An A-Z Guide to Film’s Greatest Faces

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The brilliant Buster Keaton is the subject of a 15-disc Blu-ray box set released by Kino Lorber today. The Ultimate Buster Keaton Collection includes an exclusive release of the 1927 film College, along with a 1966 industrial short that was Keaton’s final filmed performance. The iconic movie star’s deadpan delivery earned him the nickname, the “Great Stone Face,” which was an especially amusing contrast during the actor-director’s many stunts and unique brand of physical comedy. Keaton inspired us to explore other great faces in cinema, and we’ve catalogued them in a handy A to Z guide. (We wish the alphabet had more letters.) These thespians aren’t necessarily the most classically or popularly attractive movie stars, but their eccentric and expressive faces are a gateway to a deeply emotional and thrilling experience. It’s our most human connection to the celluloid. Who gives great face? Click through to see a few of our favorites, and tell us yours.

Mary Astor

She was nicknamed the “Cameo Girl” for her classic profile.

Charles Bronson

A legendary face that was menacing. Bronson looked like the quintessential tough guy.

James Cagney

His furrowed mug made him the perfect gangster.

Bette Davis

Those eyes. That smirk.

Clint Eastwood

Even as a younger man, Eastwood had a creased face that made him an iconic, macho toughie.

Mia Farrow

Doe-eyed, sometimes impish, fragile.

Judy Garland

When the studios tried to settle on an image for Garland as she transitioned into adult film roles, they tried to change almost everything about her looks. The “ugly duckling” (as they called her) was forced to wear caps on her teeth, lose weight, insert rubber discs into her nose to change the shape, pluck her hairline, change her eyebrows, and change the shape of her lips.

Gene Hackman

The tough guy actor looks the way his last name sounds.

Photo credit: Michel Comte

Jeremy Irons

The Dead Ringers actor has looks that range from expressive elegance to dark and intimidating — just like the roles he loves to play.

Angelina Jolie

“I always felt not traditionally beautiful.”

Eartha Kitt

An unforgettable smile and snarl.

Peter Lorre

He was a living caricature.

Lee Marvin

The stony-faced star was one of film’s greatest “heavies,” and his strong features told stories.

Franco Nero

The handsome Italian actor looked dangerous, even when playing the good guy.

Photo credit: Jack English

Gary Oldman

A man of many faces, Oldman is one of those rare chameleons who truly embodies his roles inside and out.

Mary Pickford

The silent star and co-founder of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (one of 36) is known as “America’s Sweetheart.” Her ultra feminine looks and talent embodied “luminous tenderness in a steel band of gutter ferocity.”

Anthony Quinn

The Mexican-American actor often found himself typecast in exotic, villainous roles. However, his memorable looks also typified the passionate painter he was off stage, which is how he came to play Paul Gauguin for MGM’s 1956 biopic, Lust for Life.

Christina Ricci

“I’m not mainstream-looking. I’m not very skinny. I’m not …like… beautiful.”

Takashi Shimura

He’s appeared in over 20 Akira Kurosawa films (the auteur only created 30 movies), thanks to his expressive face that embodied universality in Kurosawa’s existential masterworks.

Danny Trejo

One of the most distinctive craggy-faced men in cinema, Trejo’s heavily lined features tell many tales.

Peter Ustinov

The renowned English actor, dramatist, and raconteur had an effortless way about him.

Lee Van Cleef

Most popular for his western roles, including the iconic The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Van Cleef had a sinister face with a leer most contemporary movie villains can only hope to attain.

Christopher Walken

At his most composed, Walken’s face is the quiet before the storm. When unhinged, it’s pure madness.

Xin Xin Xiong

The Hong Kong star, also known as Hung Yan-Yan, gives great rage face.

Loretta Young

One of Hollywood’s most beautiful early leading ladies, Young had a face that allowed her to play the graceful and glamorous starlet, or the exotic beauty.

Photo credit: Richard Beymer

Grace Zabriskie

You’ll recognize Zabriskie from her TV roles in Twin Peaks, Big Love, and Seinfeld, but she’s appeared in over 80 films. Her wild mane and gaze give her one of those fantastic character actress faces. She can exude vulnerability or seem completely terrifying — which is why she’s also a cult film favorite.