Developing the Character, Action-Style

The old saying, “action speaks louder than words,” is a truism (and I’m sorry but I just couldn’t give that name to the post).  What can be described at length with language can usually be communicated in seconds with action.  I thought about this recently when a friend (oh, okay, his name’s Bill and here’s his blog) brought up an adventure movie on Facebook and someone mentioned a lack of character development with the lead character.  I hadn’t seen the movie but wrote that in action/adventure, character is developed through action so if you’re complaining that you’re not getting Tennessee Williams style monologues of character exposition in an action movie, that probably means the character is being developed properly through the action.  That’s not only how it is but how it should be.

I don’t want my action heroes making pathetic attempts at depth by stopping everything dead in its tracks to deliver a monologue about their childhood.  I want to see them react to or create the action.  Case in point:  Fellow Morlock R. Emmett Sweeney wrote up The Slams just last week and by odd coincidence, I was assigned to write an article on it for TCM (not yet published).  My article is highly praiseworthy of both the film and its star, Jim Brown.  Mainly, I thought Jim Brown was an absolute perfect fit for the lead role of Curtis Hook.  There’s not a lot, dialogue-wise, in the film to tell us about Hook’s character but Brown’s scowl, his distrust and his physical way of reacting to the world around him, tells us everything we need to know about him long before the film’s final line makes it abundantly clear.   The action defines his character and, frankly, when that happens in a movie, it can be one of the most beautiful things in the world.

This is something that’s been happening in the cinema since it began.  In fact, especially when it began and simple imagery was the only way to define anything.  In the silent era, actors were required to convey what they were feeling through expression, with intertitles providing exposition and minimal dialogue.   But soon enough, with the advent of the sound era, the movies tried to imitate the theatre and for a short while, they wouldn’t shut up.  The early sound era produced a lot of talk and only a small amount of subtlety.  By the early to mid-thirties, the movies had gotten their balance again and the action star reigned supreme.  But despite the prevalence and success of action and adventure movies (westerns, of course, being the most successful), character development then and now is still viewed by far too many people as something that only happens in serious drama.

It’s always slightly bothered me that actors like Errol Flynn and John Wayne weren’t taken as seriously as actors like Lionel Barrymore or Katherine Hepburn because actors like Flynn and Wayne weren’t giving a lot of performances centered around overt emotional displays.  I mean, I love Barrymore and Hepburn and absolutely believe they are deserving of all the praise they get but actors in action/adventure movies require a whole different set of skills for what they’re doing.  And don’t give me that “they’re just playing themselves” crud.  Go ahead.  Step in front of a camera and play yourself.  Not improvising what you say, that’s too easy.  Memorize the lines and say them exactly as in the script, realistically, while playing yourself.  It’s acting, just like any other performance and requires talent and skill and a certain degree of charisma.

But there’s more.  It’s not just that actors like Flynn and Wayne weren’t taken as seriously (although Wayne did receive more than one Oscar nomination as well as an award for True Grit), it’s that other great actors, like James Cagney and Spencer Tracy, both so great at action, usually had their “best” roles or Oscar winning roles exist outside of that paradigm.  I’m glad Cagney won for his splendid portrayal of George M. Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy but, come on, he really should have gotten it for something like Public Enemy or Angels with Dirty Faces or White Heat.   And for me, Tracy is at his best in movies like Bad Day at Black Rock.

But why am I spending all this time talking about performances that are about characters who don’t talk a whole hell of a lot?  Let’s get down to business, shall we?   Since lists of cinema’s greatest performances rarely include the action/adventure hero, I’m going to make a list of my own.   My favorite “action speaks louder than words” performances in classic film and in no particular order.

*John Wayne, The Searchers.  Okay, so maybe there is an order because on a good day, I think this may be the best “actions speak louder than words” performance in the history of cinema.   Certainly it is, for my money, The Duke’s best performance.    Wayne’s Ethan Edwards doesn’t have a lot to play with.   In fact, he essentially has bitter anger and loyalty and that’s about it.  He’s angry (or hateful or resentful – any one of these would work) about Indians and their intrusion into his life.  He’s loyal to his friends (for lack of a better word) and family as well.  And it’s that loyalty that conflicts with his bitter anger.  When he finally finds Debbie, the two emotions push against each other with one finally winning out over the other.    That’s not an easy performance, given how little there is to work with while at the same time having to project so much about the character’s soul but damned if Wayne doesn’t pull it off with flying colors.

