T Nation

Dramatic Performance on Film?


Some of you guys know I LOVE film and its history (we need to discuss it more! Used to all the time with Pat…!)

Anyway…some buffs asked me what I thought were my top dramatic performances on Film. I mentioned Denzel Washington in “Courage Under Fire” and Howard Rollins in “A Soldiers Story” and “Ragtime”. We discussed…its was fun.

But they went completely BATshit when I mentioned one of my Top 5 being Ricardo Montalban in “Star Trek II; The Wrath of Khan”.

Film buffs (AND the Academy) tend to be a somewhat “snooty” group… and Sci-Fi will NEVER get it’s due. I gave them this challenge; Go rent the film; open your mind; and look at it as purely a dramatic performance by an actor. (It really is good!)

Thoughts?

Do any of you have Top dramatic performances?

(P.S. We got into a BIG discussion about Pacino in “ScarFace”…I just couldn’t get past the Big Hair/80’s Vibe/BAD accent of Pacino…and “Say 'ello to my Little Friend…!” stuff!)

By the way…

There wasn’t a lot of disagreement that you couldn’t begin any SERIOUS discussion on Female performances until you had seen Ingrid Bergman in “Casablanca” and “Joan of Arc”.

Mufasa


What I shared with the Group about Denzel was this…

He has that rare quality among actors where he can get across emotion without saying a word…and probably can portray the “tortured soul” (“Courage Under Fire”; “Man On Fire”) better than any Actor today.

American Gangster” (coming out in November with Russell Crowe) is a “must-see” for me…

Mufasa

Good topic. And I agree about Ricardo Montalban in Star Trek 2. That was also the closest thing to descent acting that William Shatner ever did. Or maybe it was just such a damn good movie that it made his acting seem better.

I don’t have a favorite, but a lot of favorites.

Eli Wallach in The Good the Bad and The Ugly. He totally dominated that movie, which was no small feat as he co-starred with Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef.

John Wayne in The Searchers.

Jean Gabin in The Grand Illusion. The most “un-french” frenchman there ever was.

Max von Sydow in The Seventh Seal. The movie defined artsy, but his acting was still damn good.

Jon Finch in the Pollansky 1971 MacBeth. Ok, his acting was weak at times. But the end, when he realizes he’s alone in the world, and decides to die like a man, that got me so hyped. And I’ll be damned if Oliver Stone didn’t get the inspiration for the ending of Scar Face from the '71 MacBeth.

That’s all I can think of for the moment.

When Ingrid and “Joan of Arc” came up, I did bring up to the Group that they needed to really see the performance of Milla Javovich in “The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc”. (I actually own that one on DVD).

It is perhaps a more “realistic” performance…and will give you some of the most realistic depictions of Medieval Warfare ever on Film.

Mufasa

Good point, UG.

After “Star Trek; the Movie” (directed by the Great Robert Wise), Roddenberry realized that they had “blown” it. “ST” was NEVER about special effects (Heck…the original has some of the cheesiest special effects on film!)

So he went back to story, relationships and Drama…and Montalban delivered.

Eli! ABSOLUTELY he dominated “tGtBtU”…but Clint defined “understated Badass…”

Mufasa

[quote]Mufasa wrote:
Good point, UG.

After “Star Trek; the Movie” (directed by the Great Robert Wise), Roddenberry realized that they had “blown” it. “ST” was NEVER about special effects (Heck…the original has some of the cheesiest special effects on film!)

So he went back to story, relationships and Drama…and Montalban delivered.

Eli! ABSOLUTELY he dominated “tGtBtU”…but Clint defined “understated Badass…”

Mufasa[/quote]

Yeah, that’s the thing, Clint played that same understated badass in several movies before and after, and he was always as the center of attention, he didn’t say much, but he didn’t have to. But next to Eli Wallach he actually came off as kind of dull.

While we’re talking about Sergio Leone, Henry Fonda in Once Upon a Time in the West was one of the best bad guys ever. From the moment he shoots that little eight year old kid in the beginning, (with a smile on his face!) you totally buy it.

Bill Murray in Groundhog’s Day.

Bill Murray in The Life Aquatic. He’s been playing that same dead-pan type alot lately. But it works great as Steve Zissou, the burnt out Alpha Male.

Oh man!

Broken Flowers”…(and “Lost in Translation”)

Look at the pic above. Murray says more by looking at a TV SET than most people can say in 100 pages of dialogue…

Mufasa

[quote]Mufasa wrote:
Film buffs (AND the Academy) tend to be a somewhat “snooty” group… and Sci-Fi will NEVER get it’s due. I gave them this challenge; Go rent the film; open your mind; and look at it as purely a dramatic performance by an actor. (It really is good!)

