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Greatest Classic Biopic Characters: 5 Roles That Live On Through Big Screen

By    |   Thursday, 23 Apr 2015 11:14 AM

Some real-life people rate bigger-than-life portrayals on the big screen and some of the greatest classic biopic characters were, literally, the roles of a lifetime - the actors and subjects.

Here are five roles of classic biopic characters that live on through the big screen:

1. Jake Lamotta, "Raging Bull:" Robert DeNiro convinced Martin Scorsese to make the movie, then trained himself into fighting trim — and after that, gorged himself into a down-and-out porker, to depict the brutal rise, decline, and fall of boxing champ Jake "Raging Bull" LaMotta, based on LaMotta's own biography. Nearly four decades after its 1980 release, DeNiro's portrayal stands, according to Filmsite, "the most overwhelming of his career."

Vote Now: Who Is Your Favorite Actor of All Time?

2. Gen. George Patton, "Patton:" The role of "Ol' Blood and Guts" was the "defining role" of George C. Scott's career, The New York Times said in eulogizing the actor. The newspaper quoted him as saying, "After 35 years in the business, people still identify me more with Patton than any other character."

Speaking of the movie's opening scene, in which Scott, in full Patton regalia, stepped up in front of a Stars and Stripes backdrop and addressed the troops. According to The New York Times, "From the opening moment of the film he was Patton."

3. Abraham Lincoln, "Young Mr. Lincoln:"
Tasked with portraying Abraham Lincoln before he became great, Henry Fonda turned in what The New York Times called "one of those once-in-a-blue-moon things: a crossroads meeting of nature, art and a smart casting director."

Fonda put his own youthful, gangling physique to good use for the 1939 biopic, depicting a young backwoods lawyer with "warmth and kindliness, the pleasant modesty, the courage, resolution, tenderness, shrewdness and wit that Lincoln, even young Mr. Lincoln, must have possessed."

4. Malcolm X, "Malcolm X:" 
Portraying the slain Nation of Islam leader was an early highlight in Denzel Washington's still-stellar career. Chicago critic Roger Ebert gushed that Washington "stands at the center of the film, in a performance of enormous breadth. He never seems to be trying for an effect, and yet he is always convincing" — whether as the zoot-suited ne'er-do-well of Malcolm Little's early years or the driven activist of his last days.

5. Joan of Arc, "The Passion of Joan of Arc:" Silent doesn't rule out powerful, according to the critics who liked Maria Falconetti's portrayal of the French fighting martyr in this 1928 biopic.

"Even in short clips, Falconetti's face is haunting and the fear Joan feels is palpable," writes Anita George according to Paste Magazine. 

Vote Now: Which of These Actors Stands the Test of Time?

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Some real-life people rate bigger-than-life portrayals on the big screen and some of the greatest classic biopic characters were, literally, the roles of a lifetime - the actors and subjects.
classic biopic characters, biopics, roles
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2015-14-23
Thursday, 23 Apr 2015 11:14 AM
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