|Is this the face of evil?|
Darth Vader. Norman Bates. Hannibal Lecter. We all know the great movie villains. Our love/hate relationship with these guys - and sometimes gals - is pretty much unending, as we continuously embrace these freaks generation after generation. I'm sure there's a thousand studies out there explaining exactly WHY we find these characters so fascinating.What I want to focus on here, though, is a handful of completely kick ass movie villains you may have never heard of. These characters are not only well-written, they're also well-played.
Let's take a look, shall we?
- Uncle Charlie: If you've never seen Hitchcock's Shadow Of A Doubt, check it out as soon as you can. It's the story of Uncle Charlie, who's played by Jospeh Cotton and who moves in with the most all-American family you've ever seen. Problem is, Uncle Charlie is a sick son of a bitch. He gets his kicks killing people, you see...but his niece just might be on to him. Cotton really brings this character to life. Remembered mainly today as a likable everyman (the one who didn't get the girl in The Third Man), Cotton uses his nice guy persona here to make Uncle Charlie a truly chilling character. Seriously...this is the kind of person you could easily imagine entering your own mundane world. That's what makes him so memorable.
- The Jackal: Without doubt, one of my all time favorite films is Fred Zimmerman's The Day Of The Jackal. It's one of those what if stories that focuses on a high end paid assassin whose latest assignment is to kill famed World War Two hero and French President, Charles DeGaulle. Thing is, De Gaulle has the tightest security in the world. That doesn't deter the assassin, however, who goes about meticulously planning and putting into motion a single action which will rock the world. We never learn the assassin's name, by the way. He goes only by The Jackal. As brilliantly portrayed by British actor Edward Fox, the Jackal is well-bred, well dressed, polite, charming, and deadly as hell. The guy is pure ice.
- Jobert: Truth be told, Three Days Of The Condor is, with the exception of Patton, my single favorite film of all time. This Robert Redford flick is so paranoid, so smart and, yes, so thoughtful that I'd highly recommend it to anyone who really appreciates movies. It's a true rarity - art and entertainment rolled into one, a popcorn flick that makes you want to read a whole bunch of books after seeing it. What elevates this New York City 70s film to such heights? The acting of Max von Sydow. As contract killer Jobert, Von Sydow in this movie seems more like a warm., brainy Eurpoean grandfather than he does an assassin - and that's what makes both he and the film he occupies so captivating.
- The Dane: If you like gangster movies, then you pretty much have no choice other than to check out the Coen Brother's 1990 masterpiece, Miller's Crossing. A hyper-stylized prohibition era tale of Irish and Italian hoodlums battling for control of a major city, the movie is punctuated by brilliant, sometimes over-the-top performances (if you don't think over-the-top can equal quality, then you really need to check it out). In a cinematic field of hard cases, though, no one in the flick is harder, or more brutal, than Eddie Dane, henchman to Italian mob boss Johnny Casper. Played, awesomely by J.E.Freeman (if "awesomely" isn't a word, it should be), the Dane is smart, completely (and I mean completely) ruthless, and mean as hell. The guy is as cold and powerful as the .44 Revolver he uses with such deadly efficiency. You wouldn't want to meet him on the street, much less piss him off.
- Victor: Sure, you may have seen Jean Reno play this character (more or less) in Luc Besson's The Professional, but you've never seen him like he is in Besson's French Action flick Le Femme Nikita. Victor shows up at the end of the film to, well, clean up...and man, can he clean up. Some things you just have to see to believe, so feel free to check out Victor in action right here. Don't worry that no one's speaking English. The time for words ends very quickly. But be warned - this clip is disturbing and EXTREMELY violent. Definitely not for the kids.