*Errol Flynn, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk.  Flynn rounds out my top three (after which it’s a straight up list) with his three iconic performances in the above-listed films.  There’s a natural charm about the man that shows through in each performance and works as a shorthand for much of the character’s psychology.   That’s right, Flynn is so charismatic in these roles that within seconds of appearing onscreen, Flynn somehow manages to convey practically everything you need to know about the character, before even saying a word.

*Spencer Tracy, Bad Day at Black Rock.

*Toshiro Mifune, Yojimbo.

*Glenn Ford, 3:10 to Yuma

*Steve McQueen, The Great Escape

*Charlton Heston, Major Dundee

*William Holden, The Wild Bunch

*Clint Eastwood, Dirty Harry

*Jim Brown, The Slams

*Pam Grier, Foxy Brown

*Sean Connery, The Man Who Would be King

*Sigourney Weaver, Alien

*Harrison Ford, Raiders of the Lost Ark

 

I know, I know, I’ve left off a million or so but these are just my favorites, not what I think is a definitive list of the greatest action/adventure performances ever, although I do think many of these are.  And if I was including contemporary movies and not just sticking with classics, I might include Ryan Gosling’s stunningly creepy and eerily quiet performance as the driver in Drive, a performance that dares you to notice it.  The actions of the character entirely define the character.  But that’s for another time.  Right now, let’s celebrate the actors and performances that provide the audience with as much character depth, if not more, than most “deep” monologue-filled dramas.  If actions speak louder than words, all these actors and performances are already a lap ahead of most everyone else.   Deep.

0 Response Developing the Character, Action-Style
Posted By swac44 : March 28, 2012 9:45 am

I was thinking Connery’s The Man Who Would Be King co-star Michael Caine deserved equal billing, but then images from Get Carter kept popping into my head, with Caine personifying grim determination in the quest for his brother’s killer.

Posted By swac44 : March 28, 2012 9:45 am

I was thinking Connery’s The Man Who Would Be King co-star Michael Caine deserved equal billing, but then images from Get Carter kept popping into my head, with Caine personifying grim determination in the quest for his brother’s killer.

Posted By Andrew : March 28, 2012 9:57 am

I think the great action movies are made by people who truly get what makes movies a unique method of story telling. These are not plays done in front of a camera nor novels where they substitute a picture for words. They aren’t even TV shows with bigger budgets. These are movies – with huge images and sound that can rattle your fillings and with actors who who can be both human beings and epic at the same time.

BTW, while reading your article I kept thinking of Ran. With the exception of the fool character, it seemed like the goal was for every charter to say as little as possible. it probably isn’t a coincidence that the FOOL is the verbose one.

Posted By Andrew : March 28, 2012 9:57 am

I think the great action movies are made by people who truly get what makes movies a unique method of story telling. These are not plays done in front of a camera nor novels where they substitute a picture for words. They aren’t even TV shows with bigger budgets. These are movies – with huge images and sound that can rattle your fillings and with actors who who can be both human beings and epic at the same time.

BTW, while reading your article I kept thinking of Ran. With the exception of the fool character, it seemed like the goal was for every charter to say as little as possible. it probably isn’t a coincidence that the FOOL is the verbose one.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 28, 2012 10:09 am

Yes, Caine’s great in Get Carter, another good one for the list. I considered Sean Connery for all his Bond roles, too but ended up choosing a single performance.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 28, 2012 10:09 am

Yes, Caine’s great in Get Carter, another good one for the list. I considered Sean Connery for all his Bond roles, too but ended up choosing a single performance.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 28, 2012 10:14 am

