Today’s Top 10 comes from Moviefreak.com contributor George Schmidt. He also wrote the list of Top 10 Sexiest Cinematic Giantesses for Scene-Stealers around this time last year. If you’d like to contribute a Top 10 list of your own, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Here’s George:
I’m always intrigued about how certain film characters are introduced onscreen; not necessarily via plot or dialogue–but visually speaking–how the director/screenwriter/actor chose their specific ideas in showcasing a unique interesting manner. Some are iconic, some not, but undeniably they are usually memorable. Oh, and to quell the hair-splitters, they are not all literal entrances (i.e. a character walks into view). Here now are my Top 10 Movie Entrances.
10. Ray Liotta as Ray Sinclar in “Something Wild” (1986)
Jonathan Demme’s crazy-quilt of a screwball comedy valentine for the 80s has all the right moves. Mystery girl Audrey Hankel (a winning Melanie Griffith, on the way to A-list stardom) ‘kidnapps’ uptight yuppie Charles Driggs (amiable Jeff Daniels at his most amiable) to accompany her to a high school reunion in the sticks. “Something Wild” takes the viewer on a raucously fun and mischievous ride until the big event where she runs into her ex, Ray Sinclair (Liotta in a remarkable feature film debut after knocking around on daytime soap operas (!)), a greaser fromHell, who literally slides into the picture as an unknowing Audrey and Charlie dance sweetly. His very presence reeks of sinister with his bad skin, stone-cold chuckle, dead eyes, and knowing leers. He provokes his kewpie doll paramour into sheer panic mode (she knows something we all don’t and that is truly the definition of suspense) and sets the film into ass-over-tea-kettle percolating, dangerous violence-to-come as Ray begins to make a night to remember into a nightmare impossible to forget.
9. John Belushi as John “Bluto” Blutarsky in “National Lampoon’s Animal House” (1978)
John Landis’ bull-in-a-china-shop technique to filmmaking truly pays off in this classic about fraternity life circa 1962 (before JFK assassination/Vietnam/civil rights and pretty much all of the last 20th Century history associated with it; but I digress). It features the raunchiest frat house on the block–Delta House–and its most unruliest animal, one “Bluto” Blutarsky (Belushi’s big screen debut). He welcomes two innocent pledges (wimp-and blimp-combo Tom Hulce and Stephen Furst, a.k.a. Pinto & Flounder) by loudly urinating on their slacks. Witness Belushi’s solidification as a God in the annals of cinematic comedy (the personification of the “id” via one wily arched eyebrow). Watch here; start at 5:22.
8. Ewan McGregor as Renton in “Trainspotting” (1996)
Danny Boyle’s grim and gritty adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s cult novel–a latter day “A Clockwork Orange” if you will–showcases the nihilistic vibes of the disassociated youth of Scotland. They shirk everything in life except to choose life (as the film’s slogan intones) and embrace themselves in a non-stop heroin stupor or pickle themselves in booze. Anti-hero Renton (McGregor, stick thin with a ghastly pallor of a premature burial in the wings) straddles the razor’s edge of numbness and sobriety and is first seen at the film’s opening, fleeing from some criminal behavior and literally into the camera’s gob (i.e. the audience’s lap) set to the breakneck beat of Iggy Pop’s “Lust For Life.”
7. Heath Ledger as The Joker in “The Dark Knight” (2008)
The penultimate performance of a consummate professional, Heath Ledger’s remarkably iconoclastic re-imagining of the ultimate comic book villain, The Joker, is a thing of reviled beauty. The reveal of this madcap malevolent force of nature is craftily staged by director wunderkind Christopher Nolan in the opening set-piece, a bank robbery in Gotham led by a bunch of clowns–well, clown-masked thugs. The deft élan of Ledger’s ultimate unveiling is on par of Lon Chaney’s Erik in “The Phantom of the Opera.” You cannot look away from the chilling terror suddenly unleashed.
Gotham National Bank Manager: Oh, criminals in this town used to believe in things. Honor. Respect. Look at you! What do you believe in, huh? What do you believe in?
[Bozo leans down and sticks a grenade in the manager's mouth]
Bozo: I believe whatever doesn’t kill you, simply makes you…
[takes off his mask]
The Joker: …stranger.
6. Anthony Hopkins at Hannibal Lecter in “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991)
While setting up for the introduction of arguably the cinema’s greatest villain, director Jonathan Demme conferred with Hopkins about having green FBI agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) make her way into the uniquely designed cell of her soon-to-be collaborator/antagonist/father figure. After seeing the incredible set piece concocted by Kristi Zea (a wavering labyrinth to the minotaur if you will), Hopkins suggested it would be somewhat startling to simply have him standing in the center of his cell, placid and still (like a predatory lion waiting to strike its unwary prey), staring straight into the lens/Starling’s sightline (and inevitably, the audience’s as well) as the camera locks in on him. And boy, does it ever.
5. Harrison Ford as Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981)
Intrepid archaeologist Indiana Jones (Han Solo from “Star Wars” could easily have been shoe-horned in here too, as Harrison Ford’s pluck and everyman heroics are on full display in both characters) is always just on the edge of a new discovery of a hidden gem/treasure. At the very beginning of Steven Spielberg/George Lucas’ first installment of the aligned filthy luchre franchise, Jones is attempting to outstep his nemesis Belloq in the jungles of Peru for just that. He is introduced literally out of the shadows and into the light
I couldn’t find the scene on the Web. If you can find it, please post it! Thanks!
4. Christopher Reeve as Superman in “Superman” (1978)
The ultimate iconic comic-book superhero, Superman, makes a truly memorable entrance in Richard Donner’s fantastic adaptation with this quintessential heroic moment that defines the entire canon of the legendary Man of Steel. As he will countless number of times after this, he finds trouble and does something about it. Superman saves Daily Planet colleague and soon-to-be paramour Lois Lane (the inimitable Margot Kidder), who is dangling above Metropolis from a helicopter gone crazy. I still get goose-pimples when Reeve opens his shirt to reveal the “S” of his costume as it fills the screen and the swell of John Williams’ triumphant score. Dare not to clap along with the crowd.
3. Sean Connery as James Bond in “Dr. No” (1962)
Three simple words …
the definition of cool/suave.
“Bond … James Bond”
The famous moment
comes towards the end of this clip.
2. Robert Shaw as Quint in “Jaws” (1975)
For my money, this is the greatest introduction of a character on the big screen. Steven Spielberg expertly guides the film for its first third, building the terror/dread of the man-eating great-white shark that has plagued the waters of Amity Beach. The profitable Fourth of July weekend is approaching and the beach is about to be shut down by the powers that be if they cannot find someone to stop the deadly menace once and for all. At the town meeting, the city finally gets an answer in the salty, unkempt, yet wiser-than-anyone-else local fisherman Quint (played in impeccable “screw you” form by the late, great Robert Shaw). HIs character is literally nails on a chalkboard.
Couldn’t find this scene either … anyone?
1. Orson Welles as Harry Lime in “The Third Man” (1949)
This is arguably the grandest entrance of a film character ever. In this film-noir gold standard post-WWII classic, Joseph Cotten’s Holly Martins is visiting Vienna looking for his old friend Harry Lime but finds out Lime has been killed (or so it appears). Soon he stumbles upon a serpentine labyrinth of intrigue, deception and the ultimate lie revealed while walking through the darkened alleys. Light from a window suddenly sill shines upon … you guessed it … Lime himself (yes, new definition for ‘lime light’). Welles entrance is also famous for his bemused man-in-the-moon grin, upon receiving his chum.