Meme-itation of Life

Meme-itation of Life

I should be grading exams–and I’ll get back to it shortly–but these good people have succeeded in drawing my attention away from the grindstone!

Anyway–that handwriting hurts my eyes… (thankfully, the thought symbolized by those scratchings has been stellar so far!)

but, without further ado, the “20 Greatest Actresses of the Studio Age” (rated by their ability to make me watch them, regardless of the other talent involved in the making of the film)–and my three favorite performances by each (rated, again, purely for their eye-and-ear-adhesing qualities–not on technical merit)

1. Barbara Stanwyck: hands down, the undisputed champ (The Miracle Woman, Remember the Night, Stella Dallas)

2. Jean Arthur: she makes it into the Top 20 on her voice alone–and the rest of her is nearly as wonderful (Easy Living, History is Made At Night, The Devil and Miss Jones)

3. Margaret Sullavan: I get wistful just typing her name (Little Man What Now?, Three Comrades, Back Street)

4. Bette Davis: I always love her, but I’m especially partial to her less-divaesque roles (All This And Heaven Too, The Sisters, Dark Victory)

5. Teresa Wright: A lot of people don’t even know who she is, which just goes to show you that this world isn’t all it’s cracked to be (Shadow of a Doubt, The Pride of the Yankees, The Best Years of Our Lives)

6. Katharine Hepburn: She’d be even higher if she hadn’t lost her early RKO-momentum–but I suppose we ought to blame the Cinemagoing audience for that (Alice Adams, Holiday, Stage Door)

7. Deborah Kerr: MGM kind of messed up her career, but she still found ways to shine for brief moments during the 50s and 60s, and her work in the UK was outrageously great (I See A Dark Stranger, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, Black Narcissus)

8. Jennifer Jones: Her inimitable wide-eyed intensity seems to rub many folks the wrong way–but it hits me just right (Portrait of Jennie, Ruby Gentry, Love Letters)

9. Jean Harlow: just imagine what she could have done if she had made it past 26? She was just coming into her own during the mid-1930s–and come on, Leadbelly wrote a song about her, how cool is that? (Red Dust, Libeled Lady, Bombshell)

10. Helen Chandler: I’m not sure if I can explain what she does to me–an impossibly wonderful combination of authentic emotional terror and gleaming irony   (Daybreak, The Last Flight, Mr. Boggs Steps Out–and I love her in Dracula too)

11. Miriam Hopkins: she’s totally out of control–and I love her for it (Woman Chases Man, These Three, Barbary Coast)

12. Mae Clarke: a GREAT actress who just totally fell through the cracks, somehow (Waterloo Bridge, Impatient Maiden–plus her brief appearance in The Front Page lifts the entire movie onto an exalted plane)

13. Judy Garland: come on–she’s great–although I have trouble with her post-breakdown films (Meet Me in St. Louis, The Clock, The Wizard of Oz… I also have a major soft spot for Listen, Darling + the entire suite of Judy-Mickey masterpieces!)

14. Ann Dvorak: Three On a Match puts her into the top 20 all by itself; but she is ALWAYS rivetting; she has ONE chance to make an impression in G-Men, and she hits it out of the park; perhaps you know the scene I’m talking about? Her leftist politics really hindered her career, I believe–another great proto-punk lady of the Depression (Three On a Match, The Long Night, The Strange Love of Molly Louvain)

15. Ginger Rogers: people always talk about Lombard as the ultimate screwball beauty. I love Lombard–but I think Ginger–in her prime–was even more amusing–and certainly no less beautiful–too bad she was such a demented right winger (Stage Door, Bachelor Mother; Fifth Avenue Girl)

16. Ida Lupino: Just an all-around impressive human being, no? (The Hard Way, Road House, High Sierra)

17. Greer Garson: MGM forced her to play the “Lady” too much–but man was she great when they turned her loose! (Random Harvest, Pride and Prejudice, Goodbye, Mr. Chips)

18. Ann Sheridan: That “Oomph Girl” nonsense really delayed her ascent as a comedienne, but she always made the most of her opportunities (Torrid Zone, Kings Row, Woman on the Run)

19. Priscilla Lane: I just love her–and I‘m not the only one. (Daughters Courageous, Men Are Such Fools, Dust Be My Destiny)

20. Gloria Grahame: she never really got a chance to carry a film on her own, which is a damned shame (In A Lonely Place, The Big Heat, Crossfire)

Yikes! 20 sounds like a lot–but it clearly isn’t! All kinds of great people/personal faves got left off this list… Dietrich, Garbo, Lombard, Ava Gardner (undoubtedly the most beautiful woman who ever existed), Crawford, June Allyson, Hedy Lamarr, Irene Dunne, Myrna Loy, Joan Blondell, Alice Faye, Roz Rusell, Dorothy McGuire, De Havilland, Claudette Colbert, Marsha Hunt, Barbara Bel Geddes,  Anne Shirley, Merle Oberon, Joan Bennett, Kay Francis, Margaret Lindsay, Andrea Leeds, Paulette Goddard, Eleanor Powell, Joan Leslie, Audrey Totter, etc. ad infinitum

Good Night Friends!
Dave 

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