I have a little (ok, huge) love for old movies and today I thought I’d share a few of my favourite male icons of Hollywood’s golden age. So in no particular order here they are…
One of Hollywood’s greatest dancers with one of the cheekiest smiles, Gene Kelly was best known for Singin’ in the rain, but it is On The Town (which he not only starred in but directed) that’ll always be my favourite of his films.
The thing I love most about Kelly, other than his singing and dancing, is the boyish charm he brings to his roles. he has such a charismatic and romantic screen presence, which combined with his brawn, is a real winner.
At 14, I discovered girls. At that time, dancing was the only way you could put your arm around the girl. Dancing was courtship. Only later did I discover that you dance joy. You dance love. You dance dreams.
I love Stewart for his realistic, didactic and goofy (to the point of adorable) approach to his roles. It was this approach and his likeability which led to his great catalogue of work. Now my favourite Jimmy Stewart film is very hard to pick when he made movies such as It’s a wonderful life, vertigo, The man who knew too much and Rear window, but I couldn’t help but choose Harvey; After all who doesn’t love a movie where Jimmy Stewart talks to a mischievious giant white bunny rabbit.
I have my own rules and adhere to them. The rule is simple but inflexible. A James Stewart picture must have two vital ingredients: it will be clean and it will involve the triumph of the underdog over the bully.
One of the worlds most influential actors, Brando is recognised for the sense of realism he brought to his roles. Everyone is sure to know the iconic scene in A Streetcar named Desire where he rips off his t-shirt and screams ‘Stella’ and although it is a gripping scene I personally favour The Wild One.
Never confuse the size of your paycheck with the size of your talent.
Frank Sinatra is hugely iconic for his acting and singing career. My obvious first choice of Sinatra films is On The Town but I’ll opt for the unmentioned Pal Joey instead. He brings charisma and likability to his roles and even when playing a womanizer you still somehow end up rooting for him. He was the epitome of suave and was a ladies and man’s man alike.
I like intelligent women. When you go out, it shouldn’t be a staring contest.
I’ve loved James Dean for as long as I can remember and my bookcase is a shrine to Dennis stock’s photography of him. He was troubled much like his characters and sadly died far to young having only made three films. It is probably because he died in the prime of his career that he is remembered as such an icon.
He was the original poster boy for teenage angst and along with his relaxed style and air of androgyny he brought something new and relatable to young cinema.
My favourite of his three films is East of Eden, not only because I love Elia Kazan’s films, but because you feel a sense of confused frustration from Cal that was mirrored in Dean’s own life. Kazan later said that he felt Dean’s lack of training and reliance on instinct would cause his career to ‘splutter out’ if he had lived. Ironically Dean had based his career and fast lifestyle on what he perceived his idol Marlon Brando’s to be like, whereas in reality Brando was much more trained and disciplined.
If a man can bridge the gap between life and death, if he can live on after he’s dead, then maybe he was a great man.
I told them I wanted to choose my scripts and my directors myself. “But sweetheart,” they said, “you’re going to make a lot of mistakes.” And I told them, “You don’t understand; I want to be free to do so.”
Every Secondary school student is sure to recognise him as Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird but I’ll always love Peck for Roman Holiday. He started his career broke and often slept in Central Park, he even exchanged acting work for food, which proves hard work can pay off.
Tough times don’t last, tough people do, remember?