John Gavin Movies

Want to know the best John Gavin movies?  How about the worst John Gavin movies?  Curious about John Gavin box office grosses or which John Gavin movie picked up the most Oscar® nominations? Need to know which John Gavin movie got the best reviews from critics and audiences? Well you have come to the right place….because we have all of that information.

John Gavin (1931-2018) was an American actor.  He was best known for his performances in the films 1959’s Imitation of Life , 1960’s Spartacus , 1960’s Psycho  and playing leading roles in a series of films for producer Ross Hunter.  After his movie career he was the United States Ambassador to Mexico from 1981 to 1986.

His IMDb page shows 43 acting credits from 1956 to 1981.  This page will rank 19 John Gavin movies from Best to Worst in six different sortable columns of information. Television roles, cameos, shorts and movies not released in North America were not included in the rankings.

Vera Miles and John Gavin in 1960’s Psycho

John Gavin Movies Can Be Ranked 6 Ways In This Table

The really cool thing about this table is that it is “user-sortable”. Rank the movies anyway you want.

  • Sort John Gavin movies by titles and their trailers
  • Sort John Gavin movies by his co-stars
  • Sort John Gavin movies by adjusted domestic box office grosses using current movie ticket cost (in millions)
  • Sort John Gavin movies by domestic yearly box office rank
  • Sort John Gavin movies by how they were received by critics and audiences.  60% rating or higher should indicate a good movie.
  • Sort by how many Oscar® nominations and how many Oscar® wins each John Gavin movie received.
  • Sort John Gavin movies by Ultimate Movie Rankings (UMR) Score.  UMR puts box office, reviews and awards into a mathematical equation and gives each movie a score.

Steve’s John Gavin You Tube Video

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23 thoughts on “John Gavin Movies

  1. John Gavin certainly was a handsome guy and probably not as stiff an actor as Hitchcock labeled him- yet, he most certainly was no contender for a world acting champions award either. He was very well suited for his parts in Ross Hunter productions, being the ornamental beau to the Lana Turner’s or Susan Hayward’s of Hunter’s glossy universe. His part in Psycho certainly was overshadowed by Norman Bates, but, at the film’s opening, when Hitchcock made us voyeurs by giving us a peek through that Hotel room window, where a slightly clad Janet Leigh had just made love to a bare chested John Gavin, we could certainly understand the attraction that led to Leighs final shower a reel or two later.
    I have seen 9 films listed above, and in true fashion for a Hitchcock buff, Psycho is my favorite. Yet, I have often said before that I am an admirer of Douglas Sirk, too, who, it seems, is held in higher critical esteem in Europe than in the US. Imitation of Life is well known to most movie fanatics, but I also like the much lesser known a Time to Love and a Time to Die, where Gavin costarred with swiss Superstar Lieselotte “Lilo” Pulver (later to join James Cagney in Billy Wilder’s One,Two,Three). I was disappointed to see this favorite ending up right down the list, but at least it made the top 5 in Steve’s beautiful tribute video. I prefer the earlier versions of Back Street to the Hawward/Gavin one, especially, of course, the one starring Margaret Sullavan, and I won’t say anything about Midnight Lace, not wanting to spoil the future enjoyment of this movie for the owner of the house.
    It was nice being able to ramble a bit about Mr. John Gavin, although the reason wasn’t- so Rest in Peace, Mr. Gavin…and although I am not your biggest fan, you have given me many beautiful movie memories. Thanks to Bruce and Steve for their respective tributes!

    1. Hi Lupino, thank you for the kind words, happy you liked the video.

      Bruce presents the facts and stats on the page and Steve the posters and stills on video (with a chart countdown to numero uno as an exciting bonus). 😉

      1. “(with a chart countdown to numero uno as an exciting bonus)” -always an exciting and often a surprising bonus… enjoyed a few of your videos without commenting over the last weeks, and one surprise was Breakfast at Tiffany’s beating out How the West was Won in your George Peppard tribute 🙂

    2. Hey Lupino….thanks for checking out our John Gavin tribute page.I have to admit other than a few of his movies my knowledge on him was pretty limited. Your 9 tops our tally contest…to bad Dan and Bob do not mention their tallies….as you regularly win these contests. If you sort the movies by review %…your A Time To Love and A Time To Die….gets a Top 5 spot. Yet anoher mention of the quality of Midnight Lace…..spoilers that are almost 60 years old. Thanks for the feeback…good stuff as always.

