When a person thinks of incredible actors, the majority of today's society would think of Tom Cruise, Anthony Hopkins, or Sean Connery. But I like to think of actors like Leslie Howard, Rex Harrison, and Julie Andrews. I should like to go over what I think considers an actor to be a "good actor." Well, you can forget about pop culture. Just because an actor/actress is famous or well thought, that does not mean he/she has any acting ability. Acting is an art, not a hobby or something one likes to do when one is not selling platinum records. To be greatly skilled at acting takes many years and a boatload of talent.
Firstly, I want to review Leslie Howard and Rex Harrison on their roles of Henry Higgins in both Pygmalion, directed in 1938 by Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard, and My Fair Lady, directed in 1964 by George Cukor. Well to start off, they both splendidly played their parts, as originally conceived by George Bernard Shaw in 1913. Howard's role was a bit funnier than Harrison, but I happened to like Harrison's more because of his presence and his ability to fit the role so well. The fact that he is a wonderful singer augments my judgment on this. It seemed strange to me that Howard played this role and did it so well. My main memory of him as an actor consisted mostly of his role as Ashley Wilkes of Twelve Oaks in the epic 1939 classic Gone with the Wind, directed by Victor Fleming. The character of Ashley Wilkes and that of Henry Higgins are near complete opposites. The weak, but strong war victim Wilkes could hardly stand up to the rough-tongued and harsh Professor of speech and language. Rex Harrison tends to play strong roles throughout his career, and this gives him more of a reputation as a strong actor with a killer voice. However, I believe that Howard had the upper hand at times because of his ability to play such diverse roles and pull them all off with the same classy style.
And now I will cover Julie Andrews. Andrews happens to be one of my favorite actresses. Her Broadway expertise is legendary. I find it a bit out of place that she played to role of Eliza Doolittle on the stage, and yet somehow she did not accomplish playing it on screen as well. Even though I like Audrey Hepburn very much, it seems wrong to me that she stole Andrew's role because she was regarded as the more famous movie star at the time. And what makes it worse, Hepburn cannot even sing. She had to have a voice over, performed by Marni Nixon, during the musical parts of the film, which somewhat degrades the movie in my eyes. Rex Harrison did all of his own singing and, as far as I know, so did everyone else that participated in the film, except for Jeremy Brett's Freddy, whose singing voice was dubbed by Bill Shirley. But the fact that Audrey's singing voice had to be dubbed for the most part strengthens my faith in Julie Andrews, who was a marvelous singer.
I sometimes find it hard to believe that pop culture has such a sway over what people think are "good actors." Our generation grows up idolizing Pamela Anderson and Kid Rock when they should be thinking about other, more talented personas. Such great works of art are often looked over in favor of the shinier and newer things that are publicized in today's society.