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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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Re: ,The Best Character Actors?

Postby moira finnie » May 8th, 2009, 5:23 pm

ChiO wrote:Every high school must have a stern, but sympathetic, authority figure under intense pressure as Principal, and The Man was in this one: Edward Platt.

Unfortunately, Whit Bissell apparently was not available as the chemistry teacher.


Mr. Bissell was probably heady from the excitement of appearing on numerous tv episodes, (this was that phase of the Whitster's career when he was a guest star--never a "special guest star", alas--on everything from The Bob Cummings Show to Alfred Hitchcock). He just didn't have time to appear in a cheesy high school drama nor in another doozie Ed made called Atlantis, The Lost Continent (1961) in which Ed had to wear what looked like a crown rib roast on his noggin. I'm pretty sure that Ed Platt was always cheaper than Whit. Even after Get Smart.
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Re: ,The Best Character Actors?

Postby ChiO » May 8th, 2009, 5:52 pm

Mr. Platt will always be available to help Jim Stark, Judy and -- alas -- poor, poor Plato in my book.
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Re: ,The Best Character Actors?

Postby moira finnie » May 8th, 2009, 6:08 pm

David Opatoshu. Does that name ring a bell? Many of us probably know his face and voice, from a hundred tv shows, and several notable movies. In many he was a vivid presence, but did not receive on-screen credit for his work. He's the worried looking Det. Miller in the background in The Naked City (1948), a bartender in the Clark Gable movie, Any Number Can Play (1949), and "Frenchy, thug in cap" in Thieves' Highway (1949). One of his biggest and best parts on screen was one for which he received many accolades as "Akiva Ben Canaan", Paul Newman's uncle in the film who also runs the Irgun, (a character Leon Uris had based on Menachem Begin in Exodus (1960).

Despite his somewhat unprepossessing appearance, Opatoshu allows intrigues me when he shows up in a story. He could convey a blend of scholarly dispassion with an edge of menace and a streetwise manner very well. You can see if the face rings a bell in the scene below from Exodus.
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Re: ,The Best Character Actors?

Postby srowley75 » May 8th, 2009, 6:38 pm

There's also "the other b-movie Timothy," Timothy Farrell (an Ed Wood fave). I find myself wondering if John Waters didn't borrow his look.

And I must mention another of my recent favorites, the hilarious Jennifer Coolidge, the best bimbo in show business. In almost every one of Christopher Guest's films, her presence steals the show. She was hysterical in Best in Show.

-Stephen

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Re: ,The Best Character Actors?

Postby klondike » May 8th, 2009, 7:32 pm

moirafinnie wrote:David Opatoshu. Does that name ring a bell? Many of us probably know his face and voice, from a hundred tv shows, and several notable movies. In many he was a vivid presence, but did not receive on-screen credit for his work. He's the worried looking Det. Miller in the background in The Naked City (1948), a bartender in the Clark Gable movie, Any Number Can Play (1949), and "Frenchy, thug in cap" in Thieves' Highway (1949). One of his biggest and best parts on screen was one for which he received many accolades as "Akiva Ben Canaan", Paul Newman's uncle in the film who also runs the Irgun, (a character Leon Uris had based on Menachem Begin in Exodus (1960).

Despite his somewhat unprepossessing appearance, Opatoshu allows intrigues me when he shows up in a story. He could convey a blend of scholarly dispassion with an edge of menace and a streetwise manner very well. You can see if the face rings a bell in the scene below from Exodus.
Image


Here's a strangely unbearded David Opatoshu (love the Macedonian roll of that name) in an episode of that grand old gee-whiz series "One Step Beyond":

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wlon705p-Dg[/youtube]

And remembering Mr. O, reminds me of scary-strong-guy Don Megowan, with whom demure David co-starred in the ultra-cool late 60's potboiler Tarzan & The Valley of Gold; here's an embed featuring ape-man Mike Henry & Deadly Don, but which, sadly, is Opatoshuless (sounds like a podiatrist's issue, doesn't it?):

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9HJd77rTvU[/youtube]

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Re: ,The Best Character Actors?

Postby knitwit45 » May 8th, 2009, 8:45 pm

And he was the unnamed leader of the underground bus ride in Torn Curtain a cheesy guilty pleasure of mine! :oops:

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Re: ,The Best Character Actors?

Postby JackFavell » May 8th, 2009, 9:11 pm

In Torn Curtain, I just love Lila Kedrova....is that considered a character role? I would say it is....

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Re: ,The Best Character Actors?

