The 5 Most Overrated Actors in Old Hollywood

Yesterday a friend of mine mentioned something about Johnny Depp being overrated.  I agree.  (Even though I do love him in Benny & Joon and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? But that’s it…)  He along with 99% of “actors” (I use that term loosely) today are way overrated.  I bore very easily with new movies because of CGI and lack of talent.

That is not to say everything about old Hollywood was fantastic.  On the contrary.  There were a lot of hideous movies and hideous actors in the old days.  And today I am going to share a list of five classic film actors I think were overrated in old Hollywood, and are still overrated today.

Most Overrated Actor # 5: Rudolph Valentino

Rudolph ValentinoWhat’s that?  I think I hear millions of women all over the world collapsing in shock.  How can I possibly think Rudy was an overrated actor?  Well, because I can.  And it’s because he was.  Granted, he was not a poor actor…all the time.  He had his moments.  I like him in Beyond the Rocks with Gloria Swanson.  But he was stiff and emotionless most of the time, just standing around “looking pretty” with his big arms.

Speaking of his looks, I have NO idea what the attraction is there.  I don’t find him the least bit attractive.


Most Overrated Actor #4:  Charles Chaplin

Charles ChaplinOut of all the brilliant clowns we had in the teens-20s…people choose this guy?  Why?  Can someone please explain this to me?  Because I am completely lost about why people think he was such a genius on the screen.  His movies never fail to bore me.

Sure, he was extremely smart when it came to the business side of things, and I can’t say that I disagree with his politics, but I can think of a million people off the top of my head who could have easily stepped into the Little Tramp’s slapshoes…and play him better. Hell, Robert Downey, Jr played a better Chaplin than Chaplin did.

He was hot, though…

Most Overrated Actor #3:  Humphrey Bogart

Humphrey BogartIt sort of pains me to put Bogie on this list, but let’s face it, folks, he was overrated.  And he wasn’t overrated because he was a bad actor.  No way.  He was brilliant at acting.  But he was forever put in those tough-talking “good guy” roles.

Bogie was better when he was a dirty gangster.  Heck, I even loved him as Dr. Maurice Xavier in The Return of Dr. X, his one and only science-fiction film.  (But don’t go back in time and tell him I said that.  He hated that film.)

Most Overrated Actor #2:  Bing Crosby

Bing CrosbyHere’s the thing, folks. When a singer is a singer, they’re a singer, not an actor.  Madonna is a good example of this.  And Bing Crosby is an even better one.

He had a gorgeous voice.  Nay, an ethereal voice. One of the best set of pipes to ever make a record.  But his screen presence was blah.  “The Road to…” movies he did with Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour are good because of Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour.  But they could have replaced Bing with dang near anyone and made them better.

Most Overrated Actor #1:  Clark Gable

Get. your. hands. off. my. man. you swarthy mustached freak.  I HATE YOU. *ahem*  Em...his manhandling of Peter Lorre MIGHT be a little reason why I can't stand Clark Gable...maybe.

Get. your. hands. off. my. man. you swarthy mustached freak. I HATE YOU. *ahem* Em…his manhandling of Peter Lorre in Strange Cargo MIGHT be a little reason why I can’t stand Clark Gable…maybe.

And we have finally come to the most overrated actor of all time, my babies.  Clark Gable.  He’s even more overrated than Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt are in present-day films.  I cannot stand the man.

Why on earth people thought, and still think, he was a brilliant actor is beyond me.  He played the same role in every film he was in.  He didn’t take time to create a character. Nay.  He just showed up and did the same character over and over and over….

If you like watching a swarthy guy with a mustache and a tight-lipped smile crack bad jokes at women who fall over mad for him, then Clark is your man. It’s what he does in every film he’s in. Why do people think he is talented?  Why?  It doesn’t take much talent to stand in front of the camera and make duck faces, people.  Ask any girl with a camera phone in a public washroom.

Are any actors you find extremely overrated on this list?  If not, who would you add?  Let me know your choices for the top five most overrated actors by leaving a comment below!

17 thoughts on “The 5 Most Overrated Actors in Old Hollywood

  1. Susan

    What a wonderful blog post! You are so right–the popular actors of old were handsome (for their times) but seldom talented. I would add Arnold Schwarzenegger, Vince Vaughn, and Ashton Kutcher to the list for today’s actors. And that’s just the beginning! Seems like today all they have to do is either act really stupid, or shoot guns & punch! I rarely see a movie that has really good acting.

    1. Angie Schaffer Post author

      Exactly! The people that women found handsome back then where kinda gross to look at in my books. But I think Stan Laurel and Peter Lorre were hot, so my taste is questioned by many. lol

      One of the few modern-day actors that I think has any talent is Edward Norton. But as I stated in yesterday’s post, i have a thing about wicked characters, and he plays some pretty nasty ones brilliantly. Overuse of CGI and making people famous for no other reason than they were in the right place at the right time has taken over Hollywood.

