Tuesday, 18 November 2008

10 utterly iconic performances that don't need good acting.

The concept of the icon is tough to define, no-one really knows why the people who have it have it, they just do. Sometimes, from a cinematic perspective, a truly iconic performance serves better then a truly great one. The performances below are examples of when a character rises above a bad to mediocre performance to be an icon nontheless on the strength of the actor's star quality or the character's coolness. Or both. NO SPOILERS REALLY BUT PLAY IT SAFE.

1) Steve McQueen, The Great Escape
When described, people refer to Steve McQueen as 'cool' before anything else. That's because what he has is that elusive thing that so many better actors lack in spades. Sadly the trade-off is that h can't act all that, but in the Great Escape it doesn't matter because the both he and the role are all about the iconicism. Its like the 5th best performance in this movie, but its the one you remember.

2) Marylin Monroe, Some like it hot
Quite possibly the ultimate actress turned icon, as her fans roam far and wide and do the crazy. Despite many fangirl pleas to the otherwise, she is not a great actress and no-one can say she is without it being apologetics. Still, her persona is almost the ultimate in picture-postcard femininity and her remarkable beauty and movie star quality for the most part mask her acting shortcomings. For the best example of this see some like it hot, on seeing you'll understand why she is the icon that she is.

3) Orlando Bloom, Lord of the rings
Every now and again comes a nigh on pointless ancilliary character who kicks ass in such a maginificently to the point 2D way. We love these guys and Orlando Bloom's Legolas may be the most awesome of this category. To be clear, It's a horrible performance, and in act off between Orlando Bloom and a plank of wood the result would be too close to call. Just watch his delivery of the line ' unless my eyes are cheated by some spell' and cringe. Yet he's pretty enough for the girls and does enough impromptu shield-skateboarding and elephant destroying for the guys. The character you secretely can't wait to come back on screen

4) Bruce Willis, Die Hard

Die Hard is a great film. Its a masterpiece in comparison to most other films in its field and has terrific euro-villainy from Alan Rickman. His is a great performance that rises above the material. Whereas Bruce Willis' John McClane is perfectly suited to the material, the kind of every-man masculine asshole that so many viewers identified as themselves. Only with an added ability to kick terrorist ass.

5) Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Terminator

Say what you want about the governor of California, but this is unforgettable character. Suited to his strengths, as in having to say little dialogue and scoring a body count somewhere in the low 70's, It just seems so much better that he was doing all this as the bad guy. Whilst there are smarter villian's out there, none bear such resemblance to a Tank as this one. You see why he got the title even though its not really his story don't you?

6) Johnny Depp, Edward Scissorhands

It amazes me who many people consider this a good performance, but it is as nervous as hell. Depp didn't come good until Ed Wood and here he plays a bland nice guy who happens to have crazy gothic hair and scissors for hands. Its memorable due the costume design more then anything else, as the content of the character is essentially a Frank Capra like saint without the passion. Its a great movie, and Depp later became a great actor, just not yet.

7) Clint Eastwood. The Good, the bad and the ugly

Ah, Steve McQueen's only real rival for the title of coolest actor ever. But what makes Clint Eastwood's 'Blondie' so great is that beneath the vacant stare and knowing demeanour, he's just as much of a petty, greedy shit as Eli Wallach's Tuco. Which in some twisted universe only makes the character all the cooler.

8) Everyone in Oceans' eleven

Please, this film was about movie stars collecting giant pay-cheques and socialising to their own success. No one can even remotely be arsed her, yet that's part of the appeal as seeing these A-listers chillax their way through this movie, cruising on their iconic and bankable movie-starness almost makes us feel like one of them.

9) Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's

The uptown Marylin Monroe, or the Clint Eastwood to her Steve McQueen if you will. One could say that she is all style and no substance, but seeing as that is essentially the point of her character it seems silly. Hepburn is actually good here, which is most definately a rarity seeing how terrible she is in most of her films. But the role is about the clothes, the attitude and the 60's and few characters embody all three quite like her Holly Golightly

10) Grace Kelly, Rear Window

Grace Kelly was the most celebrated of the Hitchcock women, mostly because she married the prince of Monaco or something like that, but she cuts a singularly demure screen presence and this is taken to the point of hilarity in Rear Window, in which she repeatedly arrives at James Stewart's crabby apartment in chic designer wear. They make a plot point of it but this action essentially is what Grace Kelly was about, who cares about the substance when the style is this good.

1 comment:

veebee63 said...

I enjoyed reading this dude - some surprising inclusions - eg legolas - that made me laugh!not sure i agree with mazzer and audrey being in there though! and clint through his body language and lack of dialogue is a fine actor in gbu- its all about the eyes!