|Humphrey Bogart in Treasure of the Sierra Madre|
Last Summer I compiled a list of the ten best decades enjoyed by film directors. Today I'm presenting a list of the best decades enjoyed by film stars. There are several caveats, the most important being that my definition of a good or great film is based solely on my own tastes. I'm sure anyone else taking on the same task would have very different lists. Also I'm not going by ten-year periods but specific decades. So an actor being in seven great films between, say, 1974 and 1983 is of no help.
Thus chance plays a huge factor. Jimmy Stewart, for example, surely would have made the list for the 1940s save for the small matter of World War II which interrupted his career. Still, I thought it a worthy exercise.
Another criteria I established was that an actor had to have been in at least five really good films in the decade. This eliminated lots and lots and lots of actors who appeared in four great films. Finally only lead actors were considered.
I came up with a dozen lists. I offer them in no particular order; all are followed by comments.
Humphrey Bogart ‘40s
Note: If I was going to rank them this would be a strong candidate for the number one slot. Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, The Big Sleep and Treasure of the Sierra Madre area all classics. Also, there are ten films here, tied with Grant (directly below) for most.
Cary Grant '40s
Note: Grant almost made the list for his films from the '30s and '50s too.
|Al Pacino in Serpico|
Note: He was brilliant in all of these and should have won a couple of Oscars.
Dustin Hoffman ‘70s
Note: Hoffman has had a long illustrious career but his best work was early on.
Bette Davis ‘40s
Note: Ms. Davis got a passel of Oscar nominations in the '40s and they were well-deserved.
Barbara Stanwyck ‘40s
Note: Ms. Stanwyck had pretty good decades in the '30s and '50s, but the '40s saw her best work.
|Max Von Sydown in The Seventh Seal|
Note: For me Von Sydow had one of the greatest careers of any actor. Of course it didn't hurt that he worked so often with Ingmar Bergman.
Woody Allen ‘70s
Note: Allen directed himself in four of the six films.
Henry Fonda ‘40s
Note: Grapes of Wrath and Lady Eve are one helluva start to a decade.
Diane Keaton ‘70s
Note: Five of the films were directed by Woody Allen and the other two were the Godfather films.
|Marlene Dietrich in Shanghai Express|
Note: With nine films Dietrich finishes second for most excellent films in a decade and first among women.
James Cagney ‘30s
Note: In addition to these top notch films, Cagney appeared in several good ones, truly prolific production.