There's nothing quite like a good Movie Bastard. Done well, proper bastards can be the difference between a good film and a great one. Done really well, they can help raise a movie to classic status.
Movie Bastards may come in all shapes and sizes, but they all share a propensity for being complete and utter shits - and not giving an ape's auntie about it.
Join us, then, as we count down the 40 biggest, baddest bastards...
40. Fat Bastard (Mike Myers)
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)
Bastard by name, utter bastard by nature. A belching, botty-burping man-mountain constructed entirely from layers of fat. The role even exerted its power over Mike Myers himself, according to co-star Heather Graham...
“I think some other presence took over him when he was Fat Bastard,” she told Total Film “The next day he was always like, ‘I’m sorry, please don’t hate me!'”
Prime Act Of Bastardy: Admitting to his favourite food, Fatso comes clean. “I ate a baby! Oh aye, baby. The other, other white meat.”
39. Sean Nokes (Kevin Bacon)
“I felt he just had to be despicable,” says Bacon of the sadistic borstal guard, a man who tortures and molests without remorse. No kidding, Kev.
Prime Act Of Bastardy: Perhaps the most harrowing of all Nokes’ cruelties is the first. “What do you want?” pleads the frightened boy as he shivers in the darkness. Nokes just stares at him impassively. “A blow job. Down on your knees…”
38. Ace Merrill (Kiefer Sutherland)
Stand By Me (1986)
Small-town bully who likes to shoot pool, play mailbox baseball and race cars. Oh, and beat up on little kids. Rules his own late-teen gang with a rod of iron.
Prime Act Of Bastardy: Swiping Gordie’s (Wil Wheaton) Yankee cap off his 12-year-old head. “C’mon, man, my brother gave me that!” pleads Gordie, referring to his beloved older bro (John Cusack) who recently died in a jeep crash. “And now you’re giving it to me..." comes the ice-cold reply.
37. Lt. Thaddeus Harris (GW Bailey)
Police Academy (1984)
If the movies teach us anything, it’s that short men in uniforms are seldom chirpy, happy fellas. So it is with Lieutenant Harris, the nasty, bastardly piece of work determined to drive Steve Guttenberg out of the titular cop school.
Prime Act Of Bastardy: Introducing himself and Sgt. Callahan (Leslie Easterbeck) to the motley recruits:
“We are the meanest instructors here. We’ve got you because you are the worst people here. From now on you are D Squad: ‘D’ for ‘dirtbags’. I’m gonna make you hate me for the rest of your lives!”
Next:Alonzo Harris, Withnail, Ed Rooney...[page-break]
36. Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington)
Training Day (2001)
Gobshiteing, double-crossing drug peddler with a badge. Harris is a dirty cop who’s hawked his morals on a street corner and got a damn good price for them.
Prime Act Of Bastardy: Leaving rookie Officer Hoyt (Ethan Hawke) a mile up Shit Creek in the ghetto. While cop-hating hoodlums prepare to redecorate their bathroom with Hoyt’s brains, Harris is back home counting his loot and boffing the missus.
35. Withnail (Richard E. Grant)
Withnail and I (1986)
“All he ever did was booze and rant,” says writer/director Bruce Robinson of his Withnail-inspiring friend Vivian McKerrell. To every stranger he encounters, Withnail’s a shit: a cocktail of superiority and self-loathing.
But the viewer, like Paul McCann’s ‘I’, knows he lacks true callousness, which makes his comeuppance – left alone in the rain, soliloquising Shakespeare to the wolves – so desperately sad.
Prime Act Of Bastardy: Lording it over the startled pensioners in the Penrith Tea Rooms... "We'll buy this place! We'll buy this place and install a fucking jukebox - liven all you stiffs up a bit!”
34. Ed Rooney (Jeffery Jones)
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
If Ferris (Matthew Broderick) is the poster boy for free-living youth, then the small-minded Rooney is his bastardly opposite. Petty, smarmy, obsessive… Rooney is all these things.
Ferris can thank the God of cheeky loafers that Rooney's just too thick to ever nab him.
Prime Act Of Bastardy: “Fifteen years from now, when he looks back on the ruin his life’s become, he’s going to remember Edward Rooney,” hisses Rooney as he plans to destroy Ferris for taking a day off school. Get some perspective, man!
