Monday, September 19, 2005

Perfect for the Part

   I mentioned in recent entry that Basil Rathbone was ideal for the part of Sherlock Holmes. He looked and acted like the character that Arthur Conan Doyle described in his short stories and novels. He was clipped and terse in speech, abrupt, assured. The old films were not faithful to the Doyle stories however, and their portrayal of Dr. Watson was abysmal. Nigel Bruce played him as a bumbling fool that was more trouble to Holmes than a help. In the stories, Watson was a keen help to Holmes and a valuable back up carrying his huge service pistol when needed.

Then I got to wondering how many other actors fit their parts so well. Sean Connery is the only 007 who convinced me. Other Bonds are “all right”, but not as perfect as Sean was.

Johnny Weismuller was good Tarzan, riding on elephants and wrestling crocodiles, but Buster Crabbe and followers were not nearly so suited to the part. Paul Hogan was good at wrestling crocodiles, too.

Jerry Seinfeld played a character named Jerry Seinfeld so of course he looked the part, but it took some acting skill to portray such an obsessed, self-centered individual. I am sure Jerry Seinfeld the person is not the same as Jerry Seinfeld, the character. Jason Alexander makes a good George Costanza, but not so good as the characters he played in the spin off shows that followed.

Clayton Moore was perfect Lone Ranger, and Jay Silverheels was perfect Tonto. Right, Keemosabe?

Alan Alda is good in anything he does but his Hawkeye Pierce made M*A*S*H what it was. Other actors came and went, but Alda held the 4077th together for years. I wonder if he or Jimmy Smits will be the next president on West Wing.

What actors do you feel so filled their roles that you cannot think of the character without thinking of the actor?


chasferris said...

I forgot William Boyd as Hapoling Cassidy.

ryanagi said...

Bob Denver as Gilligan? lol  Um...Barbara Eden as Jeanie...

fisherkristina said...

Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey in "It's A Wonderful Life".  Nobody could have taken his place.

And how about Richard Thomas as John Boy Walton on "The Waltons".  

And Melissa Gilbert as Laura Ingalls in "Little House On The Prairie".

Henry Winkler as Arthur Fonzerelli (Fonzi) on "Happy Days".


mavarin said...

Rathbone was great, but Jeremy Brett was better -and better written.

I guess by default, if only one actor plays the role, that actor is the definitive one--unless he or she does a bad job or is miscast.  From roles played be more than one actor, yes to Connery, all of the above from the Doctor in Doctor Who, and I have no opinion on Dracula.  The first Ralphie and his old man (in A Christmas Story) beat out the actors who took over later.  Dick York was better than Dick Sargent as Darren Stevens.

For Buffy, it's Sarah Michelle Gellar all the way.  She's the second to play the role.  


kateh2ocolorart said...

Definitely Henry Winkler!  He DEFINED the role of the Fonz.  He has a new show...just watched it tonight...he's good, but not as definitive a role!

chasferris said...

Jack Webb as Sgt Joe Friday in Dragnet

memes121 said...

Friend, you are 100% right on everything you mentioned. Especially Sean Connery. That man is perfect for every role he played and will play in the future. Not many actors have that...I can't find the right word. I just wonder if the West Wing will be as good with a different president.

virage65 said...

Vivian Vance as Ethel Mertz, the entire cast of Will and Grace, Richard Harris in Wrestling Ernest Hemingway was sublime (his co-stars Robert Duvall, Shirley Maclaine and Sandra Bullock melded just right), Clifford Webb in "Cheaper by the Dozen," William Powell as "The Thin Man," Sidney Toler as Charlie Chan, Peter Lorre playing any nefarious sidekick, Judy Garland AND Margaret Hamilton in the Wizard of Oz, Bill Robinson in "The Little Colonel,"  Guy Kibbee in "Captain January," Jackie Cooper in "The Champ," Carol Channing in "Hello Dolly," Clive Owen would make a smashing James Bond, Alan Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves," James Earl Jones in "The Sandlot," Vanessa Redgrave in "The Ballad of the Sad Cafe," Henry Fonda in "The Grapes of Wrath," the entire cast of "The Quiet Man," ... okay, this list is getting too exhausting, but I could go on