In this blog we take a look at the giants of the Silver Screen, the classic male film actors. They come from every genre of the cinema, from great lovers to all action Cowboys, most are now longer with us, but their work still celebrates their lives and is their legacy.
James Stewart was unique for his quirky homespun voice that was equally as endearing if Stewart was playing comedy or tough man sheriff. He was born just after the turn of the century in 1908 in Pennsylvania. Some of his best work can be seen in the films, it’s a Wonderful Life, Winchester 73, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Shenandoah.
Bogart was the original tough man of the big screen, born in New York to an opium addicted father and a suffragette mother, Bogart’s upbringing was not exactly regular. Although he will probably be remembered for his hard man / tough detective roles he was also just as happy playing more sincere and thoughtful characters. Bogart made a number of truly classic films including: The African Queen, Casablanca, The Caine Mutiny and The Maltese Falcon.
Born Marion Robert Morrison, John Wayne became a true legend on the wide screen. Nobody epitomised the True All-Action American better than John Wayne. Be it rounding up the baddies in a Western or shooting down enemy planes in WWII. His huge physical frame made him ideal for bar brawls, wrestling with Red Indians and possibly the best punch-up in cinematic history in the Quiet Man. He will be ever remembered for starring in the John Ford Western Cavalry Trilogy, playing various United States Army roles. Other films of significance are: True Grit, The Quiet Man, Red River, Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Searchers, Rio Bravo, and Stagecoach.
Henry Fonda was one of the best actors ever to grace the Silver Screen, he was just as happy playing classic roles such as the desperate farmer in the John Steinbeck’s epic, The Grapes of Wrath, to a juror in Twelve Angry Men, who pleads for a fair trial for the accused. Born in Nebraska, his ancestry included English, Dutch and Scottish which probably helped in his unusual accent. His greatest films not already mentioned include: Once Upon a Time in the West, The Lady Eve, On Golden Pond, The Wrong Man, and The Ox-Bow Incident.
Orson Welles had a fortunate upbringing with a wealthy father and a mother who was a concert pianist. Welles himself was extremely talented, he could paint, play the piano and even was a gifted magician. His larger-than-life body and gravelly voice made Welles a character actor, and in this he excelled. His experiences travelling the world with his father held him in good stead to become an intelligent and powerful actor. Playing many serious and Shakespearean roles, he was extremely sought after. His most famous film was Citizen Cane, but other great movies were also, Touch of Evil, The Third Man, The Lady from Shanghai as well as the classical Macbeth and Jane Eyre.
These are all truly great actors of their day, and they helped set the standard for the new breed of movie stars that currently appear in blockbuster films all over the world