Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?

The history of the movies is replete with great performances, one after another, often in the same movie.  While many movies have a clear central character with no counterpart in length or breadth within the same film (from I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, Stella Dallas and Citizen Kane to movies like On the Waterfront, Lawrence of ArabiaTaxi Driver and There Will Be Blood) many others have a male and female lead playing off of each other, with some famous examples from Hollywood history being Gone with the Wind, Casablanca and The Apartment.   But there are still others, the great dual performance movies, that have two parts playing against each other in a mutual conflict or war or maybe just a game, depending on how you look at it.  They’re the movies that have the two leads, usually the same gender and the characters are usually, but not always, completely at odds.  You know the ones I’m talking about, movies like All About Eve or Sleuth, in which two characters face off and do battle, one against the other, and often times their performances are also matched one against the other by the movie-going public.   When it comes to picking one over the other, I’m no exception, I do it all the time.

Make Up Your Mind 01

Before I delve too deeply into this, I should make clear:  I have absolutely no measuring stick for choosing one performance over the other, just my own personal opinion, and would further state that in some cases, I’m probably picking a performance made better by the other performance.  You see, good actors have a way of making each other look good while bad actors can bring a whole company down.  Of course, no one ever had to worry about that with Bette Davis, so supremely confident in all of her performances that they often overshadow everyone else in the movie.  But in one of her most famous “dual lead” movies, All About Eve, I think I’d go with Anne Baxter for the better performance or, at least, my favorite performance of the two.  It’s cunning and duplicitous but, mainly, it’s sad.  Anne’s Eve is, in the end, a tragic character, getting what she wants most dearly but losing her soul due to the drive and determination that got her there.  She’ll do anything for stardom but once she attains it the ends don’t seem to make the means worth the trip.  When she resigns herself to Addison DeWitt (George Sanders, who manages to photo bomb the whole movie) there’s a sense of mournful defeat.  At the end, as she goes into the other room to change she is lacking in emotion of any kind.  She just exists now, as a star, with Addison as her Svengali.  It’s a great performance.

But in Bette Davis’ other great “dual lead” movie, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, I give the edge to Davis, by a long shot.  To my mind, Joan Crawford doesn’t give Bette a whole hell of a lot to work with but at the same time, the script is mostly to blame.  Crawford’s is a thankless role, made no better by the twist ending because even upon repeated viewings, her character is very bland, staid and, frankly, boring.  So Davis has nothing much to play against and has to play it big as a result and play it big she does.  It’s one of my favorite “big” performances, in fact, all ham-hock and glaze with enough spice to make even the most demur gourmets among us gobble it down with delight.

But women aren’t the only ones who get to have fun with these kinds of juicy battle of wills stories, as evidenced at the top of this post with the mention of Sleuth which contains two great performances by Michael Caine and Laurence Olivier.  Again, as with all great actors, it’s a tough call of one over the other.  In any normal circumstances I’d say they’re both equally good but for the purposes of this post, I’ll pick one and that one will be Laurence Olivier because, well, just go back to the whole ham-hock line in the preceding paragraph.  Olivier plays it big and bold and when (SPOILER ALERT) in the end he is duped by Caine and decidedly the loser, his wailing release of self-pitying emotion is one of the most gratifying things in the whole movie. (END SPOILER)

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Michael Caine, like Bette Davis, had another dual lead movie as well, this time with Christopher Reeve and employing multiple twists and turns just like the previous outing, Sleuth.  The movie was Deathtrap and this time, I go with Reeve.  Christopher Reeve doesn’t get a lot of respect as an actor.   He’s most closely associated with Superman and even though he did a lot of fine work as an actor, he didn’t make a lot of movies that stand out on their own where he was the lead.  In a movie like Street Smart, it was Morgan Freeman who stole the show and in movies that made a bigger impact, like The Remains of the Day, his role was important but small.   But in Deathtrap he excels and makes the movie work, along with Caine and Dyan Cannon.  They’re all great but Reeve plays the role of the younger sociopathic writer with a fearsome menace so well that when he threatens Caine about the consequences of burning the play he wrote (that he’ll leave and write it somewhere else), the viewer knows he’s really threatening Caine, and it’s scary.

