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Customer Discussions > Movie forum

What Happened To the Great VOICES in Film?

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Showing 26-50 of 1000 posts in this discussion
Posted on Jan 14, 2012 12:18:06 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 14, 2012 12:18:17 PM PST
stevign says:
Peter Lorre (Thank You, Mr. Moto, Strange Cargo, The Maltese Falcon)

Posted on Jan 14, 2012 12:45:01 PM PST
Anna-P says:
Did anyone mention Ricardo Montalban? Ruby Dee had one of my favorite actress's voices. From the current crop, Scarlett Johannson sounds distinctive. Most of the new gen actresses' voices are as thin as they are. I don't know where it came from, but so many female celebrities cling to little-girl voices, and state even declarative sentences with a rising inflection at the end. (This isn't Jeopardy. Everything you say doesn't have to be in the form of a question!) Friggin' annoying!
I've wondered if dwindling of vocal skills (male and female) is related to most (seemingly)coming from modeling backgrounds based on appearance, as opposed to stage/theater where voice and physical presence can develop.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2012 1:22:52 PM PST
Anna-P: Very good point. Honestly, Oprah probably has the most distinctive female lead voice. Queen Latifah does as well, but I know this mainly from L'Oreal commercials than from films. Of younger actresses, I would say Emma Stone and Rachel McAdams, while not exactly booming voices, they are not thin voices as most of the others. Sandra Bullock has a stronger more distinctive voice and she's not exactly older, and of course, dear Meryl. Cher would be one of the most distinctive female lead vocals out there. While I like Natalie Portman, I would not know her voice from say, Mila Kunis. Sarah Jessica Parker does have a distinctive voice, and years of narrating Sex and the City under her belt.

But none of these voices would match the husky sexiness of a Lauren Bacall or Mae West, or the whispery breathiness of Marilyn Monroe, not a Bette Davis or Liz Taylor in the bunch.

Posted on Jan 14, 2012 1:23:20 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 14, 2012 1:26:31 PM PST
Hikari says:
ScarJo has a very low voice that doesn't sound like it goes with her. I am partial to alto female voices, being one myself . . Scarlett just sounds very low-affect to me all the time, in addition to the lower register.

You know who else has a very deep voice for the size of her frame? Helena Bonham Carter. She's what, 5 feet tall, and that plummy accent comes out of the basement.

P.S. Just thought of another pleasing female voice in the lower register that I could listen to all day--Madeleine Stowe.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2012 1:36:59 PM PST
LL™ says:
Great thread.

I must agree with you on this, as I seem to be missing those voices as well. Where I live, all movies are dubbed in Spanish with the most amazing actors, chosen specifically for their voices and their performances are for the most part, brilliantly delivered. When I actually see the films in English I am always disappointed precisely with the lack of accurate accents, poor pronunciation and timbre.

I recently watched the movie Revolutionary Road (in English) and did think that Kate Winslet had an exceptional voice and does an American accent very well.

Posted on Jan 14, 2012 1:45:44 PM PST

Helena Bonham Carter is always good, but she was never more appealing than in "The King's Speech". She had to convey great passion and love beneath the carapace of royal decorum---you had to know that her husband deeply loved her for a reason. And she convincingly communicated her love for a man who could barely put three words together. She saw the soul beneath the impairment. And yes, she does have a fine voice.

One of my favorite recent voices is by an actress I do not know the name of. She was a tiny little thing who wore black and smoked a cigarette in a holder in "Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day". She had this adorable little mewl. This tiny little devastatingly witty voice. And the interplay between Frances MacDormand's and Amy Adams's voices in that film were very winning. Amy Adams kept on doing this little surprised gasp---like a hiccup. I can't duplicate it here. A funny movie, like no other.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2012 1:48:51 PM PST
David: You know what I think it is, lack of inflection in their delivery. As you said on the first post, most actors and actresses back then also had a background in theater. There is lack of enunciation much more noticeable today.

