The 10 Best Actors in Black and White (Part 1)

It is rather hard to narrow down a top ten list of the “best” anything, especially best actors since everyone’s tastes are different.  Everyone has their favorites.

Today, I am going to share with you part one of the 10 actors from classic Hollywood I feel deserve to be in the top 10 on anyone’s list. Are your favorites among them?

Best Actor # 1:  Stan Laurel

Everyone knows I love my darling Stannie more than life itself.  He was the dumb(er) one in the Laurel and Hardy films that charmed audiences from the late 20s all the way up to the 1950s.  But did you know he also had a long career in pictures before the famous teaming that would make him world famous?

The following video is the short subject Just Rambling Along from 1918, the first surviving film Stan starred in, courtesy of my friend Sarah Crozier…who has quite a few of his early silents uploaded on her YouTube channel.  Check em out!

Best Actor #2:  Buster Keaton

Oh, Buster!  He’s a legend in a flat hat and slapshoes.  I don’t know what more I could say about him than I already have other than he was a fantastic, stoic comedic actor and superb athlete.  And his acrobatics on screen go perfectly with my favorite song by the Pixies, “Down to the Well”.

Best Actor #3:  Harry Langdon

Sadly, Harry is no longer a household name.  In fact, he is often referred to these days as “the forgotten clown”.  But when he was big, he was HUGE.  In fact, he was one of the top clowns of silent cinema.  The following clip is from The Hitchhiker (1933), a recreation of the scene from his classic The Strong Man (1926).

Other Harry fans might disagree, but I think the sound recreation is 10x funnier than the original!

Best Actor #4:  Harold Lloyd

Harold was in the top three silent clowns of the 1920s (following Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, who were one and two, respectively), starring in more than 200 films from 1913 until his last sound feature, The Sin of Harold Diddlebock in 1947.

Many of you unfamiliar with Harold might go “Oh yeah, that guy!” when you watch the following clip from Safety Last! (1926). In it, Harold (playing his iconic “glasses character” scales a skyscraper and nearly falls to his death, but is saved by a gigantic clock.

Best Actor #5: Roscoe Arbuckle

Poor Roscoe.  His career was tarnished by the death of starlet Virginia Rappe.  In 1921, Arbuckle was accused of raping and killing her in his suite, and after three trials, he was finally acquitted on April 12, 1922.  Sadly his acquittal was not enough to save his career, and he died in his sleep of a heart attack 11 years later at the age of 46.

Thankfully comedy fans in the 21st century can still enjoy Arbuckle’s fantastic comedies, and reflect on what a genius he was before the scandal,  The following clip is a montage of several movies he did with Buster Keaton, who was probably the best friend he ever had.

Stay tuned, folks.  Tomorrow’s post is going to be the second—and last—part of this series with the final 5 of the 10 best actors in black and white.  Will you see your favorites then?  Did you see any of them in today’s post?

Who else would you add to the list?

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10 thoughts on “The 10 Best Actors in Black and White (Part 1)

  1. Pingback: The 10 Best Actors in Black and White (Part 2) | The Little Jazz Baby

  2. Pingback: The 10 Best Actors in Black and White (Part 1) | The Little Jazz Baby | Gregg Rowe

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