best film: Lawrence of Arabia is going to be the best film for a few actors as I said earlier when I got to Anthony Quinn. The Bridge on the River Kwai is a masterpiece- a stunning film- but it’s not on the level of Lawrence. Obviously to everyone 40 or so and younger Guinness is best known for Star Wars and that’s fine, too. The 1977 original and Empire are contenders for Guinness’ best film as well. I also think very highly of his 1940’s  Dickens’ adaptation work with David Lean. Perhaps I’m underrating Guinness on this list- he’s been in some phenomenal films.

best performance:   The Bridge on the River Kwai is the easy choice and it’s his academy award winning film. He’s excellent in Lawrence but not in much of the film. William Holden is the main audience vehicle for the film (and I think I’d probably argue the slightly stronger performance) but they’re both spectacular and the devastating finale doesn’t work without your belief in Guinness’ performance.

stylistic innovations/traits: His work in classic 50’s comedies The Lavender Hill Mob and Ladykillers give him depth (not to mention the six films with David Lean) and variety. He’s a spectacular comedian yet nothing could be straighter than his River Kwai performance. He has 18 films in the archives and was in important films in four consecutive decades. The one big flaw for Guinness’, and the sole reason he isn’t in the top 50, is that when I go year-by-year and count the 5-8 best male performances of the year I only came up with his name once—in 1957 for River Kwai, He probably has another 10 years where here’s somewhere from 10-20.

directors worked with:  Lean (6) and it’s the partnership with Lean that’s most important. He’s with him in the two Dickens’ films in the 40’s and the legendary master of the epic-run from 1957 to 1965 with River Kwai, Lawrence, and Zhivago. He worked with Mackendrick twice as well and Oliver Reed once.

Top 5 Performances:

  1. The Bridge on the River Kwai
  2. The Lavendar Hill Mob
  3. Star Wars
  4. Oliver Twist
  5. Ladykillers

Archiveable films

1946- Great Expectations
1948- Oliver Twist
1949- Kind Hearts and Cornets
1951- The Lavender Hill Mob
1951- The Man in the White Suit
1955- Ladykillers
1955- The Prisoner
1957- The Bridge on the River Kwai
1959- Our Man In Havana
1960- Tunes of Glory
1962- Lawrence of Arabia
1965- Doctor Zhivago
1976- Murder By Death
1977- Star Wars
1980- Empire Strikes Back
1983- Return of the Jedi
1984- A Passage to India
1988- A Handful of Dust