Of course, not every dual lead movie is about people doing battle, sometimes they’re at odds simply because of personality.  Midnight Cowboy is one of the best examples, with Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman both receiving Oscar nominations for their roles and both losing out to John Wayne in True Grit.  The talk has always been that they cancelled each other out and that may be true because their performances appeal to two different types of performance tastes.  I think Hoffman is the one that’s always gotten the most praise but I think Voight is better by a considerable degree.  He plays a character fighting against his instincts to be successful at something he probably isn’t sure he wants to do in the first place.  That is to say, he wants to be a hustler and plays the extroverted cowboy even though it’s clear he’s withdrawn and quiet and probably just wants to settle down somewhere.  He does an excellent job with it and if there’s one of the two I have to go with it would probably be him.

In another great duel of the leads, 1983 gave us Terms of Endearment and even though I’m not a big fan of the movie, the actual war between the actresses seemed real enough to jump off the screen.  It’s been rumored that they had problems on the set but I honestly have never read anything on it nor have any desire to so (I just can’t bring myself to ever care much about behind-the-scenes tales of woe) I couldn’t be sure one way or the other if any of it is true or not.  All I know is, once again, it’s a case of two great actors perfectly matched against each other, each making the other one better.  And once again, it’s hard to pick between the two but I’ll go with my gut instinct and say Shirley MacLaine gets the nod because she really set herself into a different performance type with this one.  For the early part of her career, MacLaine played perky, flighty, lovelorn and comical but never before, not even in her other great dual lead movie, The Turning Point, did she really get to the point where she could play bitter like she does here.   It opened up new roles for her and now it’s almost cliche that MacLaine can play the role of old, embittered woman better than anyone (witness her spot-on casting in Bernie).

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As always, I’ve barely touched on the topic at hand.  A handful of movies and I have to wrap it up but there are plenty of others from comedy (The Odd Couple) to westerns (Red River) to war (Hell in the Pacific) to crime/adventure/dramas (Lethal Weapon, Thelma and Louise) but I don’t have time to go through each one here.  That’s what the comment section is for.  Besides, we all know the correct answers for those last four are Matthau, Clift, Marvin, Glover and Sarandon, right?  Of course we do.  Or maybe it’s Lemmon, Wayne, Mifune, Gibson and Davis.  I don’t know.  Pick up one and leave the other behind, I say, but I warn you, it’s not always easy and it’s not always kind when you finally have to make up your mind.

68 Responses Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?
Posted By swac44 : January 2, 2013 10:08 am

As you know from Facebook, Greg, the film that leapt immediately to mind was The Man Who Would Be King, with Caine squeaking out a victory (but only by the narrowest of margins) over Connery. And now I’m thinking I have to rewatch Two Rode Together, although I’m thinking James Stewart probably takes it over Richard Widmark, but I can’t be sure without giving it another go-by.

How about Criswell vs. Tor Johnoson?

Posted By swac44 : January 2, 2013 10:08 am

As you know from Facebook, Greg, the film that leapt immediately to mind was The Man Who Would Be King, with Caine squeaking out a victory (but only by the narrowest of margins) over Connery. And now I’m thinking I have to rewatch Two Rode Together, although I’m thinking James Stewart probably takes it over Richard Widmark, but I can’t be sure without giving it another go-by.

How about Criswell vs. Tor Johnoson?

Posted By robbushblog : January 2, 2013 10:40 am

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Towering Inferno, Heat, El Dorado…those four came immediately to mind. Wayne, McQueen, DeNiro and Wayne would be the answers for each.

And Red River? It’s the movie that convinced John Ford that John Wayne could act.

Posted By robbushblog : January 2, 2013 10:40 am

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Towering Inferno, Heat, El Dorado…those four came immediately to mind. Wayne, McQueen, DeNiro and Wayne would be the answers for each.

And Red River? It’s the movie that convinced John Ford that John Wayne could act.

Posted By David : January 2, 2013 10:44 am

Interesting post Greg.
Fitting in with your premise is that sub-genre of the crime film, the interrogation film. I’d throw in A PURE FORMALITY with Roman Polanski as the cop and Gerard Depardieu as the prisoner.
How about the emotionally gruelling THE OFFENCE with Sean Connery as the cop and Ian Bannen as the suspect? (Both give great, daring performances, with possibly Connery nudging out Bannen). Maybe even DEATH AND THE MAIDEN with Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley?
Thinking about SLEUTH, I’d have to go and see it again but I felt Caine really had to lift his game to Olivier’s level if he was to hold his own in terms of performance, which he pretty much does. They are both so good. Hard to pick, as you say.

