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What do we expect from villains?


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Do movie villains entertain us, or do they just repulse us? 

Maybe they started out bad at a young age, like Rhoda Penmark.

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Do we expect them to get their comeuppance like Georgie Amberson Minafer finally did?

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Some of them are rather cruel.

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Some get away with murder.

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Some are larger than life. But do we expect them all to be larger than life, like the Joker?

screen

Do they glamorize evil?

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Villains seem to be much more interesting because they can be so unpredictable. Just as in the latest "The Joker" film, we have to ask ourselves "what must have happened to make them this way? Normally that's a story in itself. On the other hand, we assume the hero has always been good, so no story to tell. Ends up as a boring tale.

I think what we expect from the villain depends on the backstory. And how it manifests in the evil that they do.

 

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Just now, GGGGerald said:

Villains seem to be much more interesting because they can be so unpredictable. Just as in the latest "The Joker" film, we have to ask ourselves "what must have happened to make them this way? Normally that's a story in itself. On the other hand, we assume the hero has always been good, so no story to tell. Ends up as a boring tale.

I think what we expect from the villain depends on the backstory. And how it manifests in the evil that they do.

Very interesting reply! What if the hero is someone who reformed...he could have had a complex backstory.

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33 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

Very interesting reply! What if the hero is someone who reformed...he could have had a complex backstory.

Then we venture into the realm of the "anti hero" or noir where no one is really a "hero". Take "The Godfather (1972)", where we are cheering for a organized crime family responsible for murders and many other crimes.

I think we first have to ask ourselves , what is a hero ? What is a villain ?

Its more shades of gray than black and white.

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What do I expect from villains you ask, TB?

Well, lets just say that I'm SO "old school" that a villain isn't a TRUE villain unless he has a dark handlebar mustache, twirls it occasionally, and says, "Curses! Foiled again!"

YOU know, kind'a like THIS guy here...

 

19375423._SX540_.jpg

(...well, you ASKED!)  ;)

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Btw, TB.

Another thing I expect from villains is when you ask them if THEY expect you to talk.

But they instead say, no, they expect you to DIE!

YOU know (once again) like THIS guy here...

ab07aeaf392f4a48dbf4abe490003696998e692b

 

 

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24 minutes ago, GGGGerald said:

Then we venture into the realm of the "anti hero" or noir where no one is really a "hero". Take "The Godfather (1972)", where we are cheering for a organized crime family responsible for murders and many other crimes.

I think we first have to ask ourselves , what is a hero ? What is a villain ?

Its more shades of gray than black and white.

I see an anti-hero as being a lovable rogue. A bad boy who has redeemable traits.

Is that how you define it?

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10 minutes ago, Dargo said:

What do I expect from villains you ask, TB?

Well, lets just say that I'm SO "old school" that a villain isn't a TRUE villain unless he has a dark handlebar mustache, twirls it occasionally, and says, "Curses! Foiled again!"

YOU know, kind'a like THIS guy here...

 

19375423._SX540_.jpg

(...well, you ASKED!)  ;)

Thanks Dargo! Cardboard villains. Cartoon villains. One dimensional villains. Eh?

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6 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

Thanks Dargo! Cardboard villains. Cartoon villains. One dimensional villains. Eh?

Nah, I was just kiddin', of course.

However, since I posted those two little ha-ha's up there, a couple of real THREE-dimensional movies villains DID come to mind here for me.

First, one of best ever in my view (and perhaps to many other folks) would be Alan Rickman in the original Die Hard...

alan-rickman-die-hard.jpg

And, John Malkovich here in the movie In the Line of Fire...

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(...neither of these two movies would have been HALF as good nor as memorable without their appearance and performance in 'em)

 

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I've always said if I was in the movies I would rather be the villain than the hero. The hero, most of the time, is pretty straightforward. Villains are more interesting. They have a good side and bad side, a history, a reason for being the way that they are, and sometimes villains believe they aren't villains at all.

Take my favorite actor, James Cagney. In White Heat he's as bad as a villain can get, and yet I find myself rooting for him more so than Edmond O'Brien, because O'Brien is conniving and Cagney put his trust in him. Mommy issues were a big factor. His mental health problems were inherited, if I remember correctly. As the viewer you feel sorry for him in a way.

Those are the villains I like best. Villains that like to cause harm for the hell of it and try to take over the world, like most James Bond villains, I don't find that interesting. (Don't get me wrong. I love James Bond movies. 😊) In old Hollywood the villains always lost. I like to see them win once in a while.

BTW, TopBilled, I noticed you're up to 90,000 posts. Congrats! 👍

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4 minutes ago, Dargo said:

Nah, I was just kiddin', of course.

However, since I posted those two little ha-ha's up there, a couple of real THREE-dimensional movies villains DID come to mind here for me.

First, one of best ever in my view (and perhaps to many other folks) would be Alan Rickman in the original Die Hard...

alan-rickman-die-hard.jpg

Rickman was equally impressive in ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES (1991). Great actor.

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8 minutes ago, Rudy's Girl said:

I've always said if I was in the movies I would rather be the villain than the hero. The hero, most of the time, is pretty straightforward. Villains are more interesting. They have a good side and bad side, a history, a reason for being the way that they are, and sometimes villains believe they aren't villains at all.

Take my favorite actor, James Cagney. In White Heat he's as bad as a villain can get, and yet I find myself rooting for him more so than Edmond O'Brien, because O'Brien is conniving and Cagney put his trust in him. Mommy issues were a big factor. His mental health problems were inherited, if I remember correctly. As the viewer you feel sorry for him in a way.

