PART 1: "He's a loathsome, offensive brute...yet I can't look away."
Before, I split this category into two groups - what Alvy Singer might call "the miserable and the horrible" - to distinguish between those who pushed buttons and boundaries, and those who pushed wheelchair-bound ladies down stairways. This time I don't split the difference; the mixed motives are included with the purely malicious, the liars and cheats alongside the killers. The Devil himself even makes an appearance. Best appreciated from a safe distance, some much more than others.
Chapter 1 - Sociopathic charisma
written by Edgar Ulmer, Peter Ruric, Tom Kilpatrick, from Edgar Allan Poe's story
written by Stephen Vincent Benet, Don Totheroh from Benet's story
written by Philip Yordan
Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) in The Shining (1980, USA, dir. Stanley Kubrick)
written by Stanley Kurbick, Diane Johnson, from Stephen King's novel
written by Stanley Weiser, Oliver Stone
written by Tom Krabbe, George Sluizer, from Tom Krabbe's novel
written by Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, from Roger Lewis' book
PART 2: Not Quite Human
As with Part 1, I have simplified the format, reducing two categories to one. This time all those non-humanoids are gathered in a single spot, from the once-human, to the human-appearing, to those dreamed up on the wildest shores of the imagination ("I tried to think of the most harmless thing..."; nice try).
Chapter 2 - Animals and monsters
written by James Ashmore Creelman, Ruth Rose, Merian Cooper, Edgar Wallace, Leon Gordon
Wladyslaw and Irene Starewicz, Jean Nohain, Antoinette Nordmann, Roger Richebe from Johann Wolfgang Goethe's story
written by Warren Foster
probably written by Tex Avery
written by Ward Greene, Erdman Penner, Joe Rinaldi, Ralph Wright, Don DaGradi, Joe Grant, Dick Huemer, Louis Pollock
written by Dan Akroyd, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis
written by Romeo Muller from Kenneth Grahame's novel
written by Caroline Thompson, Michael McDowell from Tim Burton's story
PART 3 - It's complicated
These are the characters who are not villains, often not quite heroes: they inhabit a gray zone, like most of the human race, only perhaps less comfortably. They are the fragile, the mysterious, the larger-than-life. To the first category belong the mad, the broken, the wounded, the wandering souls - some violent toward others, others violent only toward themselves. In the second you'll find femme fatales and other elusive ladies who've been flickering across screens since the days of the silent vamps. However, only a few of these dames hail from noirland, and most are misunderstood (they aren't necessarily bad - just drawn that way). Finally there are the "living myths" - those outsize spirits full of grandeur, fury, pomp, or piss and vinegar. Two are kings of this world with voracious appetites, and two are prophets executed for their pains. Both types hold our attention with a fierce command.
Chapter 3 - On (or over) the edge
written by Abel Gance
written by Carey Wilson, Victor Sjostrom from Leonid Andreyev's play
written by Andrew Solt, Edmund North, from Dorothy Hughes' story
written by David Storey from his novel
written by Werner Herzog and Jakob Wassermann
written by Lawrence Cohen, from Stephen King's novel
writen by Wallace Shawn, Andre Gregory
probably written by the directors
written by Shion Sono
written by Hideaki Anno from his own TV show
Chapter 4 - Femmes fatales and mystery women
written by Louis Feuillade
written by Gene Markey, Kathryn Scola, Darryl Zanuck
written by Marion Parsonnet, Jo Eisinger, Ben Hecht, E.A. Ellington
written by Harry Ruskin, Niven Busch from James M. Cain's novel
written by George Axelrod from Truman Capote's novella
written by Calder Willingham, Buck Henry from Charles Webb's novel
written by Paul Brickman
Chapter 5 - Living myths
written by Sergei Eisenstein
written by Dennis Potter
written by Arnold Perl, Spike Lee from Malcolm X's and Alex Haley's book
PART 4 - Men and Women of the World
This a tricky category, and a bit of a catch-all. The first chapter embraces the savvy ones, who know all the angles. Two are worldly, one's world is the sea, but all must find a way to collaborate with others and get the job done (only one succeeds in this endeavor). In the second chapter we find a wide array of characters. Some are outsize personalities, some more down-to-earth, and some aren't even on Earth at all. If they aren't necessarily as engaged with society, they are engaged with one another, whatever this commitment entails (not that there's anything wrong with that). I could have titled it with a nod to a certain SNL skit but, well, discretion is always better in these matters, don't you think?
