Your favorite character actors

Discussion of the actors, directors and film-makers who 'made it all happen'

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JackFavell
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Re: Your favorite character actors

Post by JackFavell »

I have such trouble with lists, Alison. I could sit down and watch movie after movie and name all the character actors, and love every one, but set me down at a desk with a computer in front of me and my mind goes blank. I've been thinking about posting this list for at least a year, and have started it many times. It's probably my favorite subject in classic films, but for some reason I still can't decide who I like best, or my mind freezes up so I can't think of any.

Well you've listed the creme de la creme of actors, you can't get any better than the top three on your list. And Una O'Connor! I really should have thought of her, we've just seen her in several of the Universal horror films this last month! She's the greatest comic relief those movies ever had! I like her tender (well underneath it all) love affair with Herbert Mundin in The Adventures of Robin Hood.
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knitwit45
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Re: Your favorite character actors

Post by knitwit45 »

Today's birthday boy, Clinton Sundberg!!! How in the world could I have omitted him? His presence in a film always guaranteed you were watching a really good movie.
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The way we cope with it, is what makes the difference." ~ Virginia Satir
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JackFavell
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Re: Your favorite character actors

Post by JackFavell »

Oooh good one, knitty! If I hear him talking on screen and I'm in the other room, I always have to come in and look.

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Western Guy
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Re: Your favorite character actors

Post by Western Guy »

Impossible to name them all. Often these people are more entertaining than the stars they support.

Here's a definitely not complete list:

ALAN HALE (my wife loves him. She doesn't know who he is but always comments favorably whenever hearty Hale appears onscreen -- I concur)
FRANK McHUGH (just brilliantly inventive and entertaining)
GEORGE TOBIAS (likewise)
ALLEN JENKINS (perpetually fine)

Some of my favorite "tough guy" support:

MARC LAWRENCE (naturally)
JOSEPH DOWNING
EDWARD PAWLEY
BARTON MacLANE
WARD BOND
STANLEY RIDGES (love this guy!)
JOSEPH CALLELIA (came to discover him later, thanks to Canada finally getting TCM. Now I'm hooked on this fine actor)
WILLARD ROBERTSON (this fella just appeals to me)
THOMAS JACKSON (could play cop or corrupt with equal aplomb)
STANLEY FIELDS (the - sometimes - loveable lug - or perhaps the poor man's Wally Beery)
LIONEL STANDER
EDUARDO CIANNELLI (woulda been great in THE GODFATHER)
TULLY MARSHALL (from SCARFACE to THIS GUN FOR HIRE)
GEORGE E. STONE (only a little less the fall guy than another fave: ELISHA COOK, JR.)
ALAN BAXTER
HAROLD HUBER
VICTOR JORY
JOSEPH SAWYER
GEORGE BANCROFT
LOUIS JEAN HEYDT (always enjoy it when this fellow turns up, usually in a small part, in a picture. Remarkably likeable quality)

And some others: DWIGHT FRYE, GLENDA FARRELL, ALINE MacMAHON, VICTOR KILLIAN, FRANK FERGUSON, JOHN LITEL, HENRY O'NEILL and SAMUEL S. HINDS, (just two always comforting presences).

I KNOW many more will come to me but no way I can list 'em all.
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JackFavell
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Re: Your favorite character actors

Post by JackFavell »

WOW! What a great list! Holy cow, you've mentioned so many great, great actors here - do you know that my maiden name was Tobias? And that in high school, I literally faked being related to George Tobias to some kids at school, who were like "who?" "Abner Kravitz". I AM related to a George Tobias, it's just he's not THE George Tobias. If only....

Tully Marshall goes as far back in movies as is possible to go, almost. He turns up in silents, still playing all sorts of villainous fellows, or businessmen, or slimy toads.

I love Barton MacLane - he's got a wonderful voice, a warm gravelly one, but with a hint of something smooth in it, and I find him lovable as Maisie's favorite flatfoot, and hateful as the guy who rips off Bogie and Tim Holt in Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

You HAVE reminded me, with your list of tough guys, of Emile Meyer. A cop AND corrupt! What a guy! :D
RedRiver
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Re: Your favorite character actors

Post by RedRiver »

Miss Agnes is tops!

I like her as the woman who should have said, "I don't do windows" in DARK PASSAGE!
Western Guy
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Re: Your favorite character actors

Post by Western Guy »

Wendy, that is just too cool that you share George Tobias's surname. Not a really common name so understandable that you could probably convince classmates that you were related to Abner Kravitz.

Oh yes: Emile Meyer. What a great voice. He was so fantastic as the Padre in PATHS OF GLORY (trying to comfort Tim Carey) and as the slimy villain who tries to get the drop on Alan Ladd in SHANE. He always kinda reminded me of Tom Tully.

A few more popped into my mind: Robert Middleton, William Bendix (arrgghh, how could I forget that likewise loveable lug?), Claude Akins, Simon Oakland, James Gregory . . .

Wendy, I asks ya: Where are character actors of that caliber nowadays??
RedRiver
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Re: Your favorite character actors

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As CineMaven has delighted in pointing out, Emile Meyer is as corrupt as corrupt can be in SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS!
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hbenthow
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Re: Your favorite character actors

Post by hbenthow »

Glenda Farrell. One of the best comediennes of all time. After reading her 1959 CCOH interview, I've gained an even greater appreciation for her. She was very professional, and had interesting intellectual views of her craft.

