Saturday, November 22, 2008

People Of Distinction

Why do I hurt myself so? It’s a question I’m always asking. The week ended with an email alerting me to the fact that Empire magazine had polled their readership to compile a list of the “100 Greatest Movie Characters”. Really, I should have said, “Huzzah for them!” and gone on my merry way, or jabbed hot needles in my eyes and driven spikes into my head to have done with it. Instead of taking that easier option – fule that I am – I went and had a look.

Earlier this year Empire ran “The 50 Greatest TV Shows Of All Time!”, which seemed to be an utterly pointless exercise for a film magazine, and then only a couple of months back they treated everyone to a second poll listing “The 500 Greatest Movies Of All Time!” To put together a third in such a short space of time means it has either been a slow twelve months for the magazine, with the film world keeping its cards close to the chest, or the hacks have figured out it’s easier to let their readers to create content while they goof off.

While they may be piss-easy page-fillers, the end results of these polls only go to show just how pathetically narrow the film knowledge of the majority of their readership is. Which means that once again the numpty-headed Barry Shitpeas of this country illustrate that for them cinema began with Lucas and Spielberg with everything that came before being of no consequence and everything after hinging on that arch pilferer Tarantino. If only they would broaden their horizons once in a while they’d find out how much they were missing.

With their blinkers still on, the list of “100 Greatest Movie Characters” panned out as:

01. Tyler Durden – Fight Club
02. Darth Vader – Star Wars trilogy
03. The Joker – The Dark Knight
04. Han Solo – Star Wars trilogy
05. Dr. Hannibal Lecter – The Silence Of The Lambs
06. Indiana Jones – Raiders Of The Lost Ark
07. The Dude – The Big Lebowski
08. Captain Jack Sparrow – Pirates Of The Caribbean trilogy
09. Ellen Ripley – Alien quartet
10. Vito Corleone – The Godfather
11. James Bond – Goldfinger
12. John McClane – Die Hard quartet
13. Gollum – The Lord of the Rings trilogy
14. The Terminator – Terminator trilogy
15. Ferris Bueller – Ferris Bueller's Day Off
16. Neo – The Matrix trilogy
17. Hans Gruber – Die Hard
18. Travis Bickle – Taxi Driver
19. Jules Winnfield – Pulp Fiction
20. Forrest Gump – Forrest Gump

21. Michael Corleone – The Godfather Part II
22. Ellis “Red” Redding – The Shawshank Redemption
23. Harry Callahan – Dirty Harry
24. Ash – Evil Dead trilogy
25. Yoda – Star Wars trilogy
26. Ron Burgundy – Anchorman
27. Tony Montana – Scarface
28. Gandalf – The Lord of the Rings trilogy
29. Daniel Plainview – There Will Be Blood
30. Jigsaw – Saw
31. Aragorn – The Lord of the Rings trilogy
32. Jason Bourne – The Bourne Identity
33. Tequila – Hard Boiled
34. Rocky Balboa – Rocky
35. Maximus Decimus Meridius – Gladiator
36. Harry Potter – Harry Potter 1-6
37. Edward Scissorhands – Edward Scissorhands
38. Donnie Darko – Donnie Darko
39. Marty McFly – Back to The Future trilogy
40. Patrick Bateman – American Psycho

41. Mary Poppins – Mary Poppins
42. Alex DeLarge – A Clockwork Orange
43. The Man With No Name – The Good, The Bad And The Ugly
44. Peter Venkman – Ghostbusters
45. Amelie Poulain – Amelie
46. Anton Chigurh – No Country For Old Men
47. Blade – Blade
48. Tony Stark – Iron Man
49. Walter Sobchak – The Big Lebowski
50. Quint – Jaws
51. Mal Reynolds – Serenity
52. George Bailey – It's A Wonderful Life
53. Luke Jackson – Cool Hand Luke
54. Luke Skywalker – Star Wars trilogy
55. Lt. Frank Drebin – The Naked Gun trilogy
56. Juno MacGuff – Juno
57. Brick Tamland – Anchorman
58. Rick Blaine – Casablanca
59. Tommy Devito – Goodfellas
60. Ace Ventura – Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

