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My Top-10 Performances All-Time

Updated on July 30, 2020
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Published author with 32 novels and novellas which have sold on five continents. Trivia buff with highest regard for actors from Golden Era

#1 DUSTIN HOFFMAN (right) #2 JON VOIGHT (left)

MIDNIGHT COWBOY
MIDNIGHT COWBOY

My NUMBERS 1 AND 2 FROM SAME FILM

Ironically, my favorite top two performances are from the same film. Here you have Dustin Hoffman as the low-life Rizzo who gets everything out of a person that he can through cheating or stealing. His impersonation of a gimpy-leg street person is utterly amazing.

Jon Voight is the wannabe cowboy experiencing his first trip to New York City and partners with the down-on-his-luck Rizzo. Voight is the vulnerable first timer in the big city that loves life and takes it all in.


They were so good that they were both nominated and washed each other out in the voting for Oscar, giving it to another nominee.

#3 MONTGOMERY CLIFT

FROM HERE TO ETERNITY
FROM HERE TO ETERNITY

SURROUNDED BY POWERFUL PERFORMANCES

In an outstanding film, many great performances are evident, including Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed, and 'Fatso', Ernest Borgnine. But, the actor that gave his greatest performance ever was Montgomery Clift in a gutsy performance as a former boxer who did not want to box for the Army. All he wanted to do was play his trumpet.

#4 PAUL NEWMAN

COOL HAND LUKE
COOL HAND LUKE

IN ONE OF MY FAVORITE FILMS, NEWMAN IS VERY COOL

I consistently hear mention of Paul or Cool Hand Luke in other films when someone asks the question, "What's your favorite film?" He was the coolest of the cool, and the guards could not break him. His looks, his charm, and his powerful performance command the film.

"What we have here is failure to communicate."

#5 ROBERT DE NIRO

THE DEER HUNTER
THE DEER HUNTER

MAYBE THE GREATEST SCENE FROM ANY MOVIE

Without doubt, the most captivating single scene in movie history when the Vietcong play Russian Roulette with De Niro and another American G.I... He gives an unsettling performance in an unforgettable scene.

#6 ROBERT DONAT

GOODBYE MR. CHIPS
GOODBYE MR. CHIPS

WON THE OSCAR FOR FILM MADE IN 1939

Robert Donat was a brilliant British actor who aged in this film from his twenties to a white-headed old man while being a professor at a university. His ageing is done brilliantly, and his warmth and inner feelings in the film are beyond reproach.

To give you an idea how good his performance was, he beat out Clark Gable in Gone With the Wind for best actor at the Academy Awards from what is considered the greatest year in films.

#7 LOUIS GOSSETT, JR.

AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN
AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN

STEALS THE SHOW

Surrounded by terrific performances, Louis Gossett, Jr. shown here as a drill instructor giving lip to Richard Gere has a performance that remains with you forever. "Where you from, boy?" A question he asks that sticks.

#8 STEVE MCQUEEN

SAND PEBBLES
SAND PEBBLES

MCQUEEN'S FINEST ROLE

In one of my favorite films, Steve McQueen gives an unforgettable performance as a sailor not in the habit of being pushed around. His boyish charm at times when talking to his female co-star along with his devotion to others onboard his tiny ship is paramount when he is threatened with a choice of obeying his commanding officer or saving a friend's life. That friend, Mako, also gives an outstanding performance.

#9 SPENCER TRACY

INHERIT THE WIND
INHERIT THE WIND

THE EPITOME OF TRACY'S WORK

Spencer Tracy portrays a real-life attorney in the famous Monkey Trial case in Tennessee. His performance is demanding of your attention with his every breath.

# 10 BURL IVES

CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF
CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF

TRULY MY FAVORITE

This scene with Paul Newman is probably my favorite performance all-time. However, since he is in a supporting role to stars Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor, I'm putting him at number 10. I simply could not leave him out as the powerful patriarch, Big Daddy.

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      SUZY 

      12 months ago

      Perfect! Totally agree! Great Hub!

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