best film: Chinatown is the best of the lot though I also consider Network and Bonnie and Clyde to be masterpieces. Dunaway’s achievement in Chinatown may not be on par with Polanski, Towne (damn that screenplay) or Jack, but she’s fantastic in the film and the key to the classic “Sister, Mother, Sister” slap scene with Nicholson.
best performance: Network and this is close as well. Dunaway is essentially here because of her best three performances (and just being such an important figure to the new generation of American cinema). Her work in Network was vital to help debunk stereotypical gender roles. She’s aggressive, purely driven by power and self-interest. She’s not a flat character either and that depth is flushed out by Dunaway who was clearly in top form during this stretch of her career. She trades barbs with Holden (and this is probably his best work) and Robert Duvall. Nearly an equally strong case could be made for her performances in Bonnie and Clyde and Chinatown. Bonnie and Clyde is a star-making role/performance if I’ve ever seen it and it’s hard to picture any other actress able to steal key scenes from Nicholson in Chinatown.
stylistic innovations/traits: Dunaway is crucial to the American resurgence in cinema often defined as the new generation or American New Wave. She has a total of 9 archiveable films (not a lot to be this close to the top 10) but 8 of the 9 were from 1967-1976 (and 1987’s Barfly is so 1970’s cinema in spirit). There was no better actress in the world during that time and that’s an important time for cinema. She acts with and bests the likes of Dustin Hoffman, Warren Beatty, Robert Redford, Jack Nicholson and Steve McQueen.
directors worked with: Penn (2) and then once a piece, in masterpieces, with Polanski and Sidney Lumet
Top 5 Performances:
- Bonnie and Clyde
- Three Days of the Condor
|1967- Bonnie and Clyde|
|1968- The Thomas Crown Affair|
|1970- Little Big Man|
|1973- The Three Musketeers|
|1974- Towering Inferno|
|1975- Three Days of the Condor|