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Greatest Indignity

Classic acting turns ignored by Premiere's list

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Ho hum ... another month, another movie list. This time, it's Premiere magazine who's the instigator, as the new issue's cover story trumpets the 100 Greatest Performances of All Time. As always, this sort of list has stirred up all manner of conversation and controversy, particularly on that great bastion of vocal equal opportunity, the Internet.

Obviously, any list of this sort fails to please everyone, but this particular one makes those annual lists produced by the American Film Institute look completely sober in comparison. The biggest problem with Premiere's list is its prejudice against older cinema. It's surprising that the editors of a leading movie magazine would have little reverence for the totality of cinema history, but then again, we are living in an age in which anything more than seven or eight years old tends to get disregarded as "ancient." So perhaps it's not unexpected that on Premiere's Top 100 list, Johnny Depp rates two mentions (for Pirates of the Caribbean and Edward Scissorhands), while on their runner-up list (i.e. selections 101-200), Keanu Reeves gets cited for a friggin' Bill & Ted movie. Meanwhile, such enduring film legends as Gregory Peck, Edward G. Robinson and Kirk Douglas rate zero mentions anywhere from one to 200. (The Premiere 100 list is available only to subscribers, but you can easily find it posted at various Web sites, including www.listology.com/content_show.cfm/content_id.23334/Movies; the Web-exclusive runner-up list is located at www.premiere.com/article.asp?section_id=6&article_id=2660.)

To demonstrate the fallacy of the Premiere list -- and to give some magnificent performances their rightful due -- here are 35 all-time great performances that failed to make the Top 100 (and only five made the 100 runners-up list). Read it and prepare for plenty of head-shaking.

Anne Bancroft in The Miracle Worker (1962)

Ingrid Bergman in Notorious (1946)

Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca (1943)

Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

James Cagney in White Heat (1949)

Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times (1936)

Olivia de Havilland in The Heiress (1949)

Gerard Depardieu in Cyrano de Bergerac (1990)

Kirk Douglas in Lust For Life (1956)

Irene Dunne in The Awful Truth (1937)

Sally Field in Norma Rae (1979)

Jodie Foster in The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Cary Grant in The Awful Truth (1937)

Gene Hackman in Mississippi Burning (1988)

Holly Hunter in The Piano (1992)

Vivien Leigh in Gone With the Wind (1939)

Vivien Leigh in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

Jack Lemmon in The Apartment (1960)

Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment (1983)

Frances McDormand in Fargo (1996)

Liza Minnelli in Cabaret (1973)

Robert Mitchum in Night of the Hunter (1955)

Julianne Moore in Far From Heaven (2002)

Jack Nicholson in Chinatown (1974)

Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Anthony Perkins in Psycho (1960)

Richard Pryor in Richard Pryor: Live In Concert (1979)

Edward G. Robinson in Little Caesar (1930)

Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

Sissy Spacek in Carrie (1976)

James Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

John Wayne in The Quiet Man (1952)

Orson Welles in Citizen Kane (1941)

Orson Welles in Touch of Evil (1958)

Natalie Wood in Splendor In the Grass (1961)

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