Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Picks: The 50 Best Male Performances in Film

 Just like my previous post, I'll be listing my top fifty male performances. Again, I'm not limiting myself to one role per actor.

My top 50, in alphabetical order by film title:

Humphrey Bogart as Charlie Allnut in The African Queen (1951, John Huston)

Harold Russell as Homer Parish in The Best Years of Our Lives (1946, William Wyler)

Cary Grant as Dudley The Bishop's Wife (1947, Henry Koster)

Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine in Casablanca (1942, Michael Curtiz)

Paul Newman as Brick Pollitt in Cat On a Hot Tin Roof (1958, Richard Brooks)

Jack Lemmon as Joe Clay in Days of Wine and Roses (1962, Blake Edwards)

Sidney Poitier as Noah Cullen & 
Tony Curtis as John Jackson in The Defiant Ones (1958, Stanley Kramer)

Fred MacMurray as Walter Neff in Double Indemnity (1944, Billy Wilder)

James Dean as Cal Trask in East of Eden (1955, Elia Kazan)

Andy Griffith as Larry "Lonesome" Rhodes in A Face In the Crowd (1957, Elia Kazan)

Burt Lancaster as Milton Warden,
Frank Sinatra as Angelo Maggio &
Montgomery Clift as Robert Prewitt in From Here to Eternity (1953, Fred Zinnemann)

Bing Crosby as Father Chuck O'Malley in Going My Way (1944, Leo McCarey)

Clark Gable as Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind (1939, Victor Fleming)

Henry Fonda as Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath (1940, John Ford)

Spencer Tracy as Matt Drayton in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967, Stanley Kramer)

Henry Travers as Clarence &
James Stewart as George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life (1946, Frank Capra)

Clark Gable as Peter Warne in It Happened One Night (1934, Frank Capra)

Gregory Peck as Father Francis Chisholm in The Keys of the Kingdom (1944, John Stahl)

Dana Andrews as Mark McPherson in Laura (1944, Otto Preminger)

Sidney Poitier as Homer Smith in Lilies of the Field (1963, Ralph Nelson)

Ray Milland as Don Birnam in The Lost Weekend (1945, Billy Wilder)

Peter O'Toole as King Henry II in The Lion in Winter (1968, Anthony Harvey)

Kirk Douglas as Vincent van Gough in Lust for Life (1956, Vincent Minnelli)

Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon (1941, John Huston)

Frank Sinatra as Frankie Machine in The Man With the Golden Arm (1955, Otto Preminger)

Ernest Borgnine as Marty Piletti in Marty (1955, Delbert Man)

Dick Van Dyke as Bert in Mary Poppins (1964, Robert Stevenson)

Gary Cooper as Longfellow Deeds in Mr. Deeds Comes to Town (1936, Frank Capra)

Cary Grant as T.R. Devlin in Notorious (1946, Alfred Hitchcock)

Marlon Brando as Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront (1954, Elia Kazan)

Montgomery Clift as George Eastman in A Place in the Sun (1951, George Stevens)

Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig in The Pride of the Yankees (1942, Sam Wood)

Leslie Howard as Henry Higgins in Pygmalion (1938, Anthony Asquith)

James Dean as Jim Stark in Rebel Without a Cause (155, Nicholas Ray)

Gregory Peck as Joe Bradley in Roman Holiday (1953, William Wyler)

Joseph Cotten as Charles Oakley in Shadow of a Doubt (1943, Alfred Hitchcock)

Gene Kelly as Don Lockwood in Singin' In the Rain (1952, Stanley Donen)

Warren Beatty as Bud Stamper in Splendor In the Grass (1961, Eliz Kazan)

James Mason as Norman Maine in A Star Is Born (1954, George Cukor)

Robert Walker as Bruno Anthony in Strangers On a Train (1951, Alfred Hitchcock)

William Holden as Joe Gillis in Sunset Blvd (1950, Billy Wilder)

Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch & Phillip Alford as Jim Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962, Robert Mulligan)

James Stewart as John "Scottie" Ferguson in Vertigo (1958, Alfred Hitchcock)

Robert Taylor as Roy Cronin in Waterloo Bridge (1940, Mervyn LeRoy)

Laurence Olivier as Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights (1939, William Wyler)


  1. Excellent choices. Some of these I wished I had mentioned on mine (Gone with the Wind, Days of Wine and Roses, A Face in the Crowd).

  2. so glad to see Larry on the list! he's so fab in wuthering heights!

  3. Agreed ;) I would include some more Paul Newman, like The Hustler - though I haven't seen all of the films you mentioned, so I may be wrong.
    But you're only counting with old hollywood performances right? This seems like a dumb question, but I just want to be sure :)

  4. I love that you put Harold Russel up towards the top for "Best Years of Our Life." I really have always thought that he gave one of the most moving and natural performances. Great list!