Special Sub-Topic: Women Film Villains
|"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975) was a powerful film vehicle for Jack Nicholson and earned him an Oscar. Who was finally selected for the role of the controlling nurse and also took away an Oscar?|
Louise Fletcher. Nurse Ratched is aloof, cold, and determined to control her mental ward charges, especially Randle Patrick McMurphy (Nicholson) whose free spirit does not sit well with her code of discipline.
The role of the nurse was turned down by Anne Bancroft, Colleen Dewhurst, Geraldine Page, Ellen Burstyn, Jane Fonda, Shirley MacLaine and Angela Lansbury. "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" was nominated for nine awards, winning five. In addition to Nicholson and Fletcher, it also won Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay.
Fletcher, upon accepting the Oscar, used sign language to honor her parents who were both deaf. Fletcher was also seen in "Lady in Red" (1979), "Nobody's Fool" (1984), and "Two Days in the Valley" (1996). Television brought her an opportunity to guest star on several series including "Star Trek", "Picket Fences", and "Joan of Arcadia".
|What would you do if someone else was found to be fairer in beauty than you? Would you hire a henchman to kill her? If that failed, would you poison her? In what animated film do these events occur?|
"Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937). The Queen of "Snow White" set a standard for evil intent and probably frightened several generations of children. Lucille La Verne, who voiced the Queen, also was the model for the old hag that brings the poisoned apple to Snow White. Her career was mostly on the stage although she was a character actor in both silent and early sound films. Her performance in "Snow White", ironically, was uncredited at the time.
Snow White ends up living with seven men. When the Queen sets a spell upon her via the poisoned apple, she must wait for the kiss of a Prince to awaken her.
|Annie Wilkes is a Colorado woman who rescues a writer who has been in a serious automobile accident. What actress won an Academy Award for her portrayal of the writer's biggest fan and gaoler?|
Kathy Bates. James Caan plays the bed-ridden writer. Cut off from the world that believes him dead, he has little choice but to humor Annie and plan an escape. The situation deteriorates when she finds that he has killed off her favorite character in his latest novel. She deals out a series of cruelties, including breaking his ankles with a sledge hammer.
Bates has been nominated or won many film and television awards. Notable films include "Men Don't Leave" (1990), "Dolores Claiborne" (1995), "Primary Colors" (1998), "Fried Green Tomatoes" (1991), and "About Schmidt" (2002).
|Barbara Stanwyck, aided by insurance agent Fred MacMurray, nearly gets away with murder. What is the name of this 1944 film noir?|
Double Indemnity. Killing your husband for his money is one thing but getting his insurance agent to help you do it, is another matter. This requires plotting, feminine wiles, and smoldering sex.
The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards but won none. Stanwyck lost to Ingrid Bergman in "Gaslight" and Best Picture went the sentimental "Going My Way". The film is regarded as a classic 'film noir' involving a crime, shadowy photography, sexual overtones, and amoral characters.
|"Brain washing" was a phrase heard much in the 1950s and 1960s. A soldier, Lawrence Harvey, returning from the Korean Conflict, is a victim of such a procedure with a compulsion to kill a presidential candidate. The film was "The Manchurian Candidate"(1962). Who played the soldier's plotting mother? |
Angela Lansbury. The plot is traced to his mother who is the controlling force. Lansbury copped a Supporting Actress nomination as Lawrence Harvey's mother even though she was only a couple of years older than Harvey. Her villainy shows through as she speaks to her son:
"I know you will never entirely comprehend this, Raymond, but you must believe I did not know it would be you. I served them. I fought for them. I'm on the point of winning for them the greatest foothold they would ever have in this country. And they paid me back by taking your soul away from you. I told them to build me an assassin. I wanted a killer from a world filled with killers and they chose you because they thought it would bind me closer to them. But now, we have come almost to the end. One last step. And then when I take power, they will be pulled down and ground into dirt for what they did to you. And what they did in so contemptuously underestimating me."
Lansbury has had a long and successful career in films, television, and the stage. In addition to two Oscar nominations, she won five Tony Awards for her stage appearances, and the much respected television series "Murder, She Wrote" (1984-1996).
|Joan Fontaine little realizes the danger she is in when she marries Laurence Olivier's character to become the second Mrs. de Winter. Manderlay is the de Winter home where the first Mrs. de Winter, Rebecca, now dead, reigned. She finds that the servants, led by housekeeper Mrs. Danvers, are hostile and devious because of their devotion to the departed Rebecca. What actress played the villainous Mrs.Danvers?|
Judith Anderson. The new Mrs. de Winter is intimidated by Mrs. Danvers and by the task of being the mistress of Manderley. She doubts her relationship with her husband. The haunting presence of Rebecca manifests itself. Interestingly, Fontaine's character is never named and is only referred to as the 'the second Mrs. de Winter'.
