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Leading Men: The 50 Most Unforgettable Actors of the Studio Era Paperback – September 28, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books; annotated edition edition (September 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811854671
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811854672
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Turner Classic Movies is widely considered the definitive resource for classic films, featuring movies from all the major studios, unedited and commercial free.

Robert Osborne is the prime-time host and anchor of Turner Classic Movies and a columnist-critic for The Hollywood Reporter.

Molly Haskell is co-host of TCM's "The Essentials" series and the author of several books on film. Her writing has appeared in many publications, including the Village Voice, New York magazine, and Vogue.

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Customer Reviews

I have the Leading Ladies book and this is a fine companion to that book.
rosam
How could this book include Bing Crosby and Buster Keaton and then eliminate top box office names like Glenn Ford and Tyrone Power?!
Howard Jamison
One way or another, you will enjoy reading this book and viewing the great pictures in it.
Carpe Diem!

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As the inevitable sequel to "Leading Ladies" released last spring, this glossy paperback covers their male counterparts in exactly the same format. Robert Osborne, longtime host of the Turner Movie Classics (TCM) and veteran film critic Molly Haskell have again winnowed down a list that presents the fifty actors they feel epitomized enduring box office appeal when the major Hollywood studios dominated the business and groomed its stars. For each of the legends, there is a full-page close-up photo, a thumbnail profile which includes even astrological sign, a select filmography of most memorable roles, selected stills, and some intriguing trivia. Like "Leading Ladies", it's all superficial but supremely entertaining for movie buffs.

Whereas the top actress list Osborne and Haskell assembled has a few idiosyncratic choices (e.g., Louise Brooks), as well as some pickings from the second-tier pool (e.g., Debbie Reynolds), the final list here feels somewhat more definitive. I believe this has far less to do with comparative quality than it does with the inherent sexism of a business where male actors were more typically maintained for box office longevity given the painfully erroneous notion that actresses have shorter shelf lives. There are the obvious no-brainers included as their status has gone well beyond iconic proportions - Bogart, Cooper, Gable, Astaire, Tracy, Cagney, Grant, Wayne, Fonda, Stewart, Olivier. Brando, of course, is here as well as his Method-oriented brethren - Clift, Dean (a legacy based on just three films) and in the same generation, Newman, Poitier and McQueen.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 28, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I recently read this volume as well as its companion, Leading Ladies: The 50 Most Unforgettable Actresses of the Studio Era, and thoroughly enjoyed both while agreeing with others that the selections may have been biased if executives within the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) organization were involved in the decision as to whom to include and whom to omit. For example, Alan Ladd but not Tyrone Power. That said, both volumes offer a Foreword by Robert Osborne and an Introduction by Molly Haskell and have the same reader-friendly format which consists of a brief but adequate bio of the given actor followed by selections (with comments) of his "essential films," then a "Behind the Scenes" section. Here are a few brief excerpts.

From the brief bio of Charles Chaplin: "Even as late as 1972, a decision to honor him with a special Academy Award was considered controversial, though it marked the start of a series of late-life honors for the man who helped invent motion pictures."

From the brief bio of Clark Gable: "When the book Gone with the Wind became a runaway best seller, fans clamored for him to play Rhett Butler. Gable resisted (he hated period films after the failure of 1937's Parnell) but gave in when MGM agreed to pay a divorce settlement to his second wife so that he could marry Carol Lombard."

From the "Essential Films" of Rock Hudson: "Although [Seconds] initially failed at the box office, director John Frankenheimer's tale of an aging businessman (Hudson) who hires a mysterious organization to fake his death and rebuild him surgically has become a cult classic.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Z on July 14, 2009
Format: Paperback
If you like the golden era of Hollywood, don't even hesitate gettng this one and the other two books (Leading Ladies and Couples). Yes, you can always argue that they should have included this and that actor, but you can't argue with the ones who are included here. So just enjoy it.

The quality of the photos are breathtaking. I bought two copies for myself and framed some of those photos on my walls.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Diamond Dave on March 3, 2011
Format: Paperback
I keep this book by my recliner in a place of honor and easy access. A great source of information and grand old photos of larger-than-life stars of the studio system. While I would have included Van Johnson, Glenn Ford, Tony Curtis and Charleton Heston, I was thrilled to see John Garfield included. "Julie" Garfield is the most under-appreciated and least discussed stars of his era. Kudos to Robert Osborne and TCM for making this invaluable resource available to us.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By David W. Menefee on August 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
Reading this book about the great leading men of Hollywood's past was rewarding on several levels. I found myself engaged by the stories of those who made a lasting impression on filmgoers, thankful that Robert Osborne and those at Turner Classic Movies had crafted a well-researched work focusing on the true life stories and careers of some of the most influential actors of our age. The book is filled with the kind of behind the scenes facts that any film fan would savor.

Review posted by David W. Menefee, author of Richard Barthelmess: A Life in Pictures (2010 Top 10 Film Book Award).
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By N. Doyle on December 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
The only real drawback to LEADING MEN is the decision to use very light, hard to read font for the text instead of bold print that would stand out and make reading about the various stars more accessible. Even with reading glasses, I find it a strain to read the text unless I'm under a very strong light.

This is the only criticism I have of the book as a whole. The photos chosen for the various players are excellent, the text is concise and to the point, and all of the "essential" films of each actor are pretty much on the mark with a few exceptions.

Since these kind of subjective lists never please everyone, I'm sure some will quibble over the omission of their favorite actor.

A good book of its kind, but the text problem using light font is a big no no as I see it and prevents me from giving it the higher rating it would have deserved. The same flaw appeared in LEADING LADIES, where again the font used for the text was too light which made reading the text a chore instead of a pleasure. You'd think they would have learned from the first printing.
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