‘Career best’ portrayals
In the course of their glittering careers, movie starts get to play a variety of attention-calling roles that sequentially establish their talent, artistic growth and versatility. Looking back, however, some luminaries acknowledge that only a few of their many characterizations for the silver screen eventually emerge as their “signature” or career-defining portrayals—the unique and transcendent roles that viewers remember them by.
For instance, Michael Caine has essayed more than his share of attention-calling starrers, but some film buffs will always see him as the opportunistic, handsome but rancid character he played in “Alfie.” Peter O’Toole? His acerbic acting style is still vivified by his heroic and yet warped freshman portrayal in “Lawrence of Arabia.”
Rosalind Russell was brassy and sassy in a number of her starrers, but nowhere nearly as memorable than as the quintessential stage mother in “Gypsy”—and the blithely effervescent title character in “Mame.”
Albert Finney? “The Entertainer” and “Tom Jones.” Jane Fonda? “On Golden Pond” and “Klute.” Harrison Ford? “Star Wars” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Vivien Leigh? “Gone with the Wind” and “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
That last film is similarly recalled for the signature portrayal in it of another great actor, Marlon Brando, who’s also remembered for “On the Waterfront”—and for his “shockingly” sensual characterization in “Last Tango in Paris.”
Warren Beatty’s first screen appearance in “Splendor in the Grass” excited viewers because of his undeniable screen charisma, but he also scored major points in “Bonnie and Clyde.”
His leading lady in that film, Faye Dunaway, also went on to play many other parts, but is remembered for “Chinatown.”
Johnny Depp? “Edward Scissorhands” and “Pirates of the Carribean.” Barbra Streisand? “The Way We Were” and “Yentl.” Robin Williams? “Dead Poets’ Society” and “Mrs. Doubtfire.”
Both Paul Newman and Robert Redford were major male leads who had separate signature movies, like “Cool Hand Luke” for Newman, and “The Chase” and “The Candidate” for Redford—but, they are also jointly acclaimed for “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”
George C. Scott played many tough characters, but “Patton” stands out for his definitive portrayal. Ingrid Bergman? “Casablanca” and “Joan of Arc.” Richard Burton? “Look Back in Anger” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Jim Carrey? “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “Ace Ventura.”
On the local show-biz scene, Vilma Santos’ signature portrayal is as “Sister Stella L.” Nora Aunor’s career-best performance is as the title character in “Bona.” Joseph Estrada was at his best in “Geron Busabos, Ang Batang Quiapo.”
Dolphy was a thespic standout in “Ang Tatay Kong Nanay” and “Cyrano de Bergerac.” Christopher de Leon did best of all as his Filipino Everyman character in “Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon?”
Gloria Romero was a thespic standout in “Tanging Yaman.” Rita Gomez is still remembered for her portrayal in “Pagdating sa Dulo.” And Rosa Rosal was magnificent in “Anak Dalita” and “Sakada.”
- Gloria Romero
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