Ran is such a great film for visual character-building, story telling and just plain spectacle. Kurosawa excelled at that. In Ikiru (not an action movie but the character is still built almost entirely on his actions) it’s the mourners at the funeral who won’t shut up about all his motivations. They go on and on (a little too long, I think, well beyond making the point) while Kanji never really says much of anything. But without many words at all, we still get such a rich, deeply mined character.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 28, 2012 10:14 am

Ran is such a great film for visual character-building, story telling and just plain spectacle. Kurosawa excelled at that. In Ikiru (not an action movie but the character is still built almost entirely on his actions) it’s the mourners at the funeral who won’t shut up about all his motivations. They go on and on (a little too long, I think, well beyond making the point) while Kanji never really says much of anything. But without many words at all, we still get such a rich, deeply mined character.

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : March 28, 2012 11:38 am

John Wayne was great most, if not all, of the time. His “Tarapin Tanks” speech in 3 Godfathers is the jewel in the crown of his career (in my bloated ego-driven opinion) but he could otherwise fill the frame with a true sense of purpose and wordless resolve. It seems to me there’s way far too much talking in contemporary movie-making (and television). We have never seen such an age of authorial anxiety – it seems more and more we aren’t offered characters to figure out for ourselves, we’re given them and a guide to how we’re supposed to feel.

As a former (reformed?) actor, don’t you also get tired of hearing people talk about bad acting when really what they’re talking about is just personal preference? “This actor’s artistic choices flatter me, therefore his is an Oscar-worthy performance!” The spectrum of human response is incredibly wide, allowing for a wealth of acting styles, all of which are legitimate and valid.

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : March 28, 2012 11:38 am

John Wayne was great most, if not all, of the time. His “Tarapin Tanks” speech in 3 Godfathers is the jewel in the crown of his career (in my bloated ego-driven opinion) but he could otherwise fill the frame with a true sense of purpose and wordless resolve. It seems to me there’s way far too much talking in contemporary movie-making (and television). We have never seen such an age of authorial anxiety – it seems more and more we aren’t offered characters to figure out for ourselves, we’re given them and a guide to how we’re supposed to feel.

As a former (reformed?) actor, don’t you also get tired of hearing people talk about bad acting when really what they’re talking about is just personal preference? “This actor’s artistic choices flatter me, therefore his is an Oscar-worthy performance!” The spectrum of human response is incredibly wide, allowing for a wealth of acting styles, all of which are legitimate and valid.

Posted By jennifromrollamo : March 28, 2012 12:15 pm

Your comment about how when sound was introduced to the movies, the films got so carried away with the new technology and had their characters talk too much-I immediately recalled a segment I read last week about the actor John Gilbert. His second talkie, His Glorious Night, impacted audiences negatively, due not to his voice, but due to the awkward dialogue that kept him yammering on and on, “I Love You”, to his leading lady. More action and less talk would have been better in that scene, and Gilbert’s career began a decided descent.

I also applaud Wayne’s performance in The Searchers, The Three Godfathers, and I would add that a similar character to Ethan Edwards is his character in The Red River, again a character filled with anger and loyalty.

If I was compiling a list, I would have to add Lee Marvin(did he ever make a film where he uttered a long soliliquy?) and Charles Bronson-all those Death Wish movies, and the one where he flies a helicopter into a prison yard to get some lady’s husband out of the slammer-sorry, that film’s title escapes me right now!

Posted By jennifromrollamo : March 28, 2012 12:15 pm

Your comment about how when sound was introduced to the movies, the films got so carried away with the new technology and had their characters talk too much-I immediately recalled a segment I read last week about the actor John Gilbert. His second talkie, His Glorious Night, impacted audiences negatively, due not to his voice, but due to the awkward dialogue that kept him yammering on and on, “I Love You”, to his leading lady. More action and less talk would have been better in that scene, and Gilbert’s career began a decided descent.

I also applaud Wayne’s performance in The Searchers, The Three Godfathers, and I would add that a similar character to Ethan Edwards is his character in The Red River, again a character filled with anger and loyalty.

