That Female Voice in Film

Signature male voices in film are easy. Morgan Freeman is one. His comforting timbre is recognizable in several films and documentaries. When you think about female voices as iconic or recognizable–that takes some time.

The Classics

Probably because I’ve heard them my whole life, their delivery of iconic lines mesh together, and I’d know their voices anywhere. Take the cast from All About Eve (1950) from yesterday’s post.

Bette Davis’s growl and clipped delivery established her as a dynamic force. Bumpy night indeed! Even in my favorite film of hers, Dark Victory, Davis was too strong to be considered weak and feminine. Anne Baxter’s voice is annoying to me, actually. From The Ten Commandments “Moses, Moses, Moses” to All About Eve, her about-to-faint breezy voice is like nails on a chalkboard. And then there’s Marilyn’s girly, sexy voice that are all recognizable after a sentence.

Ingrid Bergman’s voice runs across the skin and tantalizes. Vivien Leigh’s voice sounds like the whiny princess. Do you have a classic female voice that aggravates or you admire?


Is it easier to think of actresses from this time period? There’s only one that stands out definitively because she sings like a gale force and has the facial expressions and directorial talent to be a one woman show.


Whose female voice stands out to you from the past twenty years? This is really difficult! I give it up two–one sexy, one funny.

Who’s my all time favorite female voice?

What’s yours?

20 thoughts on “That Female Voice in Film

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  1. I agree with your choices, Cindy! Sometime, it is not the voice quality, but how an actress says the words. Judi Dench has a voice that people think she is a chain smoker, though she never smokes, but the way she delivers in both Shakespearean and non-Shakespearean scripts is beautiful. I have also heard her read stories or narrate.


    1. Hi, Opalla. She usually plays authoritarian roles so there’s a hard, clear delivery that has become her trademark. Wasn’t she the epitome of Lady Macbeth in the late 70s with Ian McKellen? Those two make the best pair on stage or screen. There is a soft side to her voice–I loved her with Maggie Smith in ‘Ladies in Lavender’


      1. Yes, Cindy, Judi Dench’s and Ian McKellan’s performance in Macbeth is epic. Her scream after “all the perfumes in Arabia cannot sweeten these little hands” (not exact quote) cannot be matched. True too there is a gentle side to her voice. I fell for her soft side in Mrs. Brown


  2. Hi, Cindy:

    I’m going with Helen Mirren. Whose voice I fell in love with in ‘The Long Good Friday’. Smooth, enunciated and velvety.

    Old School, Myrna Loy. Always sounded upbeat against odds good and bad. Especially in ‘The Best Years of Our Lives’.

    Newer: Ellen Page, who is going to be formidable as she gets older. Also Emily Blunt and Emma Watson.


    1. Well, Jack, as usual you have excellent taste. For new voices, I love Emily Blunt’s voice. What is it about the British? Whether male or female, they top everyone’s list for great voices.


      1. Thanks, Cindy! 😀

        Short answer for the Brits?

        Enunciation. Inflection. Projection. Knowing when to pause. And a much higher regard and respect for the written words.

        Also, having a shot at. Or spending time with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) may figure largely into it.


  3. My favorite female voice is actually Cate Blanchett. I LOVE her narration in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I also love Emily Blunt and Carey Mulligan’s voice, so I guess the Aussie/Brits rule again 😀


  4. I have to say Marilyn Monroe. Everyone knows that voice- that iconic, dreamy, breathless voice. I find the way she pronounces words stands out the most to me. “Its me, Sugar!”


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