These are the actors I consider my favorites. In order to enter I must have seen at least five of their films. I will be adding new actors at the end of every month as well as updating links and movie totals to any already included. No preference with rank. Clickable links take you to any reviews I’ve written.
What I Love About Him: Dana Andrews is an everyman, a detective always two steps behind. What’s fascinating about Andrews is how he can play such unassuming men, yet still be incredibly flirtatious. Conversely, he can cause you to tap deep wells of emotion with his more poignant performances.
Favorite Movie: The Ox-Bow Incident
Top Films: Splendor in the Grass, Shampoo, Reds, Heaven Can Wait, Bonnie and Clyde
What I Love About Him: Warren Beatty was the first old Hollywood crush I had after seeing Splendor in the Grass in high school. Not only is the man gorgeous but he is such a talented actor who has dabbled in directing as well (GO WATCH REDS!) I’ve read several biographies about Beatty and the intelligence of the man is legendary.
Favorite Movie: Shampoo
What I Love About Him: Can I just say it’s because he was smart enough to marry the stunning Lauren Bacall (who made my Actress Hall of Fame)? Aside from that genius decision Humphrey is well-known as the heavy and/or the guy who “don’t stick his neck out for nobody.” I see him as a chameleon able to inhabit any role, even the love-lorn Michael in Dark Victory. For a short guy he filled up a room with dominance and personality; a real man’s man.
Favorite Movie: The Big Sleep
Top Movies: A Streetcar Named Desire, The Wild One, Guys and Dolls, The Godfather, On the Waterfront
What I Love About Him: Just look at him! They don’t make strong, aggressive hunks of man like Marlon Brando anymore! He is just pure sexual energy, a raw nerve waiting to snap and that’s present in the films he’s done. And regardless of what can be said about his later years you can’t fault Brando for trying every genre of film…even musical (he pretty much stole Guys and Dolls for me).
Favorite Movie: A Streetcar Named Desire
Additional Films Reviewed: Viva Zapata!
What I Love About Him: Conway didn’t have a lengthy career, probably because he was overshadowed by his brother, fellow actor George Sanders. Conway was an actor who generally played a cad in his films (and television roles), and yet he was incredibly seductive. I place him up there with Veronica Lake in terms of dying horribly and being utterly forgotten today. What can I say, I feel bad for the forgotten star?
Favorite Movie: Cat People
What I Love About Him: Clark Gable is another fine example of masculinity, and I do admit my interest in Gable leans more towards his pre-Code work like Red Dust and Night Nurse where he played a cad that could charm you out of your clothes (or scare you in the case of Night Nurse).
Favorite Movie: Red Dust
What I Love About Him: James Garner is straight-up sex! He was a man’s man whose movies always had him playing the ultimate in husbandry. He could work opposite a woman with the cleanest reputation (Doris Day for instance) and have the audience believe they were gonna do more than smooch. His charisma and charm was going to lead to something, and considering the time period of these movies, the fact that he wasn’t just hinting at getting down is insane.
Favorite Movie: The Americanization of Emily
What I Love About Him: Cary was the first classic film actor I really thought was the definition of “class.” He’s got elegance and charm and sadly he was typecast for it. In looking at his work throughout his career even when he played the menacing would-be murderer in Suspicion, you still wanted to like him. I mean when you can make playing a lech (in the hilarious Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer) look sweet you’re doing something right.
Favorite Movie: The Bishop’s Wife
Additional Films Reviewed: Blonde Venus, Night and Day, Destination Tokyo, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, Monkey Business, My Favorite Wife, Suzy, Topper, The Philadelphia Story, Holiday, Indiscreet, Only Angels Have Wings
What I Love About Him: I’ve always said William Holden is the actor who could convince you to get in bed with him and make it sound like it was your idea. I mean Holden was still able to get the beautiful Faye Dunaway in a film during his later years, that’s skill. Sure he played opportunists or less than reputable men but as mentioned with the other choices you always liked him!
Favorite Movie: Sabrina
What I Love About Him: Karloff puts himself through Hell for his work. In looking at the films above he spent countless hours in make-up and yet he always conveyed the purest of emotions. I watched several of his films back to back and no performance was the same. He played a heart-wrenching misanthrope in one and played a vengeful spirit in another and made them totally separate. You never felt that Karloff was playing Karloff.
Favorite Movie: Bride of Frankenstein
What I Love About Him: He’s a phenomenal scene stealer! His performances in Gold Diggers, playing opposite a Pekingese in one instance, let me laughing for several days. On top of his comic timing, he’s just so dang love able, even when he’s playing a total jerk.
Favorite Movie: Gold Diggers of 1933
What I Love About Him: Look at that face! Jack Lemmon is the puppy dog of my Hall of Fame because you really felt for the guy no matter what even as you were rolling on the ground laughing. Lemmon has expert comedic timing all the way up even in his older years (I love him in My Fellow Americans). On top of that he could turn in heart wrenching, and painfully humorous turns in dramatic films like The Days of Wine and Roses. Then again, “Nobody’s perfect!”
What I Love About Him: His infinite charm. There’s a reason this man was dubbed ‘The King of Cool.’ For a career that didn’t put out as many films as others, he succeeded in every genre.
Favorite Movie: Love With a Proper Stranger
What I Love About Him: Robert Mitchum scares me, and that’s what I love about him! He’s so intimidating and while he uses sexuality as a weapon that way he presents it isn’t a turn-off and Cape Fear is already fairly risqué. Mitchum was a man’s man known for indulging in numerous taboos which also increases his aura of being a rebel.
Favorite Movie: The Night of the Hunter
Top Films: The Shining, The Departed, Reds, The Witches of Eastwick, Chinatown
What I Love About Him: In doing this I didn’t know how far in time I wanted to go with “classic” actors but I figured the seventies was a good stop point and in that case I had to put Nicholson on here. He’s made so many movies I’ve seen and in hindsight he’s made all of them better. I will say I prefer Nicholson as a villain because who else can walk that fine line between menacing and cool as hell?
Favorite Movie: The Shining
Additional Films Reviewed: Little Shop of Horrors
What I Love About Him: His power. This is a man whose deep, booming voice causes you to tremble in his presence and be compelled to respect him.
Favorite Movie: To Kill a Mockingbird
Additional Films Reviewed: Spellbound
What I Love About Him: So dignified and yet he always played the loveable drunk and/or cad. Not to mention he’ll always be my favorite detective trying to get out of the game aka Nick Charles. His love story with Jean Harlow is what puts him above all others.
Favorite Movie: Libeled Lady
Additional Films Reviewed: Love Crazy, How to Marry a Millionaire Double Wedding, Evelyn Prentice, Manhattan Melodrama, Reckless, Life With Father, The Last of Mrs. Cheyney, I Love You Again, Shadow of the Thin Man, The Thin Man Goes Home, Song of the Thin Man, Another Thin Man
What I Love About Him: For me it’s the voice. Price has one of the best voices ever! What’s surprising to me is that Price did non-horror films and was fantastic. I cite Laura as the best example of his dramatic work. He’s imposing, he’s intimidating, and he narrated the Thriller video!
Favorite Movie: Laura
What I Love About Him: Claude Rains is an unassuming fellow, but his body of work is diverse and entertaining, regardless of whether he’s playing a hero or a villain. Rains, on the surface, seems self-effacing but that just allowed him to unleash the fury of his performances.
Favorite Movie: Notorious
What I Love About Him: Stewart used to annoy me, but I eventually succumbed to his chameleon-like tendencies. He played well at physical and romantic comedy, but also understood when to be serious. His dramatic roles are iconic because he truly becomes the characters he’s portraying.
Favorite Movie: Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation
What I Love About Him: Spencer Tracy came off like everybody’s great idea of a father. He was a nice guy who was always put-upon and frustrated with his family and that’s what I loved. In the films I’ve seen despite the adventures and pratfalls a key element of his films was always the family, something I couldn’t imagine in a Clark Gable or Robert Mitchum type of film.
Favorite Movie: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
Top Films: Cabaret, Romeo and Juliet, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (don’t judge me), Logan’s Run, Taming of the Shrew
What I Love About Him: Michael York is just adorable. There’s a sweet and innocent side to his roles (even during the uncomfortable attempts at seduction in Logan’s Run). He’s the quintessential definition of the British romantic hero in my book not to mention he made all three Austin Powers films better for being in them, “Whoop-de-doo what does it all mean Basil!”
Favorite Movie: Cabaret