10 Favorite Character Meme

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By Marilyn Ferdinand

Both Greg and Flickhead tagged me for this meme. I thought it would be fairly easy, but as with all things “favorite,” I’m reminded of why I avoid that word when it comes to movies. Here are my “favorites” in alphabetical order:

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Lily Bart. Lily hopes to trade on her beauty for money and social significance, but she’s far too honest a person to survive in “polite” society. A woman trained to be an ornament, revealing how destructive society is to women, she remains an example of personal integrity to me. Gillian Anderson impresses in this role in The House of Mirth.

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Virginia Brush, played by Rita Hayworth as the perfect bombshell-next-door in The Strawberry Blonde, is the opposite of Lily Bart, yet she ends up with my admiration, too. Socially correct, she can’t quite hide that beating heart of passion and ambition. She never counted on marrying money and a hypochondriac, but somehow she remains magnificent, exacting a small revenge and realizing how foolish her goals were.

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Cowardly Lion. Bert Lahr created a loveable king of beasts whose fear we can all relate to and whose eventual show of courage surprised even him. A great character, particularly for kids.

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Daffy Duck. Cocky and foolish, irrational when things inevitably go wrong, Daffy keeps me chuckling no matter what he’s up to. And what a great, great voice and crazy quack!

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Ed from Shaun of the Dead, played by Nick Frost, is lazy, oblivious, and casually courageous. And he plays a mean Playstation. Everyone’s “I like him in spite of himself” kind of friend.

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M. Hulot, Jacques Tati’s comic creation, is like a newborn babe in a trenchcoat, his ever-present pipe available to chew on as he ponders the mysteries of modern life. I know how he feels.

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Ulee Jackson. Not a very well-known character created by not a very good actor, Peter Fonda, yet he really got to me in Ulee’s Gold. He feels both the negative and positive effects of age—physical infirmity and wisdom—does what he has to do, and truly loves his work as a beekeeper. The hubby and I have become acquainted with an Illinois beekeeper, and he’s just like Ulee. Great guy, great character.

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Merlin, as played by Nicol Williamson in Excalibur. One of the truly eccentric performances on film, Merlin seems half-drunk most of the time. He sees the writing on the wall that the age for his type of being is past, but would rather not acknowledge it in full. He becomes more relevant to me with each passing birthday.

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Scarlett O’Hara. A real Sourthern belle (played by a real English diva, Vivien Leigh) who’d just as soon shoot you as look at you. Fiddle-dee-dee, I wish I were so pretty and plucky.

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Max Schreck, aka Dracula, in Shadow of the Vampire is comic and melancholy all at the same time. You really feel for him when he says how sorry he felt for Dracula in the Bram Stoker book for being so lonely. You can also imagine F.W. Murnau telling him not to eat the writer. Willem Dafoe created a memorable vampire in a crowded field.

As usual, I tag no one.

Scrat of Ice Age tops this entry.

  • Flickhead spoke:
    8th/04/2009 to 10:23 am

    Thanks for participating, Marilyn! You’ve got my list beat with Daffy Duck — an inspired choice. Though I may be partial to Wyle E. Coyote, Sooooper Genius.
    Also nice to see Virginia Brush (ooh-la-la!) and Ulee. I remember seeing Ulee’s Gold the day it opened and was woozy afterward from Peter being brilliant — there’s a first time for everything.

  • Marilyn spoke:
    8th/04/2009 to 10:29 am

    Daffy is a bit of a cheat. He’s really an actor, not a particular character, but he does play himself in all his roles, so I figured I could let it slide by. I love the coyote and Roadrunner – they both almost made my list.

  • Greg F. spoke:
    8th/04/2009 to 12:13 pm

    The Cowardly Lion was of course mentioned in my preamble as a between the lines cheat. I knew I couldn’t mention him in the context of characters that remind me of someone but I couldn’t not mention him.
    And Merlin portrayed by Nicol Williamson is an all time favorite as is the film. I’ve watched it so many times and his Merlin is so locked into my head I cannot possibly accept anyone else as Merlin. And the story about casting him as told by Boorman always makes me smile.
    Finally, I think Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara is one of the great performances of the screen. She does an incredible job at being selfish and self-serving and being absolutely charming at the same time. The viewer perfectly accepts that most men would kill for her. And on top of all of that, she doesn’t crumble like the other polite Belles when everything falls apart, she only gets stronger. Truly one of the all-time kick-ass characters. And yes, I’ve had a crush on Vivien Leigh as a result since childhood.

  • Marilyn spoke:
    8th/04/2009 to 12:51 pm

    Scarlett O’Hara is not someone I would have thought I’d pick, but she has such an authority. If I compared her unfavorably to anyone it would be Mother Courage, but I see her mainly positively – a person whose shallow life was torn to pieces, forcing her to dig deep and find out what she’s really made of. Even the last plea to Rhett about what will become of her is really just her programming, not who she really is. Tomorrow is another day.

  • Pat spoke:
    8th/04/2009 to 12:51 pm

    Great list, Marilyn.
    I love that you included Gillian Anderson’s Lily Bart, a truly great performance and a heartbreaking character. “The House of Mirth” is a particular favorite of mine.

  • Marilyn spoke:
    8th/04/2009 to 12:53 pm

    Mine, too, Pat. Based on the trailers, I thought it would be garbage, and I’m not sure why I went to see it. After seeing it, I was shaking. I identified very strongly with Lily at the time.