Posted By David : January 2, 2013 10:44 am

Interesting post Greg.
Fitting in with your premise is that sub-genre of the crime film, the interrogation film. I’d throw in A PURE FORMALITY with Roman Polanski as the cop and Gerard Depardieu as the prisoner.
How about the emotionally gruelling THE OFFENCE with Sean Connery as the cop and Ian Bannen as the suspect? (Both give great, daring performances, with possibly Connery nudging out Bannen). Maybe even DEATH AND THE MAIDEN with Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley?
Thinking about SLEUTH, I’d have to go and see it again but I felt Caine really had to lift his game to Olivier’s level if he was to hold his own in terms of performance, which he pretty much does. They are both so good. Hard to pick, as you say.

Posted By Peter Nellhaus : January 2, 2013 11:04 am

No mention of Becket, with Peter O’Toole and Richard Burton? Or Karloff vs. Lugosi in The Black Cat?

Posted By Peter Nellhaus : January 2, 2013 11:04 am

No mention of Becket, with Peter O’Toole and Richard Burton? Or Karloff vs. Lugosi in The Black Cat?

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : January 2, 2013 11:51 am

Call it:

Cushing or Lee in Horror of Dracula.
Lugosi or Karloff in The Black Cat.
Lugosi or Karloff in The Raven.

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : January 2, 2013 11:51 am

Call it:

Cushing or Lee in Horror of Dracula.
Lugosi or Karloff in The Black Cat.
Lugosi or Karloff in The Raven.

Posted By tdraicer : January 2, 2013 1:14 pm

Criswell over Tor.
Cushing, Karloff, Lugosi.

Olivier is clearly having a grand time in Sleuth, and I always enjoy a great actor enjoying himself. (Another Olivier duel-with Dustin in Marathon Man-imo also goes to Olivier, but there the deck is certainly stacked in terms of the role.)

Never saw the movie version of Deathtrap; I saw John Wood on stage and he was so brilliant I just couldn’t see anyone else, not even Michael Caine, in the part.

Posted By tdraicer : January 2, 2013 1:14 pm

Criswell over Tor.
Cushing, Karloff, Lugosi.

Olivier is clearly having a grand time in Sleuth, and I always enjoy a great actor enjoying himself. (Another Olivier duel-with Dustin in Marathon Man-imo also goes to Olivier, but there the deck is certainly stacked in terms of the role.)

Never saw the movie version of Deathtrap; I saw John Wood on stage and he was so brilliant I just couldn’t see anyone else, not even Michael Caine, in the part.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : January 2, 2013 1:39 pm

Swac44, for me, there is only one head to head in Plan 9 that’s important, Gregory Walcott against Dudley Manlove and Dudley wins in by a mile. I mean, I love Walcott, don’t get me wrong (“muzzled by army brass!”) but Manlove has the commanding voice, presence and line delivery. And he gets the Solaranite scene all to himself!

Posted By Greg Ferrara : January 2, 2013 1:39 pm

Swac44, for me, there is only one head to head in Plan 9 that’s important, Gregory Walcott against Dudley Manlove and Dudley wins in by a mile. I mean, I love Walcott, don’t get me wrong (“muzzled by army brass!”) but Manlove has the commanding voice, presence and line delivery. And he gets the Solaranite scene all to himself!

Posted By Greg Ferrara : January 2, 2013 1:40 pm

Rob, I once wrote a whole piece for Movies Unlimited (they run the TCM DVD catalog)on how great Steve McQueen was in The Towering Inferno so I’m glad to see you mention it. It’s his best performance in my book and a vastly underrated one.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : January 2, 2013 1:40 pm

Rob, I once wrote a whole piece for Movies Unlimited (they run the TCM DVD catalog)on how great Steve McQueen was in The Towering Inferno so I’m glad to see you mention it. It’s his best performance in my book and a vastly underrated one.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : January 2, 2013 1:44 pm

David, I’ve never seen A Pure Formality nor was I, until this moment, even familiar with it. Missed that one completely. I’ll have to check it out.

