Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Happy Birthday (times Classics, times three)

Some weeks are lucky to have one legend born in them, but not just this week – this day – marks the birth of three Oscar winning legends of the cinema: Bette Davis, Gregory Peck and Spencer Tracy. Because I’m such a devout follower of Kate Hepburn, it’s difficult for me not to think of Tracy in conjunction with her. He, obviously, has worth outside of his tempestuous liaison with the First Lady of Cinema. Tracy was the first man to win consecutive Oscars. Davis, was the second woman to win two Best Actress statues and I’m sure if I looked hard enough I’d find some Oscar record that Gregory Peck was a part of.

Of the three, I know the least of Peck – he reminds me of James Cagney in the sense that he’s obviously revered as an archetype of his time, but his name doesn’t endure like Brando or even Gable. I know that Paolo is a unremitting fan of Davis, another actor I can’t help but thinking in conjunction with Kate. When Kate won her third Oscar for The Lion in Winter Bette famously quipped that she’d never accept “half” an Oscar, which I find hilarious. I also think of her in conjunction with Kate because she was 1/3 of a flawless Best Actress trio in 1940 (other two being Hepburn and Fontaine) – naturally, none of them won, but I digress.
I can’t confess unmitigated love for all three – but I won’t deny that they’re each irreplaceable as far as classic cinema goes. Which three films of theirs would you remember them most for? My three: All About Eve, Woman of the Year, To Kill A MockingbirdWhat Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Inherit the Wind, To Kill A Mockingbird.
Which three films of theirs are your favourites? Which of their performances do you prefer?


Brandon said...

"I’m sure if looked hard enough I’d find some Oscar record that Gregory Peck was a part of."

Okay, so I was going to write about this before I even read this!

I believe Peck is the first ever California-born winner (at least of the acting awards). It's amazing if you think about it because of all the varied winners before him all immigrated from other parts of the US or other countries.

anahita said...

Gregory Peck you classy classy man ^_^ no contest for me xx

MovieNut14 said...

My favorite performances of the talented three:

Spencer: Adam's Rib (need to see other Tracy/Hepburn movies)

Bette: All About Eve (kind of cheating; only Davis movie I've seen)

Gregory: Roman Holiday (*sigh* the handsome leading man...)

Peter Chan said...

I've always felt I under appreciated Gregory Peck. Maybe I should go watch some more of his work. And yes, I'm back... sort of. Hahah.

Univarn said...

I can't say exactly why, but Peck's performance in Moby Dick (1956) has always sat incredibly high on the list of those that have made a strong impression on me. Perhaps it was my age, but I like to think it was all him.

TomS said...

"All About Eve" was a career pinnacle for all involved, and still one of the finest examples of the best that moviemaking has to offer. Davis' greatest role. ("Baby Jane" is a guilty pleasure..and "Jezebel" was delicious.)

Gregory Peck may be less of an icon because his characters were too human, and difficult to inflate to the status of "legend". But what a voice! Favorite Peck film: "To Kill a Mockingbird". Other personal faves: "The Yearling", Hitchcock's "Spellbound", and yes, "Roman Holiday".

Tracy never gave a bad performance. Yes, it is hard to think of him without Hepburn: but he was awesome in "Judgment at Nuremburg" and "Father of the Bride". And, whatever else you might think of this movie, "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner", his final film, showed that his comic timing and ability to move an audience were in full flower.

Nice post Andrew!

Luke said...

Oooo... what a day! I'm a big fan of these folks...
Favorite performances...
For Davis, I'd have to definitely go with All About Eve.
For Tracy, I'm going out on a limb and saying Adam's Rib.
And for Peck, it's so easy to go with Mockingbird, but I'd like to branch out and say his subdued performance in Roman Holiday is one of my faves.