Earlier in the day we asked "Should there be a movie hall of fame?" Now that we've decided the answer is yes, we're inducting our first crop of fellas. Enjoy!
Loved by millions, this man practically defined the Hollywood blockbuster comedy until scandal drove him out. If ever there was a man who deserved this kind of recognition, it is Chaplin. His bits are still funny today and The Great Dictator stands as one of the boldest film choices of all time. He may have won out as history settled the score, but he deserves the very first entry into a hall of fame.
Chaplin may have gotten all the glory, but when it comes down to brass tacks, Chaplin never made a film as great as The General. Quite possibly the greatest silent film of all time, it often ranks among the very best movies ever made. And for good reason. Keaton both acted in and directed his comedies, churning out a steady stream of incredibly funny, daring films that, combined with the works of Chaplin, laid the groundwork for everything that came after.
Has there ever been anyone more suave than Cary Grant? With looks chiseled from stone, powerful acting chops, and he could steal a scene from anyone -- be it comedy or thriller. But Grant's greatest contribution to fame and the craft would be his decision to not renew his studio contract, becoming Hollywood's first free agent superstar and setting the standard by which the business operates now. By choosing his own projects, he managed to maintain a level of quality control that actors are afforded today (but sadly few take full advantage of).
If there was ever a more likable actor on-screen, I've never seen him. When people think back to the golden age of America, they're often thinking of Jimmy Stewart movies.
The swashbuckler, he defined what it meant to be a true Hollywood celebrity. Man's man, ladies' man, man about town -- his lifestyle was as much of a story as his acting was. But as an action star, he made adventure films that remain incredibly entertaining today; he did more with his smile than Michael Bay has done with a million dollars in pyrotechnics.
Any discussion of a hall of fame without John Wayne is like talking about opening an ice cream shop that doesn't serve chocolate. The original tough guy, Wayne came out of the early days of meat-grinder Westerns, trying to play the young, soft-spoken pretty boy. When that didn't work and it was clear he would never be a successful singing cowboy, he relaxed, played himself, and became a world-renowned star.
The consummate movie star, Bogart rose from the ranks of playing gangster heavies to leading-man status, starring in some of the greatest Hollywood films ever made. A founding member of the Rat Pack, he defined '50s era poise and cool in a way that would set the standard for generations to come.
Easily the greatest genre actor of all time, Heston's gift was taking cinema often relegated to B-movie status and elevating it with A-movie performances. A master of both science-fiction and historical epics, Heston was just as fiery off screen as on. While his politics varied over the breadth of his career, you've got to admire a man who would protest outside a theater showing his own movie because the audience was segregated.
The coolest man alive. Then and now. He's also one of our greatest living actors, turning in incredible performance after incredible performance and garnering more Oscar nods than any other male actor in history. He's also the only one cool enough to get away with wearing sunglasses no matter how dark it is or how well-dressed he's supposed to be.
If Cary Grant and Jack Nicholson could conceive a child and gift it with Jimmy Stewart's kindness and Charlton Heston's political huevos, it would be named George Clooney. Equally as brilliant an actor as he is a director, Clooney is best known for being choosy with his roles, always trying to make daring, cutting-edge cinema, even going so far as to often produce and help other great work emerge. It's rare to see a bad George Clooney movie -- even his old clunkers from his young actor days are infinitely rewatchable for his freewheeling performances.