As for Sleuth, they’re both fantastic and on any given day my vote would change but, yes, it was probably the last time Caine made a movie where he wasn’t the commanding reputation. After that, everyone else had to raise their game to compete with Caine.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : January 2, 2013 1:44 pm

David, I’ve never seen A Pure Formality nor was I, until this moment, even familiar with it. Missed that one completely. I’ll have to check it out.

As for Sleuth, they’re both fantastic and on any given day my vote would change but, yes, it was probably the last time Caine made a movie where he wasn’t the commanding reputation. After that, everyone else had to raise their game to compete with Caine.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : January 2, 2013 1:46 pm

Et tu, Peter? Et tu? No, no mention of the other three or four thousand movies with dueling performances either. Geez, man, I’ve got a limited amount of space here. Now then, to the movie Becket, it should be known that, with few exceptions, I always think Peter O’Toole gives the best performance of any movie he’s in and Beckett is no exception. Also, The Lion in the Winter. I mean, O’Toole is on-game 24/7. Good luck keeping up with him.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : January 2, 2013 1:46 pm

Et tu, Peter? Et tu? No, no mention of the other three or four thousand movies with dueling performances either. Geez, man, I’ve got a limited amount of space here. Now then, to the movie Becket, it should be known that, with few exceptions, I always think Peter O’Toole gives the best performance of any movie he’s in and Beckett is no exception. Also, The Lion in the Winter. I mean, O’Toole is on-game 24/7. Good luck keeping up with him.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : January 2, 2013 1:47 pm

Richard: Cushing, Karloff, Karloff. Always Karloff.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : January 2, 2013 1:47 pm

Richard: Cushing, Karloff, Karloff. Always Karloff.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : January 2, 2013 1:48 pm

tdraicer – Who played Clifford? I feel we’ve discussed this before so forgive me forgetting but I’d be curious to know who it was.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : January 2, 2013 1:48 pm

tdraicer – Who played Clifford? I feel we’ve discussed this before so forgive me forgetting but I’d be curious to know who it was.

Posted By Doug : January 2, 2013 1:55 pm

Greg, I don’t know if I’m playing fair, but Myrna Loy and William Powell always brought out the best in each others performances, and my personal favorite of theirs is “Double Wedding”.
As for Bette, she was obviously having fun playing against Warren William in “Satan Met A Lady”.
Fred and Ginger were usually at odds before the big finale-I think they made each other better, though each on their own was pretty good (My vote goes for Ginger for being more versatile).
But I might not be playing by the rules by mentioning ‘teams’.
Spencer and Kate?
An aside to swac44: you got me-I groaned. I ALMOST watched Plan 9 the other night, but went with “Kill Bill 1&2″ instead.

Posted By Doug : January 2, 2013 1:55 pm

Greg, I don’t know if I’m playing fair, but Myrna Loy and William Powell always brought out the best in each others performances, and my personal favorite of theirs is “Double Wedding”.
As for Bette, she was obviously having fun playing against Warren William in “Satan Met A Lady”.
Fred and Ginger were usually at odds before the big finale-I think they made each other better, though each on their own was pretty good (My vote goes for Ginger for being more versatile).
But I might not be playing by the rules by mentioning ‘teams’.
Spencer and Kate?
An aside to swac44: you got me-I groaned. I ALMOST watched Plan 9 the other night, but went with “Kill Bill 1&2″ instead.

Posted By Emgee : January 2, 2013 4:53 pm

@Doug: “As for Bette, she was obviously having fun playing against Warren William in “Satan Met A Lady”.”

Just proves what a great actress she was, cause she hated both William and the movie. As a result she went on strike to force Warner Bros to give her better parts.

Redford-Newman? Newman every time. Tracy-Hepburn: evenly matched.

El Dorado: Wayne, Rio Bravo: Mitchum.

Posted By Emgee : January 2, 2013 4:53 pm

@Doug: “As for Bette, she was obviously having fun playing against Warren William in “Satan Met A Lady”.”

Just proves what a great actress she was, cause she hated both William and the movie. As a result she went on strike to force Warner Bros to give her better parts.

Redford-Newman? Newman every time. Tracy-Hepburn: evenly matched.

El Dorado: Wayne, Rio Bravo: Mitchum.

Posted By tdraicer : January 2, 2013 5:11 pm

Greg, Victor Garber played Clifford. He was fine, but Wood completely dominated that production.