Postby Hollis » May 8th, 2009, 11:11 pm

TikiSoo, I couldn't agree more with you (or the others that mentioned James Gleason.) I know that I probably haven't seen half of the films he appeared in but of those I have seen, two stand out - As the colonel commanding squadron leader Spencer Tracy in "A Guy Named Joe," and as Robert Montgomery's manager in "Here Comes Mr Jordan." Like I said, I've probably a lot of his films yet to go, but I can't see him eclipsing the two I mentioned here. He really was among the best.

Goodnight,

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Re: ,The Best Character Actors?

Postby Birdy » May 8th, 2009, 11:21 pm

I'm a little slow getting on this thread - I adore character actors and have a mini-album of photos. Character actors always seem more like real people and always get the best lines. Some of my favorites are Allen Jenkins, Una Merkel, Glenda Farrell, Patsy Kelly, Eric Blore,
and, of course, Alice Brady.

Did anyone mention Laura Hope Crews? I think she would qualify. I love her trolling,swilling character in Rafter Romance. "I loathe landlords."
and "Mrs. Elise Peabody Whittington Smythe drink from the bottle?" (as she sneaks a sip)

B

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Re: ,The Best Character Actors?

Postby Hollis » May 9th, 2009, 4:33 am

Nancy, I was going to say exactly the same thing upon seeing his photograph, but you beat me to the punch ! I just watched "Torn Curtain" on TCM within the last week or so. I think, I said I think, that he also played a significant character in one of the episodes of the original "Star Trek". If someone would corroborate that, I'd be most thankful !

As always,

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Re: ,The Best Character Actors?

Postby moira finnie » May 9th, 2009, 6:52 am

Birdy wrote:Did anyone mention Laura Hope Crews? I think she would qualify. I love her trolling,swilling character in Rafter Romance. "I loathe landlords."
and "Mrs. Elise Peabody Whittington Smythe drink from the bottle?" (as she sneaks a sip)

B

Oh, good one, Birdy! Laura Hope Crews was really good in Rafter Romance, and I like her mercenary tosspot in Camille (1936) and of course her Aunt Pittypat in an obscure little film, GWTW, but if you ever get to see her as Joel McCrea's Mama from Hell in The Silver Cord (1933), you'll never look at her in quite the same way. A terrific actress, capable of portraying both buffoonery and emotional chicanery on a grand theatrical scale.
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Re: ,The Best Character Actors?

Postby feaito » May 9th, 2009, 11:22 am

Does TCM air "The Silver Cord" (1933)? That's a film I have wanted to see for a long time.

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Re: ,The Best Character Actors?

Postby Hollis » May 9th, 2009, 7:42 pm

Birdy,

Hello and good evening! I think you're the first to mention Allen Jenkins and I'm surprised it took so long. I know he's a favorite of one Mr Klondike, but I don't know that he mentioned him. Good call. When a comic intervention was called for, he was there! He might just be the male counterpart of Eve Arden, one of my favorites (and "Mildred Pierce" is airing tomorrow morning at 10AM CDST (12AM EDST.)) It's also one of a very few films starring Joan Crawford that I can tolerate, the others being "The Women" and "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" And I watch those because of Norma Shearer and Bette Davis, respectively. Have a great evening and a better tomorrow !

As always,

hollis

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Re: ,The Best Character Actors?

Postby Birdy » May 23rd, 2009, 10:50 pm

I also love Mischa Auer, Helen Broderick, Patsy Kelly, Nat Pendleton and Guinn Williams.
All from the 30's (of course).

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Re: ,The Best Character Actors?

Postby JackFavell » June 12th, 2009, 8:34 am

In Praise of James Gregory

I like to think that James Gregory came out of the womb in a rumpled suit, a fedora hat and grumbling that it was too light out there.....

I haven't always enjoyed his performances. He played the kind of guy that you want to walk away from when you see him. But it was probably on the TV show Barney Miller that Gregory first attracted my attention. He played a character whom NO one liked, an older cop who couldn't keep his mouth shut, even when he was putting his foot in his mouth. He never realized that anyone hated him, or that he was saying the wrong thing. He was an afterthought on the police force, a noirish tough-guy wanna-be from the fifties who was past his prime, and would be soon put out to pasture. But he thought he was Bob Mitchum....and he had a violent streak that was a little scary.

I always liked the way Gregory would make himself comfortable in Barney's office, sitting down when Barney was offering him the door. He would sit with his jacket still buttoned, all yanked up around his chest, and that is what made me love him as an actor. Do you know how hard it is to NOT adjust yourself to look good when you are acting? Well, it's HARD. Gregory was at ease playing this ugly man, who never thought of anyone else, or never even thought to adjust his jacket. The man you love to ..... dislike.

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