Sunday, April 26, 2009

My 15 Favorite Male Characters in Film

My favorite guys in film, in no particular order:


1. CK Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) in The Philadelphia Story
As Mike Connor (Jimmy Stewart) said, CK Dexter Haven was a character of “unsuspected depth.” On the surface, Grant’s Haven is a charming divorced man with a sharp wit and an alcoholic nature. It’s an understated performance compared to Stewart’s Oscar-winning role as Mike and Katharine Hepburn’s signature role as Tracy, but its one of the most interesting. CK Dexter Haven is sort of the odd man out of the characters, watching from the sidelines as Tracy runs from George to Mike, all the while pining over her. Not that Tracy would really be able to tell he still felt tenderly for her – Dexter is constantly pushing her buttons, criticizing her judgmental and virginal ways as being the downfall of not only their marriage, but the eventual end for all her relationships. Dexter also relishes in his role on the outside; his dry humor and commentary on what’s going on is a constant highlight in the film. It’s odd to see Cary Grant in a role where he is so uncharacteristically heartbroken and needy. And yet, at the same time, Grant plays Dexter with the same charm and sophistication that we find in all of his characters. z
Quotable quotes:
[Asked if he has given up alcoholic drinks] “I’ve just changed their color, that’s all. I’m going for the pale pastel shades now, there’re more becoming of me.”
“You didn’t want a husband and a good companion, you wanted a kind of high priest to a virgin goddess.”
“I thought all writers drank to excess and beat their wives. You know, I think that at one time I secretly wanted to be a writer.”



2. David Larrabee (William Holden) in Sabrina
Audrey Hepburn’s Sabrina Fairchild made a big mistake at the end of this film by choosing Linus Larrabee, not his dashing brother David. Yes, yes, I know that Linus was the honest man who had been in love with Sabrina but was too broken to realize it, and I know that David was a bit of a cad, but I can’t help but love him! Described as having been through several of the best Eastern colleges for short periods of time, and through several marriages for even shorter periods of time, David is like a typical wealthy playboy seen in so many other films, just minus the arrogant nature. Instead of being a jerk, David is a romantic.
z
Quotable quotes:
“I thought you two had eloped. I wouldn’t mind, just not in my car.”
“Now you make me feel like a heel. If I don’t marry Elizabeth, some kid’s gonna be running around Puerto Rico barefoot with cavities in his teeth.”
“What if we smuggled her up in the dumbwaiter?”
“Scrabble? I’m in no condition to play Scrabble!”


3. George (George Harrison) in A Hard Day's Night
Okay, so even though A Hard Day’s Night played into the stereotypes of the Beatles, not really giving them new ‘characters, I just loved George in this film. Playing into the perception that he was the ‘quiet one,’ George gives a string of one words answers and monosyllabic lines. Memorably, he calls his hair Arthur and unknowingly manages to get Susan Campy fired from her ‘trendsetting’ job. When asked if success has changed his life, George answers “No,” deadpanned. Personally, I think he was the best actor out of the Beatles, even though most people point toward Ringo as being the best (Ringo was also always given the most material in films, often n the storylines were centered around some problem Ringo was facing). His dry humor was much more subtle than John’s humor onscreen in those films, and he could make something as seemingly mundane as eating a sandwich on a train or teaching someone to shave in a mirror funny and perfectly charming.
z
Quotable quotes:
“Sorry we hurt your field, mister.”
“You won’t interfere with the basic rugged concept of me personality, will you madam?”
“Arthur.”
“Have I said something amiss?”
“And who’s this Susan when she’s at home?”
“Aye, but don’t rush. None of your five bar gate jumps and over sort of stuff… I don’t know, I just thought that it sounded distinguished-like.”
“Oh by all means. I’d be quite prepared for that eventuality.”
4. Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
I’ve always thought Willy Wonka was a rather dark character. Scarred from childhood and disliking of people, I wondered when I was a little girl why Wonka even opened the gates of his factory to young children, why didn’t he just leave it to an Oompa-Loompa after he passed on? Unlike Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Wonka, whose high voice and pale skin disturbingly reminded me of a certain Mr. Jackson, Gene Wilder’s Wonka was creepy in a different way. He seems not to care about the children he loses along the way throughout the factory as they were only getting in his way. He’s a bit nasty, a bit sardonic, a bit morose for a children’s film, but let’s face it – it’s not like any of us got the darker undertones of Wilder’s performance when we were children watching this (we were too taken in by the candy!). Now that I’m older, I can really appreciate Wilder’s humor as Wonka. Instead of thinking him to be the candy equivalent of Brando (a weird genius), I indulge in appreciating Wonka’s open causticity towards his guests. z
Quotable quotes:
“Oh, you should never ever doubt what nobody is sure about.”
“The suspense is terrible... I hope it'll last.” “So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it.” “Well, I think that furnace is only lit every other day, so they have a good sporting chance, haven't they?” [Mrs. Gloop says her son Augustus doesn’t know how to swim] “There's no better time to learn.”
[Indifferently] “Help. Police, Murder.”
“And now, my dearest lady, it's time to say good-bye. No, no, don't speak. For some moments in life, there are no words. Run along, now.”
[After Mrs. Teevee asks if there’s an accident indemnity clause]
“Never between friends.”


5. Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) in The Big Lebowski
The Vietnam-obsessed, bowling fanatic who, despite his short temper and proness to draw his gun at the bowling alley, is also willing to take care of his ex-wife’s Pomeranian puppy while she’s on vacation with her new boyfriend. Oh, Walter has so many layers, like an onion, as Shrek would say. Best friend of The Dude, who also makes this list, Walter Sobchak will never be forgotten as one of the best Coen characters around. Those are the rules.
z
Quotable quotes:
“Three thousand years of beautiful tradition, from Moses to Sandy Koufax… You’re goddamn right I’m living in the fucking past!”
“…Also, Dude, Chinaman is not the preferred nomenclature. Asian-American, please.”
“You know, Dude, I myself dabbled in pacifism once. Not in ‘Nam, of course.”
“Smokey, this is not ‘Nam. This is bowling. There are rules.”
“You want a toe? I can get you a toe, believe me. There are ways Dude. You don’t wanna know about it, believe me.”
“No, without a hostage, there is no ransom. That’s what ransom is. Those are the fucking rules.”

6. Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest) in This Is Spinal Tap
The reason I really loved Nigel Tufnel in “This Is Spinal Tap” is because he was the embodiment of every unaware, rather idiotic rockstar I had ever imagined. The way he states things that he considers in life to be certain truths, like “you can’t really dust for vomit” revelation and the famous “these go to eleven” line is brilliant. After being accused of being a sexist, Nigel responds, “well, so what? What’s wrong with being sexy?” That fact that Nigel is imaginable as a member of many of the major bands of the last thirty or so years just brings the character to like another level (…Fighting the urge to make a level eleven joke here…)
z
Quotable quotes:
[Of the food supplied before a show] “It really does disturb me, but I’ll rise above it. I’m a professional.”
“I love those little cans of tuna fish. No bones!”
“Authorities said... best leave it... unsolved.”
“It's like, 'how much more black could this be?' and the answer is none. None more black.”
“And, uh, it was tragic, really. He exploded on stage.”
“That's just nitpicking, isn't it?”
[Of his skeleton tee shirt] “This is my exact inner structure, done in a tee shirt. Exactly medically accurate.”
“Well, this piece is called ‘Lick My Love Pump.’”
[On what he would do if he couldn't be a rock star] “Well, I suppose I could, uh, work in a shop of some kind, or... or do, uh, freelance, uh, selling of some sort of, uh, product. You know... A salesman, like maybe in a, uh, haberdasher, or maybe like a, uh, um... a chapeau shop or something. You know, like, ‘Would you... what size do you wear, sir?’ And then you answer me.”
“Blues jazz, really.”
“We’re anything but racists.”
7. Peter L. Whitman (Adrien Brody) in The Darjeeling Limited
Peter would’ve just made the list because of his possession of the custom-made Louis Vuitton luggage set inherited from his father. One of the most underrated characters from one of Wes Anderson’s more overlooked films, Peter L. Whitman was the stylish second brother of Francis (Owen Wilson) and Jack (Jason Schwartzmann). Peter claims that he was his father’s favorite son, justifying why he deserves his late father’s belongings, and proceeds to get into a physical fight over the matter. Peter is like many Wes Anderson characters, in that he is extremely self-conscious and doubtful of other people. Peter fears that his marriage to his wife Alice will inevitably lead to divorce, despite the fact that they don’t have any real marital problems and she is presently pregnant with his child. Peter’s actions tend to act as a catalyst for many of the events in “The Darjeeling Limited.” He buys a venomous snake in an Indian market, brings it aboard a train, only for the snake to escape aboard the train and cause the brothers to be forced into an isolation room on the train. Also, later in the film he has to come to grips with his failure to save the life of a young Indian boy who falls in the river. It’s rare in a Wes Anderson movie to see a character dealing with an emotional problem in a serious way.
z
Quotable quotes:
“He said the train is lost.”
“I’m gonna go pray…at a different thing…”
[On why he was chuckling] “Oh, nothing. That just reminded me of something not-related to this.”
“Anyway, its definitely going to add a lot of character to you.”
“I didn’t get that. I still have mine.”
“I love the way this country smells. I’ll never forget it. It’s kind of spicy.”
“Those Germans are bothering me.”
“Fuck the itinerary.”
“Is our snake getting confiscated?”
“Could she be gaslighting you?”

