#2. Omar Sharif -- The 13th Warrior
A movie about Antonio Banderas as a wimpy Arabian philanderer who travels across the world and ends up becoming a wimpy Viking. The possibly literally immortal Omar Sharif appears as Banderas' multi-purpose old guy (servant/mentor/Viking interpreter), although his actual function in the movie is sitting on a camel while wearing a turban so that people will think they're watching him in Lawrence of Arabia and not change the channel.
Columbia Pictures, Touchstone Pictures
"Ugh, it's the HD remaster where you can see all the wrinkles."
Sharif's "retirement" after The 13th Warrior lasted only a few years, but I'm giving him a spot on this list because I think it's hilarious how angry he got at this movie. His part wasn't even that big -- it was probably a few days of shooting in exchange for a big paycheck, but it still made him say: "Let us stop this nonsense, these meal tickets that we do because it pays well ... bad pictures are very humiliating, I was really sick." He talks about this thing like it's his own personal Vietnam: "It is terrifying to have to do the dialogue from bad scripts, to face a director who does not know what he is doing, in a film so bad that it is not even worth exploring." Doctor Zhivago himself apparently wakes up in a cold sweat every night, replaying this in his head:
"The horror, the horror."
I think he might have exaggerated a little bit. This isn't what you'd call a good movie, but it's not Bio-Dome either. It is my opinion that the director who made Die Hard is incapable of doing a film that's 100 percent without merit, no matter how hard he tries. And yet, after the movie flopped in 1999, Sharif was so disgusted that he stopped acting for a while and didn't sign up for another Hollywood film until 2004 (dude's got bills to pay and a mustache to maintain).
Perhaps the important consideration for Sharif was that his teenage grandchildren were now making fun of him because of his bad movies, and if you don't have the respect of a 16-year-old with a Big Johnson T-shirt, then what do you have? He's done other movies since 2004, mostly in Europe and Asia, but the main activity of the now 82-year-old former actor seems to be punching, head-butting, and slapping people in public without provocation.
Foc Kan/WireImage/Getty Images
He seems much happier in this new career.
#1. Greta Garbo -- Two-Faced Woman
Every serious dramatic actress has it: that one completely ridiculous movie they do when people start saying their roles are getting too heavy, so they decide to leave their dignity aside for a while. Glenn Close has Mars Attacks!, Meryl Streep has Death Becomes Her, and Greta Garbo (the original "intense movie lady") has Two-Faced Woman, a romantic comedy about a woman who pretends to be her own rumba-dancing twin sister to seduce her husband. It's a pretty standard plot. I could see Jennifer Lawrence doing that movie today, flopping, and then moving on with her career.
They should keep that exact same tagline. Even the Garbo part. That is perfect.
This silly little movie ruined Greta Garbo. Broke her. It was the Bane to her Batman. She was only 36, one of the great leading ladies of classic Hollywood, had three Oscar nominations, her previous film had been a huge hit ... and Two-Faced Woman ended everything. She called it "my grave" and didn't do another movie for the next 49 years, until she went to her actual grave.
No, I didn't Photoshop this. I went there and placed the sticker.
Again, this lady was so massively famous that most of you reading this right now have never seen even a single second of her movies, and you still know her name and occupation. She's synonymous with "good actress." By 1941 she had only one big flop, but she made up for it by hitting a home run with Ninotchka, which got Garbo her third Oscar nomination ... and third Oscar snub, but only because the Academy probably figured, "Eh, she's gonna keep making movies for decades, we'll give her one or five some other time."
But then this minor comedy that should have been a footnote in her career came along and fucked everything up like a discreet, mildly amusing rumba tornado. The reviews were brutal: Those smack-talkers at Time Magazine said Two-Faced Woman was "almost as shocking as seeing your mother drunk" (if your mom was 36 and actually still pretty hot). Garbo was so embarrassed that she went into a "temporary" retirement that she never came out of. It's not like the movie was so unfunny that she was blacklisted or something: She was still offered roles by famous directors, but she said no to most and had an awesome eye for only picking ones that never got made.
When the Academy gave Garbo an honorary Oscar in 1955 as a "hey, come on, we didn't mean it" gesture, she didn't bother to show up and they had to mail it to her house, which she rarely left by then. It's like she was so ashamed of that one so-so movie that she decided to live her life in exile as punishment. Be right back, gonna go steal some of her blood and inject it into Shia LaBeouf.
Maxwell Yezpitelok was recently interviewed on the occasion of his joint Nobel Prize/Teens Choice Award win. His Twitter is here.