Down the decades I have developed a powerful dislike for certain actors and/or individual performances, players or portrayals that I felt detracted from some really good movies (and a few bad ones). So, I wrote out a list of the really irksome players (or moments) in all the films I have ever watched. The list below is in alphabetical order. Names were selected for their overall body of work, or their on-screen personality (if they possessed one), or a single, diabolically annoying performance. Or a combination of all three. And a couple were picked simply because I don’t like them (Charlton Heston and Woody Allen, for instance). There are no women on my list because the presence of women nearly always improves the quality of a movie. Rarely does it detract from it. Why? Well, they are infinitely better–looking than men to begin with and, with the singular exceptions of Liz Taylor and Roseanne Arnold, they sound better too. And if that is politically incorrect, or chauvinistic, or whatever, so be it. Anyway, here are the dudes I have no time for. Feel free to disagree:

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Woody Allen (1935 – )

How many times must we see this guy playing his pathetic, neurotic self on the screen? And who cares anyway? His pictures don’t make money because only the critics and the actors like them. The public stay away in droves. Nevertheless, those who profess to know what they are talking about consider him to be some kind of genius. If keeping himself out of the clutches of the law requires a level of genius, then they may be right.

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Richard Burton (1925 – 1984)

There is no doubt that Burton was a fine stage actor, but on the screen I always had the feeling that I was watching a clever exponent of acting. I never felt convinced that the characters he portrayed were real people. His professional pauses for emphasis and dramatic effect were simple not natural. Real people do not speak that way.

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Red Buttons (1919 – 2006)

Buttons was one of those character actors that are supposed to be loveable rogues, but who I personally found annoying. Hatari (1962) was not a good film, and it was not helped one iota by Red’s irritating, silly character. Worse still, the writers had the pretty young French actress Michele Girardon’s character fall in love with his. Mind you, the same writers had Elsa Martinelli falling in love with elderly, overweight John Wayne, so their grasp on reality was tenuous at best.

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Jim Carrey (1962 – )

I thought Carrey was outstanding in The Mask (1994); very funny indeed, but everything else he’s done is ‘over-the-top’ rubbish. It is as if the man had suddenly arrived at the inescapable conclusion that he was a comic genius and could do whatever he wanted to. He was wrong.

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Gary Coleman (1968 – 2010)

I am an enormous fan of American child stars. They have always been several cuts above kids from other countries. And most of the really good ones have been genuinely likeable as well, but not the 10 year-old star of TV’s Diff’rent Strokes, Gary Coleman. He was pretentious and not cute at all. One got the impression that out of camera-shot he would have been a giant pain in the ass. His decision to enter politics as an adult pretty much confirmed my opinion.

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Bing Crosby (1903-1977)

Bing Crosby was a fine singer. He even acted very well once, and that was not in Going My Way (1944) when he was gifted a Best Actor Oscar. Ten years later he was far better in The Country Girl and missed out. Figures. Unfortunately, Hollywood kept casting him as a romantic lead, just as they did with the equally homely Fred Astaire. And that really bugged me.

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Tom Ewell (1909 – 1994)

Speaking of homely leading men, Tom Ewell has to take the cake as the homeliest. Not only was he a lumpy, droopy looking guy, he was totally devoid of a personality and, unlike Crosby and Astaire, had no other talents to fall back on either. So, how in hell did he get to play opposite Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch (1955)? One of life’s great mysteries. A lousy movie too. Even Marilyn couldn’t save it.

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Will Ferrell (1967 – )

My children and grand-children are all Will Ferrell fans, Avid fans, in fact. I have forced myself to watch him and have arrived at the conclusion (to me anyway) that the man simply is not funny. He probably has 10,000 fan clubs on the planet, but he just does not make me laugh. A tenth-rater.

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Mel Gibson (1956 – )

I do not think much of Gibson as an actor for the same reason I do not like Liz Taylor as an actress. He has a boring voice – just like Liz. And he is a very ordinary actor to boot. I remember him feigning ‘crazy’ in Lethal Weapon (1987). It was so bad it was laughable.

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George Hamilton (1939 – )

How much mileage can one person extract from a sun tan, a set of pearly whites and nothing else? I saw George in a 1961 western called A Thunder of Drums in which he played a cavalry lieutenant, chasing a mess of Apaches all over dusty, hot Arizona, yet he meticulously wore his hat at a rakish angle throughout! Nothing like a bit of realism, I say. And that was nothing like a bit of realism.