      1. The powers that be have granted your quest 😉 (see my reply to Dan’s post)
        yes, A Time to Love….is doing not too badly when it comes to reviews.

    3. Hello Lupino
      Liselotte Pulver it make so long time i dont read her name;
      I know her by french films with Jean Gabin that all but in the mean time to day it is so far away and i have to confess when i was young when i heard somebody speaking of John Gavin i was thinking it was the translation in english of Jean Gabin but i was so young!!!!
      A plus
      Pierre

  2. Bruce, Steve,
    Good work on your respective tributes to John Gavin, a somewhat forgotten actor, but one who enjoyed considerable popularity as a leading man for a few years in the late 1950s and early 1960s, as well as some success in politics, particularly in his role as US Ambassador to Mexico.

    Steve’s video has some nice stills of Gavin with Susan Hayward in Back Street, as Julius Caesar in Spartacus (also liked the little-seen poster of Kirk Douglas jumping out), and of course in several shots of Psycho. Bruce provides us with useful background and box office information, including on several films not previously seen in UMR pages, most notably, the first film Gavin starred in, A Time to Love and a Time to Die, a critically acclaimed war drama telling a story from a German’s soldier point of view, which was unusual for Hollywood in 1958 (though I confess not to have seen it). This time, I find that your respective critical ratings are generally quite consistent with each-other and what I have seen through other sources…although there are less films to disagree with in this case 🙂

    John Gavin is a somewhat unusual Hollywood actor as he seemed to have sabotaged, consciously or not, his career when he left Universal after 1961’s Back Street, arguably his biggest commercial success as a top leading man (though he was also technically the top leading man for Imitation of Life, that film revolved primarily around Lana Turner and every-one else was in reality supporting cast). Gavin was at the peak of his popularity at the time, having appeared in several big hits, his good looks and comfortable, manly presence making him both something of a teenage heartthrob as well as a serious leading man. Instead of building on this success, Gavin tried to make some films in Europe which never got off the ground and then came back to Hollywood in 1964 to star in the unsuccessful TV cowboy series Destry. It was not until 1967 that he would appear again in films, and by that time, his star had faded considerably, while tall, dark and handsome types were less in fashion. I remember Gavin once explaining in an interview that he had found his new-found fame and adoring young women (not exact words) a bit overwhelming, which may explain the development (or lack of) of his career. Reading a little about him, he certainly seems not to have felt comfortable with the Hollywood system, and may have felt more at home in his political roles (including as President of the Screen Actor Guild). While it is unlikely that he would have become another Rock Hudson, one wonders how his film career would have turned out if he had remained with Universal in the early 60s.

    In any case, he has still left us with a few good films to remember him by, so as others have said, RIP John Gavin.

    1. Hey PhilHoF2017
      1. Lots of solid comments in your thoughts…..as I agree with everything you wrote.
      2. As for his career derailing….as much as I love Mr. Hitchcock….he pretty much helped ruin that career….as Hitch was not impressed with Gavin’s performance in Psycho…..called him “The Stiff” whenever he talked about Gavin.
      3. I tried to include his overseas movies….but many did not play in a single theater in North America.
      4. Sad that Destry did not bring him back his previous glory.
      5. I agree….he has left a nice legacy….Rest in Peace Mr. Gavin.

      1. Thanks Bruce,

        1. I was not aware Hitchcock had criticized Gavin to that extent, so yes, this may have contributed to his downfall, though I don’t think it was the only factor since Gavin still had some good roles after Psycho. Personally, I think Gavin was effective in his role in Psycho, playing a comforting hero, yet somewhat dark at the same time, but it’s obviously Perkins’s film.

