6 Classic Movies Starring Fredric March

One of classic Hollywood's more prolific actors, Fredric March delivered great performances in both comedies and dramas. March won two Academy Awards for Best Actor and was nominated for three more. Both versatile and popular, he appeared in movies for over six decades. Here are six great performances by Fredric March.

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'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' – 1931

Paramount Pictures

In 1930, March received his first Oscar nomination for Best Actor with his performance in The Royal Family of Broadway. But the actor won the Academy Award for his excellent turn in this adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic morality tale. March played the dual roles of the kindly Dr. Jekyll, who makes the fatal mistake of creating a drug that unleashes his evil side, which manifests itself as the wicked Mr. Hyde. Jekyll is unable to control his alter ego and ultimately suffers a tragic fate. Directed by Rouben Mamoulian, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde holds up well even today.

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'A Star Is Born' – 1937

Kino Lorber

Directed by William Wellman, A Star Is Born was the first of three (and counting) variations of this rags to riches tale about a young actress (Janet Gaynor) who dreams of becoming a star. Despite being told she doesn't have a prayer, Vickie determines to gain stardom and becomes attached to Norman Maine (March), a drunk aging matinee idol. Norman helps launch Esther's career and the two get married. But Norman becomes jealous when Vickie's star rises and his drowns in a bottle of booze. Highly praised by critics, A Star Is Born earned March his third Oscar nomination for Best Actor.

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'Nothing Sacred' – 1937

Kino Lorber

Also in 1937, March matched wits with legendary actress Carole Lombard in this classic screwball comedy from director William Wellman. Nothing Sacred stars March as Wally Cook, a disgraced reporter looking to get back into the good graces of his editor (Walter Connolly). He jumps on the story of a young woman named Hazel Flagg (Lombard) dying from radiation poisoning. Of course, she's not really dying and Cook must hide this fact from the public, even to the point of conjuring up a fake suicide. The two naturally fall in love, which works out just fine once the public moves on to the next new story. March and Lombard were great together on screen, and benefited from writer Ben Hecht's sharp dialogue.

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'The Best Years of Our Lives' – 1946

Warner Bros.

One of the great dramas of the 1940s, The Best Years of Our Lives earned March his second Oscar for Best Actor. Directed by William Wyler, the picture followed three veterans who return home from the war and face difficulties readjusting to civilian life. March played Al Stephenson, a platoon sergeant in the Pacific who returns home to his comfortable life with his wife (Myrna Loy) and two children (Teresa Wright and Michael Hall). Al goes back to his old job as a bank loan officer, but runs into trouble when he approves a loan to a Navy vet without collateral. The Best Years of Our Lives also starred Dana Andrews and real-life amputee Harold Russell as the other two veterans.

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'Death of a Salesman' – 1951

Columbia Pictures

March earned his fifth career nomination for Best Actor for his portrayal of Willy Loman in this first of many adaptations of Arthur Miller's acclaimed play. Directed by Laszlo Benedek, Death of a Salesman starred March as the down and out Loman, a salesman who starts losing his grip on reality after 60 years of failure. Though he has the support of his wife (Mildred Dunnock), Willy slowly unravels while trying to figure out where he went wrong in his life. Miller disavowed Benedek's adaptation of Death of a Salesman, but critics loved it and March earned the final Academy Award nomination of his career.

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'Inherit the Wind' – 1960

Twilight Time

Inspired by the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925, Inherit the Wind starred March as a crusading attorney based on William Jennings Bryan. Directed by Stanley Kramer, this courtroom drama focused on the arrest of a school teacher (Dick York) for teaching evolution and the subsequent trial. With Jennings leading the prosecution, another crusading attorney based on Clarence Darrow (Spencer Tracy) defend the teacher. He's helped by an atheist journalist (Gene Kelly) modeled after H.L. Mencken. Though both March and Tracy were in the autumn years of their careers, the two were mesmerizing in their lengthy courtroom debates.