33 Griffin Mill (Tim Robbins)
The Player (1992)
Paranoia is the emotion that drives this amoral, back-stabbing Hollywood executive.
He’s the studio’s wonder boy, but he thinks he’s on the way out - his curdled fear fuelled by threatening postcards from an anonymous screen hack whose calls he didn’t return.
Prime Act Of Bastardy: Tracking down the writer he reasons is behind the postcards at an arthouse cinema, Griffin accidentally kills him in the parking lot. Then he goes out and bags his victim’s sexy girlfriend. Yuk.
Next:Jack Lint, Frank Mackey, Biff...[page-break]
32. Jack Lint (Michael Palin)
“I think the scariest evil people are also the nicest,” says director Terry Gilliam of Jack Lint, Brazil’s immaculately suited career torturer. “I thought Mike was perfect because he’s the nicest person I know.”
Too true – Palin twinkles with malice as the ever-beaming Lint, his effusive friendliness never quite masking a propensity for ambitious spine-shivving.
Prime Act Of Bastardy: Smilingly ditching his lifelong chum, Sam (Johnathan Pryce) during his hour of direst need...
“We’ve always been good friends, haven’t we, Sam?” he smiles. “Well, until this whole thing blows over, just stay away from me…”
31. Frank TJ Mackey (Tom Cruise)
Misogynism personified, Mackey is a pumped –up, preening sex guru who teaches his disciples to “Respect the cock and tame the cunt.”
His bastardy isn’t just limited to women, though. Visiting the home of his dying dad, he reels from nurse Philip Seymour Hoffman's pets, proclaiming, “I will drop-kick those fuckin’ dogs if they come near me!”
Prime Act Of Bastardy: Sweating mid-seminar, TJ explains to a blubbering audience member that his best friend Denise is to be laid, not trusted:
“Do you think she’ll be there when things go bad? Huh? When things go wrong? You think again. Fucking Denise. Denise the piece. Oh, you’re gonna give me that cherry pie, sweet mama baby!"
30. Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson)
Back To The Future (1985)
Biff is a moron from a long line of morons, whose history of bullying is as integral to his Hill Valley home as the lightning-scorched clock tower.
The ultimate dumb jock with a pack of giggling loons to back him up, his twin passions are constant misquoting (“Make like a tree and get outta here!”) and torturing George McFly (Crispin Glover).
Prime Act Of Bastardy: Forcing his idea of ‘romance’ on George-crush Lorraine (Lea Thompson)... before a sucker-punch from the lanky McFly floors him.
29. Sam Stone (Danny DeVito)
Ruthless People (1986)
Seized by passionate loathing for the rich harridan he’s married to (Bette Midler), Spandex mini-skirt king Sam Stone plots evil murder schemes with his busty mistress Carol (Anita Morris)
The mercenary vulgarian can’t believe his luck when Mrs Stone is kidnapped by a pair of bumbling idiots.
Prime Act Of Bastardy: Refusing to cough up the ransom, Stone gleefully challenges the kidnappers to silence the wife forever. But when the dwarfish slime-merchant finds himself accused of faking her kidnapping, he tries to ransom her back – at a discount.
Next:Blake, Mortimer Duke, Cesar Soubeyran...[page-break]
28. Blake (Alec Baldwin)
Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
“You hear me, you fucking faggots?” sneers sales hotshot Blake at the cowering estate agents he’s been sent to light a fire under.
Pacing the office like a menacing hyena facing a whimpering bundle of newborn lions, and grinding the salesmen’s noses in their pathetic loserdom, the over-testosteroned bully issues an ultimatum: a new sales incentive will dole out the prizes.
Winner gets a Cadillac, the runner-up some steak knives. “Third prize is... you’re fired.”
Prime Act Of Bastardy: When Shelly Levene (Jack Lemmon) gets up to refill his mug, Blake barks a don’t-fuck-with-me order at the sad-sack salesman... “Put! That coffee! Down! Coffee’s for closers only!”
27. Mortimer & Randolph Duke (Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy)
Trading Places (1983)
Two bastards for the price of one. Playing God with other people’s existences is bad enough (turning a rich guy into a poor one, and vice versa), but doing it just for a dollar bet is rubbing the annual produce of a salt mine in the gaping wound.
