Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Five Best Gregory Peck Performances


Gregory Peck and Mary Badham.
1. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) - This is an obvious choice for the top spot. After all, Atticus Finch ranked No. 1 on the American Film Institute's list of favorite movie heroes. However, the beauty of Peck's performance is that he doesn't make Atticus a saint. He quietly conveys the character's values and principles, while achieving incredible natural chemistry with the young actors that play Scout and Jem.

2. Twelve O'Clock High (1949) - One of the best films about World War II, this insightful drama stars Peck as an Air Force general charged with replacing a nice guy commander and toughening up a bomb group with low morale. General Savage lives up to his name, telling his troops: "Fear is normal. But stop worrying about it and about yourselves. Stop making plans. Forget about going home. Consider yourselves already dead. Once you accept that idea, it won't be so tough." While Peck delivers those lines with authority, he expresses his character's inner turmoil in the brilliant scene with his executive officer played by Dean Jagger.

Peck kisses Audrey Hepburn.
3. Roman Holiday (1953) - Most film buffs probably think of this lyrical comedy as an "Audrey Hepburn picture." While it's true that she glows in every frame, it takes two actors to create a believable romance and Gregory Peck is ideal as the serious journalist. He provides the perfect balance to Audrey Hepburn's carefree, undercover princess who relishes her temporary freedom from royal responsibilities.

4. The Gunfighter (1950) - This Western stars Peck as Jimmy Ringo, a gunslinger and former outlaw who longs for a normal life with the woman he loves and the son he's never known. Unfortunately, he cannot escape his reputation--and those determined to earn their own fame by killing him. Peck believably captures the loneliness and guilt etched on his character's face.

With Ingrid Bergman on a train.
5. Spellbound (1945) - Alfred Hitchcock's clever suspense film provides Gregory Peck with multiple "roles." Initially, the viewer thinks he's the new intelligent, caring head of a mental hospital in Vermont. However, it's soon revealed Peck is only masquerading as a psychiatrist--he actually has amnesia. Later, it turns out that he may be a murderer. It's a great part and Peck shines as the impostor-victim-investigator trying to sort out what happened to him...and falling in love with Ingrid Bergman at the same time.

12 comments:

  1. Hi Rick. Great performances all. I would also mention I Walk The Line and The Omen. He is so moving Twelve O'Clock High, and he really captures the slow build of his characters trauma. Maddy

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    1. Because it's a horror film, I think his performance in THE OMEN gets overlooked.

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  2. I would also include his Captain Richard Lance in Only The Valiant - when Peck was good, he was very good. The Gunfighter is astounding - paul dionne

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  3. What?? No "Duel in the Sun"???
    Heresy !

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  4. 1, Mockingbird 2, Captain Newman, M.D. 3, The Big Country 4, The Gunfighter 5, The Guns of Navorone. Also worthwhile, Moby Dick, Designing Woman, Pork Chop Hill, Cape Fear, Mirage, The Boys from Brazil. Your list is good but I just don't care for Spellbound.

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  5. I'd also add Guns of Navarone, The Big Country and The Bravados.

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    1. I agree that he's terrific in GUNS and BRAVADOS. The look on his face when he learns the truth in the latter is powerful.

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  6. I hold a fondness for his work in The Keys of the Kingdom. It is very early in his career, and the sincerity is very appealing.

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  7. I am delighted to see you include "Spellbound" on your list. I always loved the tag line on the poster "Will he kiss me or kill me?"

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  8. Now this list probably took some good hard thinking in order to complete....Gregory Peck gave a fine performance in every film he was in. I would add "Gentleman's Agreement" to this list as well. He gave a very moving performance in that film.

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  9. Great picks. I agree that while Mockingbird is an obvious choice for number one, it remains a seminal performance in all of film. Love Peck in that movie.

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