The Twenty Greatest Film HeroesWhat makes a hero? A single act of bravery? Standing up for something while others remain seated?Or, is it the unlikely individual who rises to enormous heights in time of crisis? I don’t know…I do know that we need them. They bring a sense of purpose to our unsteady world. So, with those cheery thoughts, I give you “The Twenty Greatest Film Heroes”.
In no particular order…
1.Gregory Peck. “To Kill A Mockingbird”. 1962. This definitely was Peck’s tour de force, bringing an amazing sensitivity and intelligence to this wonderful character.
2.Denzel Washington. “Malcolm X”. 1990. A majestic and volcanic performance.
3.Peter O’Toole. “Lawrence of Arabia”. 1962. He explodes onto the screen in this incredible debut.
4.Jack Nicholson. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. 1975. Nicholson brought his own iconic charm to this legendary character. He also ushered in a bit of the counterculture as well.
5.Al Pacino. “Serpico”. 1973. Pacino played a man who stood up for to the NYPD and was shot for it! He brought many colors to this complex role.
6.Sidney Poitier. “In the Heat of the Night”. 1967. The scene when Mr. Tibbs (Poitier) slaps back the racist white dude was called “the slap heard ’round the world”.
7.Russell Crowe. “Gladiator”. 2000. He brought a sensitivity and a force to an otherwise traditional film role.
8.Burt Lancaster. “From Here to Eternity”. 1953. His performance as Sgt. Warden is commanding.
9.Paul Newman. “Cool Hand Luke”. 1967. Unlikely heroes are always appealing, but Newman’s droll performance as Luke brought it to a new level.
10.Marlon Brando. “On the Waterfront”. 1954. Much has been written about Brando’s award-winning performance as Terry Malloy. Transcending!
11.Montgomery Clift. “From Here to Eternity. 1953. He gives this sad soldier (Robert E. Lee Prewitt) many nuances.
12.James Stewart. “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”. 1939. He played many heroes, but none with quite the power that he brought to this Washington innocent.
13.Henry Fonda. “Grapes of Wrath” 1940. His face captures a world of pain, the definitive Tom Joad.
14.Ben Kingsley. “Gandhi”. 1982. This brilliant actor was unknown to many when he took this demanding role and amazed the world.
15.Kirk Douglas. “Spartacus”. 1960. Intensity doesn’t begin to describe what Douglas brings to this early revolutionary.
16.Edward James Olmos. “Stand and Deliver”. 1988. This titan math teacher James Escalante created a movement in East L.A. Bravo! Olmos is sublime!
17.Dustin Hoffman. “Little Big Man”. 1970. Caught between two cultures, we find comfort in Jack Crabb’s stoic and ironic life.
18.Alan Arkin. “Catch 22”. 1970. This iconic anti-hero was beautifully embodied by Mr. Arkin.
19.Daniel Day Lewis. “Lincoln”. 2012. Our greatest actor played one of our greatest presidents. The result was a triumph on about every thespian level.
20.Spencer Tracy. “Inherit the Wind”. 1960. Who but Spencer Tracy would you want to play this great man (Clarence Darrow)? A perfect blending of actor and material.