Wednesday, November 26, 2014

WHAT IS BEAUTY?

I recently came across a list I made about 20 (yikes!) years ago of those stars who I considered to be the 10 most beautiful male and female stars. I have always viewed film as  a medium designed to pay tribute to and honor the beauty of the human face, form and spirit. But what, exactly, is beauty? I am wondering if my reasons for selecting them have changed over the years...

Here they are in no particular order.

Women

Edna Purviance

While never the greatest of beauties, Edna holds a special place in my heart. Her onscreen relationship with Chaplin never fails to enchant me. Add to that a sense of mystery and intrigue (who was Edna Purviance?) and she still makes the top 10.

Clara Bow

Yes, Clara still does it for me. She is excessively pretty, but her verve and joy elevate mere prettiness into beauty for me.


Mary Pickford

Yes - they had faces then. Mary, by virtue of her face and physical grace and indomitable spirit still holds a place in the top 10.

Grace Kelly

Sheer beauty, style and a cool that is inexplicably warm, Grace still is top-10 royalty.

Audrey Hepburn

Same goes for Audrey. She remains golden for me. Her style is legendary, but it is her charm and smile that do it for me.

Vivien Leigh

One of cinema's most beautiful faces. True then, true now, true forever.

Rita Hayworth

Simply a beautiful woman - but there is an almost shameless aching that goes beyond a beautiful face and form.

Jean Harlow

I still adore the electroplated platinum Jean, but I think, for now, she falls out of the top-10.

Judy Garland

Ah, a most unique beauty. Her's is a heart beating on the screen. None is more worthy of our love. She stays.

Ann Sheridan

She's a down to earth beauty and one half of one of my favorite screen teams (with James Cagney). She is teetering in the top and might fall to 11, but I still love this lady.

Men

Buster Keaton

Ah, that face. Beautiful. He stays.

Charlie Chaplin

His face, his genius, his physical grace, his humanity and courage. He stays.

Laurence Olivier

I am not as mad for him as I once was, but, really, he was a god. He stays.

James Cagney

Never the most handsome guy, his beauty comes from his irresistible charisma. It makes him beautiful and he stays.

Clark Gable

Well, he sure was a manly man and gorgeous. Oh, and sexy. Should he stay? Not sure.....wait, what am I - nuts?

Douglas Fairbanks

Ah, he is the illusion of a beautiful adventure. Maybe not my favorite actor, but he is beautiful. I might not place him in a new top-10, but he holds an honorary place for the sheer joy he brings to the screen.

Cary Grant

No debate here. Handsome, charming, sexy and funny, he not only stays, but is in the "most beautiful" Hall of Fame. Case closed.

Fred Astaire  

Like Cagney, it has nothing to do with conventional looks. He is a charmer, he is joy and he stays.

Gene Kelly

Well, my hormones certainly got the best of me. He stays.

John Wayne

Never my favorite actor, or even star, but he was beautiful the way the American west is beautiful. He is undeniable and, I guess, he has to stay.


So, it looks as though my taste hasn't changed much over time. If anything, I could greatly expand my choices. Certainly, I would swap out Garbo for Harlow and throw in young Joan Crawford, Marilyn Monroe, Robert Mitchum and Gary Cooper for starters. But, it was fun to revisit my earlier choices and know that I still love them all so very much. I guess beauty really is in the eye - and the heart - of the beholder.

Which stars define beauty for you?

20 comments:

KC said...

I'm so glad you included Buster Keaton! I have a huge crush on him, but you hardly ever hear anyone calling him a cutie. I think Gene Tierney and Ava Gardner are great screen beauties as well.

FlickChick said...

Thank you, KC. Buster was very handsome and, from what I have read, the girls really went for him. Gene and Ava would probably make my expanded and revised list- hard to argue with those 2!

Elizabeth Boyde said...

Oh yes, Audrey and Vivian -- Laurence Olivier -- Clark Gable (lol'd your thought process) -- and you are just spot on about Gene Kelly!

For beauty, my stars are from the decades following yours. Since you ask :) and in no particular order --

WOMEN
Olivia deHavilland (pure beauty)
Mary Astor (another face from the silent era)
Ann Sothern (especially in close-ups/stills, her face was the Ideal)
Joan Bennett
Constance Bennett

MEN
Errol Flynn (jaw-dropping, heart-fluttering swoon)
Alan Marshal
Robert Taylor
Douglas Fairbanks Jr (charm, personality, style)
Ronald Colman (he draws me in in every role)

FlickChick said...

