Archive for the ‘Top 10 Actors of the 70’s’ category

#1 ~ Al Pacino in The Godfather Films

December 1, 2006

I know the third Godfather was not released until 1990, but in 1972 & 1974 two of the greatest movies to ever grace the screen were released into cinematic history. Mario Puzo’s The Godfather made cinema history while Al Pacino became the ultimate gangster and Michael Corleone became a household name.

His manner, his style, his delivery of his lines, even his eyes were Michael Corleone. Even though he never won an Academy Award for his portrayl of Michael Corleone, this would be the role he would be best known for. He did finally win an acting Oscar in 1993 for his role in Scent of a Women. Many felt that this Oscar was given for his enduring career. No other actor, except for Marlon Brando was more aligned to a role than Al Pacino.

#2 Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

November 30, 2006

I know I already had Jack listed for his role in Chinatown, but what didn’t Jack do well in the 70’s. He is (in my opinion) the greatest actor in our generation, or in any generation for that matter.

His portrayal of Randle Patrick McMurphy, a rebellious, brash prisoner/patient set out to destroy the establishment and it’s dictator, Nurse Ratched, played by Louise Fletcher, was spectacular, to say the least. Jack walked away with the Oscar for Best Actor after loosing the year before for Chinatown. Louise Fletcher won Best Actress and the movie for Best Picture and Best Director beating out Speilberg’s JAWS and Altman’s Nashville. Since it’s release Cuckoo’s Nest and Jack’s role has went down as one of the greatest films and portrayals in film history.

#3 Marlon Brando in The Godfather

November 24, 2006

The Godfather movies today are classics. They were the standard by how all other pictures in the 1970’s should be measured. Marlon Brando was a living legend by the time the Godfather movies were made, but he had become somewhat of an enigma in Hollywood by this time. What he gave as Vito Corleone was almost cinematic perfection and he also gave us probably one of the most famous lines in Cinematic history… “I’ll give him an offer he can’t refuse”When his face came onto the screen in Godfather, you knew immediately this would be an Oscar winning performance. He didn’t disappoint.
However, he did disappoint at the Award ceremony when he was announced that The Godfather, wins the Oscar for best actor in his role as Don Vito Corleone, and refuses to accept his Academy Award.

Brando takes the opportunity to protest cinematic abuse of Native Americans. Spokeswoman Sacheen Littlefeather [a beautiful Apache woman with piercing dark eyes] appeared at the ceremony to read Brando’s statement.

#4 Dustin Hoffman in Kramer vs. Kramer

November 23, 2006

Hoffman’s character, Ted Kramer, a father who is not even sure what grade his son is in, suddenly faces the reality of parenting. Once he adjusts his life and begins to become the good guy in steps his wife, played by Meryl Streep and demand custody.

You begin to root for the dad, mainly due to Hoffman’s dynamic performance. All of his best scenes come late in the film, especially one eleventh-hour job interview. This movie was an actor’s dream, and with it Dustin Hoffman’s dream finally came true. After being nominated three times prior, he finally walked away with the gold and begins to move into a new role in Hollywood as a living legend. Both he and Streep won the Academy Award (she for the supporting category), as well as the film taking home the Best Picture award and Best director.

What became a landmark film, Kramer vs. Kramer was a controversial film in 1979, but for Dustin Hoffman it was a role of a lifetime.

#5 Jack Nicholson in Chinatown

November 18, 2006

Evil influences can make a man do just about anything, and Jack Nicholson as Jake Gittes knows it all too well. Jack Nicholson is superb in just about any role he is given, and the 70’s was his decade. From Easy Rider in the later sixties to the Shining in 1980, Nicholson came onto the screen with vim and vigor. In his role as Jake in Chinatown he was flawless. Unfortunately The Godfather II was released the same year, and the Academy gave it’s best Actor award to an aging Art Carney.

Jack came into his own in this film, and his portrayal of a detective bent on finding the truth, but then realizing maybe the truth is not a good thing is powerful and moving. Jack is by far the greatest actor of our generation, maybe of any generation and this film gives one of the reasons why.

#6 Lawrence Olivier in Marathon Man

November 17, 2006

Ten time nominated Academy Award winning Actor, Lawrence Olivier was still a big draw in 1977. In a role which would become his 9th Oscar nomination, Olivier played the part of the evil Dr. Christian Szell, perfectly.

When watching this film you do not see a superb actor who could play Shakespeare’s characters better than anyone else, but you saw an evil, menacing ex Nazi bent on finding what he was looking for, and using whatever means necessary to obtain it. He scared the shit out of me!

Olivier did not win the Oscar that year for Best Supporting Actor, but he should have as all his roles, this one was excellent and Olivier excelled. He did go on and become nominated again in 1979 for his role in the Boys in Brazil, and won an honorary Oscar that same year.