If I was compiling a list, I would have to add Lee Marvin(did he ever make a film where he uttered a long soliliquy?) and Charles Bronson-all those Death Wish movies, and the one where he flies a helicopter into a prison yard to get some lady’s husband out of the slammer-sorry, that film’s title escapes me right now!

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : March 28, 2012 12:37 pm

Breakout (1975). And that was no lady’s husband, that was Robert Duvall!

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : March 28, 2012 12:37 pm

Breakout (1975). And that was no lady’s husband, that was Robert Duvall!

Posted By jennifromrollamo : March 28, 2012 12:50 pm

Ok, cut me some slack-I was only 11 at the time, on vacation, and that was the movie playing on the hotel’s tv! All I remembered of it was Charles Bronson, that helicopter, and what he was trying to do!

Posted By jennifromrollamo : March 28, 2012 12:50 pm

Ok, cut me some slack-I was only 11 at the time, on vacation, and that was the movie playing on the hotel’s tv! All I remembered of it was Charles Bronson, that helicopter, and what he was trying to do!

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : March 28, 2012 12:50 pm

You’re welcome!

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : March 28, 2012 12:50 pm

You’re welcome!

Posted By jennifromrollamo : March 28, 2012 12:55 pm

RHS-I do thank you for digging up that film’s title for me. :)

Posted By jennifromrollamo : March 28, 2012 12:55 pm

RHS-I do thank you for digging up that film’s title for me. :)

Posted By Larry Shank : March 28, 2012 1:23 pm

You are right on the money.
Any time that I see any of Flynns performances I am astounded at how good he was.
Even Bette Davis in later years grudgingly admitted that he was very good.

Posted By Larry Shank : March 28, 2012 1:23 pm

You are right on the money.
Any time that I see any of Flynns performances I am astounded at how good he was.
Even Bette Davis in later years grudgingly admitted that he was very good.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 28, 2012 2:04 pm

RHS – Absolutely right that tv and movies nowadays are becoming about dialogue (usually overly clever and witty) rather than performance. Call it the Aaron Sorkin Syndrome. He’s a clever writer but his tv and movies don’t give the actor much to do but speak the lines with a sardonic slant to their voice.

And as for acting, since you and I have lots of experience there, yes, it does drive me crazy. On my list of people critiquing acting that drives me crazy is 1) judging a powerful, not-afraid-to-go-for-the-rafters performance as “over the top” or “hammy.” Let me tell you, hammy is when a performance is stilted and bad but trying to be good by emoting, and failing. People almost never get that one right. Anything not painfully dull and naturalistic is considered hammy these days. Groan. 2) The “they’re just playing themselves” complaint. I addressed that in the post already but I don’t know what people think this means. Apparently, they think John Wayne got to show up and just start randomly talking on the set and moving around and everyone had to follow his lead and make it work for the movie. Double groan. He had to memorize his lines like everyone else and deliver them believably while projecting a character the audience can understand through minimal means. If that’s “playing yourself” then, wow, Wayne sure made it look effortless.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 28, 2012 2:04 pm

RHS – Absolutely right that tv and movies nowadays are becoming about dialogue (usually overly clever and witty) rather than performance. Call it the Aaron Sorkin Syndrome. He’s a clever writer but his tv and movies don’t give the actor much to do but speak the lines with a sardonic slant to their voice.

And as for acting, since you and I have lots of experience there, yes, it does drive me crazy. On my list of people critiquing acting that drives me crazy is 1) judging a powerful, not-afraid-to-go-for-the-rafters performance as “over the top” or “hammy.” Let me tell you, hammy is when a performance is stilted and bad but trying to be good by emoting, and failing. People almost never get that one right. Anything not painfully dull and naturalistic is considered hammy these days. Groan. 2) The “they’re just playing themselves” complaint. I addressed that in the post already but I don’t know what people think this means. Apparently, they think John Wayne got to show up and just start randomly talking on the set and moving around and everyone had to follow his lead and make it work for the movie. Double groan. He had to memorize his lines like everyone else and deliver them believably while projecting a character the audience can understand through minimal means. If that’s “playing yourself” then, wow, Wayne sure made it look effortless.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 28, 2012 2:08 pm

