Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Five Favorite Classic Movie Villains

I must apologize in advance for the skimpiness of detail in discussing my villains.  Computer problems are preventing me from pulling up sites that I use to refresh memory and find information.  If you are reading this at all, it means that I got lucky.  Instead of a more comprehensive look at the actors, I offer this pictorial with the information I have in my memory.  I have many favorite villains in movies, and I have picked five to share with you. I have chosen pictures of the actors in their roles, as well as the same actors as just themselves.  It would be fun to hear from you about your favorites:

#1  Henry Daniell as Lord Wolfingham in The Sea Hawk (1940).  As a slimy, deceitful Englishmen who spies for Spain, Daniell incurs the wrath of one of England's Sea Hawks (Errol Flynn).  Daniell's wonderfully clipped, nasal British accent makes him a perfect villain who believes he will win in the end.  He doesn't...

Daniell could not swing a sword at all, and was doubled
in all fencing shots -- but who cares?  He was a great villain!

I'm not sure if he smiled much, but
he is distinguished and very proper!
#2  Richard Widmark as Tommy Udo in Kiss of Death (1947).  Widmark became a star with his portrayal of the disgusting, giggling psychopath member of a crime mob.  He would stop at nothing, and enjoyed his job.

Yes, Tommy Udo gleefully pushed the crippled lady down the stairs...
Widmark ... handsome and well-liked by colleagues.

#3  Jane Greer as Kathie in Out of the Past (1947).  Beautiful, slinky, a dame who epitomized female sociopaths in classic film noir, Jane Greer worked her deadly wiles on Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas.  She almost got away with it ... almost...

Kathie is ready to do anything to get what she wants...
Jane washing her hair like any other woman...

#4  Steve Cochran as "Big Ed" in White Heat (1949).  Scheming and cocky, Big Ed plans to take over crime operations led by the insane gangster Cody Jarrett (James Cagney).  He also plans to take over Cody's wife Verna (Virginia Mayo).  Big Ed gets his in the end...

Big Ed with Verna.
Love the way he spits out his gum before he kisses her...

Steve Cochran looking handsome and friendly in real life...

#5  Claude Rains as Victor Grandison in The Unsuspected (1947).  Rains can play anything, and he does a tour de force performance in a rather flawed movie.  He plays Victor Grandison, a smooth-voiced, gentle and smiling radio writer and performer.  In reality, he is a killer who plans to knock off his loving ward and anybody else who gets in the way. 

Dear, sweet "Grandy" comforts his ward as he plots
to kill her for her money...

Rains ... a great actor respected by all...


  1. Awesome list Becky. I agree with them all. And since I just saw Out of the Past and White Heat recently again, Kathie and Big Ed are fresh in my mind. They are tops. Boy, that Kathie was something wasn't she?

  2. That is a dandy list. None of them made my personal top 5 (hastily thrown together in my mind when I read the title), and I do not understand why after you so perfectly explained their impact. Our favourite movies are overstocked with baddies.

    Side note: on my daughter's tumblr account she has pictures of things which inspire her. Front and centre is a picture of Claude Rains. Smart kid.

  3. Very fun list, Becky! Now, I would argue that Kathie from OUT OF THE PAST is just a bad girl in love. Tommy from KISS OF DEATH, though, is a real meanie. Personally, I tend to favor the charming villains like Julien Karswell (Niall MacGinnis) from CURSE OF THE DEMON and James Mason in NORTH BY NORTHWEST.

  4. Becky,
    So thrilled that you listed Jane Greer in your villains line up! My favorite of her films. Of course I expected an Errol Flynn picture on the list.
    A fun post!

  5. Great list, Becky! My favorite of your 5 is Kathie from OUT OF THE PAST. Rick called her a "bad girl in love," and I agree that she truly falls for Jeff, but I also believe that you've accurately described her as a sociopath. She'll only stay with Jeff so long as it's convenient, and she'll double-cross someone with no hesitation. She's your lover, then your enemy, and then still your enemy but could be your lover again if you're interested. She's unpredictable and cares only about herself, and I think villains like that are the cruelest of them all. Thanks, Becky, for an enjoyable read... and also for the pictures of Jane Greer.

  6. What a great post, Becky, and I really loved the photos you posted. Henry Daniell looks like he would like nothing better than to slay Errol Flynn in the top photo and then looks like he could solve the world's greatest mysteries in his second photo. Richard Widmark transforms from really scary to trustworthy, best friend in his photos. Jane Greer's photo is priceless with the two shadow profiles while in the bottom photo she is just washing that man right out of her hair. Steve Cochran goes from smarmy to boy next door in his pictures. Claude Rains looks so trustworthy in the top picture that his photo may be the most frightening of all. Then his portrait makes him look like he knows really important things but he is not going to tell. Very thought provoking choices!

  7. All the information you mentioned in post is too good and can be very useful for newbie’s. I will keep it in mind, thanks for sharing the information keep updating, looking forward for more posts. Thanks for sharing.

  8. I just discovered this blog and spent entirely too much time meandering through several posts. Loved it!

  9. I've always thought the villains to be the most interesting and unforgettable characters in movies (not everytime, but quite often). Not sure if I could pin down a list of my favorites, but I do love Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs...