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,The Best Character Actors?

Discussion of the actors, directors and film-makers who 'made it all happen'

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Hollis
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,The Best Character Actors?

Postby Hollis » May 5th, 2009, 7:28 am

Good morning everyone,

I honestly don't know why this topic crossed my mind (and it jaywalked rather than crossing at the corner) but I started thinking of character actors and who among them might be the best. TCM's short subject "What A Character" doesn't do justice to those actors who have spent the majority of their film careers playing "second banana" to Hollywood's top actors and actresses. I've compiled a list of the ten that first came to mind. I've limited it to ten because there are probably a hundred or more that could be considered among the best. Please add those actors and actresses that deserve to be mentioned as the best in their profession. For me, this is a learning experience given that there are so many of you that possess a far greater knowledge of film than I do. Maybe we could do another "Best Of" survey as he polls we've taken part in seem to have drawn a lot of interest. Would "Movieman 1957" or "Cinemalover" be up to the task of setting up the survey and monitoring the results? I have to confess that I don't know how to set up or conduct the polls we've had in the past. Here goes...(and in no particular order)

1. Henry Travers
2. Thomas Mitchell
3. Walter Brennan
4. Eve Arden
5. Spring Byington
6. Alan Hale
7. Eugene Pallette
8. Elsa Lanchester
9. Mary Boland
10. Jack Carson

Thanks everyone and have a great week!

As always,

Hollis
Last edited by Hollis on May 5th, 2009, 10:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

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knitwit45
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Re: ,The Best Character Actors?

Postby knitwit45 » May 5th, 2009, 8:16 am

Great thread, H!

Add: Mary Forbes
Gladys Cooper
Jerome Cowen
Richard Erdman
Elisha Cook, Jr.
Sydney Greenstreet
Keye Luke
Mary Wickes
Grant Mitchell
Alan Hale (Sr.)
Margaret Hamilton
Una O'Conner
Nigel Bruce

I'm sure I'll come up with others!

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MissGoddess
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Re: ,The Best Character Actors?

Postby MissGoddess » May 5th, 2009, 10:02 am

Some of my favorites are among the best and just their appearance in a cast list is enough to raise my interest in seeing a particular film (even if the stars don't):

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Hank Worden - known for his quirky, slighlty off-kilter but usually kindly characters

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John Qualen - Hollywood's ultimate "go to" for Swedish or Norweigan support, he also
played literally countless other merchants, farmers, clerks, fisherman and most everything else.

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Edna May Oliver - Along with Thelma Ritter, my favorite character actress. I just love her Yankee spirit!

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Thelma Ritter - LIke Edna, she is just unstoppable and then when you least expect it, she
breaks your heart (Pickup on South Street).
"There's only one thing that can kill the movies, and that's education."
-- Will Rogers

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Professional Tourist
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Re: The Best Character Actors?

Postby Professional Tourist » May 5th, 2009, 10:49 am

Hollis wrote:Please add those actors and actresses that deserve to be mentioned as the best in their profession.

The top of my list is Agnes Moorehead. :)

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moira finnie
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Re: ,The Best Character Actors?

Postby moira finnie » May 5th, 2009, 11:50 am

Hi Hollis,
I moved this great topic to the People of Film forum in order to allow more of us to see it. You and I must have been thinking along similar lines since I just started a thread about even more obscure supporting actors in this section (Bit Players We Love) just before I saw your thread about character people. I would have to name the following as must-stop-and-see actors whenever I come across them in a movie (no matter how lame):
Claude Rains
Basil Rathbone
Charlie Grapewin
Marjorie Main
Faye Bainter
Aline MacMahon
Avatar: Frank McHugh (1898-1981)

The Skeins
TCM Movie Morlocks

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srowley75
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Another Time-Compressed Response

Postby srowley75 » May 5th, 2009, 12:03 pm

I guess I get to be the first to mention one of my and my sister's favorites, Franklin Pangborn.

klondike

Re: ,The Best Character Actors?

