Friday, 6 April 2012

Cameo-A tribute to the Most Memorable Minor Movie Characters

More often than not, the characters that linger in our minds are the main characters of the movie. Be they protagonists/antagonists/or just ugly, they are the ones that will be forever associated with their respective films. And why not? After all, it takes a whole movie just to develop them. Anybody can remember an Andy Dufraine, a Michael Corleone, or a Ferris Bueller...

Forgot me?? Not the brightest, are we?!
Sometimes, however, the plot thickens. On occasion, a character with a minor role will be so ridiculous/bombastic/all-over-the-shop that they will steal scenes and even upstage the principle characters. This is when characterisation is truly ingenious. Though most minor characters are divisive and banal, the following nutty wonders just refused to go unnoticed...

Firstly, we'll take these guys as a given:

Bobba Fett-Star Wars Original Trilogy

The Jesus-The Big Lebowski
Blake Glengarry Glen Ross

....and Gary Busey.
Okay, now that's over with. here are 10 of my most beloved minor characters:


Character: Woman with Three Boobs (Lycia Naff)
Movie: Total Recall (1990)

Who she is: Need you be reminded. Arnie is greeted with many things on the exotic but dilapidated city streets of Mars. Nonetheless, few images of inner city seduction have ever quite captured the shock value of the woman that literally has more than a man could ever ask for.

Stand out Moment: In a midst of a movie that features Arnie, Kuato, and Sharon Stone as a dangerous seductress, this classy gal actually manages to steal the show in Paul Verhoven's futuristic thriller! Seriously, the woman is on screen for all of 30 seconds...and yet who can forget her?! Perhaps the most deserving entry on the list...


Character: Scotty (Philip Seymour Hoffman)
Movie: Boogie Nights (1997)

Who he is: Known for playing intensely masculine roles, Hoffman played the camp and closeted Scotty in Paul Thomas Anderson's 1997 masterwork. Always lovelable, Scotty is the a solid crew man and an ernest (if lovestruck) friend to the film's large-membered protagonist Dirk Diggler. Whether things are groovie or a drag, Scotty always carries himself with positivity and class. Look out for his gentle tears when Dirk fights with Burt Reynolds Jack Horner.

Standout Moments: Just look at him! Through many stand-out moments, I would have to rate his attempts to kiss Diggler at new years as one of cinemas most bizarrely charming moments.



Character: Mammy (Hattie McDaniel)
Film: Gone with the Wind (1939)

Who she is: Sometimes a memorable character is about much more than just one movie. By the time filming of Gone with the Wind began in early 1939, veteran black actress Hattie McDaniell had long-since grown tired of the racism of Hollywood. With that in mind, Hattie decided to play the negro servant Mammy with both and tongue-and-cheek nod to black stereotypes and an unexpected air of strength and command. She is often the rock of the O'Hara family, particularly when they fall into poverty. By comparison to the weaker servant, Prissy, she appears as a true matriarch.

Standout Moments: Anytime that she displays command over Scarlett (Vivien Leigh) or Prissy (Butterfly McQueen) during times of crisis.


Character: Leon (Chris Sarandon)
Film: Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

Who he/she(!!) is: In one of cinema's most hilarious reveals, the 'wife' that Al Pacino's bank-robbing, "Attica" screaming thief Sonny Wotzik keeps referring to turns out to be not his spouse, as the police had assumed. Instead, we find his "wife' to be non-other than the colourful pre-operation transvestite Leon. Pacino's character is, in fact, robbing the bank to raise funds for Leon's gender reassignment surgery. Oh, and did I mention this film is based on a true story?!

Standout Moment: It has to be his fainting escapade in the police holding-room. Oh Leon, you' so high maintenance!

Sometimes an image speaks louder than words ever could.

