Which actor/actress made the best villain/heavy?

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cinemalover
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Which actor/actress made the best villain/heavy?

Post by cinemalover »

I just finished watching Cagney's mesmerizing performance as gangster Cody Jarrett in the classic White Heat. He was so overpoweringly evil that it got me to thinking, which other actors/actresses were fantastic at creating purely vile characters?

Which ones do you like best?
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Ann Harding
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Post by Ann Harding »

Bizarrely, I find Cagney rather appealing in a rather twisted way as Cody Jarrett. He trusts Edmond O'Brien as a friend and his betrayal is quite shocking in a way.....After all, Cagney is still the 'hero' of the film even if his a completely mad and dangerous guy. :wink:

Being a silent fan, I am always completely scared by Noah Beery whether as the evil Lejaune in Beau Geste or the nasty warden in The Godless Girl. :)
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ken123
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Post by ken123 »

Dan Duryea immediately comes to mind in Criss Cross, Scarlett Street, and The Women in the Window Joan Bennett was very bad in Scarlett Street, and Linda Darnell may not have been evil in Fallen Angel but she sure knew how to use her assets to their best advantage in that film. :wink:
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Post by ChiO »

Dan Duryea is always a fine candidate for vile.

Robert Mitchum in NIGHT OF THE HUNTER and CAPE FEAR adds evil.

Richard Widmark in KISS OF DEATH adds the psychotic. Honorable mentions to Raymond Burr in RAW DEAL and Lee Marvin in...well, almost any movie he was in before becoming a leading man.

But, for me, the most evil, vile and sociopathic (not psychotic) character in film is John Huston in CHINATOWN -- all that calm in one who appears to be a normal respected citizen is more than I can take.
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Post by cinemalover »

Lee Marvin did create many memorable villains. My favorite of his has to be the wonderfully wicked Liberty Valance. It's a testiment to his villainy that he is so vividly remembered while playing opposite the favorite sons, John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart.
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Post by charliechaplinfan »

In silents it Ernest Torrence. He's Captain Hook in Peter Pan and the villian in Tol'Able David.

In sound movies it's Robert Mitchum. Night of The Hunter and Cape Fear, in my mind no one has matched him for presence.
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Post by jdb1 »

I would agree with ChiO that the calm, cold villains are very often the scariest - Henry Daniell, George Macready, Gale Sondergaard, Conrad Veidt immediately come to my mind, and there were many others of that ilk.

As for psychos - Peter Lorre gave them a bit of dignity, and then Widmark set the bar for the uncontrollable loonies pretty darn high as well. But ChiO, how could you leave out the wacko genius that was Tim Carey?
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Post by Bogie »

Jack Nicholson was pretty bad ass in THE SHINING but for my money I have to say Robert Mitchum. The guy was pure evil in some of his villain roles. I sometimes am disgusted by him but find him so utterly fascinating to watch!
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Post by Dewey1960 »

ChiO (prophetically) said: "But, for me, the most evil, vile and sociopathic (not psychotic) character in film is John Huston in CHINATOWN -- all that calm in one who appears to be a normal respected citizen is more than I can take."

Huston's insanely evil character of Noah Cross in that film seems to be something a barometer for Huston's real-life persona. I've just finished reading the book BLACK DAHLIA AVENGER by Steve Hodel. Hodel was a Los Angeles homicide detective from the 60s through the mid-80s. His fascination with the grotesque and bizarre murder of Elizabeth Short (known more familiarly as "The Black Dahlia") in 1947 led him to conduct his own private investigation of the case beginning around 1999. His investigation led him to the shocking conclusion that it was his own father, a man named George Hill Hodel, who committed this savagely sadistic crime (and probably numerous other similar ones, including the murder of crime novelist James Ellroy's mother in 1958). The reason I bring all of this up is: John Huston was a good, close friend of Dr. Hodel's back in LA in the 1940s. Huston participated in many dark, S&M-themed parties at the Hodel home and was known for being a particularly nasty, sadistic SOB. This is all described in detail in the book, which is a disturbingly grisly account, but nonetheless fascinating.

Now: my choice for the most patently evil performance by an actress: Angela Lansbury in THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE.
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Post by ChiO »

jdb1 said:
But ChiO, how could you leave out the wacko genius that was Tim Carey?
Wacko genius -- absolutely. Evil, vile villian? EAST OF EDEN, THE KILLING, CRIME WAVE, WATERHOLE #3 & THE KILLING OF A CHINESE BOOKIE -- just an everyday (wacko) guy doing his job. 8)

Anyone who immediately brings a smile to my face when I see him on the screen cannot really be a villain. Besides, after his death walk in PATHS OF GLORY, didn't you want to save him and have Kirk Douglas shot?

Except, in THE WORLD'S GREATEST SINNER, he does approach the John Huston and Angela Lansbury level -- and he wrote it for himself, so...I stand corrected.
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Post by moira finnie »

Hmm, for great, entertaining villains, I'd have to choose Claude Rains, Basil Rathbone, Laird Cregar and George Sanders.

For truly hardcore evil fellows Mitchum, Scott Glenn, Richard Conte in The Big Combo, and a certain Mr. Widmark.
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Post by Hollis »

Good morning all,

I've got to agree with everyone that pegged Robert Mitchum in "Night of the Hunter." He wasn't only evil (personnified,) he was genuinely menacing as well. I was more than a bit on edge when he started down the stairs to the basement looking for the two children. My son, who's now 21, is convinced that Christopher Walken is the most "evil" man in the movies these days. I can't say that I'm familiar with him in that capacity. Can someone help me?

As always,

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Post by ChiO »

Any man who would go through what Christopher Walken's character did ( :shock: ) in PULP FICTION to give a watch to his buddy's son cannot be evil.
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles
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