Prime Act Of Bastardy: After making Billy Ray (Eddie Murphy) into a successful businessman, the incredibly rich brothers settle their bet and wonder whether or not to keep him on. They decide not:
“Do you honestly believe I’d have a nigger run our family business?” Randolph asks his brother. “No, neither would I,” replies Mortimer.
26. Cesar Soubeyran (Yves Montand)
Jean De Florette (1986)
You’ll struggle to find a more damning distillation of human greed than this crusty Gallic swine. Don’t be fooled by the Stella Artois soundtrack. He’s a proper bar-steward.
Prime Act Of Bastardy: Refusing to loan Jean (Gerard Depardieu) his mule when the drought hits, Soubeyran condemns the hunchback to weeks of futile toil that destroys his land, his hope and, finally, his life. It’s murder by proxy.
25. Ron Anderson (Rowan Atkinson)
The Tall Guy (1989)
“There’s no more fun to be derived playing a complete shit,” admits Rowan Atkinson. And fun Rowan has – as Anderson, he excels at tormenting hapless straight man Dexter (Jeff Goldblum).
Prime Act Of Bastardy: Seeing Dexter’s having a bad day, Ron asks him if something’s troubling him. Dexter admits there is...
“Then for fuck’s sake talk to someone about it, will you?” sneers Anderson. “And sort it out before I hire a lobotomised monkey to play your role.”
Next:Carter Burke, Mr. Creosote, Hank Evans...[page-break]
24. Carter Burke (Paul Reiser)
Ah, the Yuppie. No.1 bastard stereotype of the ‘80s – and, according to Aliens writer/director James Cameron, of the late 22nd Century too. And what a fine example of Yuppiedom Burke is - smarmy, slimy, puts profits first, people second..
An entire colony of people in fact, after he knowingly exposes the inhabitants of LV-426 to a nest of Xenomorphs, just so he can bag the rights to a whole new breed of bio-weapon.
Prime Act Of Bastardy: Locking bug-hunter Riply (Sigourney Weaver) and cute kiddie Newt (Carrie Henn) in a room with a pair of spindly face-huggers – all so he can smuggle a pair of gestating baby aliens back to Earth.
23. Mr. Creosote (Terry Jones)
Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life (1983)
This lumbering, chundering man-mammoth doesn’t have much screen-time to convey his immense spitefulness. But a prosthetics-slathered Terry Jones only needs a few minutes of profane grunting and indiscriminate spewing to make it clear that Creosote is the original Fat Bastard.
He does have a heart (we actually see it after a deadly ‘waffer-theen-mint’ gutsplosion), but it’s buried beneath too many sweaty folds of blubber to be of any use.
Prime Act Of Bastardy: As if coating a posh restaurant in vomit wasn’t enough, Creosote aims a sport of hot-stomach-chunks at the cleaning lady scrubbing the floor next to his table.
22. Hank Evans (Jim Carrey)
Me, Myself & Irene (2000)
Mental-illness lobby groups were predictably indignant at the Farrely brothers’ decision to spin a split-personality disorder into a slapstick Jekyll and Hyde.
But Me, Myself & Irene’s real target is Dirty Harry, the obvious inspiration for repellent macho hardass Hank Evans. Merely fine as dopey state trooper Charlie Baileygates, Carrey’s in his element as the dildo-wielding, cow-slaying, lawn-defecating Hank.
In fact, Hank’s such a monstrous screen-hogger that the movie crumples whenever he’s not around.
Prime Act Of Bastardy: Pushing aside a baby to suckle from a breastfeeding mom and emerging, grinning, with a milk moustache.
21. Ethan Edwards (John Wayne)
The Searchers (1956)
Yes, he’s had a hard life. Yes, his niece has been kidnapped by Injuns. And yes, the grimmest man in cowboy land needs to be tough in order to handle a 15-year hunt across the badlands.
But, dear Lord, does he have to be such a blue-ribbon bastard about it?
Prime Act Of Bastardy: Shooting out the eyes of a dead Comanche. Why? On the off-chance that a Red Skin superstition is true...
“What that Comanche believes: ain’t got no eyes, can’t enter the spirit land, has to wander forever between the winds.” Harsh.
Next:Sean Bateman, Percy Wetmore, Tuco...[page-break]
20. Sean Bateman (James Van Der Beek)
The Rules Of Attraction (2002)
Shattering his ultra-nice, ultra-bland Dawson’s Creek persona, Van Der Beek morphs into a malingering, manipulative, masturbating college type with ambitions to shag every nubile girl on campus.