Posted By tdraicer : January 2, 2013 5:11 pm

Greg, Victor Garber played Clifford. He was fine, but Wood completely dominated that production.

Posted By Richard B : January 2, 2013 6:26 pm

Err, it’s Mitchum in El Dorado, Martin in Rio Bravo. (Not asserting primacy of performance, just that you may have the titles confused.)

I saw Leslie Nielsen onstage in Deathtrap, so…

The Magnificent Seven? Yul Brynner waltzed onset as the lead and found himself being upstaged by that whippersnapper McQueen.

Posted By Richard B : January 2, 2013 6:26 pm

Err, it’s Mitchum in El Dorado, Martin in Rio Bravo. (Not asserting primacy of performance, just that you may have the titles confused.)

I saw Leslie Nielsen onstage in Deathtrap, so…

The Magnificent Seven? Yul Brynner waltzed onset as the lead and found himself being upstaged by that whippersnapper McQueen.

Posted By DevlinCarnate : January 2, 2013 7:33 pm

Karloff always wins in my book,even though Lugosi was in one of his few sympathetic roles in The Black Cat,he could never resist the opportunity to ham it up,as for the subject at hand,might i also offer up The Big Combo?…Richard Conte and Cornel Wilde?..or The Big Heat with Glenn Ford and Lee Marvin?…i score both Conte and Marvin

Posted By DevlinCarnate : January 2, 2013 7:33 pm

Karloff always wins in my book,even though Lugosi was in one of his few sympathetic roles in The Black Cat,he could never resist the opportunity to ham it up,as for the subject at hand,might i also offer up The Big Combo?…Richard Conte and Cornel Wilde?..or The Big Heat with Glenn Ford and Lee Marvin?…i score both Conte and Marvin

Posted By Andrew : January 2, 2013 8:48 pm

Another one that came to me was The Fugitive. (especially if you pretend that fight at the end never happened)
Tommy Lee Jones vs Harrison Ford. Both make smart reasonable decisions the whole time and don’t become buddies because they are different, they just realize the facts are not how they first appeared.
I am not sure I can pick one over the other and that is why I love the film. (except for that stupid fight scene of course)

PS Although it is technically not a film, I still say we were right about Iago over Othello.

Posted By Andrew : January 2, 2013 8:48 pm

Another one that came to me was The Fugitive. (especially if you pretend that fight at the end never happened)
Tommy Lee Jones vs Harrison Ford. Both make smart reasonable decisions the whole time and don’t become buddies because they are different, they just realize the facts are not how they first appeared.
I am not sure I can pick one over the other and that is why I love the film. (except for that stupid fight scene of course)

PS Although it is technically not a film, I still say we were right about Iago over Othello.

Posted By Doug : January 3, 2013 2:02 am

Emgee-”Just proves what a great actress she was, cause she hated both William and the movie.”
Thanks-I didn’t know that. She was a great actress, indeed.
Any idea why she would have hated Warren William? I enjoyed his “Lone Wolf” movies.

Posted By Doug : January 3, 2013 2:02 am

Emgee-”Just proves what a great actress she was, cause she hated both William and the movie.”
Thanks-I didn’t know that. She was a great actress, indeed.
Any idea why she would have hated Warren William? I enjoyed his “Lone Wolf” movies.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : January 3, 2013 9:13 am

Doug – the “rules” on these things fall apart pretty fast anyway so I wouldn’t worry. If I had some hard, fast set of rules to adhere to it wouldn’t be much of a conversation. I could do a whole post on teams though and would like to, soon maybe. There are so many in the history of Hollywood. Maybe this Sunday I’ll write up my take on them.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : January 3, 2013 9:13 am

Doug – the “rules” on these things fall apart pretty fast anyway so I wouldn’t worry. If I had some hard, fast set of rules to adhere to it wouldn’t be much of a conversation. I could do a whole post on teams though and would like to, soon maybe. There are so many in the history of Hollywood. Maybe this Sunday I’ll write up my take on them.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : January 3, 2013 9:15 am

Emgee, I agree (re: Redford/Newman). Redford has only one acting nomination, for The Sting but I think Newman’s far better in it. But then, Newman has always been a favorite actor of mine anyway and I still think his performance in The Verdict is one of the greatest ever given.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : January 3, 2013 9:15 am

Emgee, I agree (re: Redford/Newman). Redford has only one acting nomination, for The Sting but I think Newman’s far better in it. But then, Newman has always been a favorite actor of mine anyway and I still think his performance in The Verdict is one of the greatest ever given.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : January 3, 2013 9:16 am

tdraicer, I looked up Wood/Garber/Deathtrap and it linked me to the original Broadway show. Wow! Lucky you. I’m envious.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : January 3, 2013 9:16 am

tdraicer, I looked up Wood/Garber/Deathtrap and it linked me to the original Broadway show. Wow! Lucky you. I’m envious.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : January 3, 2013 9:18 am

I saw Leslie Nielsen onstage in Deathtrap, so…

I actually wouldn’t mind seeing what Nielsen could have done with Sidney. Probably not as much as Wood or Caine but still, I can see it.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : January 3, 2013 9:18 am

I saw Leslie Nielsen onstage in Deathtrap, so…

I actually wouldn’t mind seeing what Nielsen could have done with Sidney. Probably not as much as Wood or Caine but still, I can see it.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : January 3, 2013 9:20 am

Karloff always wins in my book,even though Lugosi was in one of his few sympathetic roles in The Black Cat

I go with “Karloff always wins” too but another great performance by Lugosi in a Karloff dominated movie is his turn as the hapless Joseph in The Body Snatcher. It’s a very small role but easily one of Lugosi’s best performances.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : January 3, 2013 9:20 am

Karloff always wins in my book,even though Lugosi was in one of his few sympathetic roles in The Black Cat

I go with “Karloff always wins” too but another great performance by Lugosi in a Karloff dominated movie is his turn as the hapless Joseph in The Body Snatcher. It’s a very small role but easily one of Lugosi’s best performances.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : January 3, 2013 9:24 am

Iago always wins! Both in the play and usually by the actor playing him. Frank Finlay is great in the 1965 version and, in fact, received more honors at festivals than Olivier who was nominated for Best Actor to Finlay’s nomination for Best Supporting Actor (which should have been the other way around) but that was it for Olivier while Finlay went on to receive BAFTA and Golden Globe noms as well and the Best Actor award at the San Sebastian Film Festival.

And I haven’t seen The Fugitive in about twenty years now but at the time I thought Tommy Lee Jones stole the show. I might feel different now.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : January 3, 2013 9:24 am

Iago always wins! Both in the play and usually by the actor playing him. Frank Finlay is great in the 1965 version and, in fact, received more honors at festivals than Olivier who was nominated for Best Actor to Finlay’s nomination for Best Supporting Actor (which should have been the other way around) but that was it for Olivier while Finlay went on to receive BAFTA and Golden Globe noms as well and the Best Actor award at the San Sebastian Film Festival.

And I haven’t seen The Fugitive in about twenty years now but at the time I thought Tommy Lee Jones stole the show. I might feel different now.

Posted By jennifromrollamo : January 3, 2013 10:20 am

Great post but most have been asking about male actors playing off of each other. How about Joan Crawford vs. Mercedes McCambridge in Johnny Guitar? Deborah Kerr vs. Kathleen Byron in Black Narcissus? Our family was recently discussing The Odd Couple as our 16 year old is in an afterschool Improv Club and he said some of the kids were discussing that movie. He’s seen the Grumpy Old Men movies, but not TOC. We’ve decided we’d better rent it soon so he doesn’t lose interest in seeing it. I would pick Lemmon’s performance as slightly better than Matthau’s, for the difficulty in that sinus clearing scene in the restaurant. Again, a hard call to make as they both did a great job in that film.

Posted By jennifromrollamo : January 3, 2013 10:20 am

Great post but most have been asking about male actors playing off of each other. How about Joan Crawford vs. Mercedes McCambridge in Johnny Guitar? Deborah Kerr vs. Kathleen Byron in Black Narcissus? Our family was recently discussing The Odd Couple as our 16 year old is in an afterschool Improv Club and he said some of the kids were discussing that movie. He’s seen the Grumpy Old Men movies, but not TOC. We’ve decided we’d better rent it soon so he doesn’t lose interest in seeing it. I would pick Lemmon’s performance as slightly better than Matthau’s, for the difficulty in that sinus clearing scene in the restaurant. Again, a hard call to make as they both did a great job in that film.

