Friday, July 20, 2012


Most of my top five lists are of my personal favorites, but I thought it would be interesting and thought provoking to make a list of something more negative. I made a list of who I believe are the top five most overrated actors in classic Hollywood. Now, all of the actors on the list have much more talent than I do. I am not saying they did not have talent, but in my opinion they were just overrated. Let me know what you think...

5. ERROL FLYNN (1909-1959)
I think the problem I have with Errol Flynn is I do not care much for the swashbuckler type film that he was famous for in the late 1930s and early 1940s. He was the bad boy Russell Crowe of his day, but I just could never get into Flynn. His personal life and problems I think were much more interesting than any film he ever made.

4. JAMES DEAN (1931-1955)
This may be a controversial view to have, but I feel that actor James Dean was famous because he died. I do not think he would have had the staying power to make it in Hollywood. Yes, he made four popular films, but I still prefer other actors of his day like Paul Newman and Steve McQueen much more. Dean had a look that is forever frozen in time because of his death. He had the look, but I did not see the ability so much.

3. VICTOR MATURE (1913-1999)
Again, I feel that Victor Mature was another actor who made it because of his looks. He made some interesting movies and some pretty bad movies. Has anyone ever seen "Red,Hot,And Blue"(1949) with Mature and Betty Hutton - a real stinker of a movie. As Mature aged, he kept his looks for most of his life but his movie career basically ended by the 1960s. He was perfect person to play Samson in "Samson And Delilah"(1949) with Susan Hayward, but I could not see Victor Mature playing Hamlet.

2. WARREN BEATTY (born 1937)
I have seen interviews through the years that Warren Beatty has done, and personally I just do not like the man. I have tried to sit through a Warren Beatty movie - everything from "Bonnie And Clyde" (1967) to "Dick Tracy"(1990), and I just can not do it. Beatty looks like he does not care what the audiences think. A lot of people flocked to his movies back in the day, but he has been mostly retired since 2000. Maybe it's for the best, if his personality is anything I think it is like - he probably does not want to be viewed as an aging actor who once made it big in tinsel town.

1. RICHARD BURTON (1925-1984)
There are people I see in my every day life that make my skin just itch. Richard Burton is one of those people on the screen who when I see him, I feel dirty and have to itch. Burton just looks simply dirty to me. Even just seeing him on film, I picture his breath smelling like the dinner and booze he had the night before. There has never been a movie I have been able to sit through with him in it. Like many of the stars I picked for the list, Burton was very popular in Hollywood, and his marriage to Elizabeth Taylor was more legendary than any movie he made. However, I do not understand his appeal. Yes, he was British but there were much better British actors out there from Laurence Olivier to James Mason. That is why I picked Richard Burton as the most overrated actor I know...

Any comments...opinions...additions to the list?


  1. I agree with your comments on Dean. However, Burton did some great work in the 60s, along with some dreck. Wonderful in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, and I like him in Beckett and The Night of the Iquana. Too often he is bombastic though. I'm not sure anyone thinks that highly of Mature or Beatty as actors though, so I don't know if one could consider them over-rated. Mature was self-effacing about his talent. But Beatty strikes me as someone very full of himself.

  2. My list was not scientific at all. I agree with you about Mature and Beatty - I think I considered them overrated due to their draw on audiences. They sold movie tickets in their day!

  3. H'm. I'm on board with Beatty and Dean, and on the fence about Burton.

    I disagree about Flynn and Mature. In fact, far from being overrated I think both are rather underrated as actors. For Flynn I would cite the panache and intelligence he brought to the action roles and his work in "The Dawn Patrol". Victor Mature could bring it in the right circumstances such as "Cry of the City", "My Darling Clementine" and "Kiss of Death".

  4. Except for Burton, the other four actors were rarely given challenging roles (and Dean wasn't around long enough to get a chance at being versatile). That said, there's no doubt Burton did squander his talent.

    I say your list is solid.

