I’ve noticed that quite a few other blogs have lists of favourite actors and actresses. Today I felt like doing something a bit different from my usual reviews, so made a list of my favourite ten actresses at the moment. I’m sure if I made the list another day it would be different -and there are many great actresses I am sad to have left out, some of whom I’ve listed at the end, plus there are doubtless others that I’ve forgotten about. I’d be interested to hear what anyone else thinks of my choices and who your own favourites are! I will also put up a list of male actors soon. I’ve written a few thoughts about my top three and just posted the names of the others, as it is getting late and I want to get this posting finished tonight, but I love them too.
1. Marlene Dietrich: I’ve always liked Dietrich as a singer, and her performance in The Blue Angel blew me away – it was the first black-and-white film that I ever saw on the big screen, in the English version, back in about 1980 (it is claimed all over the net that this version was lost until the 2000s, but this can’t be right, as I had seen it in a beautiful print many years earlier). The German version, which I saw much later, is even better. Recently I’ve been watching a lot of Dietrich’s 1930s films and in particular her pre-Codes made with Josef von Sternberg, and have become ever more impressed by her presence – the way she somehow undercuts her own astonishing beauty with her slight air of self-mockery. “Marlene watches from the wall, her mocking smile says it all,” as Suzanne Vega’s great song puts it. My favourite movies starring Dietrich include The Blue Angel, Blonde Venus, Morocco, Angel and The Spoilers (she makes a surprisingly great combination with John Wayne). I really want to see Martin Roumagnac, where she starred opposite Jean Gabin, one of my favourite male actors. I’d also like to see her silent German films… and everything else she did.
2. Barbara Stanwyck: Most Stanwyck fans seem to prefer her noirs, but, great though they are, I love her 1930s work even more and in particular her pre-Codes, where her warmth and forthright personality come across so strongly. She did some great films in this period with both Frank Capra and William Wellman. My favourite movies starring Stanwyck include Night Nurse, The Miracle Woman, The Purchase Price, The Bitter Tea of General Yen and Ball of fire. I want to see Remember the Night and many more that I haven’t managed to catch up with yet. I did also love her in TV’s The Thorn Birds, giving a great performance in her old age.
3. Bette Davis: For a long time Bette was the actress I would automatically list as my number one favourite, and, although Dietrich and Stanwyck have maybe ever-so-slightly overtaken her in my affections, I am still a huge fan. Davis is best-known for her roles as the “bad”, demanding characters, but she did play many self-effacing heroines too, and I think she was equally good in those parts. My favourite movies starring Davis include Of Human Bondage, Jezebel, The Sisters, All This, and Heaven Too and All About Eve. There are quite a few of her pre-codes that I haven’t seen yet and am determined to track down.
4. Judy Garland
5. Katharine Hepburn
6. Greta Garbo
7. Claudette Colbert
8. Ginger Rogers
9. Ingrid Bergman
10. Audrey Hepburn
I was sorry to leave out, in no particular order… Sylvia Sidney, Ann Dvorak, Miriam Hopkins, Ethel Barrymore, Vivien Leigh, Ida Lupino, Doris Day, Myrna Loy, Joan Crawford, Carole Lombard, Lauren Bacall, Gene Tierney, Lillian Gish, Joan Blondell, Mary Astor, Mary Pickford, Anna Sten, Clara Bow, Louise Brooks, Norma Shearer, Jean Arthur, Greer Garson, Jean Simmons, Joan Fontaine, Olivia de Havilland, Loretta Young, Margaret Sullavan, Priscilla Lane, Celia Johnson, Joan Fontaine, Joan Leslie, Jennifer Jones, Maureen O’Hara, Jean Harlow, Ann Sheridan and Marjorie Main. And I’m sure there are loads more too.