Posted By robbushblog : January 3, 2013 11:29 am

Imagine me, as a small boy, watching Deathtrap for the first time, and seeing Superman kiss another man! I was horrified and traumatized. To this dsy that is the only thing that I remember about that movie.

Posted By robbushblog : January 3, 2013 11:29 am

Imagine me, as a small boy, watching Deathtrap for the first time, and seeing Superman kiss another man! I was horrified and traumatized. To this dsy that is the only thing that I remember about that movie.

Posted By Anonymous : January 3, 2013 3:01 pm

Finlay over Olivier in OTHELLO, definitely. Sorry not to be a fan of Davis in BABY JANE; too over the top for me. But I prefer Davis to Baxter in ALL ABOUT EVE.

KING RAT: George Segal or James Fox? Oh, right, nobody but me has seen that film. (It’s James Fox, but Segal gives his best performance ever.)

Ginger Rogers or Katharine Hepburn in STAGE DOOR?

Posted By Anonymous : January 3, 2013 3:01 pm

Finlay over Olivier in OTHELLO, definitely. Sorry not to be a fan of Davis in BABY JANE; too over the top for me. But I prefer Davis to Baxter in ALL ABOUT EVE.

KING RAT: George Segal or James Fox? Oh, right, nobody but me has seen that film. (It’s James Fox, but Segal gives his best performance ever.)

Ginger Rogers or Katharine Hepburn in STAGE DOOR?

Posted By Emgee : January 3, 2013 4:29 pm

@Doug “Any idea why she would have hated Warren William?”
He tried to hit on her during filming, which she did not like one bit.

Posted By Emgee : January 3, 2013 4:29 pm

@Doug “Any idea why she would have hated Warren William?”
He tried to hit on her during filming, which she did not like one bit.

Posted By stefmagura : January 4, 2013 12:36 am

Thinking of Bette Davis reminds me of when I watched Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte for the first time this past summer. I enjoyed watching Davis and Olivia De Havilland play against each other in that film.

Posted By stefmagura : January 4, 2013 12:36 am

Thinking of Bette Davis reminds me of when I watched Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte for the first time this past summer. I enjoyed watching Davis and Olivia De Havilland play against each other in that film.

Posted By stefmagura : January 4, 2013 12:41 am

And the movie the women contains several duels and counterpart/dual performances. I always watch it any chance I can get.

Posted By stefmagura : January 4, 2013 12:41 am

And the movie the women contains several duels and counterpart/dual performances. I always watch it any chance I can get.

Posted By Doug : January 4, 2013 2:22 am

Thank you for the answer, Emgee-I guess Bette was fortunate to have not worked with the Marx Brothers-they were irrepressible cads, to put it delicately.
Back to the actual topic-Glenn Close vs John Malkovich in Dangerous Liaisons? I would go with Close,as she showed a bit more emotion, made us hate her a bit more. Of course, Malkovich was also very good…which makes it a Close decision.

Posted By Doug : January 4, 2013 2:22 am

Thank you for the answer, Emgee-I guess Bette was fortunate to have not worked with the Marx Brothers-they were irrepressible cads, to put it delicately.
Back to the actual topic-Glenn Close vs John Malkovich in Dangerous Liaisons? I would go with Close,as she showed a bit more emotion, made us hate her a bit more. Of course, Malkovich was also very good…which makes it a Close decision.

Posted By James : January 4, 2013 11:25 am

Karloff vs. Lugosi – Bela also delivers one of his best performances against Boris in Son of Frankenstein.

Of course, the odds might have been a bit in his favor (Karloff was growing tired of the role, the monster regressed considerably from the advances in personality in Bride, the monster has no dialogue, etc.)

Posted By James : January 4, 2013 11:25 am

Karloff vs. Lugosi – Bela also delivers one of his best performances against Boris in Son of Frankenstein.

Of course, the odds might have been a bit in his favor (Karloff was growing tired of the role, the monster regressed considerably from the advances in personality in Bride, the monster has no dialogue, etc.)

Posted By Richard B : January 4, 2013 8:11 pm

Doug: So he was a Close second, eh?

Posted By Richard B : January 4, 2013 8:11 pm

Doug: So he was a Close second, eh?

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