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Who Gave the most menacing performance you remember?


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As much as I like Robert Mitchum.... he was never nearly as menacing in any of his movies as Michael Gambon in Peter Greenaway's The Cook The Thief His Wife and Her Lover. That's simply because classic movies could only hope to imply what the villain was capable of, and leave it to the viewer's imagination, whereas Greenaway's film happens to exceed probably the worst things that I hope any moviegoer could possibly imagine.

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I agree with your opinion regarding Michael Gambon's performance as most menacing character. I will add, Gambon's character (Albert Spica) is the most repulsive person I have watched on the big screen.


I also agree with your opinion (another thread) that the movie "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover" is contradictory...disgusting scenes, yet so beautifully presented on screen I don't mind my stomach churning. Why, oh why...did it HAVE to be THAT part of baked guy for dining punishment?


BTW: Here is the TCM database entry for the movie. I like the "brief synopsis"...

Overview for The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1990)

Brief Synopsis:

Revenge drama set in a gourmet restaurant involving a cook, a thief, the thief's wife and her lover.


I think that last sentence requires me to say, "well, duh..."



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Well tbh watching this movie by Peter Greenaway when it was first shown in American theaters was really an awesome experience because, as you say, the movie has so many things that are repulsive and yet it is unquestioningly an intellectual work of art, and it is perhaps the apparent contradiction that makes it so interesting to think about after you've seen it. Of course there are all kinds of possible interpretations of the main characters' allegorical function, but I won't bore you with those since they're fairly well-known.


But it is precisely because Mr. Spica is such a repulsive person -- yes possibly the most repulsive character in the history of film -- and because you reject him at an emotional, ethical, and intellectual level that the film's climax is such a delight.


And needless to say it is a lovely, beautiful performance by Helen Mirren that is much of the film's soul.


For that reason alone I wish it could be re-released to theaters at some point, this one really loses much of its impact when seen on a small screen.

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For me, it would have to be Robert Mitchum in Cape Fear. I cannot watch that film to this day. He scares me to death.


Lee Marvin comes a close second after watching Liberty Valance last night (good performance ~ boy did I absolutely detest his character and would have shot him myself).


I haven't seen the Manchurian Candidate but I will have to catch it. Angela Lansbury looks like my mother in law, and from the sound of her character, my MIL could play it easily. It won't be a stretch for me to imagine her in the role!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Maybe not quite the *most* menacing, but Paul Scofield does an awful good job as the Nazi Colonel obsessed with looting France's art treasures in John Frankenheimer's The Train. You can see the pure hatred in his eyes, and his willingness to kill as many innocent French civilians as may be necessary to achieve his goal.

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Besides my original pick of Robert DeNiro in "Goodfellas", there are two other actors that gave a memoriable menacing performance :


1. - Oliver Reed as "Bill Sikes" in 1968's - "Oliver"

2. - Mr. King Kong as "King Kong" in 1933's - "King Kong"



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