Jenni – I love Lee Marvin in Point Blank, some of his best work. And Bronson was really quite good in all the Death Wish movies, even if the movies themselves weren’t as good as they could have been.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 28, 2012 2:08 pm

Jenni – I love Lee Marvin in Point Blank, some of his best work. And Bronson was really quite good in all the Death Wish movies, even if the movies themselves weren’t as good as they could have been.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 28, 2012 2:11 pm

Larry, Errol had such a natural charm and charisma he could use it as a shorthand for his character’s background. We don’t need a lot of background to explain to us why men are following him against the king in Robin Hood because his charisma gives us all the info we need. We don’t need to know if he was poor at some point in his life or if he had been taught to help the poor or anything like that. His actions tells us he’s here to help and his nature tells us he’s a good man and charismatic enough as a leader to get people to follow him in the fight.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 28, 2012 2:11 pm

Larry, Errol had such a natural charm and charisma he could use it as a shorthand for his character’s background. We don’t need a lot of background to explain to us why men are following him against the king in Robin Hood because his charisma gives us all the info we need. We don’t need to know if he was poor at some point in his life or if he had been taught to help the poor or anything like that. His actions tells us he’s here to help and his nature tells us he’s a good man and charismatic enough as a leader to get people to follow him in the fight.

Posted By Qalice : March 28, 2012 2:43 pm

Thanks for writing about this underpraised genre! I love witty dialogue, but there’s nothing like a sleek action movie with heroes and heroines who move well, shoot accurately and lay waste to the bad guys. Done well, this kind of movie can even make a weak actor, like Tom Cruise or Jason Statham, look good. And when they have a good actor, like Jeremy Renner, they are one of the great movie watching experiences.

Posted By Qalice : March 28, 2012 2:43 pm

Thanks for writing about this underpraised genre! I love witty dialogue, but there’s nothing like a sleek action movie with heroes and heroines who move well, shoot accurately and lay waste to the bad guys. Done well, this kind of movie can even make a weak actor, like Tom Cruise or Jason Statham, look good. And when they have a good actor, like Jeremy Renner, they are one of the great movie watching experiences.

Posted By Emgee : March 28, 2012 3:39 pm

Less is certainly more with all these great actors. A few i would nominate: Humprey Bogart in The Petrified Forest, Robert Ryan in On Dangerous Ground, Robert Mitchum in just about any of his movies, Kirk Douglas in Champion. And compared with Charles Bronson in Once Upon A Time in the West even Clint Eastwood looks like a chatterbox. Alan Ladd in Shane……OK, no i’ll shut up!

Posted By Emgee : March 28, 2012 3:39 pm

Less is certainly more with all these great actors. A few i would nominate: Humprey Bogart in The Petrified Forest, Robert Ryan in On Dangerous Ground, Robert Mitchum in just about any of his movies, Kirk Douglas in Champion. And compared with Charles Bronson in Once Upon A Time in the West even Clint Eastwood looks like a chatterbox. Alan Ladd in Shane……OK, no i’ll shut up!

Posted By Sammy : March 28, 2012 3:45 pm

Ryan goslin: Drive

Posted By Sammy : March 28, 2012 3:45 pm

Ryan goslin: Drive

Posted By osg (old school guy) : March 28, 2012 9:00 pm

How about Woody Strode in almost all of his roles.

Posted By osg (old school guy) : March 28, 2012 9:00 pm

How about Woody Strode in almost all of his roles.

Posted By Tom S : March 28, 2012 9:34 pm

Huh, Eastwood in Dirty Harry? I would have picked one of his less talky and better developed Leone roles, those seem like almost a definition of the phenomenon.

I would point to Rooney Mara in Dragon Tattoo as a pretty great example of this outside of the action genre- her character is relatively silent, but her subtle physical actions (her shying away from people’s touch after she’s abused, her impatient shove when she’s annoyed by Daniel Craig’s slow use of the computer, the determination in the way she moves) all make for a character who is better realized in the film than she was on page.

