JIM DAVIS: Good Guys Gone Bad In the Movies
Maybe I should call this column "Son of Movie Villains," because it's a continuation of an earlier column about movie actors who don't normally play villains.
There are many famous actors who had long careers as movie bad guys, such as Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, John Carradine, and Lon Chaney Jr. Some lesser-known but equally competent villains are Richard Loo, Gale Sondergaard, Eduardo Ciannelli, Conrad Veidt, Martin Kosleck, George Zucco, Mike Mazurki, Marc Lawrence, Nestor Paiva, Jack Larue, Jack Elam, and Lee Van Cleef.
My favorite unknown villain is Abner Biberman. He made dozens of films in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, and almost no one knows his name. I guarantee, though, that if you saw his face, you'd recognize him.
Here's a continuation of my list:
Clifton Webb -- The prissy babysitter in "Sitting Pretty" and the loving father in "Cheaper by the Dozen" plays sadistic murderer Waldo Lydecker in "Laura."
June Allyson -- Sweet little June, everybody's sweetheart, plays a conniving shrew who drives her husband insane in "The Shrike."
Alec Guinness -- The star of all those great British comedies plays Adolph Hitler in a not-very-good film called "Hitler: The Last Ten Days."
Anthony Hopkins -- Speaking of Hitler, Sir Anthony portrays him in a 1981 film called "The Bunker." Hopkins' best-known villain is the criminally insane Dr. Hannibal Lecter in "Silence of the Lambs."
Gregory Peck -- Kindly Atticus Finch in "To Kill a Mockingbird" plays one of the most sadistic killers in history, the notorious Nazi Dr. Joseph Mengele in "The Boys from Brazil."
Fred Gwynne -- The star of many TV comedies, such as "Car 54, Where Are You" and "The Munsters" is one of Johnny Friendly's thugs in "On the Waterfront," one of my favorite films.
Walter Brennan -- In "My Darling Clementine," this beloved character actor plays Old Man Clanton, who leads his boys against Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday in the famous gunfight at the OK Corral.
Gary Cooper -- Plays a dupe drawn into the rackets in "City Streets."
Frank Sinatra -- Is a presidential assassin in "Suddenly."
Christopher Reeve -- The late portrayer of Superman plays a murderous, double-crossing playwright in "Deathtrap."
Laurence Olivier In "Marathon Man," Olivier is cast as a sadistic Nazi who uses a dentist's drill on Dustin Hoffman's front teeth in an effort to learn the location of some stolen diamonds. I didn't go to the dentist for about a year after seeing this film.
Charles Boyer -- Tries to drive wife Ingrid Bergman crazy in the superb "Gaslight."
Robert Montgomery -- This clean-cut hero of dozens of movies plays a killer after an old lady's money in "Night Must Fall."
John Wayne -- Early in his career, Wayne is cast in several movies as a villain, notably "Shadow of the Eagle" and "Somewhere in Sonora." His villains usually turn out in the end to have hearts of gold.
Robert Taylor -- In "Rogue Cop," Taylor plays a veteran police officer who is caught taking bribes from the likes of George Raft.
Robert Young -- The portrayer of Marcus Welby, M.D., is a Nazi murderer in "The Mortal Storm."
James Stewart -- Is a double murderer in "After the Thin Man."
Here are some more examples: Tom Hanks, Michael Caine, Harrison Ford, Robin Williams, Denzel Washington, Rock Hudson, and Michael Keaton. There are lots of others, but they will have to wait for another time.
Excuse me, but I have to go now. "Mutiny on the Bounty" is on TV. Is Clark Gable's Fletcher Christian a good guy or a bad guy?
Jim Davis is a Pinehurst freelance writer. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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