November 20, 2015

Notes on the Supporting Actor

He can light up the screen in a flicker of time, drawing you in with his eyes, his humor, and even his humanity.  He doesn’t need a long monologue to get your attention.  No, many times he can sum up an entire lifetime with a move, a gesture, or a pause.  For he is our supporting actor- and he’s as important to film as the stock itself.  More times than not,  he’ll be the one you’ll remember when the lights come up. Viva the supporting actor!

The twenty greatest supporting actors in no particular order…

  1.  Fredric March  ” The Iceman Cometh” (’73)  Harry Hope  (A lifetime of great acting, culminating into this final glory)
  2. Robert DeNiro “Mean Streets” (’73)  Johnny Boy (His performance exploded onto the screen.)
  3. Louis Calhern “The Asphalt Jungle ” (’50) Alonzo Emmerich  (He brought a real humanity to his crooked lawyer.)
  4. Peter Sellers  “Lolita” (’62) Claire Quilty (One of the screen’s great comic creations)
  5. Walter Huston “Treasure of the Sierra Madre” (’48)  Howard. (The image of him doing an Irish jig in the desert is unforgettable.)
  6. Jack Nicholson “Easy Rider” (’69)  George Hanson  (Our first glimpse of this actor’s greatness)
  7. Robert Duvall “The Godfather” (’72)  Tom Hagen (The scene where he has to tell the godfather that his son has been killed is a master class in acting.)
  8. Gig Young “They Shoot Horses Don’t They” (’69)  Rocky  (The seeds of a soul are there, but this man has long lost his humanity)
  9. Rod Steiger “The Loved One” (’65)  Joy Boy ( Has to be seen to be believed,)
  10. Joel Grey “Cabaret”  (’72)  MC  (Show business sleaze oozes from this cupie doll.)
  11. Jason Robards, Jr.  “Melvin and Howard”  (’80)  Howard Hughes  (He does so much with his face- an astonishing performance.)
  12. Joe Pesci  “Goodfellas”  (’90)  Tommy DeVito  (Yeah, he’s funny alright, but he is also terrifying.)
  13. George C. Scott  “The Hustler” (’61) Bert Gordon  (He plays it with such cold precision.)
  14. Marvin Landau  “Ed Wood (’96)  Bela Lugosi  (A touching and fully realized performance)
  15. Kevin Spacey  “The Usual Suspects”  (’95) Verbal  (A performance that’s filled with colors)
  16. Christopher Walken  “At Close Range”  (’86)  Bradley Whitewood, Sr.  (The most frightening thing about his performance is that you almost like the man!)
  17. Burgess Meredith “Day of the Locust”  (’75)  Harry Greener  (It’s such a pleasure to see an actor find a role he can truly inhabit.)
  18. Dennis Hopper  “Blue Velvet” (’86)  Frank Booth (What the hell is he inhaling?)
  19. Samuel L. Jackson   “Jungle Fever”  (’90)  Gator  (A live wire of a performance)
  20. Eli Wallach  “Baby Doll (’56)  Silva Vicarro  (Very cunning. but also strangely charming)

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