He’s the younger sib of psycho Patrick, so what did you expect?
Prime Act Of Bastardy: Caught post-coital with the roommate of his current obsession, Bateman’s only response is a no-seriously, “I only did it with her because I’m in love with you!”
19. Percy Wetmore (Doug Hutchinson)
The Green Mile (1999)
He’s petty, he’s pouty and he’s not a team player. But Percy Wetmore’s also a smug, well-connected little son of a bitch who’s prison-guard existence is one big power trip.
“I like to assign animals to my characters, it helps to give you an image - you move and think in a certain way,” says actor Doug Hutchinson. “For Percy, it was a pitbull.” Son of a bitch? It clearly worked…
Prime Act Of Bastardy: Convinced even the electric chair’s not harsh enough for his charges, he neglects to wet a crucial sponge during the execution of Eduard Delacroix (Michael Jeter), leading to a horri-frying death for the good-natured convict.
18. Tuco Benedicto Pacifico Juan Maria Ramirez (Eli Wallach)
The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (1966)
With a rap sheet that includes murder, robbery, extortion, deserting his wife and children and “theft of sacred objects,” Tuco takes his bastardising seriously. Motivated only by the promise of moolah, he’ll do away with or double-cross anyone – good or bad – to bathe in the glow of gold.
And he’ll do it all with a sneer, a cackle and some terrific insults. “You’re the son of a thousand fathers,” he screams at Eastwood’s Man With No Name. “All bastards like you!” Pot? Kettle? Whatever.
Prime Act Of Bastardy: Tuco drags Clint through the desert, after having shot a hole in his water bottle, blasted his hat off his head and quipping, “Looks like you won’t have too much to carry!”
17. Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman)
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
“I’ve always been considered an asshole for as long as I can remember,” say’s World’s Worst Father Royal Tenenbaum. “That’s just my style.” At least he’s self-aware…
Which actually makes it worse when he fakes a terminal illness to get back into his family home. Or takes his grandkids to a dogfight. Or dismisses his daughter’s first ever play as “just a bunch of little kids dressed up in animal costumes.” To her face.
Prime Act Of Bastardy: Shooting his eldest son, Chas (Ben Stiller), with a BB gun during a war game. “What are you doing? You’re on my team!” wails Chas as he sees Pop take aim. “Ha ha!” cackles Royal, “There are no teams!”
Next:Raymond Delauney, Harry Callahan, King Edward...[page-break]
16. Raymond Delauney (Terry-Thomas)
School For Scoundrels (1959)
The cad’s cad, the bounder’s bounder, Terry Thomas turns his sneaky gap-toothed charm on the girlfriend of Ian Carmichaels’ nice guy, forcing the latter to learn a bunch of dirty tricks in order to win her back.
Prime Act Of Bastardy: Delauney may get his comeuppance later on, but his first tennis victory over Carmichael is a soul-crushing piece of bastardy.
Not only does he thrash him, but he makes Carmichael look like the bad guy of the piece. The man’s a total and utter tosspot.
15. Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood)
Dirty Harry series (1971-1983)
A borderline psychotic who just happens to be on the right side of the law, ‘Dirty’ Harry Callahan ain’t got time to play by the rules.
Harry’s appeared in five movies, taking out two serial killers (Dirty Harry, The Dead Pool), a group of rogue cops (Magnum Force), urban terrorists (The Enforcer) and a rape-revenge killer (Sudden Impact).
Nothing makes his day more than bringing in his man - preferably with a hole in the back of his head.
Prime Act Of Bastardy: Having stopped a bank robbery early in Dirty Harry, he utters the famous “Do you feel lucky?” speech to a prone robber. Did Harry fire six shots or only five? The robber bottles it and drops his gun, but stops the cop walking away with the words:
“I got to know...” and a nod at the gun. Smiling, Harry points the Magnum at the terrified crook’s head and pulls the trigger. The gun clicks empty…
14. King Edward Longshanks (Patrick McGoohan)
With his glassy stare and hissing voice, Patrick McGoohan’s Longshanks is the very image of malice.
A total shit as a dad or father-in-law – after chucking his son’s ‘special friend’ out of a window, Longshanks tells daughter-in-law Sophie Marceau that he’s going to have to sire his grandchildren himself. Ewww.