I think even in very talky roles good actors can get a lot across around and under what they’re actually saying- Jimmy Stewart in Anatomy of a Murder, for instance, doesn’t shut up for the whole damn movie, but his body conveys aspects of his character that don’t fit what he’s saying- he may be performing as a simple country lawyer in court, but his physicality is more alert, and more finely nuanced than what he’s pretending to me. I think that’s a much harder performance than a straightforward strong, silent man of action character.

Posted By Tom S : March 28, 2012 9:34 pm

Huh, Eastwood in Dirty Harry? I would have picked one of his less talky and better developed Leone roles, those seem like almost a definition of the phenomenon.

I would point to Rooney Mara in Dragon Tattoo as a pretty great example of this outside of the action genre- her character is relatively silent, but her subtle physical actions (her shying away from people’s touch after she’s abused, her impatient shove when she’s annoyed by Daniel Craig’s slow use of the computer, the determination in the way she moves) all make for a character who is better realized in the film than she was on page.

I think even in very talky roles good actors can get a lot across around and under what they’re actually saying- Jimmy Stewart in Anatomy of a Murder, for instance, doesn’t shut up for the whole damn movie, but his body conveys aspects of his character that don’t fit what he’s saying- he may be performing as a simple country lawyer in court, but his physicality is more alert, and more finely nuanced than what he’s pretending to me. I think that’s a much harder performance than a straightforward strong, silent man of action character.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 28, 2012 11:34 pm

Woody Strode, another great choice.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 28, 2012 11:34 pm

Woody Strode, another great choice.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 28, 2012 11:38 pm

Tom – The Leone roles lean heavily on roles like Toshiro Mifune’s in YOJIMBO which I already selected. With DIRTY HARRY, I was going for the modern lone wolf, which Eastwood also personified. And the actor doesn’t have to be silent, just that through action their character is developed more strongly than through dialogue.

Your example of Jimmy Stewart is a great one. Stewart was always able, in my opinion, to pull so much from any script. No matter how good it was, he always found a way to make it even better.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 28, 2012 11:38 pm

Tom – The Leone roles lean heavily on roles like Toshiro Mifune’s in YOJIMBO which I already selected. With DIRTY HARRY, I was going for the modern lone wolf, which Eastwood also personified. And the actor doesn’t have to be silent, just that through action their character is developed more strongly than through dialogue.

Your example of Jimmy Stewart is a great one. Stewart was always able, in my opinion, to pull so much from any script. No matter how good it was, he always found a way to make it even better.

Posted By dukeroberts : March 29, 2012 2:16 pm

Yes, John Wayne in The Searchers is the most robbed acting performance of all time. I will brook no argument on that subject. He was rough, but you could also see the tenderness in the way he responded to Martha and his reaction to knowing that the Edwards ranch is the next target, and especially when he returns to the burned out home. You can hear the anguish in his voice as he calls out her name. He was a man of few words in the movie, but when he said anything, it meant something. “That’ll be the day.”

And Jimmy Stewart did so much through his actions in the Anthony Mann westerns, but Winchester ’73 is the tops as far as I’m concerned. And I can’t forget Randolph Scott in the Budd Boetticher films, especially my beloved The Tall T. And Bruce Willis in Die Hard? I would absolutely add him to the list. And Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon.

Posted By dukeroberts : March 29, 2012 2:16 pm

Yes, John Wayne in The Searchers is the most robbed acting performance of all time. I will brook no argument on that subject. He was rough, but you could also see the tenderness in the way he responded to Martha and his reaction to knowing that the Edwards ranch is the next target, and especially when he returns to the burned out home. You can hear the anguish in his voice as he calls out her name. He was a man of few words in the movie, but when he said anything, it meant something. “That’ll be the day.”

And Jimmy Stewart did so much through his actions in the Anthony Mann westerns, but Winchester ’73 is the tops as far as I’m concerned. And I can’t forget Randolph Scott in the Budd Boetticher films, especially my beloved The Tall T. And Bruce Willis in Die Hard? I would absolutely add him to the list. And Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon.

