best film: It’s either On the Waterfront from Kazan in 1954 or Doctor Zhivago from Lean in 1965. I think I’m still going with Kazan’s classic film as Steiger’s best. He’s not Brando- but he’s crucial to some of the film’s greatest scenes.

best performance:  The Pawnbroker and I don’t think this one is close even though Steiger is far from being a one-hit one (sort of like Peter Lorre here who is going to be ahead of him). Steiger’s Oscar win in 1967 should’ve been won by someone else (probably Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate) but Steiger should’ve won three years earlier for The Pawnbroker (that’s how things tend to work themselves out with Academy Awards). Steiger is dynamite in Zhivago so it’s saying something that his work here in Lumet’s film is so far superior.

stylistic innovations/traits: Steiger could play a brute (and often did) but could also play intelligence, confidence, and a character with baggage. He traded lines (some of the greatest lines in film history) with Brando in the “I coulda been a contender” scene (Steiger is “Charlie”) and won an Oscar doing battle with Sidney Poitier in In the Heat of the Night. Mostly though it’s his work back to back in 1964’s The Pawnbroker and Lean’s epic in 1965 (Zhivago) that puts him squarely on this list.

directors worked with:   Jewison (2—have to include his cameo as the judge in The Hurricane) — amongst those he worked with once is Kazan, Aldrich, Fuller, Lumet, Lean and Leone.

Top 5 Performances:

  1. The Pawnbroker
  2. Doctor Zhivago
  3. On the Waterfront
  4. In the Heat of the Night
  5. Duck, You Sucker

Archiveable films

1954- On the Waterfront
1955- Oklahoma
1955- The Big Knife
1956- The Harder They Fall
1957- Run of the Arrow
1959- Al Capone
1962- The Longest Day
1964- The Pawnbroker
1965- Doctor Zhivago
1965- The Loved One
1967- In the Heat of the Night
1971- Duck, You Sucker
1999- The Hurricane