The Veronicas: Best Actress

These are the actresses I consider my favorites.  In order to enter into the Hall of Fame and, be a recipient of the Veronicas, I must have seen at least five of their films.  I will be adding new actresses at the end of every month as well as updating links and movie totals to any actresses already included.  Clickable links take you to any reviews I’ve written.

Julie Andrews

Top FilmsVictor/Victoria, The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, The Americanization of Emily, S.O.B.

What I Love About Her:  Julie is my songstress (and the woman I wish was my grandmother if I ever got to recast my family).  She possesses a beautiful voice and has always provided a source of comfort and warmth in her roles, it helps that she’s played a nanny and a nun in her films.  Despite her Mary Poppins image she’s definitely played her share of wild cards including a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman in Victor/Victoria.

Favorite Movie: The Sound of Music

Additional Films ReviewedThoroughly Modern Millie

Jean Arthur

Jean Arthur

Top FilmsToo Many Husbands, The More the Merrier, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, You Can’t Take It With You

What I Love About Her: Arthur is scrappy. She’s beautiful, but there’s an underlying toughness that seeps through. Her characters have pasts, but they never show and she never lets anything stop her. Arthur excelled at both comedy and drama.

Favorite MovieToo Many Husbands

Additional Films ReviewedOnly Angels Have Wings, The Ex-Mrs. Bradford

Lauren Bacall

Top Films: To Have and Have NotWritten on the WindYoung Man with a Horn, Key Largo, The Big Sleep

What I Love About Her:  Lauren Bacall smolders on the screen!  She was the first femme fatale character I saw and from the minute she walked in I was mesmerized by her beauty, her swagger, and the fact that she meant business.  Even as she’s grown older in films like The Fan she’s still got that edge!

Favorite MovieThe Big Sleep

Additional Films Reviewed: How to Marry a Millionaire

Ingrid Bergman

Top FilmsNotoriousCasablancaCactus Flower, Gaslight, Indiscreet

What I Love About Her: Ingrid always played the girl with the horrible love life which made her relatable to me in that a girl who beautiful didn’t have it easy.  She also conveyed emotion beautifully even in situations where her life was on the line seen in GaslightCasablanca and Notorious.

Favorite Movie: Notorious

Additional Films Reviewed: Fear, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness

JoanBlondell

Joan Blondell

Top Films: Three on a Match, Night Nurse, Gold Diggers of 1933, Topper Returns, Desk Set

What I Love About Her: Blondell was usually relegated to being the best friend, but she made the most of it.  Her wisecracking, saucy attitude made her perfect for comedy or romance.  She was a pre-Code darling able to be sexual while removing vulgarity and her expressive eyes make you want to hug her, or laugh with her.

Favorite Movie: Night Nurse

Additional Films Reviewed: DamesFootlight Parade

Billie Burke

Top FilmsThe Wizard of Oz, Topper, Father’s Little Dividend, Dinner at Eight, Father of the Bride

What I Love About Her:  Before Lucille Ball there was Billie Burke.  Burke epitomized the flighty ditz with a heart of gold mostly playing a socialite in films like Topper and Dinner at Eight.  She’s best known as Glinda the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz, the first film I saw of her and she was a squeaky voiced symbol of goodness in that fairy tale story.

Favorite Movie: The Wizard of Oz

Additional Films Reviewed: The Barkleys of Broadway, Topper Takes a Trip, Topper Returns, Girl Trouble

JoanCrawford

Joan Crawford

Top Films: Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, Mildred Pierce, The Women, Possessed, Humoresque

What I Love About Her: Joan Crawford always played characters who knew about a hard day’s work.  Her characters were always working girls – and sometimes that was in both senses of the word if you’re watching The Women.  Her persona has taken on a life of its own, in a negative sense, but her body of work presented her as an honest, down-to-Earth character who always had to stay respectable in the face of wealth.

Favorite Movie: Mildred Pierce

Additional Films Reviewed: The Damned Don’t Cry, Daisy Kenyon, The Last of Mrs. Cheyney

BetteDavis

Bette Davis

Top FilmsDark Victory, All About Eve, Jezebel, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, Of Human Bondage

What I Love About Her: Bette Davis is tempestuous and mean in one breath, but in others she can sweet and tender.  Her various personas prevent her from being truly understood, and the various genres of the top films I listed above are proof of that.  She never categorized herself, and while in later life she may have become a caricature she always excelled at entertaining.

Favorite MovieDark Victory

Additional Films ReviewedThree on a Match, Hell’s House, The Virgin Queen, Phone Call From a Stranger, Hush…Hush Sweet Charlotte, The Nanny

Jean Harlow

Top Films: Libeled Lady, Wife vs. Secretary, Red DustPlatinum Blonde, Dinner at Eight

What I Love About Her:  Jean could be brash but there was always a humor and a vulnerability.  Where you laughed at Marilyn’s attempted stupidity with Jean you laughed because she was a comedian.  She also played every genre!

