baleanoptera: (SW Leia with gun)
[personal profile] baleanoptera
I'm stuck writing a boring paper, so for some recreational amusement I was inspired by the meme floating around on LJ and the blogsphere about your Ten Favorite Film Characters.



Captain Renault (Claude Raines) from Casablanca

He may only be a poor, corrupt government official, but he is easily the best thing about the whole film. Largely because his cynical and realistic stance is a good balance to the film's more dramatic, ideological moments, but also because he applies the same clear sighted cynicism to himself as well. And of course:
Renault: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in this establishment!
[a croupier hands Renault a pile of money]
Croupier: Your winnings, sir.
Captain Renault: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.





T.R. Devlin (Cary Grant) from Notorious

As much as I adore Ingrid Bergman's Alicia it is the silent, grumpy Devlin that truly fascinates me. Perhaps because he falls in love without really wanting to, perhaps because he spends most of the movie being cruel and understated - or maybe its just nice to see Cary Grant in something other than a screwball comedy.



Kambei (Takashi Shimura) from Seven Samurai

Kambei is the quiet, wise leader of the samurai and in most cases he sees things a lot clearer than the other members of the group. Yet my love for Kambei comes largely from the scene where Kikuchiyo rages about the samurais shock in realising the farmers steal is a form of hypocrisy. "But then who made them such beasts?", Kikuchiyo yells, "You did! You samurai did it! You burn their villages! Destroy their farms! Steal their food! Force them to labour! Take their women! And kill them if they resist! So what should farmers do?". And you see Kambei realize the truth of these words, you see him realize his own faults - and then you see him trying to repent. For me that is the greatness of Kambei. He actually takes criticism to heart.



Debbie Marsh (Gloria Grahame) from The Bigh Heat

"The main thing is to have the money. I've been rich and I've been poor. *Believe* me, rich is better."

I have a thing for Fritz Lang's women, but none so more than Debbie Marsh. She steals every scene she is in, she takes revenge into her own hands and she does it all with a quick comment and a bosom you'd have to be asexual not to notice. She is also, rather interestingly, the films moral philosopher in a way that the main male character is not.



Dr. Mabuse (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) from Dr. Mabuse - the Gambler and The Testament of Dr. Mabuse

To call Mabuse intense would be an understatement. He is the hypnotic (literary) master villain in Fritz Lang's series of films bearing his name. Mabuse wants world domination (he is after all a master villain, it comes with the job), but unlike other master villains you actually fear that he might make it. Because Mabuse is clever, frighteningly clever - and the full extent of his plan is a mystery right up till the end of the first film. In the second film he is almost absent from the film, but his presence is so scary that you're secretly a bit happy. He is, in short, my favourite evil, evil villain.



Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) from the Star Wars Trilogy

We all have our formative experiences. Watching Leia snark and shoot her way through A New Hope was mine. Now I love Luke and his emo!jedi quest, but my secret wish will always be that the first three films had been focused on Leia instead. Leading the rebellion, digging up the secrets of her family and saving the galaxy. With the various hairstyles of her choice of course.



Magua (Wes Studi) from The Last of the Mohicans

I don't consider Magua a villain as such (even if he does cut out the heart of his enemy, possibly to eat it). Magua is more of an anti-hero, the dark opposite to our heroes, whose quest for revenge and a form of justice has twisted him. He also goes about his anti-hero tasks without being a woobie, which I appreciate.



Kikuchiyo (Toshiro Mifune) from Seven Samurai

That this was the first role I saw Mifune in does play a part in its selection, but of equal importance is Kikuchiyo's role as an outsider and how he transcends class structures. He rages at everyone in equal measure and delights in pointing out folly and stupidity. He is also at times incredibly heartbreaking, as in the scene depicted above.



Hanshiro Tsugomo (Tatsuya Nakadai) from Harakiri/Seppuku

Hanshiro Tsugomo manages to look down on his luck, yet stunningly beautiful and badass all at the same time. He is vengeful, remorseful, funny and in short he is three dimensional and you end up caring for him and rooting for him - which makes the end of the film all the more tragic. And that of course is the intent.


Sumiko is the lady in the middle


Sumiko (Machiko Kyo) from Floating Weeds

Machiko Kyo has done some amazing roles - the ghost in Ugetsu and the woman in Rashomon to name a few - but the character I love the most is actress Sumiko. In a film that is stunning, she is the most captivating - whether she is scheming to get her lover back, being bitchy to her colleagues, performing bad kabuki or just being so utterly human it hurts.
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