Movie Villain

January 2018

Underrated I’ll have to go along with my buddy Keller, who called Jack Elam “the greatest bad guy who ever got in front of a camera”—and, I might add, a hell of a nice fellow in private life. But now that Keller’s spread the word, I don’t know that he’s underrated any more. Two of the most chilling performances I’ve ever seen might well qualify, however. One is that of Donald Pleasence in Will Penny , a sweetheart of a movie, and the other is Robert Mitchum’s hymn-singing killer in The Night of the Hunter . Couldn’t you just see those two as Big Harpe and Little Harpe, probably the two most chilling real-life villains, but that’s another category, isn’t it?

Overrated Well, it’s no reflection on the actors, but the villains in the various James Bond movies never gave me a turn. Caricatures just aren’t all that menacing.