Actors are always married to a project. But it’s pretty rare for costars such as Flesh and Bone‘s Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid to be wedded to each other. For perspective on the subject, we asked Molly Haskell and Andrew Sarris, two maritally joined film critics, to look at four classic movie couples. Sarris gives the wives the eye; Haskell, the husbands.
Joanne Woodward Opposite Newman in movies like 1960’s From the Terrace and Mr. and Mrs Bridge (1990), she brings a skepticism that makes him-with his cruel blue eyes-seem more human.
Elizabeth Taylor To paraphrase the line about Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Richard Burton gave her class and she gave him sex appeal.
Lauren Bacall Her years with Bogie on screen (starting with 1944’s To Have and Have Not) and off established her as a no-nonsense star with a wicked gleam in her eye. Today she remains an icon of ’40s gallantry.
Vivien Leigh Even with Olivier disfigured as Lord Nelson, she endows That Hamilton Woman (1941)-one of the few films they made together-with more passion than can be found in any of her other movies.
Paul Newman Some of Woodward’s finest performances-in Rachel, Rachel (1968) and The Glass Menagerie (1987)-came from his direction, which indicates a private affinity that transcends the couple’s unequal positions in the public eye.
Richard Burton Though nominated for seven Oscars, he never became a great star on his own, and Taylor never became a great actress (despite her two Oscars).
Humphrey Bogart Curiously, most people now remember him as a lover more for his romantic scenes with Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca (1942) than for any of his movies with Bacall, his partner in insolence.
Laurence Olivier That Hamilton Woman showcased Leigh at the peak of her career and Olivier in more of a character role. One might say that their movie career together was as ill-fated as their 20-year marriage.