8. Jeffrey 'The Dude' Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) in The Big Lebowski
The Dude, or His Dudeness, Duder, or El Duderino, if you’re not into the whole brevity thing, is inspired. As the white Russian-drinking, bowling, ex-member of the Seattle Seven, The Dude spends the film searching for his rug (it really tied the room together…) If you haven’t seen “The Big Lebowski,” please do yourself a favor and add it to your Netflix queue immediately.
z
Quotable quotes:
“Yeah, well, that’s just like your opinion, man.”
“Yeah, well, the dude abides.”
“Oh, the usual… I bowl, drive around, the occasional acid flashback.”
“Obviously you’re not a golfer.”
“That rug really tied the room together.”



9. Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
Is it sad that I still quote “Anchorman” in my day-to-day life? If Humphrey Bogart made a career out of playing rough-and-tumble gangster-types with a secret warmth buried deep within, Will Ferrell has made a career playing deluded, self-important men who are oblivious to how dimwitted they really are. And if this is the case, “Anchorman” will be remembered as Ferrell’s “Casablanca” of sorts.
z
Quotable quotes:
“I don’t know how to put this, but I’m kind of a big deal…People know me…I’m very important. I have many leather-bound books, and my apartment smells of rich mahogany.”
“I love scotch, scotchy scotch, scotch…Here it goes down, down into my belly…”
“Milk was a bad choice.”
“You are a smelly pirate hooker…Why don’t you go back to your home on Whore Island?”
[Picking at his teeth] “Ribs. I had ribs for lunch, that’s why I’m doing this.”
“I’m in a glass case of emotion.”
“You stay classy, Planet Earth.”
“I look good. I mean really good. Hey everyone, come see how good I look.”
10. Jerry/Daphne (Jack Lemmon) in Some Like it Hot
I pretty much love anything Jack Lemmon does, but I love his cross-dressing turn in “Some Like it Hot” a little more that others. His role as sax player-on-the-run Jerry who dresses as Daphne, a ‘girl’ who gets chummy with Sugar Kane and dates Osgood Fielding III, the mama-boy millionaire, is sheer brilliance. His character’s total immersion into becoming Daphne is so hilarious, even with Lemmon’s comically-unbelievable drag appearance. Well…nobody’s perfect.
z
Quotable quotes:
“Well I never did like the name Geraldine.”
“Now you’ve done it! Now you’ve done it...You tore off one of my chests!”
“Will you look at that, look how she moves! It’s like jell-o on springs. Must have some sort of built-in motor or something. I tell you, it’s a whole different sex…”



11. Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) in the Pirates of the Caribbean films
Described as a cross between Keith Richards and Pepé le Pew, Captain Jack Sparrow is one of the most ingenious characters I’ve ever had the pleasure to watch. He basically runs around for three films chasing ships, rum, and women, really in no particular order. Probably a large part of why I love this character has to do with Johnny Depp, but Depp’s genius portrayal of Cap’n Jack is also why it has remained such an unforgettable character from the films. He is both the hero and the anti-hero in the films, the guy you’re rooting for to win but also at times the one you love to hate.
z
Quotable quotes:
“I think we’ve all arrived at a very special place. Spiritually, ecumenically, grammatically.”
“A wedding? I love weddings. Drinks all around!”
“You need to find yourself a girl mate. Or perhaps the reason you practice three hours a day is that you already found one, and are otherwise incapable of wooing said strumpet. You’re not a eunuch are you?”
“But why is the rum gone?”
“Dirt. This is a jar of dirt.”
12. Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) in Zoolander
Derek Zoolander is having a bad daiye (D-A-I-Y-E). First, he finds his career being overshadowed by Hansel (…so hot right now), then all of his friends die in a freak gasoline fight accident, and then he is brainwashed into killing the Prime Minister of Malaysia. What is a three-time VH1 Male Model of the Year winner to do? Have a walk off.
z
Quotable quotes:
“How can we be expected to teach children to learn how to read if they can't even fit inside the building?”
“It needs to be at least…three times bigger than this.”
“You think that you're too cool for school, but I have a newsflash for you Walter Cronkite... you aren't.”
“Well I guess it all started the first time I went through the second grade. I caught my reflection in a spoon while I was eating my cereal, and I remember thinking ‘wow, you're ridiculously good looking, maybe you could do that for a career.’”
“I think I’m getting the black lung, pop.”
“Put a cork in it, Zane!”
“We were brothers. Not in the literal sense, but in the way that black people say it, which is more meaningful, I think.”

13. Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) in Ferris Bueller's Day Off
The most profound high schooler who’s ever lived, Ferris Bueller will live on as the rebel truly without a cause. Let’s face it – Ferris was cool, laid-back, wealthy (he got a computer for his birthday…and this was the ‘80s…), had a gorgeous girlfriend, and everybody loved him. His only really reason for rebellion? Wanting to have a good time and appreciate life while he’s still young. Ferris gets away with anything and everything – from singing along to the Beatles’ “Twist and Shout” atop a float in New York, to convincing people he is Abe Froman, the sausage king of Chicago.
z
Quotable quotes:
“Not that I condone fascism, or any ism for that matter. Isms in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an ism, he should believe in himself. I quote John Lennon: "I don't believe in Beatles, I just believe in me." Good point there. After all, he was the Walrus. I could be the Walrus, but I'd still have to bum rides off of people.”
“Life moves pretty fast. You don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
“You're not dying, you just can't think of anything good to do.”
“I do have a test today, that wasn't bullshit. It's on European socialism. I mean, really, what's the point? I'm not European. I don't plan on being European. So who gives a crap if they're socialists? They could be fascist anarchists, it still wouldn’t change the fact that I don't own a car.”
“A) You can never go too far. B) If I get caught, it is not going to be by a guy like that.”

14. Lola/Simon (Chiwetel Ejiafor) in Kinky Boots

The second appearance of a cross-dresser on this list (see Jack Lemmon in Some Like it Hot) – indicative of my personality? Perhaps... But Chiwetel Ejiafor’s role as muscular-but-beautiful Lola was inspired. I was completely in love with “Kinky Boots” when it was in theatres because of Lola. She was so stylish, so brilliant, so wise – kinda like Yoda for drag queens. It was equally as affecting to see Lola out of dress, as Simon, who felt very uncomfortable in normal male gear. Its rare to see the flip side of a flamboyant drag queen, to see Ejiafor’s character going through an identity crisis and down on himself was so moving.
z
Quotable quotes:
“Came all this way for my advice? I feel like Oprah!”
“I have to warn you, Charlie from Northampton, I have a terrible habit of doing exactly the opposite of what people want of me.”
“The sex is in the heel.”
“Please, God! Tell me I have not inspired something burgundy!”


15. James Bond (Sean Connery) in the Bond films
Despite my affection for Daniel Craig in the new Bond series, my favorite Bond will always be Sean Connery. Connery as Bond is like his character’s beloved Dom Perignon ’53 – timeless, sophisticated, delightful – a classic. Connery is considered the definitive Bond, starring in six of the Ian Fleming-based films. Like Craig, Connery’s Bond is dark at times, but mostly he has fun with cool gadgets and beautiful women. This balance of melancholy and manwhorish-ness in the character made Connery’s Bond one on its own.
Quotable quotes:
“Bond. James Bond.”
“There’s something I’d like to get off your chest…”
“I think it’s time Mr. Goldfinger and I met…socially, of course.”
“Red wine with fish... Well, that should have told me something.”
[On why he wears a gun] “I have a slight inferiority complex.”
“My dear girl, there are some things that just aren’t done, such as drinking Dom Perignon ’53 above the temperature of 38 degress Fahrenheit. That’s just as bad as listening to the Beatles without earmuffs.”
“World domination, the same old dream. Our asylums are full of people who think they’re Napoleon…or God.”
“Auric Goldfinger…sounds like a French nail varnish…”
[After shooting someone] “Well I think he got the point.”

2 comments:

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:D :D :D LOVE the post. It's a bit ironic how many of these films I have seen...
My favorites are George Harrison, Sean Connery's Bond, Ferris Bueller, Jack Sparrow, Daphne, and Ron Burgundy.

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