        2. I believe you included most of Gavin’s films actually. I don’t think he ended up doing many films outside of the US in the end. And it’s interesting you found box office information for the Mexican film Pedro Pamaro, which was maybe an opportunity for Gavin to explore the Mexican side of his roots (from his mother’s side) and gain some on-the-ground experience for his future role as Ambassador.

        3. I was going to point out that A Time to Love and a Time to Die appeared at the bottom of your list in error given its relatively higher UMR score but I see that you have now fixed that.

        1. Hey PhilHoF…yep Hitch was not too kind to Gavin. I agree Perkins easily outshined Gavin….but Gavin was the hero of the movie. I admit….we are shaky on our Pedro Pamaro box office number….based it on some online books…which are least reliable source….but I know it did not do any better….because it did not crack Variety’ Top Grosser lists. Some download issues…sometimes I have to download the information a few times for errors to fix themselves…Thanks as always for the feedback.

    2. Hi Phil, thanks for taking time to look at my John Gavin tribute video.

      Anthony Perkins was the lead actor of Psycho but Gavin was the hero, saving Vera Miles from being ‘mothers’ next victim. In the sequel we find out that Lila Crane eventually married Sam Loomis.

  3. Thanks for this tribute. Did know he had died until you told me. I thought he was a very handsome guy and very good actor. I especially liked him in Imitation of Life and Back Street – that was had a sad ending but it was a very good love story. Thanks again.
    PS I have not heard of some of the movies you mentioned…….interesting!

    1. Hey Bern1960…..thanks for sharing your thoughts on John Gavin. Seems his resemblance to Rock Hudson really got his career going. I have not seen Back Street….but I will have to check that one out. Rest in Peace Mr. Gavin.

  4. Just added Steve’s John Gavin video to this page. My comment on his video.

    “Hey Steve….sad news about his passing. Nice tribute to his career. I have seen 5 of these movies. #1 Psycho #2 Spartacus #3 Imitation of Life #5 Thouroughly Modern Millie and #15 A Breath of Scandal. At least I have seen most of his Top 5. Voted up and shared at UMR.”

    1. Thanks for the video share Bruce, much appreciated.

      I’ve only seen two of John Gavin’s films but they are two of my favorites, I’ve watched Psycho and Spartacus many times over the decades and I have them both on DVD and Blu-ray.

      Of the others Midnight Lace looks interesting, a mystery thriller starring Doris Day and Rex Harrison. And Myrna Loy turns up in it too. 😉

      A nice tribute page. Voted Up!

      1. Hey Steve…I think for one of the rare times we produced a page/video on the same day on the same subject. Seems if you like those two movies your should expand your Gavin resume. I agree Midnight Lace looks interesting with some good plot twists. Rest in Peace John Gavin.

  5. Thanks Bruce for producing this memorial page for John Gavin. I did not know he was the Ambassador to Mexico.

    I have seen six Gavin movies. Five of the six I have seen are the top 5 movies that he made. The other movie I have seen is Romanoff and Juliet which is ranked at 11. So even though my total is not high, I’ve seen the right ones.

    My favourite movies are:
    Psycho
    Spartacus
    Romanoff and Juliet
    Imitation of Life.

    The order I prefer the other two films are Thoroughly Modern Millie and Midnight Lace. I’m not really fond of either of them. TMM I found was a bit too long for me. I do not want to say too much about Midnight Lace, because I do not want to give away any secret plot twists.

    I notice that you and Steve have the top two movies switched. Steve expected Psycho to be number one. They are both great.

    1. Hey Flora
      1. Sad news of his passing. I did not even realize until I saw your comment requesting a Gavin Tribute page.
      2. I have seen 5 of his movies….so I am right behind you.
      3. I have seen 4 of the 6 you have seen….missing on Midnight Lace and Romanoff and Juliet.
      4. Being friends with Ronald Reagan helped him get the Ambassador job.
      5. I think Steve’s video and our UMR page are pretty close…..with movies being in the same general area.
      6. I will one day see Midnight Lace…..maybe in the near future…so thanks for not sharing any spoilers.
      Rest in Peace. John Gavin.

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