    Also, like Mature and Beatty, Tony Curtis had his particular draw on moviegoers way back when, so he could be considered overrated, too.

  5. I think where this list will be challenged is the exact definition of "overrated". I considered overrated by the movies they made and yet the draw they had.

    I flirted with putting Tony Curtis on the list, but he made some great roles in The Defiant Ones and Some Like It Hot.

  6. I agree on all but Richard Burton. Completely disagree on your #1 pick. How about Peter O'Toole (major ham)?

    I have to say, too, that I'm not sure Errol Flynn or Victor Mature are at the top of anyone's list as great are they really over-rated?

  7. Like I said before, I do not think anyone thinks that Victor Mature is a great thespian, but his movies were overrated in that they made tons of money for the studio.

  8. David, I always enjoy reading these kinds of list. Actually, I think Flynn was underrated--he was highly versatile, having done swashbucklers, comedies, war films, Westerns, and drama. He gave some fine performances, too, as in THE FORSYTE WOMAN. Until he started slumming in the late 1960s, I think Burton was one of the best actors of his generation.

  9. I am soooo glad to see your post. Although I don't agree with you re: Burton's acting, I completely agree with you about the others, especially in regards to Beatty.

    This is a great post and I'm looking forward to seeing more viewpoints.

    P.S. Tony Curtis - absolutely love him in "The Sweet Smell of Success". I think he shows amazing talent in that film.

  10. I very much like the idea of your list.

    In the case of Errol Flynn, I've only seen three of his films, so I can't really agree or disagree with you.

    We'll never know with James Dean. I enjoyed the three films he did make, though.

    I like Victor Mature, so I disagree with you about him.

    Beatty, I agree with you wholeheartedly. I don't like the man at all. I've read a few things that he was mentioned in, and he just seems very pompous to me. Maybe I'm wrong, and perhaps he's a very decent fellow, but he's not my cup of tea.

    I've only seen one picture with Richard Burton in it, and that was Staircase (1969). I really enjoyed that picture. So I don't really know if he was overrated or not.

    Like I said, love your idea.

  11. I have a overrated actress list I may do next month - which may get me blacklisted among classic movie fans...

  12. Wow. I thought I was the only one in the world who wasn't completely enthralled with James Dean. He's ok looking and all, but I've never cared for his movies, and have also read he was a colossal ass. Not a fan of Beatty either.

    Can't wait to read your actress list....

  13. Born in the early 1960's, Errol Flynn was probably the number one Hollywood icon to myself and my friends. John Wayne was big, but Flynn seemed larger than Hollywood itself. He represented everything that Hollywood seemed to be then, and most certainly surpassed what Hollywood has dwindled to today. To this day, I still do searches for his movies on TCM Classics (John Wayne too), and I basically can care less about most of today's leading actors. I will NEVER entertain the notion that he was a top five overrated actor // Tom C.

  14. I feel that James Dean could have surpassed any actor ---dead or alive, and besides maybe you should do your homework. He starred in only "3" movies,and out of those three he was nominated for best actor for 2 of them,posthumously. No one has ever done that before or after. One thing I do agree with most of you that off screen he may have been a complete asshole, but we are not judging him for that. His acting ability was almost genius--I'm sure most of you will disagree with my opinion,but that's (O.K.). Here's a kid that came from a no where place in the midwest, pursued his craft,and hit it bigtime.Paul Newman & Steve McQueen were two of my favorites,and I still enjoy waching their movies.They were all cut from the same cloth.

  15. I totally disagree on Errol Flynn. If anything, I believe him to be underrated. Errol was way more than a swashbuckler actor. As great of a hero role, Errol could play a villain equally as well. Errol was a natural born actor and one that could out-flank any of the actors of today! Just watch a Flynn film and you will understand.

  16. I totally agree with you on all of these especially James Dean. He acted like a child in my opinion. I have seen all 3 movies he made and the only one I can tolerate is Rebel without a cause but the rest I can't stand. I doubt he would be huge if he lived, he didn't have talent like Clark Gable and Cary Grant.