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Tony Grist

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The Greatest British Actor [Jul. 12th, 2005|10:20 am]
Tony Grist
Someone I know in Real Life has just got themselves an LJ. All hail playdreams. Up until now the only Real Life people I've known on LJ were my kids.

So who's the greatest British actor of all time? Channel 5 gave its viewers a list compiled by "experts" and asked them to put the names in their preferred order. And, no- Burbage, Garrick, Keane and Irving weren't on it. I hate that phrase "all time" because it never means what it says.

Anyway, the greatest British actor of all time turns out to be Anthony Hopkins. I guess it was the fava beans that did it. I saw Hopkins on stage once (in Lear) and thought he was ordinary.

But Cary Grant and Peter Sellers were on the list- they came in at 4 and 7 respectively- and this makes me happy.

Yes, Cary Grant was a Brit. Born in Bristol. Real name Archie Leach. Is this common knowledge? It should be. Surely it's time we put his head on a stamp or a bank note or something!
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: ragingnoodles
2005-07-12 03:01 am (UTC)
Favorite Cary Grant movies are either Arsenic and Old Lace or Notorious, just two of my all time favorite films.

Really love Cary Grant.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-07-12 03:18 am (UTC)
Notorious is a favourite of mine too. I love Cary Grant.
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[User Picture]From: idahoswede
2005-07-12 03:23 am (UTC)
Did James Mason make it? I love James Mason. I loved Cary in nearly everything he ever did, although the pairing with Audrey Hepburn in "Charade" didn't work real well for me.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-07-12 03:32 am (UTC)
No, Mason didn't make the list. I think that's a shame. For my money his performance in Lolita is one of greatest in movie history.
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[User Picture]From: idahoswede
2005-07-12 03:50 am (UTC)
Then there's him with Cary in "North by Northwest" as well, although I'm a huge fan of "Pandora and the Flying Dutchman". Must see if I can find that on DVD, now that I think about it.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-07-12 04:30 am (UTC)
Yes, he's very debonair in North by Northwest.

I haven't seen Pandora in ages. My interest in it was recently revived by our stay in Tossa de Mar- where some of it was filmed.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-07-12 05:05 am (UTC)
How weird--I thought I was logged in.

I was "Anonymous" above.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-07-12 08:04 am (UTC)
I figured it was you.

Partick Stewart gave you away :)
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-07-12 05:04 am (UTC)
What about Alec Guiness and Peter O'Toole and Patrick Stewart (oh, I know. I can't help it.) and--who was that man who played Julius Caesar in the sixties in a film...we saw it in high school and I fell in love with his long eyelashes...)

Instead of "greatest actor," I suspect this is a popularity contest.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-07-12 08:01 am (UTC)
Alec Guinness came in at #2. Peter O'Toole is Irish and so ineligible. Patrick Stewart didn't make the list (sorry).

I can't identify the man with the eyelashes.

John Gielgud maybe? He came in at #8
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2005-07-12 05:38 am (UTC)
It is ALWAYS a popularity contest, when these things happen. But of course I do love SIR Anthony Hopkin. What about Olivier?

The first time I went to Toronto, I took the 'tour' of the *beautifully restored Pantages Theatre and the woman who was giving the tour said "in one of the vaudeville shows there was a young arcrobat named Archibold Leach...anyone know who that was?" I yelled right out "Cary Grant". She told me I must be older than I looked. He was excellent. I think my favorite movie of his was Indescreet with Ingrid Bergman. He was at the very height of his charm, and she was as beautiful as she ever was. They are the perfect couple.

I've never really cared for Peter Sellers. He seems like just a little bit 'too much'.

James Mason. I remember him best as Captain Nemo in Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-07-12 08:09 am (UTC)
Olivier was #3.

Modern audiences don't get him. They find his film performances over-stated.

I love Sellers. Have you seen Being There- a miraculous, knife-edge piece of acting?

And his double act with Mason in Lolita is superb.

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[User Picture]From: darlax
2005-07-12 05:51 am (UTC)
I think one of the best performances on film was by Hopkins in The Remains of the Day. He was brilliant.
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2005-07-12 06:09 am (UTC)
Yes, and Howard's End, I loved that movie, and Shadowlands...

Is this only ENGLISH actors?

(thinking of Sean Connery...)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-07-12 08:14 am (UTC)
No... British.

Connery was mentioned as an also-ran. I think he's got too limited a range to figure in the top 10.

I'd have liked to see Michael Caine in there somewhere. I think he's been the most reliable British film actor of the past 50 years.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-07-12 08:11 am (UTC)
That's arguably Hopkins's best performance. I liked him in that film about C.S. Lewis too.

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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2005-07-12 08:17 am (UTC)
I had to see that three times (Shadowlands) before I could really judge his performance in that, Shadowlands is one of the most emotional movies I've ever seen...

anyone who doesn't 'get' Olivier should see him in Wuthering Heights, or in one of his Shakespearean movies. Or as the evil dentist in Marathon Man. no, they should see ALL of those performances. They they will understand what a great actor he was.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-07-12 09:04 am (UTC)
Olivier did some interesting work on TV too. I loved his TV King Lear. The production wasn't too brilliant, but his performance was superb
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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2005-07-12 08:19 am (UTC)
Hello, playdreams (cool alias!): you picked a good topic to join us on - it's got my mind spinning off to all points of the compass...

poliphilo, is this using "actor" to refer only to men?

I love Cary Grant, he's in two of my favourite films (The Philadelphia Story and - believe it or not - I Was a Male War Bride!), but he's always Cary Grant, isn't he? I'm not sure he's a great actor...

It's not only that "of all time" means "since the invention of a recording technology that allows us to see it" - this is heavily biased towards people who have done a lot of work, not just on film but on colour film (I see it includes Laughton, who was evidently colourful enough in himself...). Of the actors I've actually seen, I'd probably vote for Ian Holm - with a special prize for Richard Burton, Best Voice Of All Time!
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2005-07-12 08:24 am (UTC)
Charles Laughton was amazing. Our local NPR station runs OLD radio programs and Charles Laughton frequently shows up on Suspense.

I loved Ian Holm in Chariots of Fire, but I LOVED Ian Charleson.

Richard Burton...hm. I've seen some of his early films, and he was very handsome as well as having a great voice.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-07-12 09:17 am (UTC)
Ian Charleson died far too young. His Hamlet(which he played while dying from AIDS) was reportedly brilliant.
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2005-07-12 10:44 am (UTC)
yes indeed. I heard about his Hamlet, too (from the Scot who teaches Legal Writing here and whose grandfather actually saw Eric Liddel run in Real Life).

Did no one mention Ronald Coleman? His Prisoner of Zenda is my favorite version of the story, and "If I Were King"...



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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-07-12 11:47 am (UTC)
No, Coleman wasn't mentioned.

But it's like
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No, Coleman wasn't mentioned.

But it's like <ljuser="shewhomust"> says, if you're not in colour you're forgotten.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-07-12 09:15 am (UTC)
Yes, this was only men. They're dealing with the ten best women next week.

Cary was always Cary, but no-one ever had such faultless timing. Or was quite so dreamily debonair. And he had range. He was a great comedian, but he was also equally brilliant in such dark entertainments as Suspicion and Notorious and North by North West.

Holm is under-rated. Burton was a great actor who hated acting and squandered his talent. Everyone says he was at his best on stage in the 1950s.

There are so many great names who didn't make the cut.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-07-12 11:41 am (UTC)
I'm glad Cary got on a US stamp.

Peter Sellers was on a British stamp a few years back.
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