Happy National Classic Movie Day, everyone! What a day! I’m so glad to be officially celebrating it this year, as this post is for Classic Film and TV Cafe’s 5 Stars blogathon. The objective is simple (ha!); write about five favorite classic stars. I wanted to write about actors and actresses I don’t write about often or haven’t mentioned on this blog yet, those who are also under appreciated in my book. There are three like that and two ultimate favorites that I talk about quite often!
So, without further ado:
Miss Bennett fascinates me. The world’s most glamorous Barbie doll or siren with her hair of spun gold, elegant figure, and high cheekbones. She was so well suited to comedy, playing breezy, unbothered women who dressed impeccably. From the little I know of her life, she didn’t seem to take acting very seriously. But she’s the true definition of a star; impossible to ignore, emanating so much energy, glamour, and allure. To me, she was the most stylish, graceful star of the 1930s. I just adore her.
The first time I watched Strangers on a Train (1951), I loathed Bruno. I assumed that Robert Walker was an actor I wouldn’t ever warm up to, simply because his performance unnerved me so much. Maybe that was an indication that he would become one of my favorites, even if I hated the one character I’d seen him portray. But I decided to give the rest of his films a shot, and it was after reading about his tragic separation from Jennifer Jones that I became interested in him. Learning the very sad details made me sympathetic, and for the past two years, Bobby has become so important to me. I don’t like focusing on his premature death and the unfortunate circumstances surrounding his mental health, but I do need to mention them. It’s strange, but I feel protective of his memory. He’s one of my top five favorite actors. Others might scoff at the genial boys next door he played at MGM for years, but I do not. I love those films and characters, sweet and uncomplicated as they are. Those roles may not be as memorable to the public as Bruno is, but it’s wonderful to see him in the two stages of his career, although the second was painfully cut short. Yet Bruno Anthony was not the first complex character Bobby played. The potential he had to break free of the wholesome boy next door image, beloved as it is to me, was evident in The Sea of Grass (1947) and Vengeance Valley (1951). He was a malicious villain in the latter, recalling some of Bruno’s unhinged qualities. His vividness and intensity were unmatched, lending some much needed energy to both films. He was just always so sincere, no matter the role. And for that, I’m eager to watch him in everything and am always so excited when I track down any of his films.
Underrated in every sense of the word, I’m always surprised that Ruth Roman was never a major star. She was gorgeous, a cross between Ava Gardner and Eleanor Parker. I always pay attention to her, looks aside, because she was striking. Understated though she was, she still had an undefinable quality that makes her so compelling to watch. Ruth Roman is someone you have to care about. Nowhere is this more true than in the excellent Champion (1949). She was versatile, playing unsympathetic characters and an actual killer who terrorizes a little boy in The Window (1949). I would love it if more people appreciated this lesser known star, and just being able to give her a spotlight here makes me really happy!
Van, Van, he’s our man! Why should I be so enamored with this big, brawny, gentle, lovely guy? But I am. As I’ve said before, I really am a bobby-soxer! The hysteria this man inspired, it just makes a lot of sense to me on a real, deep, visceral level. So much charisma, so much talent and versatility that really goes unnoticed. He’s my best boy.
Surprise! My favorite star in any galaxy or solar system. Although I could write pages and pages about her (and have), sometimes I’m just at a loss for words. Maybe she’s my favorite because of sheer, fateful force. We’re just meant to be? She’s my soulmate? Whatever it is, I love her and don’t go a day without thinking about her. She was not your typical glamorous star, she was incredibly down to earth and a lot more goofy than people seem to realize. Those are just a few reasons why I do love her, why she is lovable.
Be sure to check out the other posts in the blogathon and read about more glittering stars in Classic Hollywood’s constellation!