Thoughts?

Do any of you have Top dramatic performances?

(P.S. We got into a BIG discussion about Pacino in “ScarFace”…I just couldn’t get past the Big Hair/80’s Vibe/BAD accent of Pacino…and “Say 'ello to my Little Friend…!” stuff!)[/quote]

A few thoughts…

I liked Ricardo but I thought the performance was a little too over the top at times.

Agreed that critics don’t give SF its due, if it wasn’t done by Kubrick critics seem to ignore it ( while I love 2001, I think its gotten too much praise). I saw understated badass mentioned earlier, how about Ripley. Thats an understated (at least in Alien) badass in my opinion.

For females, I agree with you but I’d like to throw in Gloria Swanson in Sunset Blvd. And I don’t know if it was all time, but I loved the understated crazy that was Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby.
Come to think of it, maybe I just like chicks playing crazy.

[quote]Mufasa wrote:
Oh man!

Broken Flowers”…(and “Lost in Translation”)

Look at the pic above. Murray says more by looking at a TV SET than most people can say in 100 pages of dialogue…

Mufasa[/quote]

I really liked Broken Flowers but I couldn’t stand Lost in Translation (nothing to do with Bill)

For great performances, can I nominate Buster Keaton in “pick a Buster Keaton movie here”. I really don’t think that most modern audiences have any idea as to how good some of the silent actors were. Then again, most probably can’t wrap their mind around acting without dialogue.

A few others that I think are great:

Robert Mitchum in “Night of the Hunter”
Orsen Wells in “Touch of Evil”
Barbara Stanwyck in “Double Indemnity”
Christopher Walken in “Deer Hunter”


holifila:

Another great point you bring up…crossing generations…

Montalban came up in the “Brando/James Dean” school of drama.

If you compared, say, Brando in “Streetcar Named Desire” or Dean in “Rebel Without a Cause” against Denzel Washington in “Man on Fire”; Brando and Dean would ALWAYS come out sort of “over-the-top”.

Montalban in “ST-II” had that “Brando/Dean/Over-the-Top” kind of dramatic performance about it.

Mufasa

…or “The Little Tramp” himself, Charlie Chaplin…

(By the way…Charlie was quite the “Lady Slayer”…!)

Mufasa


Robert Mitchum…

ALWAYS solid performances…

You have to put “Cape Fear” on your “Movie Night” list…

Mufasa

Hey, guys…

I know movie buffs and Lovers would like for you to think that their “shit-don’t-stink…” but I’ll let you in on a little secret…

Know what I watched last weekend?

  1. Clueless

  2. Booty Call

(…“Omigosh…as if…!”)

LOL!

Mufasa

(Man…one point brings up another! I really Love this stuff!)

Alicia and her contemporaries brings up the debate of “Young Hollywood” and why they can’t seem to transition to stable careers…

Look…actors and actresses have ALWAYS had some screwed-up personal lives (“The Hollywood Machine” had Judy Garland cranking out 3-4 musicals PER YEAR. Orthopedic injuries are what got her hooked on pain killers).

BUT PROFESSIONALLY, “The Machine” kept them working (these young actors were money machines…)

Today without a)talent b) good management and c) a personal circle that keeps them grounded, these young stars flounder.

Their early celebrity just does not translate (often) into mature roles.

(Alicia is doing “okay”, by the way! She may not eat burgers, but she hasn’t gone off the deep end either!)

Mufasa

The only worthwhile part of Lost in Translation was Scarlett Johansson’s ass in panties. Luckily, that scene is burned into my memory such that I will never have to own the DVD.

I cannot think of a worthwhile part of Broken Flowers, except for maybe when Bill Murray got beaten up.

He had it coming for making The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

Sorry, it had to be said.

[quote]holifila wrote:
A few others that I think are great:

Barbara Stanwyck in “Double Indemnity”[/quote]

Right on. This is hands down one of my all-time favorite movies. There’s a lot of depth to it and the story still holds up today. Stanwyck’s performance was really off the charts…she made you love and hate her at the same time.

Sylvester Stallone’s performance in “Rocky” rates up there for me. The character was just so real and believeable and Stallone played it great.

Christian Bale in “Batman Begins” (the most underrated movie of 2005)and “The Machinist” are also strong performances.

I’ll also throw in Leo in “Blood Diamond” I’m usually not a big fan of his, but he nailed this part, and was also good in “The Departed” although I thought BD was a better movie.


Hey, neph!

This stuff is most fun when you can discuss and debate it!

Another of my Top Dramatic Performances:

Tom Hanks as Captain Miller…

[center]“Saving Private Ryan”[/center]

“Every time I kill a man…I feel that much further from Home…”

Mufasa