comments It is hard to pick my favorite actor, especially since they span such a long period of time but I will give this list a try.

Robert Ryan
Conrad Veidt
Humphrey Bogart
Claude Rains
John Barrymore (silent through Grand Hotel
Basil Rathbone (in non-Sherlock roles altho' I liked him as Holmes)
Errol Flynn (early swashbuckling career)
Ricardo Cortez (I know, I know.....a strange choice)
Orson Welles
Fred Astaire (not much of an actor but his dancing fascinated me)
Jean Gabin
George Sanders

And then there is Maury Chaykin, a Canadian actor who is too recent for this list but I fell in love with him in the Nero Wolfe series and in the Canadian film "Whale Music" for which he won the Canadian equivalent of the Oscar, for best Actor.


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