Posted By Juana Maria : March 29, 2012 6:12 pm

Duke Roberts: Once again I totally agree with you! Yay!! Personally, my favorite Jimmy Stewart movie for the longest time was “The Far County” but that was before I saw “Liberty Valance” that changed my opinion right then and there. Another favorite Jimmy Stewart movie is “the Man Who Knew Too Much”. I like “The Tall T” but not for Randolph Scott, for the villians! I have sort of a crush on Henry Silva. Good choice with Bruce Lee in “Enter the Dragon”, I never really get tired of that movie. I probably could watch Bruce Lee in anything. I like when Woody Strode is in a movie.He just adds something special, even when he doesn’t say anything such as in “Once Upon A Time In the West.” Thanks for the article.

Posted By Juana Maria : March 29, 2012 6:12 pm

Duke Roberts: Once again I totally agree with you! Yay!! Personally, my favorite Jimmy Stewart movie for the longest time was “The Far County” but that was before I saw “Liberty Valance” that changed my opinion right then and there. Another favorite Jimmy Stewart movie is “the Man Who Knew Too Much”. I like “The Tall T” but not for Randolph Scott, for the villians! I have sort of a crush on Henry Silva. Good choice with Bruce Lee in “Enter the Dragon”, I never really get tired of that movie. I probably could watch Bruce Lee in anything. I like when Woody Strode is in a movie.He just adds something special, even when he doesn’t say anything such as in “Once Upon A Time In the West.” Thanks for the article.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 30, 2012 10:21 am

Duke, great choices all. Especially someone like Randolph Scott. At least the Bruces, Willis and Lee, had superstar fame to offset the lack of acting awards but Scott is one of many unjustly forgotten western stars who deserves a lot more recognition than he gets.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 30, 2012 10:21 am

Duke, great choices all. Especially someone like Randolph Scott. At least the Bruces, Willis and Lee, had superstar fame to offset the lack of acting awards but Scott is one of many unjustly forgotten western stars who deserves a lot more recognition than he gets.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 30, 2012 10:22 am

Juana Maria, thanks. You’re the second person to mention Woody Strode and he really can’t be mentioned enough. A great action star not given near the amount of recognition he deserved.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 30, 2012 10:22 am

Juana Maria, thanks. You’re the second person to mention Woody Strode and he really can’t be mentioned enough. A great action star not given near the amount of recognition he deserved.

Posted By Juana Maria : March 30, 2012 1:27 pm

Greg Ferrara: Thanks for writing to me. I really like watching Woody Strode, I was so glad when TCM featured a whole day of his movies awhile back for “Summer Under the Stars”. I think he is great in “Liberty Valance” & “The Professionals” both with Lee Marvin. The first movie I remember seeing him in was “Spartacus” and I think I was maybe four yrs. old. Yeah, I have that good of a memory. Besides, that movie had a big impact on me. I know it is one of the reasons I love history and epic films in particular. Strode is also in “Sgt. Rutledge”,”Two Rode Together”and “7 Women”(all directed by John Ford)and he is in “Posse” with hunky Mario Van Peebles. Yes, Woody Strode just isn’t talked about enough,but we can change that, can’t we?

Posted By Juana Maria : March 30, 2012 1:27 pm

Greg Ferrara: Thanks for writing to me. I really like watching Woody Strode, I was so glad when TCM featured a whole day of his movies awhile back for “Summer Under the Stars”. I think he is great in “Liberty Valance” & “The Professionals” both with Lee Marvin. The first movie I remember seeing him in was “Spartacus” and I think I was maybe four yrs. old. Yeah, I have that good of a memory. Besides, that movie had a big impact on me. I know it is one of the reasons I love history and epic films in particular. Strode is also in “Sgt. Rutledge”,”Two Rode Together”and “7 Women”(all directed by John Ford)and he is in “Posse” with hunky Mario Van Peebles. Yes, Woody Strode just isn’t talked about enough,but we can change that, can’t we?