#7 George C. Scott – Patton

November 11, 2006

For a long time when I saw pictures of George C. Scott, I immediately thought it was a picture of General George Patton. The reason for this? After seeing him in this role I associated Scott as Patton.

One of the most difficult things to do on film is to portray a famous individual. From Patty Duke as Helen Keller to Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles, there have been a magnitude of actors that have pulled off this ability, and done it well. Others are not as convincing. But those that are are usually showered with awards.

George C. Scott was the ultimate Patton. His mannerisms, his personality, his arrogance, and his humbleness WAS Patton. I became obsessed with this man after seeing Scott’s portrayal of one of the greatest leaders of our country. It is hard to imagine anyone else playing this colorful, egotistical character than Scott. But surprisingly the role was also considered by Burt Lancaster, Rod Steiger, Lee Marvin, Robert Mitchum and John Wayne.

Scott won the Best Actor Oscar for this role, but chose not to accept it in true George C. Scott character.

#8 Malcolm McDowell – A Clockwork Orange

November 9, 2006

Either looked over or snubbed, Malcolm McDowell did not receive an Academy Award nomination for his most memorable role to date, in A Clockwork Orange. Even though the movie itself garnered 4 other nominations including Best Picture, Malcolm’s extraordinary work in this chilling film.

Malcolm plays Alex de Large the film’s main hero/protagonist and he narrates a large portion of the movie. He is a delinquent that is obsessed with rape and Beethoven. Set in the future he is a volunteer to aversion therapy, in the government’s ability to solve a staggering crime rate.

Malcolm is brilliant, and even after 30 years this movie and his portrayal will cause you to be speechless for a matter of minutes after viewing. There has only been one other movie and characterization that caused me to have this reaction which was Hilary Swank in Boy’s Don’t Cry.

Unfortunately Malcolm became typecast as psychotic villains and was never really able to become a great actor, and later had the unfortunate task to play the villain that kills Captain Kirk in the Star Trek phenomena.

#9 Gene Hackman – French Connection

November 1, 2006

Gene Hackman will forever be etched in my mind as sadistic Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle, the sadistic undercover NYC narcotics officer, who rides that fine line between good cop and bad cop, in the great police classic, The French Connection (1971)
He becomes obsessed with the drug pushers to the point where you almost don’t like him. Actually you don’t like him at all, but he doesn’t care, he has a job to do.
The film’s script was based on Robin Moore’s best-selling book of the same name about the ruthless, real-life adventures of Harlem special narcotics squad officers Eddie Egan (the Doyle character) and Sonny Grosso (the Russo character). To imagine in 1971 that police officers were truly like this was I am sure an eye opening experience. The first time I saw this film was in the late 80’s and I became entranced to Hackman’s portrayal of this vulgar, ruthless cop, destined to make a name for himself regardless of what he had to do to get the bad guys. From that moment on, Gene became one of my most favorite actors.
The movie was nominated eight Academy Award nominations, winning in five categories: Best Director (William Friedkin), Best Actor (Hackman), Best Adapted Screenplay (Ernest Tidyman), Best Editing (Jerry Greenberg), and Best Picture. The three other nominations included: Best Supporting Actor (Roy Scheider), Best Cinematography (Owen Roizman), and Best Sound.

#10 Robert De Niro / Taxi Driver

November 1, 2006

Now that I have my first five favorite 1970’s movies posted, I want to change gears and talk about the STARS of the 70’s!

Between the years of 1967 to 1981 there were a lot of great independent movies released. Most of them had unknown stars and unknown directors. Today those unknowns are legends…Speilberg, Lucas, Harrison Ford, Hoffman, Nicholson, and Streep. The list goes on and on. But it also was the decade of the MAN. There were a lot of men movies made in the 70’s. Which for those of us that like men, that was a good thing.

One of the best of those men was my choice for #10, in my list of top ten actors of the 1970’s…

Robert De Niro
in Taxi Driver (1976)

De Niro’s performance is amazing and utterly compelling and fascinating to watch. No holds are barred in this performance. DeNiro comes alive as the unlikely crusader redemptively preparing to clean up the town by his own words… “wash all this scum off the streets“. This coming after a failed date with beautiful blonde political worker (played by Cybil Shepard) and his stalking of political candidate Charles Palantine(Leonard Harris). His target-practice ‘You talkin’ to me?‘ monologue before his mirror remains one of the best known and memorable scenes in film history. DeNiro should have won the Best Actor Oscar that year but lost out to Peter Finch who was awarded the prize posthumously. He did come back in 1980 and win the Oscar for another well played role in Raging Bull.


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