MY TEN FAVOURITE FILM CHARACTERS OF ALL TIME

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Memes are always tremendous fun. I always like to participate in these extravagant exercises.

If anyone is digging this, consider yourself tagged.

This was actually very difficult. In spite of my great disdain for rules in general, I do attempt to colour inside the lines regarding memes.

Compromise is a dirty word in my estimation. But there truly is no other possible way. I have far more than 10 favourite characters.

So this is what I’ve done. I’ve picked 10. But then I have 23 runner ups.

Before I get to the main event, I will list my honourable mentions (in alphabetical order) below:

1. BATMAN

2. THE BRIDE/BEATRIX KIDDO (UMA THURMAN) – KILL BILL

3. CARMEN (MARY ELIZABETH MASTRANTONIO) – THE COLOR OF MONEY

4. DIANA SCOTT (JULIE CHRISTIE) – DARLING

5. DAISY ARUJO (JULIA ROBERTS) – MYSTIC PIZZA

6. DANIEL PLAINVIEW (DANIEL DAY LEWIS) – THERE WILL BE BLOOD

7. GINGER McKENNA (SHARON STONE) – CASINO

8. GYPSY ROSE LEE (NATALIE WOOD) – GYPSY

9. HANNIBAL LECTER (ANTHONY HOPKINS) – THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS

10. HARVEY MILK (SEAN PENN) – MILK

11. HOLLY GOLIGHTLY (AUDREY HEPBURN) – BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S

12. JERRY/DAPHNE (JACK LEMMON) – SOME LIKE IT HOT

13. KATHARINE CLIFTON (KRISTIN SCOTT THOMAS) – THE ENGLISH PATIENT

14. KAREN HILL (LORRAINE BRACCO) – GOODFELLAS

15. LARA (JULIE CHRISTIE) – DOCTOR ZHIVAGO

16. LESLIE LYNNTON (ELIZABETH TAYLOR) – GIANT

17. LOLITA/DOLORES HAZE (SUE LYON) – 1962’S LOLITA

18. MAGGIE THE CAT (ELIZABETH TAYLOR) – CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF

19. MARIA VARGAS (AVA GARDNER) – THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA

20. MICHAEL CORLEONE (AL PACINO) – THE GODFATHER TRILOGY

21. PROFESSOR FATE (JACK LEMMON) – THE GREAT RACE

22. SUSIE DIAMOND (MICHELLE PFEIFFER) – THE FABULOUS BAKER BOYS

23. TRACY LORD (KATHARINE HEPBURN) – THE PHILADELPHIA STORY

My ten favourite characters have a lot in common. For one thing, they’re all female. The ten that I’ve chosen are beautiful, spirited, strong willed. A couple of them are real people that actually lived. So they’re not exactly characters per se. But there’s no way I could ever leave them out.

These women know what they want and how to get it. Some of them possess a sensuality that’s rather distracting.

They all seem to understand that this existence is precarious at best. Everything turns on a dime. You have to seize the day before the sun sets.

That’s my philosophy as well.

Let’s get on with it.

These are my 10 favourite film characters…

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10. NINA FRANKLIN (BARBARA HERSHEY) – THE STUNT MAN

THE STUNT MAN is one of the most entertaining, mindblowing films that was ever made. You have no idea what’s happening, who anyone really is or what their various agendas are until the very end.

The characters are all on a quest for the truth. NINA FRANKLIN is no exception.

NINA is a successful actor of some renown. She meets CAMERON (STEVE RAILSBACK), the new stunt man, on the set of her latest film. NINA is instantaneously attracted to him. They begin a torrid romance in the midst of all this chaos. But she has absolutely no idea who he is.

He is wanted by the police. She is aware of that much. But she’s unable to find out what crime he actually committed. NINA wants desperately to believe in his innocence. But she becomes afraid that her strong feelings are leading her astray.

When CAMERON tells her that he must leave before the authorities close in, she’s incredibly ambivalent. They only need her for a few more scenes. So her presence is not particularly crucial. She wants to run away with him.

But suppose she’s wrong and he really is a cold blooded killer?

He tells her that he’ll walk through the woods. She smiles endearingly and softly replies, “I love the woods at night. It would be such fun…if we just kept going.”

As the picture winds down, NINA finds out all the essential information about her prince. That was very important for her. But she was always prepared to do exactly what she had to do.

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9. ROSIE RYAN (SARAH MILES) – RYAN’S DAUGHTER

ROSIE RYAN appears to have everything.

It’s just before the first World War in rural Ireland. ROSIE is easily the most gorgeous young woman in the village. Her father is wealthy and dotes on her. He spoils her with luxuries and gives her anything she desires.

