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.”