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Charlton Heston (1923 – 2008)

The original wooden Indian standing outside the cigar store. Chuck lost me forever when he collared Russell Crowe as he went to collect his Oscar for Gladiator (2000) and whispered, ‘As one gladiator to another, I salute you!’ What a poser. His championing of the gun lobby in America labelled him as a mindless moron to everyone outside America (and most people inside America, other than the NRA).

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Leslie Howard (1893 – 1943) as Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind (1939)

I thought Leslie Howard was brilliant in The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934) opposite Merle Oberon, but his pitiful turn as Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind five years later is the performance he will most likely be remembered for. He should never have accepted the role. Just too old for it. Even he did not believe that Scarlett would prefer him over Gable. Neither did anyone else.

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Jerry Lewis (1926 – 2017)

Jerry, while he worked with Dean Martin, used to be damned funny in pictures such as Sailor Beware (1952) and Scared Stiff (1953). But once they broke up and he had control over his films, Jerry’s monumental ego took control and he churned out a string of self-serving performances that had none of the early magic.

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Richard Ney (1916 – 2004)

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Ney & his wife Greer Garson

There are a few things wrong with Mrs. Miniver (1942), but they all pale into insignificance when compared to the performance of Richard Ney as the Minivers’ son Vin. Suffice to say, for the only time in my life, I found myself rooting for the Nazis every time he took off in his Spitfire. He was that obnoxious! If the real Battle of Britain had been fought by twits like Vin, it would have been lost inside a week. Fortunately, life did not imitate art.

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Christopher Plummer (1929 – )

No matter how many times The Sound of Music (1965) pops up on TV, my skin still crawls every time I watch Christopher Plummer posturing and strutting about as the Captain. I have often read that the man himself hates the movie, but does he also hate his own swanning-about performance in it? He should. Surely, he cannot be that vain in real life?

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Elvis Presley (1935 – 1977)

Sorry, Elvis. I like your music and a lot of those who knew or met you have said you were a really nice guy, but your movies positively sucked. Every last one of them. To be fair to him, I don’t think his heart was ever in those brainless vehicles the Colonel lined up for him, but that does not excuse his lousy acting and the even lousier screenplays. Elvis was a force to be reckoned with, so why did he not throw his weight around and demand rewrites instead of simply accepting the garbage served up to him? And did his collar always have to be turned up?

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Mickey Rooney (1920 – 2014)

‘Let’s put on a show!’ God, how many times did Mickey Rooney say that in his pictures with Judy Garland? There is something about a pint-sized kid with an ego the size of the Grand Canyon that truly bugs me. Having said that, I think the main reason for my dislike of Mickey Rooney lies in the fact that he must have had the IQ of a sea squirt! How can anyone with even half a brain cheat on Ava Gardner two weeks into their marriage? What an idiot.

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Adam Sandler (1966 – )

One day someone must explain to me why this guy has such a following from the young. I have seen several of his pictures and he is not clever, he’s not articulate, he’s nothing to look at and his sense of humour is at best infantile. If Adam Sandler is the yardstick for young cinema-goers today, all I can say is I weep for them.

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Gene Wilder (1933 – 2016)

Gene Wilder is no longer with us, yet I have little doubt that there are millions of movie fans that mourn his passing. I am not among them. I know that Mel Brooks loved him and used him often, but what was the attraction? He was the least funny in Blazing Saddles (1974), he was irritating in The Producers (1967) and generally dull in everything else. A monstrously over-rated comic.

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Norman Wisdom (1915 – 2010)

I used to love watching Norman Wisden. When I was about six– but then I outgrew his style of humour. Watching his old films today, I am struck by his tendency to always be ‘on’. The man tried too hard to get laughs all the time. Even when he toddled off to Buckingham Palace in June 2000 to be knighted, he still ’tripped’ as he left the ceremony. Couldn’t help himself. I am probably a bit tough on him, but if you can’t grow up at 85, when can you?


I shall be interested to hear if readers agree with any of my choices. Who do you especially dislike?


  1. I pretty much agree with most of those actors, I was hoping to see John Wayne in there somewhere, now there’s a real character actor, one who plays the same character in every film.

    • I agree with you, Brian. Wayne always played himself, but then so does Woody Allen, Adam Sandler etc. The difference for me was simple. I could stomach Wayne’s personality on the screen, whereas I cannot abide the others.

  2. Bananas,Annie Hall,Zelig,Broadway Danny Rose,Small Time Crooks.
    Love each WA movie. A talented writer,director,comedian.
    Don’t love every one of his films but that is only normal since no director in history had all sensational movies to their credits.