Favorite Movie:  Libeled Lady

Additional Films Reviewed: All Jean Harlow’s films can be found in my Films of Jean Harlow Retrospective

Goldie Hawn

Top FilmsCactus FlowerDeath Becomes Her, The First Wives Club, Overboard, Private Benjamin

What I Love About Her: Goldie Hawn is just so bubbly and sweet, the epitome of the California girl although I know she wasn’t born in California!  All of her movies had her playing the dumb blonde but she played the blonde who knew she was dumb and thus tried to rise above it.  Her films when she became older are my favorites although I adore her in Shampoo.

Audrey Hepburn

Top FilmsSabrina, Wait Until Dark, Roman Holiday, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, My Fair Lady

What I Love About Her:  What can be said about Audrey that hasn’t already been said?  She’s a fashion icon who could play a romantic lead or a terrorized woman.

Favorite Movie: Sabrina

Katharine Hepburn

Top FilmsBringing Up BabyGuess Who’s Coming to DinnerStage Door, Adam’s Rib, The Philadelphia Story 

What I Love About Her:  I’d be yelled at by the amazing Margaret over at The Great Katherine Hepburn if I didn’t include Katharine.  Katharine is one of the few “feminist”-focused actresses of a time period where feminism hadn’t hit its stride.  While there is debate in regards to how much of a feminist icon Hepburn was she makes it in my book.  She was an actress who played characters on equal footing with men, and most times surpassed them in intelligence and ingenuity all while making you laugh!

Favorite MovieBringing Up Baby

Additional Films ReviewedMorning Glory, Desk SetLittle Women (1933)The Lion in WinterHoliday, Mary of Scotland

CelesteHolm

Celeste Holm

Top FilmsAll About Eve, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Come to the Stable, Gentleman’s AgreementA Letter to Three Wives

What I Love About Her:  Celeste Holm is both down-to-Earth and incredibly regal. There’s always a courtly bearing to her performances, even if she’s stuck playing the voice of reason (or, in the case of A Letter to Three Wives, a voice entirely).

Favorite MovieRodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella

Additional Films ReviewedBachelor Flat, High Society

veronicalake

Veronica Lake

Top Films: I Married a Witch, Sullivan’s Travels, This Gun for Hire, The Glass Key, So Proudly We Hail!

What I Love About Her: Lake walked the line between perpetual naivete and wily woman; a woman always available, but searching for lover.  She played everything from a irascible witch to a suicidal nurse, and always let audiences see her vulnerability.  When she had to be tough, she was never completely cold.  Despite living some hard years and dying broke and forgotten, her luminosity still shines bright.

Additional Films Reviewed: I Wanted Wings

Angela Lansbury

Top Films: The Manchurian Candidate, The Company of Wolves, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Gaslight

What I Love About Her: I only recently discovered that I’ve seen so many Angela Lansbury movies, mainly during her earlier years.  I’d always associated her with “old” television shows like Murder She Wrote and yet she was an amazing movie actress playing a variety of characters.  I particularly love her in villainess roles like Gaslight or Manchurian Candidate.  Not to mention Angela provided voices in two of my favorite animated films (Beauty and the Beast and Anastasia) and is a Broadway legend!

Favorite Movie: The Manchurian Candidate

Additional Films ReviewedTenth Avenue Angel, Sweeney Todd, Harlow, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: 50 Years of Magic, Dear Heart

Myrna Loy

Top FilmsThe Thin ManLibeled Lady, The Bachelor and the Bobby-SoxerWife vs. Secretary, I Love You Again

What I Love About Her:  Myrna is one of the few I think combines elegance with a casual flighty air.  She can be serious but she can also be serious with a playful side à la Nora Charles.  She can play rich or poor, she even played a judge for crying out loud!  And that look that combines classic Hollywood with a mysterious exotic edge!

Favorite Movie:  The Thin Man

Additional Films Reviewed: Love Crazy, Double Wedding, Evelyn Prentice, Manhattan Melodrama,Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, Another Thin Man, Shadow of the Thin Man, The Thin Man Goes Home, Song of the Thin Man

Shirley MacLaine

Top Films: The Apartment, BernieSweet Charity, All in a Night’s WorkThe Turning Point

What I Love About Her:  Shirley MacLaine is my “kick in the pants” actress because she’s just spunky.  She tells it like it is and isn’t afraid to make a complete fool of herself for love which she’s done in two movies.  Her published works emphasize her eccentricities and even those are fun.  She’s the actress I don’t think takes herself too seriously.

Favorite Movie:  The Apartment

Marilyn Monroe

Top Films: All About Eve, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The Seven Year Itch, Some Like It Hot, Monkey Business

What I love about Her: her sweetness, her humor and the fact that you could laugh with her but not at her.

Favorite Movie:  Some Like It Hot

Additional Films Reviewed: All my reviews of Marilyn’s work can be found in the My Month with Marilyn section.