When she grows up, she marries the man that she has always been in love with: the handsome widowed schoolteacher (ROBERT MITCHUM) that she’s had a serious crush on since she was a girl. But her devoted, gentle, soft spoken husband can not satisfy her sexually.

ROSIE adores CHARLES. He is all she’s ever wanted. But there is a burning fire racing through her that she can not contain. Passion is something that she is not prepared to live without.

The townspeople loathe the British soldiers stationed in the area. One of the Englishmen comes into the pub owned by ROSIE’S father. ROSIE can not resist him…and word travels fast.

CHARLES is a lovely man and he would forgive her in any case. But the people in the village deeply resented ROSIE long before they heard of her illicit romance. It’s a recipe for a disaster of major proportions.

This is what happens when women have to have their way. They can bring down entire civilizations.

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8. FRANCES FARMER (JESSICA LANGE) – FRANCES

FRANCES FARMER was a rebel. She was also a blonde to be reckoned with.

She was outspoken, strong willed and fiercely independent during a portion of the twentieth century when those qualities were very unappreciated if they happened to belong to a woman.

Men were certainly admired if they possessed those particular characteristics. Females were expected to be sweet, pliable doormats.

FRANCES paid a very big price for bucking that trend.

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7. GLORIA WANDROUS (ELIZABETH TAYLOR) – BUTTERFIELD 8

GLORIA WANDROUS is the quintessential party girl. Too many men. Too much booze. Not enough time. She’s unstoppable.

But it’s all on her terms. EVERY LAST BIT OF IT.

She’s sharp and she knows all the angles.

The beginning just slays me. When she discovers that her married lover has left money for her on the dresser (they had been fooling around at his house), she is infuriated.

She writes NO SALE in coral lipstick on one of the mirrors and leaves his home (without the money) clad in his wife’s mink coat.

Is this admirable behaviour? Not particularly. But if you’re going to travel down that road, then that’s the only way to go. He had to do some serious begging and pleading before she would agree to see him again. That’s precisely the way it should be.

But you get the sense that there are demons driving this fatally glamorous young woman. In one of the concluding scenes, you finally find out what they are.

GLORIA had a heart and a conscience, though she wasn’t terribly introspective. If she had been, then perhaps her life wouldn’t have been so senselessly tragic.

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6. MEMO PARIS (KIM BASINGER) – THE NATURAL

You can tell that MEMO PARIS is trouble. She always wears black.

MEMO is a mixture of carefully composed elegance and the kind of fiery blonde sensuality that’s gotten countless men in way over their heads.

She’s the kind of woman who draws people to her easily. Men have always given her things and she never has to worry about making an exit. There will be a soft landing for her wherever she goes.

MEMO was born with a face that would let her get her way. No one could ever say no to her.

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5. MONA DE MARKOV (LENA OLIN) – ROMEO IS BLEEDING

Stating that MONA DE MARKOV is dangerous is like saying that Rome is in Italy.

She’s a Russian assassin that’s been trained to kill. She has no morals, no scruples, no boundaries or principles. Lying and manipulation come very naturally to her. MONA would sleep with anybody if it would advance her agenda. She’d take anyone out in the blink of an eye and it wouldn’t faze her for a millisecond.

She’s possessed of a powerful sexiness – the kind that can level continents. She is also sharply intelligent. MONA is aware that most people wouldn’t believe that someone so lovely could be so unbearably evil…and so she uses that to her advantage.

When JACK GRIMALDI (GARY OLDMAN) first sees her in the back of his police car, he falls under her spell immediately.

“So you’re the big hoodlum. Personally, I don’t see it.”

“Keep looking,” MONA whispers huskily.

Yes, indeed…

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4. BONNIE PARKER (FAYE DUNAWAY) – BONNIE & CLYDE

BONNIE PARKER was wild, sensual, untamed and free spirited. She needed to leave her small town Texas home and do something majestic. Have a different kind of life.

CLYDE was her way out.

It all came to a very bad end. BONNIE wanted accomplishment and excitement.

She got much more than she ever bargained for.

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3. GILDA (RITA HAYWORTH) – GILDA

GILDA is a goddess. She is also a very, very bad girl.

Or is she…?

I’m positive that GILDA is the only one who really knows for sure – and she’s not telling anybody.

In my time, I’ve had any number of tempestuous, intense, roller coaster romances.

Stay away from those love/hate things. They’re killer…

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2. MATTY WALKER (KATHLEEN TURNER) – BODY HEAT

She walks in beauty like the night…

She’s also as thoroughly and completely wicked as anyone could ever be.

MATTY WALKER is the ultimate femme fatale. When she sashays past sleazy lawyer NED RACINE (WILLIAM HURT) that steamy fateful Florida evening (she’s even hotter than that night…), he has no idea that he’s in for the ride of his life.

She was relentless.

And he fell in love with her.