Posted on Jan 14, 2012 1:55:34 PM PST
Right. Years of having to project onstage would train the voice. If you saw "My Years With Marilyn" (a wonderful film), the difference between the styles of Sir Lawrence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe illustrated this. I don't know if she ever did any theatre, but it seems her voice would have been inaudible without amplification. I don't imagine Jacqueline Bouvier did any stage acting either, for the same reasons.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2012 2:43:26 PM PST
I must admit that young folks think they have good voices but are mediocre when compared to Garland, Jones to name a few. they just want to be stars and not really good folks at the same time, of course high pay is a real item to compare

Posted on Jan 14, 2012 2:47:02 PM PST
W. Grieve says:
Oliver Reed

Charles Laughton

The entire cast of ' Life of Brian '

Yaphett Kotto

Charles Dance

Posted on Jan 14, 2012 2:55:50 PM PST
David Harris says:
Nowadays I'd nominate - Hugo Weaving and Jeremy Sisto. And Dennis Haysbert, though the latter two are primarily TV guys.

Angela Lansbury for sure. Gene Wilder, William Hurt, Tim Curry, Nathan Lane.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2012 2:58:25 PM PST
James: Definitely Dennis Haysbert. Have not seen Jeremy Sisto enough to form an opinion but I also agree with Hugo Weaving, great in V for Vendetta.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2012 3:17:21 PM PST
Hikari says:
@D., re. stage voices
Marilyn did want to get away from the sexpot image and become a more well-rounded actress. She had her 'New York period' when she was trying to get away from Hollywood and all it represented. She studied with Lee Strasberg while she was there. Alas, that enthusiasm was rather short-lived and she returned to 'being Marilyn' and the gilded prison that represented. Norma Jeane was not formally educated, but she was certainly not dumb. She knew why she was a star, and she didn't respect what she did the way she respected 'real acting' to which she aspired. That's why she was such an unprofessional basket case on set, and why she self-medicated with all her substances--in the presence of bona fide actors like Sir Laurence Olivier, she felt like a fraud, and that insecurity created crippling stage fright. Poor lost soul.

I think the major difference between UK-trained vs. most American movie stars is classical training. Whether or not a UK actor has a 'stage career', most of them have attended drama schools where stagecraft like voice projection and carriage are taught. They learn those foundational skills--modulation, voice exercises . . learning how to wear period clothing and use props without looking like they are out of their element. Most of our younger movie stars are chosen because they have a certain 'look' that fits a current trend but learning the finer points of acting technique is something they either pick up on the job or . . .don't. Then when it comes time to do a period piece or an accent, something outside their normal contemporary niche, a lot of remedial work is required, and the gaps in their training often show, especially in comparison to UK-bred actors. Lack of fundamental craft knowledge is painfully apparent when a big Hollywood star does a stint on Broadway. The star power of their name sells tickets--but they often wind up embarrassing themselves because their stage techinique is lacking. Coming from rom-coms or teen soap operas doesn't prepare one to make oneself heard in the back row of a theatre. Julia Roberts and Katie Holmes are but two recent examples. Critics won't come right out and say 'they sucked', because these are big names in Hollywood. But when the quality of their performances are so far below the bar set by their stage-seasoned co-stars, it requires comment, however gently-put.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2012 3:21:54 PM PST
>W. David English says: "Bill Hobbs ..Automatically sympathetic and likable."<

We're still talking about Bill Cobbs, though, right?
Another of my favorite actors (although he's distinctly not of this current generation) is Harry Belafonte.
Harry's always had this great raspy worn-in voice when talking, but recently it's been talking on another dimension, almost like a ghostly multi-pitched Tuvan throat speaking... hard to explain. Find an interview with him in the past decade and you'll know just what I mean (unless it's my freak hearing, and his vocal peculiarity is like a dog whistle that only certain dogs like me can hear.)

Posted on Jan 14, 2012 3:33:32 PM PST
W. Grieve says:
Burl Ives
Bob Redford
Julliette Binoche

Posted on Jan 14, 2012 3:34:46 PM PST
W. Grieve says:
Sebastian Cabot

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2012 3:53:31 PM PST
I've heard Jeremy Sisto described as sort of a junior Jeff Goldblum. He's a good actor but I wouldn't mark his voice as particularly exceptional.

