The movies are full of bastards. Pick a film – any film – and there will be at least one bad-ass so lacking in the milk of human kindness that not even CoffeeMate will mellow their bitter and objectionable behavior.
The most memorable bastards are the ones that we secretly admire. They lack the social filter that the rest of us employ to stop us from getting shot or fired or dumped. They are bad-asses so that we don’t need to be – outrageous, daring, insensitive and often brimming over with dark humor.
Is it a cliché to say that we all love a bastard? Maybe. But here’s my list of the 5 Biggest Movie Bastards – the loveable rogues!
OK – bad start! If Frederick Charles Krueger is only number 5, who can possibly follow?
Freddy represents everything that is bad – he’s a child killer, he has knives for fingernails, he needs to wash that minging striped sweater. Perhaps the word “bastard” woefully understates his unique brand of revenge porn, but Freddy was the king of the inappropriate one-liner and this was his saving grace.
“No screaming while the bus is in motion!”
“Faster than a bastard maniac! Stronger than a local madman! It’s Super-Freddy!”
“How’s this for a wet-dream?”
OK, he definitely had anger-management issues, but he graduated from charm school. Which, of course, offered absolutely no buoyancy to his 34 victims over 8 films, but it certainly made him an iconic bastard that we all loved to hate.
Perhaps the franchise outstayed its welcome. Perhaps it became tired and grew into post-modern self-parody, but there’s no denying that Freddy Krueger was a silver-tongued bastard with a wit as sharp as his fingernails.
Could there be there anything more iconic than Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper locked in conflict? The silver screen turned electric.
The infamous “Sicilian scene” is one of the most tense and memorable in any movie of the last 50 years. From the opening sucker punch that leaves Hopper bleeding at the temples, through to the terrible, inevitable climax, this is a scene that crackles with tension, full of twists and dark humor.
“Do you know who I am?” is Coccotti’s ice-breaker. Never have such words been as terrifying since Madonna got refused entry to a nightclub. “The anti-christ,” he goes on. “You tell the angels in heaven you never saw evil so singularly personified as you did in the face of the man who killed you.” Well, that’s quite an opener. A bit like starting a list of bastards with Freddy Krueger.
Yes, the Coccotti as portrayed by the super-star Walken takes utter joy in the demise of Clifford Worley. If you haven’t seen True Romance for a while, go back and watch it, just for this scene alone.
Vincenzo Coccotti, with his deadpan dead-eyes, acid tongue and a psychotic gang of lackeys, earns the dubious honor of Bastard #4.
Francis “Franco” Begbie is a sociopath of the finest order, who finally shows his true colors in the climax of the second of the Trainspotting films, T2.
OK – perhaps it was slightly depressing to see our beloved, flawed iconoclasts (who so successfully defined the Britpop 90s) hitting their mid-40s without having learned a few valuable life skills.
And it seems that a healthy portion of porridge certainly hadn’t rehabilitated Begbie. Out for revenge, when he should have been looking for a good confessional booth, Begbie fully earns his badge of bastardry as he refuses to let things go in a rather big way.
Robert Carlyle plays our beloved über-nutter with such conviction that he even had 2 teeth removed to get back into character for T2. Toothless, with a freshly shorn skinhead, Begbie was reborn and burst onto the screen in a relentless tirade of utter bastardliness, earning him the monicker of Bastard #3.
Nurse Mildred Ratched is a truly fascinating character and has earned her stripes as Top Bastard #2.
Responsible for the well-being and collective harmony of the psychiatric ward, she rules the roost with medication, questionable medical practice and sadistic group therapy. And it’s all going quite well until Randle McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) muscles in to shake things up a bit.
Portrayed brilliantly by Louise Fletcher, she struggles with McMurphy’s defiance with an inferno-like calm that made movie history. With deep blue eyes that you fall into at your peril, her character represents the Big Brother figure of the ward – overseeing and controlling, literally stamping on anyone who dares cross her.
It’s difficult to entirely hate her, though. She’s just doing a job, after all. And those eyes! I’ve often thought that she believes that she’s doing the right thing – even if the right thing is that which is dictated by the behavioral expectations set out by a society that refuses to acknowledge diversion from the norm. That sense of empathy wears pretty thin, however, when she strikes the final blow, making McMurphy ultimately pay for his refusal to comply.
The whole thing, of course, is a metaphor for control, oppressive mechanization and the emasculation of modern society, but it’s quite hard to find anything funny to say about that. So, perhaps we’ll just recall the brilliantly happy climax the Ward brothers experience when disorderly McMurphy wangles a day out on the boat instead.
He’s such a bastard he warrants his own musical motif. We all know the minor key march that proceeds the entry of everyone’s favorite, heavy-breathing super-villain.
He can throttle from afar, order the destruction of an entire planet with an itchy finger on the super laser, and seem cute and cuddly when he’s in his civvies. Yes, that shrunken head really could have done with a session on the sunbed, couldn’t it?
I mean, you’d be grumpy if forced to spend your entire working life draped in a long, black cape, shielded by weighty head-gear that’s clearly not designed to complement the respiratory system, whilst project planning a new build without spotting the deadly flaw in the open reactor shaft.
It all started to go wrong for Vader’s previous incarnation as the floppy haired (rather wooden) Anakin, when the wife, Padme Amidala, dies in childbirth. Then, after he gets an accidental deep-frying, we’re treated to one of the cheesiest “nooooooo”s witnessed in a film since Austin Powers. Let’s face it – that’s enough to turn anyone into a grouch.
He could have gone down the therapy route, but, no, he turns to the dark-side and becomes the biggest super-bastard of them all.
Fear him, avoid him, but never ignore him, Darth is a bastard and there’s no denying it. But he’s a tortured soul, torn between the dark side and pushy parenting, so he earns our respect in the end.
Bastards are certainly an essential ingredient of great drama. Without the bastards, we’d have pretty dull stories to tell.
So, embrace them, but definitely hold them at arm’s length. The bastards are here to stay. And long may they reign their inglorious onslaught of bad-ass upon us.
Guest Blogger: Katie Porter
Katie Porter is an aspiring writer, movie lover, and part of the team at Seatup. In her free time, she enjoys exploring her home state Colorado and plays in women’s amateur rugby league.