Chapter 6 - The wise ones
written by George Seaton from Franz Werfel's novel
written by David Lean, Norman Spencer, Wynyard Browne from Harold Brighouse's play
written by Peter Benchley, Carl Gottlieb, John Milius, Howard Sackler, Robert Shaw from Peter Benchley's novel
Chapter 7 - Dynamic duos
written by William Hurlbut, John Balderston, Josef Berne, Lawrence Blochman, Morton Covan, Robert Florey, Philip MacDonald, Edmund Pearson, Tom Reed, R.C. Sherriff from Mary Shelley's novel
PART 5 - Talking Heads
Are they really "characters"? In the sense of being fictional, no. Yet in the other sense (of being memorable and unique personages), certainly - all four of these documentary subjects are people you'd probably want to sit down and have a beer with, even if at least one wouldn't sit still for the duration.
Chapter 8 - "Now, let me tell you a story..."
PART 6 - Ensemble
Last time I cheated by including every character in The Big Lebowski as a single entry. This time the selection pool is smaller - which means I can include a quote from each.
Chapter 9 - The Glengarry leads
"There's an absolute morality? Maybe. And then what? If you think there is, go ahead, be that thing! Bad people go to Hell? I don't think so. You think that? Act that way. Hell exists on Earth? Yes. I won't live in it." - Ricky Roma (Al Pacino)
"I can't negotiate, I don't have the power." - James Lingk (Jonathan Pryce)
"You see this watch? You see this watch?
That watch cost more than your car.
I made $970,000 last year, how much you make? You see, pal, that's who I am and you're nothing.
Nice guy? I don't give a shit. Good father? Fuck you, go home and play with your kids. You wanna work here, close.
You think this is abuse? You think this is abuse, you cocksucker? You can't take this, how can you take the abuse you get on a sit?" - Blake (Alec Baldwin)
"I sat there five minutes and then I sat twenty-two minutes by that kitchen clock on the wall. Ricky, not a word, not a motion, and what am I thinking? Is my arm getting tired? No, I did it. Just like the old days, like I used to, like I was taught, I did it." - Shelley Levine (Jack Lemmon)
"So all this, you didn't actually, you didn't actually call Graff, you didn't talk to him?"
"Not actually, no."
"What did I say?"
"What did you say?"
"I said 'not actually'. Fuck you care, George, we're just talking."
"Because, uh, because it's a crime."
"Robbery, that's right. It is a crime. It's also very safe."
"You're actually talking about this."
"You're gonna steal the leads."
"Have I said that?"
"Did I say that?"
"Did you actually talk to Graff?"
"What did I say?"
"What did he say?"
"What did he say?...He'd buy 'em."
- Dave Moss (Ed Harris) to George Aaranow (Alan Arkin)
written by David Mamet from his own play
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I have written about the following films: The Black Cat, The Shining, The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, This is England, The Story of the Fox, Red Hot Riding Hood, Lady and the Tramp, The Wind in the Willows, In a Lonely Place, This Sporting Life, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, Baby Face, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Ivan the Terrible, Jaws, Star Wars, Civilisation, and Stop Making Sense. I have also paid visual tribute to Neon Genesis Evangelion and edited a video piece that dealt with Carrie.
Online you can watch Red Hot Riding Hood, Porky in Wackyland and Tony de Peltrie in their entirety.