Prime Act Of Bastardy: Issuing an order which gives his Scottish nobles the right to sleep with any commoner’s wife. “If we can’t get them out,” he says of the Scots, “we’ll breed them out.” Which makes him a bastard willing to create several thousand more...
13. Phil Connors (Bill Murray)
Groundhog Day (1993)
He may turn into the nicest man in Punxsutawney by the end of the movie, but at the start, the sexist, sarcastic, careerist Connors would struggle to be the nicest man in his own underpants. Murray at his sarky, snarling finest.
Prime Act Of Bastardy: Phil asks a pretty girl a few questions about her life. The next time he lives through the day, he uses the info to con her into bed by pretending to have lusted after her from afar for years. Score! Uh - we mean, bastard!
Next:William Tavington, Chad, Melvin Udall...[page-break]
12. Col. William Tavington (Jason Isaacs)
The Patriot (2000)
It’s all in the smirk. Without that hateful little mouth-twist following every innocent-slaughtering order, Jason Isaacs’ War of Independence cavalryman would be just another rent-a-Brit villain rather than a bona-fide bastard.
It’s one thing to be a ruthless rebellion-crusher; it’s another to treat every atrocity – including executing POWs and killing not one, but two of Mel Gibson’s sons – like it’s a joke. You gotta hate him.
Prime Act Of Bastardy: Locking up the entire population of a village in a church then ordering the place to be burned down.
“But there’s no honour in this!” splutters a subordinate. “The honour’s found in the end, not the means,” shrugs Tavington. “This’ll be forgotten…”
11. Chad (Aaron Eckhart)
In The Company Of Men (1997)
A zero-conscience shit in the body of an alpha-male, businessman Chad convinces weak colleague Howard (Matt Malloy) to take part in a vicious prank; they’ll both date deaf secretary Christine (Stacy Edwards), woo her, then dump her simultaneously. That’ll screw her up.
Not only that, it turns out Chad is also fucking with the eager-to-impress, easily led Howard (the twist ending smarts like a bitch). What we have here, ladies and gents, is not just a misogynist, but a full-blown misanthropist.
Prime Act Of Bastardy: Taking the piss out of Christine’s voice soon after he’s gently encouraged her to speak up.
“She’s got one of those voices like Flipper,” he tells Howard, “You should hear her going at it, working to put the simplest sounds together…”
10. Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson)
As Good As It Gets (1997)
There are misanthropes. There are malcontents. And then there’s humanity-despising writer Melvin Udall. So who to play him? There was only one option in writer/director James L. Brooks’ mind...
"I had to think who could be this monster, but not completely turn the audience off. Jack was the only choice.”
The obsessive-compulsive Udall saunters through life as if he’s a champion of the politically incorrect.
No-one escapes from his bitter rantings: be they women (“I think of a man and I take away his reason and accountability” is his method for writing female characters), intellectuals (“People who talk in metaphors should shampoo my crotch”), homosexuals (“He might pull the stiff one-eye on me”) or even cute widdle canines…
Prime Act Of Bastardy: Slam-dunking Verdell, his sensitive neighbour’s tiny dog, down the nearest rubbish chute after it dares to come trotting into his apartment.
9. Dennis Peck (Richard Gere)
Internal Affairs (1990)
Cop Dennis Peck cuts a swathe through LA, taking bribes from the Valley vice trade, laundering his ill-gotten gains through four ex-wives, and shagging his accomplice's wives.
When internal affairs hot-head Raymond Avila (Andy Garcia) comes calling, Peck cranks up his campaign of intimidation, burrowing into the brain of his adversary like some strutting human incarnation of Mad Cow Disease.
Prime Act Of Bastardy: While shagging the wife of his partner, Van Stretch (William Baldwin), Peck hears Stretch is about to turn informant on him. So he has him gunned down, then finishes the job himself.
Next:William Bligh, Sgt. Hartman, Arthur Potter...[page-break]
8. Captain William Bligh (Charles Laughton)
Mutiny On The Bounty (1935)
Even before they set sail on a grueling two-year voyage to Tahiti, legendary tyrant Captain Bligh has already given one of his men a sound flogging. And he wasn’t remotely concerned that the bloke was already dead.
