Saturday, April 7, 2012

Crooks, vagabonds, reprobates and no-good-nics

Originally sentenced 26-2-2012


A collection of folks you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley...

The Dude in the funny hat, A BITTERSWEET LIFE
Apart from the fact that I can't remember this crazy mofo's name, I can't find a picture of him either. But if you've seen the movie, you'll know who I'm talking about. In spite of his funny hat, this guy is not someone you'd want to point at and say "Hey, look at your funny hat!" He's pretty handy with a razor blade which makes up for said headgear. And the fact he dresses like a nerd. The number he does on the hitman anti-hero comes out of nowhere and is one of the highlights of the movie. However the fact he does not kill the protagonist outright kind of hurts his rep. Not to mention making that hat look even funnier splattered with his blood. 

Brad Whitewood, AT CLOSE RANGE

All the more disturbing for being based on a real person, Whitewood is probably one of the closest approximations to a real criminal I've seen in an American movie. Like most real-life crooks Whitewood is not smart, he's not witty and he does not have grandiose schemes to make lots of money. He's a common thief who steals farm equipment. He's also incredibly paranoid and vindictive, responding to his son (and fellow thief) being jailed by cold bloodedly murdering everyone associated with the poor sap (including his OTHER son) to prevent the cops building a case against him. He shows a similar lack of tact and morality in dealing with his son's girlfriend's attempts to rehabilitate him, but I'll leave THAT particular episode for viewers to find out for themselves. A gothic monster plucked from the headlines, Whitewood is one of Christopher Walken's most underrated and despicable characterisations.

Virgil, TRUE ROMANCE

As soon as James Gandolfini turns up in that hotel room, you know the shit is about to hit the fan. Not taken in for a second by heroine Albama's flirty dumb blonde routine, he plays along with her charade before dropping the bomb (or in this case, her, with a right to the face). To say Albama's eventual, painful victory over the psycho is cathartic is an extreme understatement.  

Blackie, PANIC IN THE STREETS

Not only is Blackie completely batshit crazy (hey he's played by Jack Palance!), he's also the unknowing carrier of bubonic plague which could endanger the entire city. Argh! The quarry of no-nonsense health inspector Richard 'I shit bullets' Widmark, Blackie is a relatively minor hoodlum given major power and significance through a bad turn of fate. Played with deceptive calm by Palance, this is one asshole who knows when a knife in the belly says more than words. In a blackly comic twist, Blackie ends up solving most of the problem for the authorities when he kills all his minions (who are also carriers of the deadly affliction) for disloyalty when they try to turn themselves in.

Varla, FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL!

"I don't beat clocks, just people!"

This is one broad you would not want to get caught oogling. Varla is a terrifying whirlwind of big voice, big cheekcbones, big breasts and very bad intentions all wrapped up in the blackest of bows. As she states early in the piece, she's out for everything, "or as much as I can get." Using her body as both sex object and weapon, Varla is ready for any contest, and anyone who dares get in her way. Whether that means sex, a knife in the back or, in the case of one poor body-builder, getting splat against a wall with a car, Varla does it all with a smirk and pithy comeback. She's Bond without the government sanction, Bourne without the conscience, a glamour model with a brain, and the finest character to ever come bubbling out of the mind of Russ Meyer. The real crime of this film is that first-time actress Tura Satana did not gain mainstream recognition out of this performance, leaving Varla as the sole showcase for this charismatic, passionate performer.

Burke, BLOW OUT

This dude has a really bad case of taking his work home with him. A government assassin gone way, way off the reservation, not only is Burke responsible for the death of an upcoming politician, his plan to cover his tracks involves killing a series of women to make this political conspiracy look like a psycho-killer on a spree. While the door is open as to whether Burke really believes this insane plan will work, or is just using it as an excuse to indulge in a sick pastime, he goes about the task with chilling, methodical tenacity. 

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