61. R.P. McMurphy – One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
62. Mathilda – Leon
63. Wall-E – Wall-E
64. Withnail – Withnail & I
65. White Goodman – Dodgeball
66. The Bride – Kill Bill
67. Frank Booth – Blue Velvet
68. Napolean Dynamite – Napoleon Dynamite
69. Keyser Soze – The Usual Suspects
70. Atticus Finch – To Kill A Mockingbird
71. Snake Plissken – Escape From New York
72. V – V for Vendetta
73. Jack Torrance – The Shining
74. E.T. – E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
75. Marge Gunderson – Fargo
76. Dr. Emmett Brown – Back To The Future trilogy
77. Ed – Shaun Of The Dead
78. Axel Foley – Beverly Hills Cop trilogy
79. Boba Fett – The Empire Strikes Back
80. Norman Bates – Psycho

81. Wolverine – X-Men trilogy
82. Marv – Sin City
83. Mr Blonde – Reservoir Dogs
84. Agent Smith – The Matrix trilogy
85. Vincenzo Coccotti – True Romance
86. Roy Batty – Blade Runner
87. Dracula – Dracula
88. Jessica Rabbit – Who Framed Roger Rabbit
89. Princess Leia Organa – Star Wars trilogy
90. The Wicked Witch Of The West – The Wizard Of Oz
91. Scarlett O'Hara – Gone With The Wind
92. Randal Graves – Clerks
93. Martin Q. Blank – Grosse Pointe Blank
94. Buzz Lightyear – Toy Story
95. Freddy Krueger – A Nightmare On Elm Street
96. Ethan Edwards – The Searchers
97. Clarice Starling – The Silence Of The Lambs
98. Charles Foster Kane - Citizen Kane
99. HAL–9000 – 2001: A Space Odyssey
100. Martin Riggs – Lethal Weapon

Obviously thinking of characters is more difficult than simply coming up with film titles. It means calling to mind someone that memorably made an impact over the course of just a couple of hours. There are one or two great personalities on the list but for the most part it’s pretty dispiriting, isn’t it?

Top of the list for me would obviously be:

Clive Candy in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp.

And even with my lousy memory, a further twenty-odd off the top of my head would be:

J.J. Hunsecker in Sweet Smell of Success
Norma Desmond in Sunset Blvd.
J.J. Gittes and Noah Cross in Chinatown
Colonel Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai
Popeye Doyle in The French Connection
Daniel Dravot and Peachy Carnehan in The Man Who Would Be King
Charters and Caldicott in The Lady Vanishes
Elwood P. Dowd in Harvey
Harry Lime in The Third Man
Eddie Felson in The Hustler/The Color of Money
Walker in Point Blank
Group Captain Lionel Mandrake and Brig. Gen. Jack D. Ripper in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Frank in Once Upon a Time in the West
‘Chuck’ Tatum in Ace in the Hole
Macon Leary in The Accidental Tourist
Uncle Charlie Oakley in Shadow of a Doubt
Vicky Lester in A Star is Born (1954)
Count László Almásy in The English Patient

If you want to read the justifications/excuses for the characters to be on Empire’s list go here. Before you head over there, which other characters do you think should be on the list?


At 10:13 pm, Blogger Jaded and Cynical said...

They lost me at Ron Burgundy.

At 11:23 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

Which reminds me, where was Howard Beale from Network?

At 12:15 am, Blogger Brian Sibley said...

Here's 20 more runners-up for you...

The Monster (Boris Karloff) in Frankenstein
Maria Von Trapp in The Sound of Music
T E Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia
Jefferson Smith in Mr Smith Goes to Washington
Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio
Margot Channing in All About Eve
Joe & Jerry in Some Like It Hot
Charlotte Vale in Now Voyager
Patton in Patton: Lust for Glory
Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady
Roger Thornhill in North by Northwest
Longfellow Deeds in Mr Deeds Goes to Town
Louis Mazzini in Kind Heart and Coronets
Antonius Block in The Seventh Seal
Robert Thorn in The Omen
Dumbo in Dumbo
Quasimodo (Lon Chaney) in The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Hans Beckert in M
Hubert Hawkins in The Court Jester
Truman Burbank in The Truman Show

At 11:23 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...


excellent selection there, although.... I know it amounts to nothing but shouldn’t it be Roger O Thornhill. ;-)

The only others I could think of were:

Nina Yakushova Ivanoff in Ninotchka
Walter Burns in His Girl Friday
Jean Harrington in The Lady Eve
Inspector Jacques Clouseau in The Pink Panther
Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Of course the real problem is thinking of all these wonderful (older) characters makes me want to dig out the films and watch them again.


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