Apr 5, 2012

About Gregory Peck

Gregory Peck
This post is part of Ruth's celebration of Mr. Peck's birthday, which is on April 5.

I didn't know what to talk about, because Gregory is one of those reliable actors you've always admired, but never really stopped to think about. So, that's exactly what I'm gonna do: I'll try to capture his screen essence through the twelve films I've seen from him. Hope you enjoy this little ride.

Before you throw tomatoes at me, I have to warn you, I haven't seen iconic films like Moby Dick or The Snows of Kilimanjaro. I'm sorry, I know I should.

Well, if you ask me what does Gregory represent for me, that would be confidence. For me, watching Gregory is like finding a secure, normal, down-to-earth refuge (except for Duel in the Sun, which I told in my own words). I'm not only talking about that security that people with great acting abilities project, people that no matter what, you know they're not going to fail or deliver a line in a wrong way. 

His presence on screen was clean and magnetic in a subtle way. If you were lucky to enter a room where Marlon Brando, Laurence Olivier and Gregory Peck were, and you didn't know them, I'm sure you would notice the other two first. But Gregory's presence would grab your attention sooner than later. He always seems to be there, without really trying, standing calmed and unharmed from any force the scripts make him face. Even if you see him suffer or fear in the most helpless way.

So you have his acting abilities and then his subtle but magnetic presence. Add to this that he seemed to be a great guy. I don't know much about his private life, but I've read about what he believed in and what he did for others or said about them; he was a noble person, a good, caring guy. With that, his brilliant (in every sense) screen presence is conformed. 

Should I tell you about his Joe Bradley, the reporter with the little but profound smile that once fell in love with a princess? Oh, how good Gregory is in Roman Holiday. In the outside, making a very prosaic comparison and almost as a side note I would say he's like a fresh, clean, recently washed sweater. And then, I would say he expresses his character's thoughts and changes through looks and nervous smiles; impatient gestures, pauses and silences. 

He's also a good guy in The Big CountryDesigning Woman and The Million Pound Note. From the three, of course, I highlight the first. Here this noble guy we know is being pushed to be something else, to prove his strength and fierceness. But his character and Gregory himself were people that loved peace, even when that means violence against yourself, even when that means tough decisions. James McKay ends proving his qualities, but in his own terms, at night, when there's no one else but he and his opponent; no malicious looks, no people laughing at the other's disgraces. Even when he knows he's going to win.

Then you have the films that went a bit far, that showed Gregory the good guy in trouble: films like SpellboundBeloved Infidel, On the Beach, The Great Sinner. In these movies he either was alcoholic, had a mental problem or carried great issues upon his shoulders. And yet, I don't really relate these characters, he gave each one of them something different, special. His Francis Scott Fitzgeral was an annoying drunk at some points, very different of his Great Sinner or his Cmdr. Dwight Towers.

And then we go even far. His kind screen presence was forced to face terrible menaces, that are more painful to watch because they come from other people. There you have the awesome The Stalking Moon, where he has to escape from a native and save Eva Marie Saint and her mixed-race son; To Kill a Mockingbird, were white men threaten him and his children just because he defends an innocent human being; and Cape Fear, were the previous plots are almost mixed, and he is persecuted by a guy avid of revenge through his family. 

In the three, he's just a human whose life becomes darker while trying to do justice. He's not a tough, super courageous man. He sometimes feels lost. He's not completely fearless, because he loves and cares for others. And that's why, when he raises victoriously, or he just raises and tries to move on, we feel identified. And we care about Gregory Peck.


  1. I have such a crush on Gregory Peck! :) I've only seen a few of his films, but now you've made me want to go and add many more to my Netflix queue. :)


  2. Peck was the epitome of a great actor. In addition, he was an honorable man than most people respected. There's a reason he was often called upon to play noble types.

  3. I haven't watched that many of his films, but the few I have seen left me yearning for more! I can definitely see the subtle confidence and nobility you talk about, these are rare, amazing features, and Gregory Peck certainly had them. This is a great guide to help me decide what to watch next, and it was really nice to read, too!

  4. Hola Clara, si no la has visto te recomiendo Escarlata y negro. Un duelo de actores con Peck y Plummer.

  5. Clara, don't be sad: I haven't watched Moby Dick or The Snows of Kilimanjaro either...
    Anyway, I also think about Peck as a down-to-earth, magnetic guy with a great sense of justice. Maybe it's his iconic role in To Kill a Mockingbird, but this is his persona for me.
    Oh, he is really handsome in the gif. Reminded me a little of Anthony Perkins.

  6. Lovely, just plain lovely! Thanks for taking part on the Gregory b'day tributes, Clara. I LOVE what you said about Joe Bradley, truly one of my favorite characters from his movies. People always think of Audrey (who was definitely fabulous), but it took two to tango and Greg's part really made the film work for me. Yes, it's his small gestures that add so much and his subtlety really is an art in itself!

    Btw, if you like him in Westerns, do check out Yellow Sky, there's a link to a review from my post, it really is a must for any Gregory fans!

  7. Gregory Peck! Even when he is not so "handsome" like the others, he is such a great actor. I love him in "To kill a mockingbird" or in "The yearling", when he was very young, and he plays the father of and boy of 13, I think.
    And I think everybody loved him, I think.

  8. Clara, your post about birthday boy Gregory Peck was truly stirring and heartfelt! Peck won my heart because he was not only a wonderful actor, but also by all accounts a decent, caring human being. It was clear that he walked the walk as well as talking the talk. Anyone can be a great actor, but being a great human being as well is truly someone to be treasured in this cynical old world!

    On a related note, I was watching some of my favorites among Peck's movies. Here's one that I'd love to have more people know about, as I feel it's a film that is not only a witty and suspenseful thriller, it also happens to showcase the same qualities Peck showed as a decent man in real life: Edward Dmytryk's MIRAGE, from 1965. Here's the link, if you're interested:


  9. This is a beautiful post about a beautiful and still under-appreciated actor. I loved reading your thoughts, Clara!

  10. Gregory Peck has always seemed like a decent person - and a good actor besides. Thanks for posting this great tribute!

  11. @Kristin: Hehe, glad my post inspired to check more of his films, hope you get to see some of them :) Thanks for stopping by!

    @KimWilson: I totally agree :) Thanks for your comment :)

    @Film Flare: Thanks for your kind comment, hope this post helps you to find great films from Greg :)

    @lola: Plummer y Peck? Y no la he visto? Tendré que remediar eso pronto, muchas gracias por la recomendación y la visita!

    @Lê: Thanks for your comment, it's nice to check how we all see him as a kind, noble man :) And, yes, isn't that gif marvelous? Thanks for stopping by!

    @ruth: Aww, thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed my post :) I'll check "Yellow Sky", thank you for the recommendation!

    @Pilar: Thanks for your post. I haven't seen "The yearling", but you've piqued my interest :)

    @DorianTB: Thank you very much! I agree with you, of course. Oh, and thanks for that review, I'll check it now!

    @Caroline: Aww, thank you! I really appreciate it :)

    @SilverScreenings: Thank YOU, for reading it :)

  12. Hi :) I'm still looking for the name of the movie from which is that animation above...Do you happen to know that? Please :)) Thanks!

  13. @Sue

    Hi there, I asked for help over Twitter, and I think @HollywoodComet is right: the film is "Gentleman's Agreement" (1947).

    Hope that helps, thank you for visiting my blog!

  14. @Clara Fercovic thank you so much! :) I must watch it ;)

  15. @Clara Fercovic thank you so much! I must watch it ;)



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