Sunday, June 7, 2009

Favorite Actors, #10: Gary Cooper

It’s been pouring rain here every afternoon for the past three weeks and since any outdoor plans have been scuttled by the sheer ugliness outside, it occurred to me that I never did do a favorite actors list. And since part of this blog’s identity is its honored performers--though it’s obvious by who shows up in these pages—I thought I’d better go ahead and list those preferred gents of the screen. However, instead of just slapping down ten pictures and leaving it at that, I’m going to dedicate one post for each actor and provide a few things in terms of what I like about them and whatever else comes to mind. This way, I don’t just put some photos up, but I also don’t torture anyone with any long-winded reminiscences (though I’m sure those will come later; it’s what I do). Anyway, the Hollywood Dreamland Top Ten Favorite Actors List begins today!

#10) Gary Cooper

First Movie I Saw Him In: High Noon (1952; in 1990 or so)

Three Favorite Movies: Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936); High Noon (1952), Man of the West (1958)

Honorable Mention: The Fountainhead (1949)

Favorite Performance: High Noon (1952)

Why I Like Him: Cooper was everything he appeared to be on screen and seemed as genuinely down to earth and the regular Joe he often played in films. I completely see how subtle his acting was, yet he could steal a scene without saying a word, too. Men love his “a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do” attitude; women love his decency and think he’s among the most beautiful creatures to ever walk the Earth, particularly in his 1930s prime. There are still dozens of his earlier films I need to see.

Random Info: He’s name dropped in the Irving Berlin song Puttin’ On the Ritz, which gives you an idea of how popular this guy was.

Effortless Charm: Cooper with Ingrid Bergman. Note how she's aglow and Coop is so...relaxed.


  1. I am a big Gary Cooper fan as well. One of my favorite Cooper films is The Westerner, where Gary shines alongside Walter Brennan. That film and Man of the West are my favorite western performances by Cooper, as I am not a huge High Noon fan.

  2. He'll be in my list too :) I love Gary Cooper!
    When I do my top 20 lists, do you mind if I borrow the format you created? I love it! It helps you stay organized too instead of rambling which I tend to do a lot, you know what I mean? I just keep going and going and can't seem to figure out when to stop, it's like some kind of disease or infliction or chronic condition or something.... :)

  3. Super-duper-great! And oh, my... Can a woman NOT melt when having Cooper looking at you like that? Bergman looks like a little school girl, haha.

  4. Dave: You probably know all too well how tough it is to pick a top three of anything, as you're doing top ones right now! I love The Westerner, but more for Brennan than Coop, whom I like in everything.

    Kate Gabrielle: Go ahead, knock yourself out! :)

    Lolita: I think there were vry few women back then--famous or not--who loved Coop's looks and presence.

  5. You're right, C.K. I wasn't disagreeing with your choices, just felt like mentioning The Westerner as it seems to not get much recognition. Thinking about it though, you're right in the sense that Brennan's performance is the greater of the two.

  6. I really like Gary Cooper. He's one of the men of that era that I really idolize. Great post.

  7. Correction: That should have been: "I think there were very few women back then--famous or not--who *didn't* love Coop's looks and presence.

  8. This is a great idea for a series of postings, CK - look forward to seeing who else you pick! I have a feeling I can guess who just might be number one! I recently saw Cooper in the early Howard Hawks movie 'Today We Live' where he stars with Joan Crawford - it's a bit of a mixed bag of a film, but he is good in it. Judy

  9. C.K., a great idea for a series of posts. To be honest, though, Cooper's not in my top 10. He's just a bit too inexpressive for my taste. A couple of good early performances to look out for: in "A Farewell to Arms" (1932), where he's very good in Frank Borzage's ultra-romantic version of Hemingway, and in Lubitsch's "Design for Living" (1933), where he gives a pleasantly loose performance and interacts well with Fredric March and Miriam Hopkins. Looking forward to your next choices.

  10. Coop is not one of my favorite actors though I have enjoyed some of his films like Pride of the Yankees, Design foe Living, Ball of Fire and Meet John Doe (though more for Stanwyck than Cooper).

    Not a big fan of High Noon and don't think he deserved the Oscar that year. Brando for Viva Zapata or Kirk Douglas for The Bad and the Beautiful would have been better choices.


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