Mrs. Danvers dresses 'the second' for a ball. It is the same dress that Rebecca wore which shocks Mr. de Winter. Mrs. Danvers mentally torments the young bride, even encouraging her to commit suicide.
Judith Anderson was an Australian actress who received an Oscar nomination for Supporting Actress for Mrs. Danvers. She also won a Tony for her performance in "Medea". She won two Emmys for playing the same role in different productions--Macbeth.
"Rebecca" was nominated for eleven Academy Awards, winning two for Best Picture and cinematography. It was Alfred Hitchcock's first American picture.
|"What's wire hangers doing in this closet when I told you: no wire hangers EVER?" Probably this is one of the most quoted lines from "Mommie Dearest" (1981). What is the name of this movie star mother? |
Joan Crawford. The movie tells the story of a movie star, who after seven miscarriages adopts three children. Because of her compulsive behavior, her obsession with cleanliness and neatness, and her alcoholism, she brutalizes both her children and her staff.
Cristina Crawford, her adopted daughter, wrote a 'tell all' book, exposing her torturous relationship with her mother. This book is the basis of the film. Critics were not kind to the film, one saying that Faye Dunaway not only chews up the scenery but the rest of the cast as well. When the reviews came in, the producers began to market it as a 'camp' film. The film did make money. Faye Dunaway's Crawford is eerie and gives motherhood a bad name.
Joan Crawford made over thirty silent films and eighty sound movies. She is most remembered for "Mildred Pierce"(1945) for which she won the Oscar. She was also nominated twice for "Possessed" (1947) and "Sudden Fear (1952).
|At work did you ever feel that someone was after your job? Then you might relate to how Bette Davis felt in "All About Eve". A young starlet insinuates herself into aging actress Margo Channing's life (Davis). What actress played the calculating understudy? |
Anne Baxter. She disturbs Channing's social and love life and, as her understudy in a play, prevents her from getting to a performance so she can go on.
"All About Eve" garnered fourteen Academy Award nominations, winning six. Four actresses, Davis and Baxter for lead performance and Thelma Ritter and Celeste Holm for supporting roles, were nominated for acting awards. Only George Sanders won a supporting actor award. The Academy should consider an ensemble acting award.
Anne Baxter was not the ingenue she portrayed in the film. By 1950 she had appeared in twenty-five movies including Orson Welles' "Magnificent Ambersons" (1942) and "The Razor's Edge" (1947). Later she was Nefertiri in "The Ten Commandments" (1956).
|When Dorothy is swept up and ends up in Oz, who is the Wicked Witch that torments her and her traveling companions?|
Wicked Witch of the West. The witch believes Dorothy killed her sister and is seeking revenge. There is not much more to say about the "Wizard of Oz" (1939) that has not been said. It is a film that every child and adult should see and pass on to generations.
Dorothy is swept from her Kansas home to the multi-colored Land of Oz. She learns that the only way she can return home is by the intervention of the title character played by Frank Morgan who lives in the Emerald City. Along the yellow brick road, Dorothy and her three companions, each with a separate agenda to see the Wizard, seek redemption of body and spirit.
Margaret Hamilton was a character actress, generally playing spinsters or nosy neighbors. She can be seen in "The Ox Bow Incident" (1943), "The Anderson Tapes" (1971), "Saratoga" (1931), and "My Little Chickadee" (1940). But we all remember her from 'the Wizard'. Later she was a spokesperson for Maxwell House Coffee.
|We must be careful whom we invite into our homes today. This is the lesson from 1992's "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle". A woman arrives, Peyton Flanders, and is given the job of caretaker for a family's two children. What actress played the villainous nanny?|
Rebecca De Mornay. They are unaware that Peyton blames the family for the death of her husband and child and is seeking revenge. Peyton begins to subtly terrorize the family. She begins breastfeeding the baby in secret, encourages the older child to keep secrets from her parents, and flaunts her sexuality with the husband. She begins to fantasize about killing Claire and replacing her. The film made money and was number one at the box office for four weeks. It did not snare any major awards but did pick up some minor and foreign recognition.
Rebecca De Mornay's break through role was Lana in Tom Cruise's "Risky Business" (1983). She reportedly had a protracted relationship with Cruise. Other notable films are "The Slugger's Wife" (1985) and "And God Created Woman" (1988). In 2007's HBO mini-series "John from Cincinnati" she was a saving grace in an otherwise confused and rambling drama.
Annabella Sciorra who played the mother is a familiar face in both films and television. She won an Emmy for her supporting role in the TV series "The Sopranos". Matt McCoy, who played the husband, is primarily a television actor although he did appear in the Police Academy series and "LA Confidential"(1997).
Did you find these entries particularly interesting, or do you have comments / corrections to make? Let the author know!
Send the author a thank you or
Submit a correction