Mischa Auer. A great character actor with a lot of presence. He was great at everything from comedy to horror.

Billy Gilbert. A unique and unforgeable comedian.

Alan Hale. Larger than life. Even in small roles, he made his presence known. His son went on to become just as memorable.

Barton MacLane. Great at playing heroes and villains alike. Few others could be so gruff and so likable at the same time.

Guy Kibbee. A great, unforgettable character actor.

Marjorie Main. No one was better at playing tough broads.

Sig Ruman. A unique personality, especially great at comedic roles.

Donald Meek. Hard to describe, but a unique and very memorable character actor.

Adolph Menjou. Seldom very likable, but always memorable.
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charliechaplinfan
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Re: Your favorite character actors

Post by charliechaplinfan »

If naming lead actors is difficult this really does stretch the grey matter but those cells haven't kicked in yet. I blame Christmas, I haven't room to think of anything else.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin
RedRiver
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Re: Your favorite character actors

Post by RedRiver »

I blame the aging process. With any luck, I can come up with MY name! Donald Meek is a joy. I like to imagine a scenario in which he played Tarzan or a fearsome warrior. Donald Meek is...HERCULES! Speaking of meek persona, has the name Charles Ruggles come up yet? He and his precision perfect timing certainly belong on the list!
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JackFavell
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Re: Your favorite character actors

Post by JackFavell »

Western Guy wrote:Wendy, that is just too cool that you share George Tobias's surname. Not a really common name so understandable that you could probably convince classmates that you were related to Abner Kravitz.

Oh yes: Emile Meyer. What a great voice. He was so fantastic as the Padre in PATHS OF GLORY (trying to comfort Tim Carey) and as the slimy villain who tries to get the drop on Alan Ladd in SHANE. He always kinda reminded me of Tom Tully.

A few more popped into my mind: Robert Middleton, William Bendix (arrgghh, how could I forget that likewise loveable lug?), Claude Akins, Simon Oakland, James Gregory . . .

Wendy, I asks ya: Where are character actors of that caliber nowadays??

Maybe I am related to Abner Kravitz at some level of ancestry... it's always a possibility. What tickles my funny bone is that I thought at age 16 that teenagers would be impressed by this.

Oh Emile Meyer IS like Tom Tully! I can see that.

I LOVE all those guys, but especially James Gregory. His turn on Barney Miller was just great. He was the kind of guy you just hate, 25 year old suit always rumpled, always with an opinion on something that doesn't matter.

As for the character actors of today, they are few and far between, that's for sure. Plus, everything now is about blending in, being natural to your surroundings, so we can't even tell our leading actors apart from a guy on the street, much less our character actors.
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JackFavell
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Re: Your favorite character actors

Post by JackFavell »

hbenthow wrote:Glenda Farrell. One of the best comediennes of all time. After reading her 1959 CCOH interview, I've gained an even greater appreciation for her. She was very professional, and had interesting intellectual views of her craft.

Mischa Auer. A great character actor with a lot of presence. He was great at everything from comedy to horror.

Billy Gilbert. A unique and unforgeable comedian.

Alan Hale. Larger than life. Even in small roles, he made his presence known. His son went on to become just as memorable.

Barton MacLane. Great at playing heroes and villains alike. Few others could be so gruff and so likable at the same time.

Guy Kibbee. A great, unforgettable character actor.

Marjorie Main. No one was better at playing tough broads.

Sig Ruman. A unique personality, especially great at comedic roles.

Donald Meek. Hard to describe, but a unique and very memorable character actor.

Adolph Menjou. Seldom very likable, but always memorable.

Oh you've hit so many favorites on this list, hbenthow! Golly, You KNOW I love Glenda. I can't even tell you how great I think she is.

Mischa shows up playing gangsters or henchman every once in a while, it always surprises me how versatile he was.

I never liked Guy Kibbee until I saw The Life of Jimmy Dolan. Oh, he's just so great in that one, I fell in love with him.
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JackFavell
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Re: Your favorite character actors

Post by JackFavell »

RedRiver wrote:I blame the aging process. With any luck, I can come up with MY name! Donald Meek is a joy. I like to imagine a scenario in which he played Tarzan or a fearsome warrior. Donald Meek is...HERCULES! Speaking of meek persona, has the name Charles Ruggles come up yet? He and his precision perfect timing certainly belong on the list!
Donald Meek deserves his own THREAD. He's so magnificent! I agree, red, he's best when he's playing against type, like in the Nick Carter series that was just on. Oh lordy, I could go on and on about how much he gets out of a small role. I think every film he ever made, no matter the role he played, is my favorite.

And I'm totally in love with Charlie Ruggles. The man was so dapper, all the way up through his TV appearances. Sigh. I wish older men looked like that nowadays, and were as kind and sweet as he seemed to be.
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JackFavell
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Re: Your favorite character actors

Post by JackFavell »

I swear there was another post here!

I totally love Joyce Carey, she's so uppity, Bernard Cribbens ( I swear I would wait for him to show up on TV when I was a kid), Stanley Holloway, and Flora Robson. I agree, she was so good, she should have had lead roles in more movies.

I also like Kathleen Harrison and Merle Tottenham. Whenever they show up, I know that I'll be entertained no matter what the movie is about.
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