Character: Exploding Toxic Waste Guy.
Film: Robocop (1987)

Who this poor bastard is: Quick-what's the most ridiculous scene in film history?? If you are anything like me, you'll at least give moment some thought.
Sure, there are many, many moments of obscene violence in Robocop. In fact, many of them even involve the Red Foreman form That 70s Show. But, for me, a man getting doused in so much toxic waste that he literally turns to liquid should pretty much take the (extremely disgusting) cake in any film. Don't you?! Paul Verhoeven, what do you dream of at night?...

Stand-out Moment: In a word-this:



Character: Walter Peck (William Atherton)
Movie: Ghostbusters (1984)

Who he is: The property game is tough. A silver-tongued archetype of the 1980's "greed is good" rage, meet the inspector so stingy that he won't even grant lenience to the spirit disposal industry. That damn generator!

Standout Moment: You just have to watch it for yourself:


Character: Carson Welles (Woody Harrelson)
Movie: No Country for Old Men (2007)

Who he is:  Quite simply, carson is the very definition of a great minor character. Indeed, Woody Harrelson's roguish bounty-hunter is not necessary to the plot in the strictest sense. Yet, in a strange way, he seems to define the odd, rustic, strangeness of the Coen Brother's interpretation of Cormac McCarthy's dark tale. Free-wheeling and flamboyant, he is the polar opposite of the film's deadpan antagonist Anton Sigur. This guy doesn't last long, but boy does he relish his few moments.

Standout Moment: His wry job interview: "Tell you the truth, I don't think charm had that much to do with it."


Character: Machine Woman (Brigitte Helm)
Movie: Metropolis (1929)

Who she is: The machine woman-every misogynists dream?? Of all the entries on the list, this is without doubt the most intelligent. I mean, three boobies woman was great and all, but she wasn't an allegory for the Nietzschean Ubermensche and a criticism of rising fascism (or was she?!).
For those who don't know the film's plot, here goes: tired of the human workers in the catacombs, mad scientist Rotwang builds Metropolis leader Joh Frederson the perfect worker-the first of a race of machine men. With more than a few fascist undertones, it is up to Frederson's son Freder to convince his father of just how bat-shit evil this notion is. Interestingly enough, the creep machine woman is played by female star Brigitte Helm, who also plays the female protagonist Maria.

Standout Moment: With a Satanic pentagram in the backdrop, we witness one of cinemas all time coolest moments of pioneering effects work as the machine is being born.


Character: General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden)
Movie: Dr. Strangelove, or how I learned to stop worrying and love the Bomb (1964)

Who is he: You would think that an unhinged psychopath responsible for the apocalypse would be a lot less lovable than this. Meet jack D. Ripper doesn't negotiate with terrorists, he doesn't let them last that long. This utterly paranoid lunatic (played ably by the great Sterling Hayden) can drop a nuc' with the best of them and feeds Peter Sellers some of the best straight-guy lines in comic history.

Standout Moment: "I don't avoid making love to women, but I do deny them my essence." This guy makes me want to be impotent!

And, finally, the best....


Character: LT. Kilgore (Robert Duvall)
Movie: Apocalypse Now (1979)

Who is he: Perhaps the very embodiment of conservative anger, this pompous, careless, psychotic is about all you can think, of for the 20-odd minutes of sheer masterclass that Robert Duvall provides us on screen. Every war film has it's lunatics, but its the fact that we can never quite decide whether this guy is a courageous leader or a nihilistic tyrant that gives this guy his astonishing depth. Willard (Martin Sheen) remarks "You can tell he wasn't going to pick up a scratch in this war." Perhaps the scariest thing we learn from this witty maniac is that it takes a hateful man to conquer. We'll never look at a surfboard the same wat again.

Standout Moment: Frankly, all of them! We'll take "I love the smell of Napalm in the morning" as a given, how about "Charlie Don't Surf!"?!

Well that's it!!!!

Ps. Honorable mention:

Jimmy Two Times-Goodfellas (1990)

Genaro-Jurassic Park (1993)

Keep the faith!!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment