Why some Hollywood stars never caught my fancy
JENNIFER Jones and Charlton Heston are two of the Hollywood stars I never liked. As soon as they appear onscreen, I grimace. It’s a matter of taste, of course.
In contrast, I like Judy Garland, Ava Gardner, Gene Kelly, Julie Andrews, Ingrid Bergman, Harrison Ford, James Stewart, Gary Cooper, Helen Hayes and Meryl Streep. Steven Spielberg’s films always enchant me.
Whenever I’m feeling blue, I watch “E.T.”: I clap when its child actors fly over police cars on their bicycles—a victory of children’s innocence over adults’ cynicism. I likewise enjoy the “Indiana Jones” series.
Heston is my least favorite Hollywood star because, no matter what role he played (Moses, Michelangelo, the Pope), I always felt that he was portraying the same character—each as predictably “sculpted” as the next.
He is the polar opposite of dynamic and “realistic” actors like Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift and James Dean.
Another Oscar winner I disliked was Jennifer Jones, who, like Dorothy Malone and Natalie Wood, was known for her “trembling” chin.
Since I have always admired Brando, I didn’t appreciate actors who aped him, like Rod Steiger. Paul Newman looked like Brando—but, like Eli Wallach, his performances were distinctive.
As I got older, I looked out more keenly for signs of “acting”: I noted “old-style” acting by Deborah Kerr and Audrey Hepburn, who are rather limited actresses whose “technique” includes covering their faces or quivering their voices in key dramatic moments! This is something that Meryl Streep never does.
The acting icon before Streep, Katharine Hepburn, delivered her dialogue fast. Rosalind Russell had the same style. Cary Grant went in for those same “gimmicks,” which were typical of his era.
Lilian and Dorothy Gish were faithful followers of “classical” acting. With his raised eyebrows and darting eyes, John Barrymore was another “dated” actor. On the other hand, the performances of Spencer Tracy and Gary Cooper hardly ever betray their technique. Instead, their seamless styles are as timeless as their classic starrers! It’s no wonder why Ingrid Bergman said of Cooper: “I thought he didn’t do enough in a scene—until I saw the finished product!”
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