Postby klondike » May 5th, 2009, 12:07 pm

Don't forget the bunch that hangs out playin' poker, on Wednesday & Thursday nights, down @ the Classic Cinema College Campus Motor Pool:

James Gleason
Robert Armstrong
Frank Jenks
Guinn "Big Boy" Williams
Brian Donlevy
Roscoe Karns
Frank McHugh
Millard Mitchell
Pat Buttram
Frank Faylen (whom I realized just the other day, bore a notable resemblence to my Uncle Hollis!)

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MissGoddess
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Re: ,The Best Character Actors?

Postby MissGoddess » May 5th, 2009, 12:16 pm

I love Frank McHugh, Oh my goodness, he's so adorable.

Look how dashing he is here! :D He looks more like Marcel Dalio!

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"There's only one thing that can kill the movies, and that's education."
-- Will Rogers

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charliechaplinfan
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Re: ,The Best Character Actors?

Postby charliechaplinfan » May 5th, 2009, 12:55 pm

Edward Everett Horton
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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movieman1957
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Re: ,The Best Character Actors?

Postby movieman1957 » May 5th, 2009, 1:40 pm

Ward Bond.
Spring Byington.
Charles Coburn.
Chris

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana."

feaito

Re: ,The Best Character Actors?

Postby feaito » May 5th, 2009, 1:52 pm

I'd like to add:

Beulah Bondi
Edgar Buchanan
Reginald Owen
Nigel Bruce
Gladys Cooper
Ethel Barrymore
Cecil Kellaway

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srowley75
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One, er, make that two more

Postby srowley75 » May 5th, 2009, 2:06 pm

I don't think Hattie McDaniel has gotten a mention yet.

And as for a name that always brings a smile to my face, I'll also mention Kathleen Freeman.

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JackFavell
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Re: ,The Best Character Actors?

Postby JackFavell » May 5th, 2009, 3:06 pm

What does best really mean? Most versatile? Most able to move me emotionally? The actor or actress I most like to see? The one who can most easily steal a scene? In the end, after much thought, I picked actors who could actually make me cry at the same time that they make me laugh.

Oscar Homolka

Felix Bressart

S.Z. Sakall

John Qualen(He never fails, but most moving to me is Muley in The Grapes of Wrath)

Porter Hall (lately I've noticed him in everything from The Petrified Forest to The Miracle of Morgan's Creek. I love his voice, and he seems to be able to play anything... but especially check him out in Ace in the Hole)

Edna May Oliver (She who can do no wrong, my favorite role is Aunt Betsy Trotwood in David Copperfield)

Frank Morgan (Gives Thomas Mitchell a run for his money)

Thomas Mitchell

William Demarest (his inclusion here is for his performance in The Miracle at Morgan's Creek. He completely chokes me up in this movie, and he makes me laugh until my sides split)

Marie Dressler

Hattie McDaniel

Walter Huston

Edmond O'Brien

There are at least 15 more who didn't make the cut. They probably deserve another best list.
Last edited by JackFavell on May 6th, 2009, 3:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Garbomaniac
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Re: ,The Best Character Actors?

Postby Garbomaniac » May 5th, 2009, 3:12 pm

Don't forget Eric Blore!

And, Erik Rhodes! "Fate is foolish; take a CHANCE!

Moira, I see you got in Aline.

And, PT, you are soooo funny! As if anynone could forget Agnes.

Ward Bond is one of my all time favorites, movieman!

klondike

Re: One, er, make that two more

Postby klondike » May 5th, 2009, 3:34 pm

srowley75 wrote:I don't think Hattie McDaniel has gotten a mention yet.

And as for a name that always brings a smile to my face, I'll also mention Kathleen Freeman.


Good calls, the both, Steve.

And your Hattie McDaniel reminds me to toast the likewise adorable Louise Beavers {"If you ain't eatin' Wham, . . ." !}, not that I'm suggesting them to be in any way interchangeable.
And mentioning the irrepressible Kathleen Freeman - has anybody else ever noticed how slowly that woman appeared to age? From The Farmer's Daughter, through cameos on "The Beverly Hillbillies", to Naked Gun 33 1/3, it was like she just ignored the calendars, and they ignored her!


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