MargaretOBrien

Margaret O’Brien

Top Films:  Meet Me in St. Louis, The Canterville Ghost, The Secret Garden, Lost Angel, Little Women (1949)

What I Love About Her: O’Brien just brought joy to all her movies.  Her blithe, joyous nature could make you smile, but she could just as easily make you cry.  For a child she always brought a childlike rationalization to everything, never acting too wise beyond her years.  Her characters have a sense of wonder and curiosity about the world that only a child who isn’t acting can bring.

Favorite Movie: Meet Me in St. Louis

Additional Films ReviewedTenth Avenue Angel, Journey for Margaret

GingerRogers

Ginger Rogers

Top Films: Stage Door, Gold Diggers of 1933, Monkey Business, Roxie Hart, 42nd Street

What I Love About Her:  Ginger is one tough cookie, known for excelling in every genre, from drama to comedy, and, especially, musicals.  The infamous quote about her dancing with Fred Astaire sums up why I love her: “Sure, [Astaire] was great, but don’t forget Ginger Rogers did everything he did backwards…and in high heels!”

Favorite MovieStage Door

Additional Films ReviewedVivacious Lady, Kitty Foyle, I’ll Be Seeing You, The Barkleys of Broadway, We’re Not Married!, Harlow

BarbaraStanwyck

Barbara Stanwyck

Top Films: Double Indemnity, Christmas in Connecticut, Night Nurse, Stella Dallas, Remember the Night

What I love about Her: The feisty, independent characters she plays.  They tend to be compromised by the end due to the Production Code, but you understand that Stanwyck is choosing to conform, she’s never forced to do anything.

Favorite MovieChristmas in Connecticut

Additional Films ReviewedClash by Night, There’s Always Tomorrow, The Two Mrs. Carrolls, Executive Suite, Sorry, Wrong Number

Elizabeth Taylor

Top FilmsA Place in the Sun, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Little Women (1949), Jane Eyre (1943)

What I Love About Her: She’s stunning for one!  Marilyn Monroe was blonde and sweet whereas Elizabeth Taylor was dark and sexual.  Those eyes alone could stop you and she just exuded power, she was Cleopatra after all!

Favorite MovieCat on a Hot Tin Roof

Additional Films ReviewedThe Only Game in Town, Father’s Little Dividend, Life With Father

GeneTierney

Gene Tierney

Top Films: Laura, Leave Her to HeavenThe Mating SeasonThe Ghost and Mrs. MuirHeaven Can Wait

What I Love About Her: She’s utterly gorgeous in a way that’s otherworldly. On top of that, she should that beauty and talent can transcend any genre as she excelled in both. She wasn’t afraid to make fun of herself in comedies, and regardless of the character, tried to create someone likeable who subverted the limitations of the genres she worked in.

Favorite MovieLaura

Additional Films ReviewedThe Pleasure Seekers, On the Riviera, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Dragonwyck, The Return of Frank James

Natalie Wood

Top FilmsMiracle on 34th StreetGypsyWest Side Story, Inside Daisy Clover, Love With a Proper Stranger

What I Love About Her:  Natalie Wood was the first classic actress I ever took notice of starting with West Side Story.  There was an innocence to her performance that was more poignant in Splendor in the Grass.  Not only did Natalie appear innocent but her personal story is filled with struggle and in many ways I find her own tragic demise to be more heart-wrenching than Marilyn’s (but that’s me).

Favorite MovieSplendor in the Grass

Additional Films ReviewedThe Ghost and Mrs. Muir, This Property is Condemned, The Searchers, A Cry in the Night

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10 comments on “The Veronicas: Best Actress

  1. Pingback: Entering the Hall of Fame and a Few Other Changes | Journeys in Classic Film

  2. I would like to recommend Natalie Wood in the Claudette Colbert film: Tomorrow Is Forever if you haven’t seen it.

  3. Pingback: VL’s Top Posts of the Week |

  4. Pingback: VL’s Top Posts of the Week |

  5. Interesting collection of actresses. I’m a fan of all those ladies some more than others of course, my personal favorite is Linda Darnell with Susan Hayward and Ida Lupino close seconds.

    Since you’re a fan of Katharine Hepburn have you been following The Film Experience’s A Year with Kate where each week they look at one of her films, coincidentally she made exactly 52 pictures including her TV movies. It’s been a great chance to look at each, good and bad.

    Being a Veronica Lake fan and knowing how difficult it is to find all but her most popular films I wanted to say I found one of her more obscure films The Hour Before the Dawn in its entirety on Youtube a few weeks ago. The print isn’t the best but it’s the only place I’ve ever run across it.

    • Darnell is inching closer to being in the Hall of Fame. Sadly, I’ve seen Lupino more as a director than a leading lady (although for the time I’m so happy to have seen so much of her directorial output). Ooh, I haven’t checked out Film Experience’s offerings! I’m definitely looking it up. I know a few of Veronica’s films are on YouTube. They were how I was able to watch her episode of Suspense. Once school’s over I’m watching Veronica films 24/7!

    • Lee Remick is working her way up to five nominees – one of which is Anatomy of a Murder (Great movie!). I really want to see They Drive by Night. Thanks for suggestions.

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