Those are the villains I like best. Villains that like to cause harm for the hell of it and try to take over the world, like most James Bond villains, I don't find that interesting. (Don't get me wrong. I love James Bond movies. 😊) In old Hollywood the villains always lost. I like to see them win once in a while.

BTW, TopBilled, I noticed you're up to 90,000 posts. Congrats! 👍

Thank you. 

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O'Brien played a villainous cop in SHIELD FOR MURDER (1954). But I agree, in WHITE HEAT, he seems to lack charisma compared to Cagney. And as you say, we end up wanting Cody Jarrett to succeed. Not the law.

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Your reference here TB to Rickman in the Robin Hood movie has reminded me of another beautifully fleshed-out movie villain in another period piece that was set in the British Isles of old.

Tim Roth here in the film Rob Roy...

rob-roy-tim+roth.jpg

(...a terrific performance which earned Roth a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination that year)

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9 hours ago, Dargo said:

Your reference here TB to Rickman in the Robin Hood movie has reminded me of another beautifully fleshed-out movie villain in another period piece that was set in the British Isles of old.

Tim Roth here in the film Rob Roy...

rob-roy-tim+roth.jpg

(...a terrific performance which earned Roth a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination that year)

Dargo,

I haven't watched ROB ROY in a while.

I was trying to figure out what makes Rickman so good at playing villains. Is it his ability to understand the character's desperation to win at all costs?

Sort of like Basil Rathbone in CAPTAIN BLOOD and THE MARK OF ZORRO..?

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I like to see the villain get what's coming to him, like the Scorpio killer in Dirty Harry. He is a disgusting, nasty violent creep who murders just for the thrill of it. He is also a racist and abusive to children, so he has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. The final showdown with tough cop Clint Eastwood is very satisfying.

Image result for andy robinson dirty harry images

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18 minutes ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

I like to see the villain get what's coming to him, like the Scorpio killer in Dirty Harry. He is a disgusting, nasty violent creep who murders just for the thrill of it. He is also a racist and abusive to children, so he has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. The final showdown with tough cop Clint Eastwood is very satisfying.

Image result for andy robinson dirty harry images

That might be true for a lot of people, wanting to see the hero nail the bad guy. How someone who represents what's right and what's just (law and order) prevails over society's more reprehensible elements.

The classic TV version of The Naked City sometimes subverted this general idea. Where we would see that the villain/killer was mentally ill and possibly not in control of his/her actions. And the cops were sometimes not in control either.

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19 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

The classic TV version of The Naked City sometimes subverted this general idea. Where we would see that the villain/killer was mentally ill and possibly not in control of his/her actions. And the cops were sometimes not in control either.

Another example of this is the film Cremator. In the film, the nazi villain Kopfrkingl kills because he believes it reincarnates people as Germans like him. He is shown as a bit of a fool and reprobate but also as someone who believes he is doing what is right in the end. One of his first lines in the movie is even "I love my family and would do anything I can for them."

 

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23 minutes ago, Gershwin fan said:

Another example of this is the film Cremator. In the film, the nazi villain Kopfrkingl kills because he believes it reincarnates people as Germans like him. He is shown as a bit of a fool and reprobate but also as someone who believes he is doing what is right in the end. One of his first lines in the movie is even "I love my family and would do anything I can for them."

 

Yeah, that's interesting. So I guess it begs the question-- do we understand these types of villains on screen? Why they do what they do. Etc.

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13 hours ago, TopBilled said:

Very interesting reply! What if the hero is someone who reformed...he could have had a complex backstory.

Cripes!

That'll just open the floodgates for a sh*tload of needless  "prequels".  :rolleyes:  As for your opening post....

Villains should be all those and more.   We should be clearly repulsed by them, otherwise they might seem too sympathetic to be true "villains".   And since we do go see movies(or tune in to see them) they should be succinctly entertaining.  Just not to the point of being too likable.     Of course, as movie "aficionados",  we might tend to blur the line between a good performance as a villain, and  the true nature of the beast.   Outside of movies, nobody cares how the serial killer, rapist, child molester or other criminal madman got that way.  Cares not a fig if he or she were abused as a child or not.  Personally, I couldn't care LESS what kind of childhood JEFFERY DAHMER  or TED BUNDY  had.  And knowing it isn't going to prevent any future psychos from cropping up.  And knowing too won't bring any of their victims back, so why bother trying to dredge up sympathy for their past?  Or ANY villain's past, actual or fictional? 

Sepiatone

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2 hours ago, TopBilled said:

Dargo,

I haven't watched ROB ROY in a while.

I was trying to figure out what makes Rickman so good at playing villains. Is it his ability to understand the character's desperation to win at all costs?

Sort of like Basil Rathbone in CAPTAIN BLOOD and THE MARK OF ZORRO..?

Considering the common connection here between Rickman and Rathbone is that they both were "superfluous-u spellers" ;) , perhaps this article here might help explain this, TB?...

https://www.countrylife.co.uk/out-and-about/theatre-film-music/why-british-actors-make-the-best-bad-guys-144095

(...and Tim Roth is too, ya know...another one of those "superfluous-u spellers",  that is)

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I like villains who are shown as real people, screwed up for sure but real people.

El Indio in For A Few Dollars More, for example was a fully fleshed out madman.

Sergio Leone did the same for Lee Van Cleef. If you watch him in his 1950's Westerns whenever he was used as a villain he was often used as screaming hot head who though looking menacing didn't last long.

Leone had him slow down his lines and used his face, Van Cleef called it " his beady-eyed sneer" to ooze menace.

 

 

 

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