Friday, June 12, 2009

My 10 Favorite Villains in Film

My favorite villainous characters (some evil, some just gave me bad vibes and therefore I decided were evil) in no particular order:

1. Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer) in Gaslight
This guy was a genius (minus the parts where he screws up royally by murdering a woman and, y’know, getting caught in the end). He convinces his emotionally scarred new wife that she is slowly going crazy…when (spoiler alert) in fact she’s not.

Quotable quotes:
Jewels are wonderful things. They have a life of their own.
You know, Nancy, it strikes me that you're not at all the kind of girl that your mistress should have for a housemaid.

2. Jack Favell (George Sanders) in Rebecca
This guy is awesomely bad. If I were to encounter well any number of George Sanders characters in real life, but particularly Favell, I wouldn’t know in a conversation with them to feel complimented or deeply embarrassed. His ruthless and egotistical mind, combined with his rich sly way of speaking acts as a lethal combination in Rebecca.

Quotable quotes:
I'd like to have your advice on how to live comfortably without working hard.
I say, marriage with Max is not exactly a bed of roses, is it?

3. Minnie Castevet (Ruth Gordon) in Rosemary's Baby
If you ignore the devil-worshipping and the whole getting-you-raped-by-Satan-and-then-stealing-your-baby thing, having a neighbor like Minnie (and even Roman Castevet for that matter) would be magnificent. First off, she is a fabulous dresser. Really, who else could pull off heavy rouge, a tulle hat, and pedal pushers? That’s right, no one.
Quotable quotes:
Now that's what I call the long arm of coincidence!
As long as she ate the mouse, she can't see nor hear. Now sing.
He chose you out of all the world - out of all the women in the whole world, he chose you. He arranged things, because he wanted you to be the mother of his only living son.

4. Regina George (Rachel McAdams) in Mean Girls
Regina George is flawless. The junior suburban version of Miranda Priestley, with just a dash of Heather Chandler-grade blonde bitchiness, Regina had the whole North Shore high school wrapped around her little finger. She rules the high school with the best of them (Mussolini, Stalin…) with an iron fist and icy heart. Perhaps it was just my unsophisticated thirteen-year-old mind, but when I first saw the part where Regina puts herself in the Burn Book, my mind was reeling. I thought that was the most ingenius thing ever.
Quotable quotes:
Get in loser, we're going shopping.
I like *invented* her, you know what I mean?
[After learning Cady is home-schooled] But you're, like, really pretty.
I know she's kind of socially retarded and weird, but she's my friend, so just promise me you wont make fun of her.
I gave him everything... I was half a virgin when I met him.
Boo, you whore!
We do not have a clique problem at this school.

5. Alexander Sebastian (Claude Rains) in Notorious
Have you ever seen a kinder or sweeter Nazi in all your life? Really, at the end of Notorious I almost felt bad for poor Alex Sebastian, not Alicia (there’s something truly wrong with me, isn’t there?).
Quotable quotes:
I am married to an American agent.
I'm not afraid to die.
I'd like to be convinced. Would you maybe care to convince me, Alicia, that Mr. Devlin means nothing to you?
An old friend is never an extra guest.
Many things have died for all of us. We mustn't let our spirit die with them. Perhaps I can help you to forget. I'd like to.
You know my dear, I knew this was going to happen. I knew when we met the other day that if I saw you again, I'd feel what I used to for you. The same hunger. You're so lovely, my dear.

6. The birds in The Birds
Oh god. I thought Melanie Daniels was fab and all, but she spends the majority of this film chasing after Rod Taylor’s character (who, keep in mind, is a mama’s boy in vain with a CERTAIN OTHER Hitchcock character and list member, and he wears an ascot). Honestly, I wouldn’t blame the birds for attacking solely on the grounds that they were witnessing how desperate Melanie was being and wanted to do anything to stop it.

7. Alex Burke (Gig Young) in Young at Heart
I waited through this entire film for Gig Young’s character to act like the supreme d-bag I suspected he was. No one is that nice to everybody unless they like to rape hobos on the side or something. The worst thing he did was offer a guy money after chatting up the guy’s wife – bruising his ego, but nothing too bad (that we know of!) He wasn’t a villain, per se; Gig was just the ‘other man’ in the love triangle with Doris Day and Frank Sinatra. Ole Blue Eyes won out (natch) and Gig was never heard from again.

8. Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotten) in Shadow of a Doubt
Cotten in “Shadow of a Doubt” must be the hottest serial killer in history. Even when his ‘Uncle Charlie’ admits to his wrongdoing, calling the world a filthy sty, he is still oddly attractive. He has a strangle close bond to his niece Charlie (Teresa Wright) where they consider themselves to be twins but act as though they are a couple. I don’t know, maybe I’m just perverse.
Quotable quotes:
What's the use of looking backward? What's the use of looking ahead? Today's the thing - that's my philosophy. Today.
I can't face the world in the morning. I must have coffee before I can speak.
Hello, Joe. Can you stop embezzling a minute and give me your attention?
You think you know something, don't you? You think you're the clever little girl who knows something. There's so much you don't know, so much. What do you know, really? You're just an ordinary little girl, living in an ordinary little town.
How do you know what the world is like? Do you know the world is a foul sty? Do you know, if you rip off the fronts of houses, you'd find swine? The world's a hell. What does it matter what happens in it? Wake up, Charlie. Use your wits. Learn something.
9. The Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton) in Wizard of Oz

Margaret Hamilton was a criminally underrated actress during her time. She had bit parts in so many films during the 1930s and 1940s and it so delightful to be watching a Cary Grant or Mickey Rooney film and spot the Wicked Witch playing someone’s secretary or housekeeper. But her most famous role is most definitely the witch, rightly so – Hamilton was so dedicated to the role, her skin was dyed green and stayed like that for weeks after production ended.
Quotable quotes:
I'll get you, my pretty and your little dog too!
I'm melting, melting! Oh, what a world! What a world! Who would have thought a good little girl like you could destroy my beautiful wickedness?
Well, my little pretty, I can cause accidents, too!

10. Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) in Psycho
Perkins as mama-loving Norman Bates is probably Hitchcock’s most infamous villain. Right from the get-go, you can tell that there’s just something a little off about Bates in the way he talks, walks, and acts to poor Marion Crane (Janet Leigh). Bates suffers from multiple personalities – he is Norman (the mama’s boy), Norma (when in full costume), and Normal (how he operates day-to-day).
Quotable quotes:
We all go a little mad sometimes.
I think I must have one of those faces you can't help believing.
A boy's best friend is his mother.
I think only birds look well stuffed because — well, because they're kind of passive to begin with.
You know what I think? I think that we're all in our private traps, clamped in them, and none of us can ever get out. We scratch and we claw, but only at the air, only at each other, and for all of it, we never budge an inch.

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