The Allure of All-Star Casts

Amy Adams has won the coveted role of Lois Lane in the upcoming Superman: The Man of Steel movie.  The casting has really intrigued me: Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman, Kevin Costner as Pa Kent, and Diane Lane as Ma Kent.  I have been similarly impressed with the announced cast of the adaptation of Game Change -- Juliane Moore as Sarah Palin, Ed Harris as John McCain, and Woody Harrelson as Steve Schmidt.  Star power is a tried and true gimmick to draw attention to a project -- people gravitate toward the names sometimes more than to the story.  When we watch a film or TV show or a stage performance and a familiar face appears, we tend to react positively (when the casting is right, of course) as if seeing an old friend.

Some movies and shows come to mind because of their all-star casts.  Here are a few:

The Magnificent Seven - This classic Western featured Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Eli Wallach, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, James Coburn, and Brad Dexter.

The Greatest Story Ever Told - The cast of thousands included Max von Sydow, Victor Buono, Jose Ferrer, Charlton Heston, Martin Landau, Angela Lansbury, David McCallum, Roddy McDowell, Donald Pleasence, Sydney Poitier, Claude Rains, Pat Boone, Telly Savalas, John Wayne, Shelley Winters, Robert Blake, Robert Loggia, Jamie Farr, etc. etc. etc.

Ocean's Eleven - The original 1960 version starred Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, Angie Dickinson, Cesar Romero, and Joey Bishop.  The remake included George Clooney, Bernie Mac, Brad Pitt, Elliott Gould, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Carl Reiner, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Julia Roberts, Don Cheadle, Wayne Newton, Topher Grace, Joshua Jackson, and others.  The sequels introduced more big names to the cast: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Eddie Izzard, Cherry Jones, Al Pacino, and Ellen Barkin.

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World - This is the classic all-star comedy with Spencer Tracy, Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Buddy Hackett, Ethel Merman, Mickey Rooney, Phil Silvers, Jonathan Winters, Jim Backus, Peter Falk, Norman Fell, Don Knotts, Carl Reiner, Jimmy Durante, Moe Howard, Jerry Lewis, and even Buster Keaton!

Murder By Death - This is one of those guilty pleasures of mine, a silly little mystery spoof with a terrific cast: Peter Falk, Truman Capote, Alec Guinness, David Niven, Peter Sellers, Maggie Smith, James Cromwell, and the screaming voice of Fay Wray!

Murder Can Hurt You - Here's another crime spoof that I remember fondly, even if it wasn't exactly an all time classic. It starred Victor Buono, Tony Danza, Jamie Farr, John Byner, Gavin MacLeod, Connie Stevens, Jimmie Walker, Burt Young, and the voices of Don Adams and Mel Blanc.

The Expendables - Check my past blog entry about this recent all-star action flick.

The Usual Suspects - When Pete Postlethwaite passed away, I wrote about him and his stellar cast in this awesome movie.

The Godfather - Who can beat the cast of arguably the greatest movie ever made: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Abe Vigoda, Talia Shire, John Cazale, and in the rest of the trilogy Robert De Niro, Lee Strasberg, Bruno Kirby, Danny Aiello, Harry Dean Stanton, Roger Corman, Andy Garcia, Eli Wallach, Joe Mantegna, Bridget Fonda, John Savage, and (unfortunately) Sofia Coppola.

GoodFellas - Mobster movies always seem to have terrific casts.  Get a load of this: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino, Frank Vincent, Gina Mastrogiacomo, Debi Mazar, MIchael Imperioli, Samuel L. Jackson, and more!

There are so many more, but those are some of my favorites.  What are yours?


Cousin said…
You can thank Christopher Nolan for the all-star casting in comic book movies.
Nick said…
Tim Burton also put some good names in his films -- Jack Nicholson, Kim Bassinger, Michael Keaton, Billy Dee Williams, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, etc.