Mulling over some of my recent selection of movies, I tried to find a common thread that compelled me to pick these certain films among the thousands available. It wasn't genre, as I was all over the place from Westerns to Horror and from Comedy to Noir. It wasn't technique as that stuff is usually over my head and it wasn't the director. It was most certainly the actors.
But what about them? What makes them an overpowering and irresistible presence on the screen? For me, many factors come into play that make them convincing. The look in their eyes, their facial expressions, their gait as well as their general appearance. But the most alluring and common trait among the actors I favor is their speaking voice.
Whether it's George Sanders' smarmy sophistication or Eve Arden's whimsical wise-cracks, there is something in their voices that makes them ever so convincing in their roles. Not for a second could I be enthralled with Edward G. Robinson if his speaking voice was that of Harold Lloyd. Nor of Anne Baxter if she had the voice of Fanny Brice. It just wouldn't work.
So below I've written a list of actors/actresses with great speaking voices. The criteria being that the voices match them perfectly. So perfectly, that we couldn't imagine their characters without them.
They are broken up into categories, however, some could easily cross-over into other groups. I'm sure I've missed some so contribute your own list or add new actors or categories as you see fit.
George Sanders, Ronald Coleman, Claude Rains, Herbert Marshall, William Powell, Rex Harrison, Charles Laughton, James Mason.
Cary Grant, James Stewart, Burt Lancaster, John Wayne, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell, Orson Welles, Lee Marvin, Bing Crosby.
Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, James Cagney, Allen Jenkins, Mike Mazurski, 'Slapsie Maxie' Rosenbloom.
Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, Vincent Price.
W.C. Fields, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, Bob Hope, Lou Costello, Laurel & Hardy.
Lauren Bacall, Yvonne DeCarlo, Gloria Grahame, Veronica Lake.
Jean Arthur, Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck, June Allyson, Anne Baxter, Rosalind Russell, Greer Garson, Myrna Loy.
Betty Hutton, Eve Arden, Billie Burke, Carole Lombard, Thelma Ritter, Ann Sothern, Una Merkel, Lucille Ball, Joan Davis.