    I’ve enjoyed RB’s theatrical approach to his roles in some wonderful films such as The Robe.
    Yes,I also enjoy more naturalistic acting too,but sometimes I get a kick out of the larger than life histrionics. Room for both.

    Rod Serling wrote a searing teleplay for live television back in the 50s. “The Comedian”was a look into the backstage slice of life of a egomaniac TV comic. He was difficult,belittled everyone,demanding,insulting & took no prisoners.
    For years the speculation was that the role(beautifully played by Mickey Rooney)was based upon Milton Berle.

    Reading Kliph Nesterhouse’s article on the story of Red Buttons live 50s variety TV show,I thing Red was the subject for Rod’s script.

    I’ve enjoyed Heston’s performances even if he is stiff in some of them as actor Jim Garner noted about CH in his(Garner’s)autobiography.
    Admired that he was one of the very rare actors of his stature that took on roles in science~fiction movies.
    Majority of actors at his level wouldn’t touch sci~fi parts deeming the genre as silly,trite,juvenile.
    Chuck did the classic The Planet of the Apes,the sequel Beneath the POTA(which he did reluctantly due to contractual obligations)The Omega Man,Soylant Green.

    Never a Jerry Lewis fan,or at least not much of one. Grew up watching his movie with Dean & solo. Funny moments here and there to be sure but overall his comedy just came off as dumb and unwatchable.
    Found him to be a fascinating interview when he wasn’t doing his Jerry schtick.
    Intelligent man. However, many encounters with him by the public revealed him to be angry,insulting,volatile,bitter.
    Created the Video-Assist for film making in the 60s. It remains an invaluable tool today.
    His charity work for MDA was admirable even with its controversies.
    Could not hold a candle to Danny Kaye.

    Mickey Rooney was a tremendous talent and could do it all.
    I agree that his ego was also enormous Alan,but few of those Hollywood folks are humble.
    I know,some are harder to take than others. You are certainly entitled to dislike and like different performers as we all are.

    I’ve just found that rarely is an actor I like all good or bad. Comes with being human I guess.

    • Fair comments, Mike. We must agree to disagree. There is certainly no shortage of egos in Hollywood, as you say, but there are a few I personally cannot tolerate. Clearly, you are a more tolerant individual than me. Movie stardom often relies on ‘likeability’ rather than acting talent, I feel. Hence, we once had the likes of Julia Roberts at the top of the tree. Meryl Streep is the exception, of course. Sheer talent is enough in her case. I still cannot fathom why young people LOVE Will Ferrell! He is TALENTLESS – as his latest pathetic effort is clearly demonstrating. I may have been a tad harsh on Mickey Rooney though. Guess I am still stunned by him cheating on Ava Gardner. He must have had the IQ of a sea anenome! Admittedly, he made me laugh in the Andy Hardy films. But cheating on 19 year-old Ava…sheesh! I enjoy reading your comments, Mike. Thank you.

  3. I despise Bob Hope. Ever since I saw him swinging a nine iron on top of the Sphinx he’s been on my death list. Jerry Lewis is another one roasting on a spit in Hell.

    Poor Leslie Howard. He couldn’t catch a break….Alan, who do you think would have made a better Ashley Wilkes? (Howard had great chemistry with Olivia De Haviland.) My favorite scene in GWTW takes place at Tara after the war, when an exhausted Scarlett hurls herself at Ashley, and between passionate adulterous kisses, urges him in the strongest terms to run away with her to Mexico. In 1939 USA that might as well have had an X rating slapped all over it. The Catholic Church condemned the film and the novel was on the Index. (Judged dangerous to Catholic faith and morals.)

    • Hope made a mint out of the residuals for his trips to Vietnam during the war. Hypocrite right down the line. Lewis thought he was God’s gift to comedy. He wasn’t. Howard was, in my opinion, just too old for the Ashley Wilkes role, Max, but I have never thought about who might have taken his place. Depends who was available, I suppose. The Catholic Church condemned film after film, usually for some pitifully weak reason. Pity they didn’t show the same zeal and condemn their raft of pedaphile priests down the centuries. More hypocrites.

    • This message is for Jeff who asked about WAMPAS on the ‘Feedback’ link. Unfortunately, I can only respond to queries in the ‘comments’ section. There is no provision for responses in ‘Feedback’. Having said that, I am afraid I have no idea about WAMPAS radios. Didn’t know they existed. Sorry I can’t help you, Jeff.

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