Barking orders, cutting rations and ordering punishments (“I’ll give you water. Mr. Morrison, keel-haul this man”), Bligh’s an ultra-disciplinarian with a heart carved out of hardwood.
Prime Act Of Bastardy: Not content with thrashing five starving sailors to within an inch of their lives, Bligh insists the ship’s elderly Dr. Bacchus (Dudley Digges) struggle out of his sickbed to witness it.
Hopelessly ill, the doc dies trying to crawl up on deck.
7. Gunnery Sgt. Hartman (R. Lee Ermey)
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Originally hired as a consultant, former US Marine drill instructor Ermey sent Stanley Kubrick a video in which he bellowed out obscenities for 15 minutes without pausing or repeating himself.
Hartman turns abuse into an art form - his foul-mouthery is enough to make the hardest Marine blub like a nipper. You had best start shitting Tiffany cufflinks or he will definitely fuck you up.
Prime Act Of Bastardy: “…Because you are a disgusting FATBODY!” After forcing Private ‘Pyle’ (Vincent D’Onofrio) to scoff a doughnut while the rest of the platoon do push-ups to pay for it, Hartman makes sure the tubby chap gets a saveage bedtime beating from his mates after lights-out.
6. Arthur Potter (Lionel Barrymore)
It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)
He may be the richest man in Bedford Falls, but it brings no pleasure to Potter. He wants complete control of the town and the only thing standing in the way is George (James Stewart). Without George, he’d have taken over the place long ago.
Prime Act Of Bastardy: If the missing cash from the Building & Loan isn’t found, then George is off to jail. Not only does Potter find the missing moolah and hide it, he also turns down the chance to loan George enough to cover the shortfall.
The icing on the cake? Potter then calls the police to grass the guy up.
5. Buddy Ackerman (Kevin Spacey)
Swimming With Sharks (1994)
Former employers of first-time director George Huang winced when they saw the screen monster they’d spawned. In the tradition of JJ Hunsecker in Sweet Smell Of Success, Hollywood mogul Buddy Ackerman is an aphorism-spouting tyrant with a heart you could fit into a thimble.
A classic Bad Kev role from the days before slop like Pay It Forward, Ackerman makes Keyzer Soze look endearing. The plot may be wobbly, but the one-liners (“If you were in my toilet I wouldn’t bother flushing it”) are priceless.
Prime Act Of Bastardy: Lecturing luckless lackey Guy (Frank Whaley) on the importance of fetching his low-fat sweetener: “What you think means nothing. What you feel means nothing. You are here for me.”
Next:Gordon Gekko, Vicomte De Valmont, JJ Hunsecker...[page-break]
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...
Next:Our Greatest Movie Bastard Of All Time...[page-break]
1. Jack Carter (Michael Caine)
Get Carter (1971)
“Jack Carter was such a shit, it never occurred to me that a star would risk his reputation to play him,” remembers director Mike Hodges. But Caine didn’t blink at the part of the cool, psychotic London gangster hunting his brother’s killer in Newcastle.
“In the script Carter was softer and sleazier than he was in the final film. But Michael gave him an edge… Made him more ruthless,” says Hodges.
“Remember when he’s in that Newcastle bar and he asks for the drink in a ‘thin glass’? Nobody forgets that. And you know why? In the script, Carter says, ‘Please’. But Michael left that out and that little choice makes Carter even more terrifying.”
As if a man with Carter’s complete lack of morals, propensity for sudden, shocking violence and – let’s face it – total indifference to human life wasn’t frightening enough, eh? The biggest movie bastard ever?
It’d be a brave – possibly suicidal – person who tried to deny him the title.
Prime Act Of Bastardy: The way he casually splats a man off the top of a car park? The sleazy telephone sex with his Mob boss' girlfriend? The dead look in his eyes he watches a car with a woman trapped in the boot sink into a canal? The “big man, bad shape” speech?
No, we’ve gone for his treatment of young Keith (Alun Armstrong). This lad worships Carter and has done nothing but help him since the mobster arrived in Newcastle. Surely he can expect a little appreciation?
After taking a beating on Carter’s behalf, Keith lies battered and bleeding in his bed as Carter visits him. When he finds out what happened, Carter just sneers, “Get yourself some karate lessons,” chucks some money down on the bed and strides out.
Prime bastardy, indeed…
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