Turner Classic Movies
Leading Men: The 50 Most Unforgettable Actors of the Studio
Written by Multiple Contributors   

Book Review by Diana Saenger

Like their previous book, Leading Ladies, Turner Classic Movies and Chronicle Books have done another great job in selecting 50 prominent male actors of the classic film error to feature in Leading Men: The 50 Most Unforgettable Actors of the Studio. Page after page features vivid portraits and detailed text about actors such as Fred Astaire, Humphrey Bogart, Charles Boyer, Marlon Brando, James Cagney, Douglas Fairbanks, Rock Hudson, Buster Keaton, Spencer Tracy, Rudolph Valentino and more.


Robert Osborne, film historian and the host of Turner Classic Movies, writes the introduction to Leading Men: The 50 Most Unforgettable Actors of the Studio and said, "Each of the fifty leading men in this book - Astaire, Gable and Bogart included - is part of an extremely rare breed. Everyone stands out like a water tower in the Sahara from all the millions who've tried, with varying degrees of success."

Osborne talks about the selection process for the book and how there just wasn't room for some key players such as Robert Montgomery, † Van Johnson, Walter Pigeon, Leslie Howard, Tony Curtis, Glenn Ford and more. "If everyone who deserves to be in this book were to be included you'd need a crane to life it," said Osborne.

Molly Haskell, author, critic and co-host of Turner Classic Movies, said , "The stories of these fifty men's assent to stardom are as varied and individual as the men themselves, as full of serendipity as the women's stories but with a greater chance to broaden and deepen, and to age † "gracefully" when they reached they the top."


Each actor's page in the book includes his image, photos from his movies, a listing of his essential films, a short bio; a statistical data listing that includes spouses, and a Behind The Scenes section that includes tidbits about the star or a particular film.

The wonderful photos, which immediately conjure of great memories of the star or his movies, are from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Margaret Herrick Library, major motions pictures and private collections.


Kirk and Michael Douglas © Chronicle Books/Turner Classic Movies

The text accompanying each actor's page was written by Frank Miller, the head of theatre program at Georgia State University and author of Casablanca: As Time Goes By and Censored Hollywood: Sin, Sex & Violence on the Screen. Researchers include Aubrey Anne D'Arminio, contributor of several books about classic film and Alexa L. Foreman, a senior researcher/producer at Turner Classic Movies.


William Holden and Gloria Swanson/Sunset Blvd
† © Chronicle Books/Turner Classic Movies

For example a page on William Holden includes a romantic photo of William and Gloria Swanson in Sunset Blvd. and short synopses of his films Sunset Blvd., Picnic, Stalag, The Wild Bunch and The Bridge on River Kwai. His Behind the Scenes tidbits include comments such as: When Barbara Stanwyck accepted her honorary Oscar in 1982, she held the award up and said, "This is for you, my golden boy." †

The book itself has a hard cardboard cover and is well designed with great layouts on every page. Film fans of the Golden Era will want to add this book to his/her home library for hours of enjoyment.


Every part of this book is exciting, but most entertaining are some of the morsels that include - little known or ones we forgot - facts about the actor. Did you know...?

Sample Page - Leading Men

Bing Crosby introduced more best sing Oscar winners than any other singer.

During the filming of Gone with the Wind (1939) Vivien Leigh claimed Gable's denture breath was so bad she wanted Selznick to cut back on the actor's kissing scenes.

Because Audrey Hepburn was 25 years his junior, Cary Grant insisted the script of Charade (1962) be changed so that she pursue him.

Sidney Poitier, then 22, said he was 27 when he read for his first film No Way Out (1950)."

Both Fredric March and co-star Carole Lombard ended up in the hospital with cuts and bruises after filming a scene in Nothing Scared (1937).


óŹ Leading Men

óŹ Chronicle Books/Turner Classic Movies, September 1, 2006

óŹ ISBN 13 978-0-8118-5467-2

óŹ Softcover

óŹ 240 pages †

óŹ $19.95




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