18 December 2009

The Welshman

Richard Burton narrating (first voice) the original production of Under Milk Wood, a radio play written by Dylan Thomas (1954). Can you resist the enchantment, the lure, the invitation in Burton's voice?
This week we featured the most impressive actors there ever were and are. The actors that actors themselves are awed by.
Is the general public as awed by them?
Spencer Tracy with his unforgettable performances in movies such as Bad Day At Black Rock (1955) or Guess Who's Coming To Dinner (1967), despite his truly monumental talent for acting, never made it 100 percent.
In Hollywood, physical beauties are a girl's best friend.
Marlon Brando, an undisputed physical beauty, crossed over to an excellent actor when much older. James Dean may have outdone him in the Rebel Without A Cause, but nobody could ever match Brando in Godfather. Brando's imaginative creation of the character entered popular culture head-on and to such an extent that the public nowadays knows of the character before it knows of Brando. The character of Godfather, put simply, leads a life of its own.
Zero Mostel is a brilliant, superb actor, who was blacklisted at the height of his career. He gave us a mere trifle of his promise, yet the trifle is bedazzling to no end.
This last one was a toss-up between Richard Burton and James Mason, the two actors whose voices enchant, bewitch me. Both are born narrators and storytellers. I give you Burton only because I posted a narration by James Mason earlier (and we are, after all, speaking about Under Milk Wood here).
But my heart... my heart each time goes to James Mason.
As for the rest, I deliberately chose unusual performances. Spencer Tracy in Adam's Rib acts substantially above the demands of the movie and the slapstick standard; Marlon Brando in the screentest acts out a pansy character for the benefit of (undoubtedly) female or gay selectors; and Zero Mostel's Tevye shines, bedazzles us despite the fact that Tevye wears a tie and sings.

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