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The Kennel Club

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Showing 1-22 of 22 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 14, 2013 5:22:51 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 15, 2013 7:32:54 AM PDT
Much as we might hate to admit it, we love them. Life wouldn't be the same without them. I am talking about the great b*tchy characters of film history. Let's not sugar coat things and call them strong women. They are not Xena, Warrior Princess, or tiresome do-gooders. These are the gals who know what they want and will do whatever they need to get it. We love them and we hate them, and films just wouldn't be the same without them. They can slap you silly before you blink an eye, or slice your heart out before you even know they have a knife in their hands. They can shred you with a look or a single withering phrase. We love it when they win, and when they lose. And when two of them go up against each other--watch out.

I think it's just more fun to talk about our favorites then set up another tiresome game. So discuss. But please stick to the topic.

The title of the thread, by the way, comes from one of Crawford's lines in The Women--" There is a name for you, ladies, but it isn't used in high society... outside of a kennel." And purebreds these characters most certainly are.

Posted on Mar 15, 2013 7:29:17 AM PDT
And starting the discussion with a few favorites:

In the theatrical category, it's hard to top Margo Channing (Bette Davis, good b****) and Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter, bad b****), in All About Eve. Two contenders for Best of Breed in this category, and Best of Show as well. Julia Lambert (Annette Bening, good b****) and Avice Crichton (Lucy Punch, bad b****) are also worthy contender in this category--all beautiful, highly strung, nervous, and determined.

In the manstealer category--large and competitive--Crystal Allen (Joan Crawford, bad, bad, bad) is a perennial winner.

And spies? The Bond films are full of strong contenders here. But I would like to highlight Elsa Gebhardt (Signe Hasso) in The House On 92nd Street, which ran last night on TCM--as coldhearted a daughter of the Third Reich as you would ever want to meet--or not.

And then there are the dames of noir.

Posted on Mar 15, 2013 9:02:10 AM PDT
Hikari says:
The problem with your thread title, Mr. Smith, is it seems to invite discussion of actresses who are a bit 'woofy' on the outside. I hope this takes off, though, in the spirit in which you intend. Will have to come back but I have a few in mind. TV candidates OK?

Posted on Mar 15, 2013 9:07:32 AM PDT
H: A point well taken. I may restart the discussion under another title, if this fails to gather adherents.

Posted on Mar 15, 2013 4:02:12 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 15, 2013 4:05:54 PM PDT
One of my favorites is Jan Sterling in ACE IN THE HOLE. Her husband, Leo, is fighting for his life stuck in an old mine shaft which has collapsed. She takes this opportunity to empty the cash register in their store and plans to hop the first bus out of town. Reporter Kirk Douglas, seeing a chance to build the story into a major event for his own benefit, tells Leo's wife that she can make big bucks by staying and milking the story for all it's worth. He wants her to play the suffering wife and go to church. To which she responds, "I don't go to church. Kneeling bags my nylons."

Pretty tough broad.

Posted on Mar 15, 2013 4:26:57 PM PDT
Jeff: Good choice!

Posted on Mar 17, 2013 11:01:25 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 17, 2013 11:57:47 AM PDT
Hikari says:
I submit the Marquise de Merteuil (Glenn Close) of "Dangerous Liaisons". Glenn's Marquise could eat Annette Bening's Marquise for lunch and then digest and excrete her without breaking a sweat or a nail.

Now fast-forward 215 years . . .replace Manhattan for Paris & make the Marquise de Merteuil a single working mom and head of her own law firm. Renamed as Patty Hewes, she is perhaps even more chilling and ruthless and as played by Glenn, utterly addictive.

Posted on Mar 17, 2013 11:10:34 AM PDT
And Glenn Close was perfect for playing Cruella De Vil in 101 Dalmations.

Posted on Mar 17, 2013 12:08:22 PM PDT
H and K: An excellent point. Ms. Close does have a knack for this sort of thing. Can we forget Fatal Attraction, either?

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 17, 2013 12:43:52 PM PDT
Hikari says:
I almost put down Alex Forrest from "Fatal Attraction" . . . my animosity toward Michael Douglas and his character is such that my sympathies were, to a large degree with Ms. Forrest . . .at least until she boiled the bunny. If she could have dispatched her cheating slimebag erstwhile lover without harming any small animals, I would have been with her 100%. The woman is mentally ill, that is clear. Must psychotic always be paired with '_itch' as a compound phrase? I find nothing at all admirable in this husband, whose only regret in this affair was, you know, having a psycho _itch come after his family and ruin his nice automobile by throwing acid on it. His is the remorse of the caught . . . he would have sailed on blithely with his life had his little fling gone away nicely the way she was supposed to. I'm not a supporter of murdering people who don't give us our way . . . but on some level, the Douglas character deserved to be punished for his behavior.

Interesting that in the original script, there was a very different ending. Test audiences put the kibosh on it, though, so in the version we saw, the saintly wife prevailed over the psycho _itch and the co-perpetrator of all this damange, the man, basically gets off scot-free, except for a really bad scare. He probably will not be unfaithful again, but his fidelity will not be for the right reasons.

The ending that I was rooting for was for Alex to kill the guy and, united in their mutual betrayal by such a wormy, reptilian untrustworthy object, the two women become friends and raise Alex's baby together. THAT would have been a good ending.

Glenn totally rocked it. I remember she hosted SNL shortly after the movie was a huge hit and spoofed her character, taking a BIG knife to a therapy session.

Posted on Mar 17, 2013 1:16:52 PM PDT
H: Ah, Michael Douglas. Very high on my list of least liked actors. All I can say is that there is something reptilian about him--something that says "I neither like nor trust this person." To use a media term--low Q. An anti-Tom Hanks.