I fully understand people's preference for the soothing baritone in male actors, over the higher registers... but I was just listening to an interview with Bertrand Russell, and he has the queerest little fanciful reed of a voice, and it's so compelling. I swear if Michael Cera can ever mature enough to play a British genius logician, he'd be a cinch to land the lead in 'Young Bertrand Russell'.
Alright, I promise that's the last I speak of Cera.

Now, speaking of baritones again ... the director, sometimes actor, Jim Jarmusch, sounds and looks suspiciously like Lee Marvin. His Secret Club "The Sons of Lee Marvin" seems to suggest he really is a bastard son of Marvin, or has work diligently to properly affect that demeanor.
Fellow artist Tom Waits certainly has affected his own neo-Howlin' Wolf vocal demeanor.

Hikari mentions Scarlett Johansson's chest-cold-sounding throaty voice. I believe that's over half the reason she's so attractive to many. Ashley Judd is another limited actress who gets by on her looks and a seductive lower-register voice, expertly manipulated.

Young American actresses today with voices that make my ears perk up and pay attention: Liza Weil, Clea DuVall, Chloe Sevigny.
I've always liked Sigourney Weaver's and Winona Ryder's voices as well.

A few of my favorite actress-voices in the past are Paula Prentiss, Joan Greenwood, Jean Arthur, and Glenda Farrell (alias Torchy Blane, sort of the feminine Lee Tracy wisegal, and a poor man's Mae West when she needs to be.)

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2012 3:57:17 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 14, 2012 4:33:41 PM PST
David Harris says:
William Shatner!

Posted on Jan 14, 2012 4:15:21 PM PST
Interesting topic.

Joan Greenwood
Charlotte Greenwood (no relation)
Myrna Loy
William Powell
Katherine Hepburn (!!!)
Doris Day

Posted on Jan 14, 2012 4:18:37 PM PST
Bill Cobbs, yes.

I met Juliette Binoche backstage at a play in New York once.

Yes, Harry Belafonte's voice is sounding strained these days, but he is pretty old now. His hair's gone, but otherwise, he doesn't look all that different from his "Banana Boat" days. So maybe it's partially that men that age usually don't look that good.

Posted on Jan 14, 2012 4:22:41 PM PST
Cavaradossi says:
An actress who's voice I've always loved is Gillian Anderson. In fact, there isn't much about Miss Anderson I don't love. Danged gorgeous woman all around!

Posted on Jan 14, 2012 4:27:15 PM PST
Cavaradossi says:
I need to also cast my vote for the voices of Greta Garbo and Mae West. Jean Arthur certainly had a distinctive voice, as does Kate Blanchett today. Blanchett is one of those I could listen to all day.

Posted on Jan 14, 2012 5:40:25 PM PST
That reminds me, Leonard Nimoy has a great voice too, as well as the original "Bones" McCoy, DeForest Kelley (and the new Kiwi actor Karl Urban is a perfect look/sound-alike.)

Some more old-timer American actors with great, resonant voices: Rip Torn, Powers Boothe, Robert Loggia, Tommy Lee Jones, Nick Nolte. Martin Sheen also has a fine voice; too bad his kids don't have that same gift.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2012 5:42:49 PM PST
Cavardossi says:
"Gillian Anderson"

Good call. I've always liked her. I'll add Patricia Clarkson. Beautiful voices.

Posted on Jan 14, 2012 5:52:09 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 14, 2012 5:53:01 PM PST
As we're mentioning some actresses with odd vocal talents (Jean Arthur, Kate Hep) let's not forget Judy Holliday. And the modern equivalent to Holliday, or Marie Wilson, or Helen Kane, is I guess Kristen Schaal. Look her up. Acquired taste, but I think she's hilarious. Jennifer Tilly a close second.
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Discussion in:  Movie forum
Participants:  79
Total posts:  1671
Initial post:  Jan 13, 2012
Latest post:  Sep 4, 2013

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