Hello Elizabeth! Hard to disagree with your choices. However, I had to do a search for Alan Marshal. Once I saw the face, I knew who he was. I would say you like the mustachioed men!

Inge Gregusch said...

Agree with KC about Buster Keaton. Always thought he was sexy. There was just something about him. The other choices are excellent. La-La land was and is populated by beautiful people, so any list will seem incomplete. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and you have a great eye! Lovely post of lovely stage and screen people

DorianTB said...

Marsha, you have wonderful taste in and women in the movies! I'm especially delighted to see Buster Keaton on your list. When it comes to fellas on film, I tend to gravitate toward the funny guys, like Cary Grant in comedies, as well as Danny Kaye and Harold Lloyd. For the ladies, I like Audrey Hepburn, my beloved Mary Astor, LOVE Mary Astor (especially in THE PALM BEACH STORY). I know I've surely missed many more -- apologies in advance! In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! :-D

david hartzog said...

Fine choices. I would cite Ella Raines, Joan Bennett, Eva Marie Saint, and Liz Scott; and Robert Taylor, James Garner, Gary Cooper, and Alan Ladd.

said...

For me, Garbo will always be the most beautiful. There is no face like hers - it's something super-human.
For the men, I love Gary Cooper, Doug Fairbanks and Tyrone Power (that perfect nose!!!). But I'm glad you put Keaton in the list (and os is my mother).
Kisses!

Patricia Gallagher said...

For me, the epitome of female beauty is always Grace Kelly. And, I'm with you on Cary Grant; in my book, he is perfect. I would add Tyrone Power (who always takes my breath away) and Hedy Lamarr (maybe not the world's greatest actress, but OH, that face).

FlickChick said...

Hello Inge! I know GG would make the top of your list, and she sure would bo n an updated list of mine. But 20 years ago, she was still a bit of a remote mystery to me.

FlickChick said...

Hi Dorian - happy holidays to you, too at Team B. I, too, always loved the funny fellows and fund them to have loads of appeal.

FlickChick said...

Davis - thanks for including James Garner. A resounding "YES" from over here.

FlickChick said...

Hi Le - I am amazed at how many of the ladies love Buster!

FlickChick said...

Patricia - Hedy was truly a beautiful face. She and Power together are almost too beautiful to be real.

Silver Screenings said...

You know, I never really saw the big deal about Clark Gable until I saw him on the big screen. I think his persona is too big for TV...if that makes sense?

So glad you included Fred Astaire. He's not handsome in the traditional sense, but his charm makes him handsome.

This is a great list!

FlickChick said...

Hi Ruth - I totally understand about Gable. As you can see, I am on the fence. However, the star power he has is blinding. A great example is his film with Garbo ("Susan Lennox, Her Fall and Rise"). Garbo is Garbo, of course, but I think Gable steals the film. Even without the mustache he is magnetic.

ClassicBecky said...

Boy, that is a hard list to make! I would certainly put Vivien Leigh and Rita Hayworth in there. And it goes without saying -- The Great Flynn in the Number One male spot. I always thought Alan Ladd was very handsome. And you know, though he is not a beautiful leading man, I have always liked Claude Rains -- partly it's his voice! Jeffrey Lynn was a darling, and Priscilla Lane is a doll. Boy, you are braver than I. I've never tried to make a list!

FlickChick said...

Becky - I knew Flynn would be #1 for you! It's all taste and chemistry. It's funny how my list has altered only slightly over the years. I guess those first loves never quite leave you.

The Lady Eve said...

I just read a quote attributed to Carolyn Bessette Kennedy in which she said she believed truly beautiful women always have something "otherworldly" about them and mentioned that while Gwyneth Paltrow was pretty, her mother, Blythe Danner, was beautiful. These rather tame examples aside, the women I think of as great beauties do tend to have an "otherworldly" quality (as most goddesses should): Garbo, Dietrich, Hedy, Ava, Marilyn, Grace, Audrey. Judy Garland doesn't fit that mold, but the totality of her was astonishingly beautiful.

The men who've made my heart go pitter-pat with their gorgeousnous: Ronald Colman, Cary Grant, Tyrone Power, Jean Gabin, David Farrar, Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, Richard Burton, Sean Connery, Alain Delon.

I'm also glad you included Buster Keaton. Very handsome in his youth. Glad to know that the ladies went for him since I've read that his wife Natalie Talmadge all but made mincemeat of him.

FlickChick said...

HI Patty. Ah, Jean Gabin - what an amazing choice. And yes, beauty is more than just a pretty face,