With Alex, I think the potential to boil bunnies was right there from the start. Douglas' character violated one of the cardinal laws of Life--never get involved with anyone whose baggage is significantly greater than yours. Can't you just imagine a girls' night out with Alex, Evelyn (Jessica Walters' character in Play Misty For Me), and Kathie (Jane Greer's lethal character in Out Of The Past)?

Posted on Mar 17, 2013 1:54:28 PM PDT
stevign says:
Uma Thurman as The Bride (Black Mamba) in Kill Bill vol. 1

Lucy Liu as O-Ren Ishii (Cottonmouth) in Kill Bill vol. 1

Daryl Hannah as Elle Driver (California Mountain Snake) in Kill Bill vol. 1

Chiaki Kuriyama as Gogo Yubari in Kill Bill vol. 1

Louise Fletcher (Nurse Rached) in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Faye Dunaway (Diana Christensen) in Network

Mieko Harada (Lady Kaede) in RAN

Joelle Carter (Ava Crowder) in Justified

Margo Martindale (Mags Bennett) in Justified

Posted on Mar 17, 2013 2:06:52 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 17, 2013 2:32:05 PM PDT
I might add--the original incomparable Mrs. Peel, Diana Rigg. Bad b*t*h only were you to be on the receiving end of a kick from one of the high heeled boots.

And in Japanese cinema--Lady Asaji Washizu (Isuzu Yamada), the very scarey equivalent of Lady Macbeth, in Throne of Blood.

Posted on Mar 17, 2013 2:22:32 PM PDT
stevign says:
Nikita (Anne Parillaud) in La Femme Nikita

Maggie Hayward (Bridget Fonda) in Point of No Return

Noomi Rapace (Lisbeth Salander) in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Rooney Mara (Lisbeth Salander) in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Salma Hayek (Santanico Pandemonium) in From Dusk Till Dawn

Gamera (Gamera) in Gamera vs Godzilla

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 18, 2013 8:28:51 AM PDT
Hikari says:
@Wm, re. Fatal Attraction--

Yes, Alex was mentally fragile from the beginning. Dan did not heed the signs. But just because Alex was crazy didn't give him a right to treat her the way he did. Had he confessed to his wife and helped Alex support their child, he would have been in for a host of other problems, but I could have thought better of him, anyway.

Michael was rather appealing in 1983's Romancing the Stone, but that is the first and last time I ever thought so. His eyes are too close together--that adds to the reptilian aspect . . .and I find his voice very annoying. Despite these things, his resemblance to his father is unmistakable. Similar features, but none of Kirk's presence onscreen.

If we're going to include Alex, then we must also include Rebecca de Mornay in "The Hand the Rocks the Cradle". A very similar story, except that in this, the wife is the one with the baby and the psycho _itch moves in to take over her life. Hermione Norris presented a slightly more genteel but still chilling British version in "The Kindness of Strangers."

And for Japanese _itches extraordinaire . . .I submit "Hatsumomo" from "Memoirs of a Geisha". The woman systematically terrorizes a child & when replaced as the star in her profession by a younger, more beautiful rival, sets fire to her own house in an attempt to kill everyone in it. She could give Alex a run for crazy.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 18, 2013 9:25:49 AM PDT
H: I do think that you are far too kind to Alex. Fragile is one thing; crazy is another. Recognizing that doesn't excuse Douglas' character, of course.

Of course, we could cite practically the entirely filmography of Bette Davis here. But let's for the moment focus on Regina in The Little Foxes. Quite possibly the nastiest creature Davis ever played, and yes, I would include Baby Jane in the comparison.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 18, 2013 9:35:56 AM PDT
Hikari says:
My thesis is, as stated before . . .psychosis certainly qualifies one for _itchy, but should it? That seems like too easy of an out . . the 'psycho _itch' label. They need their own sub-thread, perhaps. "Great Psychotic Villainesses" has a place in film discussion. Not forgetting Jessica Walter, the prototype for Glenn's Fatal perfomance.

To me 'a great _itch' with a capital B is a different breed, and almost more chilling. These are the women who, as you said, do "whatever" they need to do to promote their own agendas, no matter who they hurt or how, who aren't, in a clinical sense, psychotic. Those are the real heiresses to this title, I feel. With mental illness, we can always argue diminished capacity--would the grand psychotic _itches of film history been so memorable but for their mental condition? Probably not. To be lethal and NOT insane . . that takes some doin'. That is the definition of true, evil _itchiness in my view.

Posted on Mar 18, 2013 9:51:28 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 18, 2013 9:52:24 AM PDT
H: Well--the link between self-willed and crazy is an awfully fine one, don't you think? But I would refer to stick to the ones who haven't gone off the edge--one reason that Kathy Bates' character in Misery doesn't fit the bill. Kathie (Jane Greer) certainly qualifies at a great capital B.

There is of course also Kathleen Turner as Matty Walker in Body Heat. And as Irene Walker in Prizzi's Honor. And, in Prizzi's Honor as well, Angelica Huston as Maerose Prizzi.

We need to counter, of course, with more good capital Bs. In the mode of Margo Channing. Come to think of it, one could do quite the typology within The Women (1939). Bad B--Sylvia Fowler (Rosalind Russell). Good B--Miriam Aarons (Paulette Goddard).

Posted on Mar 18, 2013 11:19:35 AM PDT
Demi Moore in Disclosure

Posted on Mar 18, 2013 11:21:02 AM PDT
Bellatrix Lestrange in Harry Potter

Posted on Mar 18, 2013 11:23:32 AM PDT
OOOOOO, Bellatrix is bad to the bone.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 18, 2013 11:25:21 AM PDT
She most certainly is, Stanley.
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Discussion in:  Movie forum
Participants:  5
Total posts:  22
Initial post:  Mar 14, 2013
Latest post:  Mar 18, 2013

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