The poor sap…

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1. SCARLETT O’HARA (VIVIEN LEIGH) – GONE WITH THE WIND

You knew this was coming, didn’t you…?

SCARLETT O’HARA is a woman ahead of her time. She is a charismatic green eyed Irish beauty. Her charm is unparalleled. She knows precisely what she wants and exactly how to get it.

Yet she’s also exceptionally fiery, independent, strong, determined. She gets through the passing of her beloved parents and the death of her way of life without so much as a scratch. She runs her own business when all the other women are sitting around knitting.

SCARLETT is a survivor…and people that get in her way are smudge marks on the road to hell.

It’s true. She does make some ridiculous choices when it comes to love. Some people can’t understand what’s going on even when it’s happening directly in front of their eyes.

But this glorious angel of the south is not someone who will ever give up. I know she’ll get RHETT back.

Sooner or later.

He worshipped her. Some bonds just can’t be broken.

2 Responses to “MY TEN FAVOURITE FILM CHARACTERS OF ALL TIME”

  1. Miranda…

    A great list, as I knew it would be. What a great celebration of strong women.

    I LOVE seeing Barbara Hershey and THE STUNT MAN on your list. I have not seen that film in years, but I’ve always loved it.

    So great that you have two Jack Lemmon roles on your runners up list – not only Jerry/Daphne (which was a strong contender for my own list), but Professor Fate! I have so many great memories of watching THE GREAT RACE with my family while I was growing up. Any time it was on TV, we all watched.

    Gotta agree with you – Scarlett O’Hara is one of the greatest characters of all time.

    Nice job, Miranda!

  2. Wow, Patty…

    You and I think alike in innumerable ways. I’m ecstatic that this compilation is to your taste.

    It makes my month. Believe me.

    Yeah, as soon as I got into it I realized that I couldn’t leave one woman out. It did cross my mind that some people would automatically perceive the compilation as a feminist statement. That isn’t what it started out as initially. But I have no problem embracing that.

    The women that are most interesting to me (on screen and off) have their own lives, are independent, strong willed and outspoken but still have a lot of outward femininity and glamour. They take pride in their sensuality…and they own it.

    So the list kind of reflects how I see the world.

    BARBARA HERSHEY is a really fascinating actor. She’s worked steadily for decades. Absolutely gorgeous and very talented. She only has one OSCAR nomination and she’s received a variety of awards throughout her long and varied career.

    Still, I don’t think that she ever really received her due. I feel strongly that she should be a much bigger star. Oh, well.

    I went with NINA since she’s not really an obvious choice. She is no slouch. But she’s more openly vulnerable than the other women.

    Thinking about it deeply, I just had to go with her. I love the line and the scene that I referenced above. But there’s also that bit where she meets CAMERON. You’ve seen the film (which I also own BTW). So I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t.

    She tells him to pick her up and rescue her from the ocean that she had fallen into. So he does, stating incredulously,“This is just like in the movies.”

    Being carried in his arms back to the shore, the sunlight glistening on her long brown hair, the piano soars, the lush strings swell and NINA says: “I am the movies.”

    *sigh*

    Utterly magical…

    I had the great privilege of seeing THE STUNT MAN twice in the cinema many years after its release. Both audiences adored it. There was much laughter throughout. I could tell practically everyone was holding their collective breath at some point. People were hooked but they were absolutely terrified at what the resolution might be and what it could mean for the characters.

    RICHARD RUSH knew exactly what he was doing. The well constructed narrative is riveting…and he never goes off the rails with it. THE STUNT MAN is the best film of 1980 for my money. Definitely one of the triumphs of the decade.

    JACK LEMMON (who I will adore forever…and dearly miss) was a tough one. There was PROFESSOR FATE, JERRY and C.C. BAXTER.

    JERRY makes me laugh my ass off.

    “But why would a guy want to marry a guy?”
    “SECURITY!!!”

    Comedic genius.

    PROFESSOR FATE is an inspired creation. JACK takes all of that SNIDELY WHIPLASH moustache twirling black hat comedic villain jazz and makes the PROFESSOR a living breathing person. Not to mention that goofy lookalike European prince that he also plays in the same movie.

    SERIOUSLY…JERRY and the PROFESSOR/PRINCE are fantastic performances. At least he got an OSCAR nod for JERRY. He really deserved one for playing the PROFESSOR as well.

    I know what you mean about THE GREAT RACE. They showed it on TV consistently when I was growing up. It was one of the first DVDs that I ever purchased.

    That pie fight is unbelievable. One of the best comedies of the 60s. That was definitely BLAKE EDWARDS’ era.

    Yeah, as I was stating earlier…

    There was no question in my mind when it came to SCARLETT as my top choice.

    It had to be her. There could be no one else.

    Thanks so much for being here and for commenting on this, Patty.

    Means the world to me…

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