Posted By osg (old school guy) : March 30, 2012 7:35 pm

Greg and Juana Maria, I can’t tell you how much it means to me to connect with other fans of Woody Strode. My memory isn’t as good as Juana Maria’s so I don’t remember the first movie I saw him in, but I do remember seeing him in Spartacus when I was about 11 yrs. old. For me, he was the best part of that movie (I thought it needed some editing, but that’s a discussion for another time). There’s something about Woody. He doesn’t have to say a word and you know what kind of man he is, honest, courageous, determined, tough, compassionate, loyal, intelligent. I can’t find the exact words to express the impact Woody has on me. All I know is when he is on screen I can’t take my eyes off of him.

Posted By osg (old school guy) : March 30, 2012 7:35 pm

Greg and Juana Maria, I can’t tell you how much it means to me to connect with other fans of Woody Strode. My memory isn’t as good as Juana Maria’s so I don’t remember the first movie I saw him in, but I do remember seeing him in Spartacus when I was about 11 yrs. old. For me, he was the best part of that movie (I thought it needed some editing, but that’s a discussion for another time). There’s something about Woody. He doesn’t have to say a word and you know what kind of man he is, honest, courageous, determined, tough, compassionate, loyal, intelligent. I can’t find the exact words to express the impact Woody has on me. All I know is when he is on screen I can’t take my eyes off of him.

Posted By jbryant : April 3, 2012 10:22 pm

Wayne was also great in ISLAND IN THE SKY, RIO BRAVO, IN HARM’S WAY and so many other films. His range may have been comparatively limited, but it was surprisingly flexible, especially in the ’40s and ’50s. In HONDO, check out his tender interplay with Geraldine Page, as well as little touches such as the way he shapes a horseshoe or saddles his steed while carrying out lengthy dialogue scenes.

Some of the most appealing performers in history have a screen persona that makes them SEEM like they’re playing themselves, but anyone who knows anything about acting should understand the difference.

Posted By jbryant : April 3, 2012 10:22 pm

Wayne was also great in ISLAND IN THE SKY, RIO BRAVO, IN HARM’S WAY and so many other films. His range may have been comparatively limited, but it was surprisingly flexible, especially in the ’40s and ’50s. In HONDO, check out his tender interplay with Geraldine Page, as well as little touches such as the way he shapes a horseshoe or saddles his steed while carrying out lengthy dialogue scenes.

Some of the most appealing performers in history have a screen persona that makes them SEEM like they’re playing themselves, but anyone who knows anything about acting should understand the difference.

Posted By Juana Maria : April 4, 2012 9:50 am

I don’t pretend to know anything about acting, but the way people interact with others,the little chilren and animals, which steal scenes I hear. I think when John Wayne was onscreen with his real children, such as in “The Comancheros”,the little girl at the farm,and his real life son Patrick Wayne,in many of his movies,I especially love the dialogue between them in “McLintock!” He looks so much like his dad and acts like him too. John Wayne according to his close friends, was a loving person. His best friend was Jimmy Stewart,which who wouldn’t want to be friends with Jimmy Stewart? Another friend of Jimmy Stewart’s was Henry Fonda,they both were such quiet men in real life but could talk up a storm on film. So there’s real acting for you! I think Gregory Peck and Gary Cooper are examples were they weren’t just acting,they were expessing who they were inside, and letting all of us benefit. For which I’m deeply grateful.

Posted By Juana Maria : April 4, 2012 9:50 am

I don’t pretend to know anything about acting, but the way people interact with others,the little chilren and animals, which steal scenes I hear. I think when John Wayne was onscreen with his real children, such as in “The Comancheros”,the little girl at the farm,and his real life son Patrick Wayne,in many of his movies,I especially love the dialogue between them in “McLintock!” He looks so much like his dad and acts like him too. John Wayne according to his close friends, was a loving person. His best friend was Jimmy Stewart,which who wouldn’t want to be friends with Jimmy Stewart? Another friend of Jimmy Stewart’s was Henry Fonda,they both were such quiet men in real life but could talk up a storm on film. So there’s real acting for you! I think Gregory Peck and Gary Cooper are examples were they weren’t just acting,they were expessing who they were inside, and letting all of us benefit. For which I’m deeply grateful.

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