Tuesday, March 15, 2005

You say list of greatest film stars, I say load of crap.

Speaking of the List (see previous post), I went to check it out and it’s complete and utter crap. Let’s start by stipulating a couple of things. First, the word ‘greatest’ is obviously highly subjective. Second, so is the term ‘movie star.’ After all, a movie star is different from, say, an actor.

In general, I guess to me ‘movie star’ connotes popularity and cultural impact more than raw acting talent. Bela Lugosi was a movie star, and based on the fact that his image is still what the majority of the world calls to mind when they think the word ‘Dracula,’ he’s a great one. However, he was not a great actor. (Although he could be a very able one.)

The main problem is that Premiere has fashioned a list that is flawed in several areas. Partly, its hampered by obvious attempts to be what most of us would call politically correct. Second, it’s weighted waaay too heavily to recent actors, as if it were afraid it would lose the reader if a whole lot of contemporary names didn’t pop up. Call me a purist, but ‘great’ movie stars have to pass the test of time. A couple of the names here, meanwhile, would have inspired spit takes had I been drinking something while reading the article.

In a partial attempt to cover up this discrepancy, the article contains a forward noting that silent movie actors were excluded from the deliberations. They maintain that this was to avoid apples and oranges type problems. However, I believe it’s because they again wanted a large number of working actors involved, and obviously every old star they included would bump a modern one. Still, and even if the foreword gives proper due to Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, as well as a number of less prominent names, its’ still a massive cheat. Taking silent movie actors out of the equation is just meant to culling names easier, and the whole point of a list like this is to require ruthlessness.

On the other hand, I’ll go with the rule requiring that they be American movie stars. Throwing it open to foreign actors simply broadens things too severely.

50) Brad Pitt. Brad Pitt?! This list already sucks.
49) Russell Crowe. How the hell is Russell Frickin’ Crowe one of the “Greatest Movie Stars of All Times?!
48) Nicole Kiddman. See previous remarks. The first three people already shouldn’t be here.
47) Johnny Depp. Seriously, now you’re just trying to piss me off. Not for Depp personally, but for cumulative effect.
46) Meryl Streep. Oh, for Pete’s sake.
45) Jack Lemmon. Finally, that’s more like it. He wouldn’t make my list, but a respectable selection.
44) Will Smith. WILL SMITH?!!!!!!
43) Clint Eastwood. Wait a friggin’ minute! CLINT EASTWOOD ranks only one spot higher than WILL SMITH?!!!!!!!
42) Gary Cooper. Fine.
41) Peter Sellers. OK.
40) Elizabeth Taylor. Not a fan, but she should actually be higher on the list. Taylor represents what a huge amount of people think of when the phrase movie star is used. (By the way, Richard Burton didn’t make the list, but WILL SMITH?!!!!! did.)
39) Denzel Washington. May I be blunt? Washington and (super especially) WILL SMITH?!!!!!! are on the list because the editor sent it back to the article’s author with a note that said, “Needs some black actors.” Washington is a great actor, but in no way is he close to being one of the 50 greatest film stars of all time.
38) Robert De Niro. That’s about right.
37) Al Pacino. Uhm, OK. Defensible, at least.
36) Sean Connery. Because of Bond, OK.
35) Harrison Ford. All right, although he should have been further down on the list.
34) Rita Hayworth. If they say so.
33) Shirley Temple. No there’s a movie star. Should probably have been a bit higher up.
32) Jane Fonda. I hate this woman so much, I can’t be objective. Shouldn’t be higher than Shirley Temple in any case.
31) Steven McQueen. A little low.
30) James Dean. Cool.
29) Warren Beatty. Please. This just means a lot of the votes were cast by people who grew up in the ‘70s and think Shampoo is a great movie.
28) Tom Hanks. OK. One of the few modern actors to belong here, although I’d move him lower down.
27) Gregory Peck. Sure.
26) Errol Flynn. Good.
25) Bette Davis. Fine.
24) Doris Day. Bit of a stretch, but it doesn’t distress me or anything.
23) Fred Astaire. Definitely, although he shouldn’t be one spot better than Doris Day, that’s for sure.
22) Judy Garland. Should be higher.
21) Clark Gable. Fine.
20) Sidney Poitier. Even Poitier doesn’t really belong here, although he’s got a much better claim than Washington or WILL SMITH?!!!!!!!!
19) Spenser Tracy. Most definitely.
18) Audrey Hepburn. Cool.
17) Robert Redford. I’d probably switch him with Steve McQueen, but that’s just personal preference.
16) Jack Nicholson. Fully earned.
15) Marlon Brando. Good.
14) Katherine Hepburn. Yep.
13) Humphrey Bogart. He’s the man.
12) Grace Kelly. Hmm, I wouldn’t put her quite that high.
11) James Cagney. I’ll say.
10) Henry Fonda. Yes.
09) James Stewart. Should be higher, I’d argue at #1.
08) Greta Gabro. No offense to Ms. Garbo, but not on my top ten. Switch with Kate Hepburn.
07) Julia Roberts. Sorry, my head just exploded. Roberts at #7, Kate Hepburn at #14. Eat me.
06) Paul Newman. Too high, but should be on list.
05) Ingrid Bergman. No problemo.
04) John Wayne. Damn straight.
03) Tom Cruise. I defended him earlier, but not at #3. Ahead of Stewart and Fonda?
02) Marilyn Monroe. Just right.
01) Cary Grant. Super choice.

People who couldn’t beat Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, Russell Crowe and WILL SMITH?!!!!!: Gene Kelly. Groucho Marx. Joan Crawford. Michael Caine. Richard Burton. Charlton Heston (really should have been on there). W.C. Fields. Boris Karloff. Burt Lancaster. Kirk FREAKIN’ Douglas. Orson Welles. Peter O’Toole. George C. Scott. Anthony Hopkins. Mel Gibson. William Holden. William Powell. Myrna Loy. Carole Lombard. Keanue Reeves. (So you are still reading.) Barbara Stanwyck. And so on.


At 5:07 PM, Blogger hbrennan said...

I agree. The list is not only amazing for who was actually on the list but most definitely for who wasn't. I just saw "Requiem for a Heavyweight" starring Anthony Quinn, Jackie Gleason, Mickey Rooney and Julie Harris. Great movie. But no, we have to have Will Smith and Juliet Roberts.

At 6:19 PM, Blogger Greenhornet said...

I would not be very good at choosing such a list because I would choose them by genres (Cagney was a versital performer and definately belongs on the list). Rita Hayworth had turned in some pretty good performances, but I wouldn't list her with "the best".


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