      Back in the day, studios gave people lessons on speaking, singing, dancing, and all that junk. I think they should bring that back.
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    1. Angie Schaffer Post author

      I should probably be getting paid for this knowledge. But I’m not. *sigh* I’ve been researching film since i was old enough to hold up my head and have thousands of films (many on old film prints), so that is the primary reason I started this blog. I had to do something with everything I know lol.
      Angie Schaffer recently posted…The 5 Most Overrated Actors in Old HollywoodMy Profile

  2. Cindy Amrhein

    I think they mostly went for pretty faces and romance. Weren’t mostly women the movie goers then? Did you ever notice they were all old too? Even then they had to be in their 40s right? Or did they all just look old. The women were young but the men?
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    1. Angie Schaffer Post author

      Yes, you had to impress the ladies with some dopey matinee idol like Valentino or *vomit* Gable (I really can’t stand him lol). A lot of the actors were well into their 30s when they got into pictures. Gable was a young one when he began landing roles in the 1920s, but he always looked 50. The women were always in their teens and early 20s.
      Angie Schaffer recently posted…The 5 Most Overrated Actors in Old HollywoodMy Profile

  3. Rebecca Snody

    I agree 100% on this list. I also agree about what Susan said about many leading men today. It is all action and no substance, so the stunt double is probably doing most of what “thrills the masses”. Movies are all about sales now, not telling a good story, questioning or teaching a moral lesson or staying historically accurate in films alleged to be based on facts.

    1. Angie Schaffer Post author

      I can forgive them for the use of stunt doubles. Laurel and Hardy had them in their films because they were older and valuable actors to Hal Roach and other studios. And my Liebling Peter Lorre had them in the Mr. Moto series (who could blame him after the brutal beating he took under that sadist bastard Fritz Lang’s direction in M?). But they had talent. I don’t know what you call that thing most modern-day actors have. It’s not talent. It’s not charisma. Must be looks. And I don’t find most of them attractive.
      Angie Schaffer recently posted…The 5 Most Overrated Actors in Old HollywoodMy Profile

  4. Georgia London

    Amazing knowledge of the old films and actors. Yes, I agree with you completely. They were ALL overrated. Today, it’s a challenge, too. Good Looks is about all you get. I have to admit I did LOL alot when Johnny Depp played Captain Jack Sparrow. I can’t think of any male actors that I think were brilliant. Now, women is a different story, some great actors there.

  5. Donna

    I agree and disagree :) . see, I don’t want to be one of those UBC trouble-makers…hahahaha!
    That being said, I agree about Depp and can add a few more to the list of modern day actors.
    I don’t agree with you 100% on the others you listed {except Chaplin…I find him unbearably boring!}. The reason I don’t 100% agree is because I believe these actors are categorized as “great” because they were often times the first in their “class” so to speak. These were the early days of film and so there was not much to go by. They paved the way :) .
    I will give Chaplin a little kudos here…Chaplin took shtick to a whole new level…like the 3 Stooges or Marx Brothers. I would rather eat glass than be forced to watch ANY of their movies. That being said I ADORE Abbott and Costello—even got my kids {15,15,19,21} into them and they are now their *go to* movies when they are sick! So I guess I am a walking contradiction.
    This was such a unique and different post and it was thoroughly enjoyed!!!
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    1. Angie Schaffer Post author

      Now see, I like The Three Stooges and Marx Brothers. :) But my ex LOATHED them. I would throw them on just to irritate him. lol

      And I do adore Bogart, but the good guy with bad boy baggage thing is irritating to me for some reason. I prefer him in films like one of my all-time favorites, Angels with Dirty Faces, or King of the Underworld and The Roaring Twenties.

      I think most of the guys on this list have their moments (even Chaplin, whom I agree was unbearably boring most of the time). but I find Clark Gable absolutely dull. He plays the same character in each film he’s in. At least the other guys offered a little variety. lol
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    1. Angie Schaffer Post author

      Hi Mark. I do apologise for the late reply, but I have been battling problems with loading my website for the past several days. *sigh*

      I do respect your opinion, and will concede to the fact that Depp is probably much better than a lot of the actors out there these days. But overall I find new Hollywood to be rather bland and severely lacking in true talent. It all seems to be based who looks good on screen, and it shouldn’t be that way. But that is just my ever-so-humble *cough* opinion.
      Angie Schaffer recently posted…The Switzer LegacyMy Profile

  6. Diane O

    I loved, laughed and agreed with most of your post… MOST. I am still scratching my head over your opinion of Chaplin being overrated….
    Chaplin took the pie-in-the-face humor popular at the time and took it to another level. Sure he had plenty of slapstick but he gave it some heart (and I’m not talking about the pathos stuff here which got a little heavy-handed at times). He actually injected subtle humor along with the slapsticky bits. Watch for subtle gestures, with a glance, a cock of the head… a scene where he is in a room full of toddlers and he catches a whiff of, um, soiled diapers, he quickly checks the bottom of his foot to see if he’s stepped in something, or when checking out a lovely Edna Purviance and being very polite about it until she looks away and he uses that opportunity to sneak a quick glance at her back side. He had an ability to take a rather crude, opportunistic character and make him lovable and have the audience root for him. Don’t forget the most poignant scene on film with his performance at the end of City Lights….
    I won’t go into the fact that he directed, composed, wrote and could manage the most graceful, athletic maneuvers any scene called for… Yes, he is controversial for his politics, his perfectionist demands, the females in his life ….. (personally, my all time favorite is Buster Keaton) but Chaplin is close to the top of the top and the guy was a genius.

    1. Angie Schaffer Post author

      I think the only thing I find attractive about Chaplin is his politics. LOL I cannot say I disagree with his POV. He was an extremely good businessman, and that is why his legend has endured as long as it has.

      I wholeheartedly agree with you on Buster. There are two loves in my life—Buster and Peter Lorre. ;p
      Angie Schaffer recently posted…The Switzer LegacyMy Profile

  7. Kathie Hansen

    How about DeNiro for god’s sake? And Brando? All my life they are all I hear about the ‘great’ actors blahblahblah…I would have taken Gielgud, Olivier,Burton and today Nicholson, Wilkerson ,Day-Lewis, and Caine any day of the week.


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