  • Greg F. spoke:
    8th/04/2009 to 1:29 pm

    Even the last plea to Rhett about what will become of her is really just her programming, not who she really is.
    And that’s why Rhett can give his famous reply. Despite falling for her, and saying so, he knows he can leave and in one 24 hour period she will have moved on.
    I never saw House of Mirth also thinking it was going to be garbage. Now, I’ll give it a try.

  • Ed Howard spoke:
    8th/04/2009 to 2:55 pm

    It’s great to see some love for Shadow of the Vampire — I thought I was the only one who got a kick out of that film and Defoe’s performance in it.

  • Marilyn spoke:
    8th/04/2009 to 3:00 pm

    I saw this at CIFF the year it came out. The director was present to take questions, a very enjoyable experience. It turns out that the film was made in less than a month, in between everyone’s schedules, which I thought was pretty amazing.
    I saw Dafoe on Monday on stage reading from Nelson Algren at a 100th birthday celebration. He was wonderful, as always.

  • Rick spoke:
    8th/04/2009 to 4:32 pm

    I would have tagged you too, but I thought you were still mad at us.
    Did you see Williamson’s turn at Hamlet? Talk about eccentric …
    And no, Ed, you’re not the only one with love for “Shadow of the Vampire.” A favorite of mine, entirely due to Dafoe’s performance.

  • Marilyn spoke:
    8th/04/2009 to 8:45 pm

    Rick, I’m not mad at anyone, never was. Just didn’t feel like walking into an argument and needed a break from the boys club.
    Did not see Williamson in Hamlet. It sounds like maybe I shouldn’t either!

  • Miranda Wilding spoke:
    8th/04/2009 to 9:34 pm

    LOVE IT.
    *stamps china feet and whistles*
    Marilyn, one of the things that I adore regarding this truly brilliant list is its awesome eclecticism. There are juxtopositions here that I would never have dreamed of.
    The Cowardly Lion and Ulee Jackson are inspired choices.
    The goddess Rita has been an idol of mine since childhood. No surprise then that I almost went with Virginia Brush (BTW, when the hell is THE STRAWBERRY BLONDE coming out on DVD, anyway…?) but ultimately chose GILDA as my #3.
    Yeah, I just couldn’t help myself. My list was all women and I picked chicks that I generally had *ahem* a great deal in common with.
    Does that make me a narcissist? Heavens to Murgatroyd!!!
    Speaking of which…
    SCARLETT O’HARA was my #1. That’s all I’m gonna say.
    Magnificent, my lady.
    I am in total and complete awe…

  • Miranda Wilding spoke:
    8th/04/2009 to 9:38 pm

    Ah…
    That should be *china doll feet*. OF COURSE.
    There goes my final mistake for the decade. But then it was only my second in the last ten years.
    My apologies…

  • Marilyn spoke:
    9th/04/2009 to 8:27 am

    Why, thankee kindly, Miranda! Isn’t it a bitch about The Strawberry Blonde? If I hadn’t taped it off TCM, I wouldn’t have it!
    I have to say that this is the one list I’ve made that I am completely satisfied with. Others forced me with a larger number than I was comfortable with, believe it or not, so I made some choices that I didn’t believe in 100 percent. Ten made it possible for me to zero in on the characters that really ring bells for me.
    Now I must go see your list!

  • Fox spoke:
    9th/04/2009 to 11:26 pm

    I’m happy to see that you mentioned Merlin from Excalibur. You didn’t mention if you were a fan of the film or not (I’ll err on the side that you ARE), but I love that movie, and try to push it on people who are skeptical. I think it is the DVD box art that turns people off.

  • Marilyn spoke:
    10th/04/2009 to 8:22 am

    Read my review, Fox, and you’ll have your answer. I linked to it above.

  • Greg F. spoke:
    10th/04/2009 to 9:37 am

    I love that someone with the Pendragon Society took you to task for calling parts of it cheesy but wonderful to watch, but then never responded back as to what the point was. If you want to visit Charlotte’s site Fox, type in an “e” in the “pndragon” part of the address, which she accidentally left out.
    Anyway, Fox and Marilyn, I love Excalibur and it was one of my first DVD purchases. I love the movie, make no mistake, but I also love the dated qualities too, like around the time Camelot is built everyone starts looking like a member of the Bee Gees. And I love Lancelot’s perm. Gotta love the perm.

  • Marilyn spoke:
    10th/04/2009 to 9:53 am

    Greg – Some people have naturally curly hair. Don’t you just love my naturally curly hair, Charley Brown?

  • Daniel spoke:
    13th/04/2009 to 2:25 pm

    I don’t think Daffy is a cheat at all! I considered an animated character but then, well I didn’t consider my choices very much at all…
    I also love Nick Frost in Hot Fuzz – his character in that should have been on my list!

  • MovieMan0283 spoke:
    13th/04/2009 to 7:13 pm

    Another fun list. (Mine is here: http://thedancingimage.blogspot.com/2009/04/just-because-you-are-character-doesnt.html)
    We have some overlaps, though I mysterl went for the more traditional Nosferatu. Interesting that you chose the meta-version (at first I thought that was Kinski, whose portrayal I haven’t seen). I love that movie and you reminded of a hilarious line – best of all, I went in not knowing much of anything about it, if I remember correctly.

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