4. Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas)
Wall Street (1987)
Oliver Stone’s withering stare into the brains of ‘80s Yuppiedom brought to life one of Movieland’s smoothest sharks. Gekko’s a money-hungry monster who spends his time buying up companies, making a packet and ditching the ethical consequences.
And though the director had wanted Warren Beatty or Richard Gere to inhabit Gekko’s skin, Douglas nailed it, bagging an Oscar in the process.
Prime Act Of Bastardy: Setting up hungry young stockbroker Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) as his stooge in the takeover of an airline that employ’s Fox’s father. Then slicing up the business and hanging Bud out to dry when the fraud squad come calling.
3. Vicomte De Valmont (John Malkovich)
Dangerous Liasons (1988)
Malkovich seemed unlikely casting to play this sexual snake-charmer, but whether using naked maids as writing desks or gleefully deflowering Uma Thurman’s virgin, it’s clear he’s no ordinary Don Juan.
“I’m not blind, crippled or gay and I’ve played them all,” scoffed Malkovich at the time. He brings a curiously contemporary air to Valmont, shambling around Chateaus like some lanky, high school brat, with lisping diction and slouching body language to match.
But his lizard-lipped creep is unsurpassed in the Pre-Revolutionary seduction stakes, obliging his co-conspirator, the Marquise de Merteuil (Glenn Close) in her venal sex plots, and setting his shameless sights on the deeply pious Madame de Tourvel (Michelle Pfeiffer) – just to, like, prove that even she can be corrupted by his slithery charm.
Prime Act Of Bastardy: Having bulldozed Madame de Tourvel’s resistance, the Vicomte treats her like dirt, repelling her wretched pleas for love. He can’t bear the fact that she’s won his heart. Aww…
2. JJ Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster)
Sweet Smell Of Success (1957)
He’s the most powerful newspaper columnist in New York. A man who can make or break careers with a paragraph.
He prowls Manhattan’s Midtown district like he owns it (“I love this dirty town”), striding along sidewalks as his limo crawls beside him, dining with senators and starlets who’ll happily fawn to curry favour with JJ. And he’s one man you do not want to piss off.
But that’s exactly what Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis), a publicist who tails Hunsecker like a whipped dog, has done. JJ told Falco to break up the love affair between his kid sister Susan (Susan Harrison) and jazz guitarist Steve Dallas (Martin Milner).
Falco hasn’t yet managed it, meaning none of his clients are getting mentions in JJ’s column.
And so begins a vicious chain of events, set in motion by Hunsecker and carried out by Falco…
Prime Act Of Bastardy: Not content that he’s already caused the break-up of his sister’s relationship, JJ tells Falco, “I want that kid taken apart,” slipping him a piece of paper with a corrupt cop’s name on it.
Yes-man Falco finally says no – ‘til JJ offers him a column of his very own. Cue a perfect fit-up, Falco planting dope on Dallas and arranging for another columnist to print the story, labeling Dallas a dope fiend and a Commie. Nice, nice, nice...