' ' Cinema Romantico: 10 Best Movie Characters You Never See

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

10 Best Movie Characters You Never See

It is, of course, Anything Goes! Week here at Cinema Romantico specifically because, as established, TIFF is going down which means no one is reading this blog and because no one is reading this blog I got to thinking about characters in movies that no one sees. Characters that are discussed a lot or a discussed a little or discussed for one scene and never again but go the duration without being glimpsed. After all, isn't so often about what you don't see as about what you do see? Indeed, not reading reader, it is. And so, in that spirit.....

10 Best Movie Characters You Never See

10. Rebecca, Rebecca. Any list about not seen characters has to begin with Hitchcock's Rebecca. And so that's what we're doing. And if you're not happy with her only checking in at #10, well, my apologies, but here at Cinema Romantico even the immaculate likes of Rebecca are no match for........

9. Penny Benjamin, Top Gun. "You've lost your qualifications as section leader three times, put in hack twice by me, with a history of high-speed passes over five air control towers and one admiral's daughter!" "Penny Benjamin?"

8. Dixie Wells, From Here To Eternity. The boxer whom Montgomery Clift's soulful Pvt. Robert E. Lee Prewitt accidentally blinded, causing him to put away his fighting gloves, the invisible pugilistic penitence he carries with him everywhere.

7. Katie Dunn, Million Dollar Baby. I could begin any treatise on any scene in Eastwood's magnum opus with the phrase "Few scenes in any movie move me as much as......" but nevertheless.....few scenes in any movie move me as much as the scene in "Million Dollar Baby" when Frankie, in a moment of genuinely melancholy reflection, exits the church to hear the Father ask "Did you write your daughter?" and Frankie simply responds "Every day." (Nick collapses into sobs.)

6. Jessup Dolly, Winter's Bone. The father of Ree Dolly and the meth-cooking fuel for her Ozarkian re-write of the Hero's Journey.

5. The Girl With The White Parasol, Citizen Kane. Everyone focuses on Rosebud when what has always most moved me to the depths of my being is Kane's manager, Bernstein (Everett Sloane), offering the following monologue as his own rumination Rosebud's meaning. "A fellow will remember a lot of things you wouldn't think he'd remember. You take me. One day, back in 1896, I was crossing over to Jersey on the ferry. And as we pulled out, there was another ferry pulling in. And on it there was a girl waiting to get off. A white dress she had on. She was carrying a white parasol. I only saw her for one second. She didn't see me at all. But I'll bet a month hasn't gone by since that I hadn't thought of that girl." We all have that girl in our memory. God help us, every one, we do.

4. Rollo Tomassi, L.A. Confidential. I've made no secret of my intense dislike of this film's (second) ending but even I can recognize the brilliantly versatile usage of the never-seen Rollo Tomassi. He is goody two shoes Ed Exley's beacon and his name provides pompous Jack Vincennes his glorious valediction and he becomes the chief villain's unwitting downfall.

3. Dimitri Kisoff, Dr. Strangelove. As the Soviet premiere who receives a late-night phone call from U.S. President Muffley (Peter Sellers) as nuclear holocaust beckons, the mere thought of what he's doing and what he's wearing (a smoking jacket, of course) while he's on the other end of the line - "Listen, I can't hear too well, do you suppose you could turn the music down just a little?" - never fails to have me in stitches.

2. Tony Rocky Horror, Pulp Fiction. It's not merely the impeccable Tarantino-esque moniker that makes the half-black, half-Samoan with a weight problem so memorable but his exquisite implementation. He's the dude that gives Mia Wallace the forbidden foot massage that apparently gets him tossed out a window by Mr. Mia Wallace. He's the character in the classically relayed tale that goes a long way in establishing Ms. Wallace as a retro chic Harry Lime.

1. Owen Taylor / Sean Regan, The Big Sleep. The former is General Sternwood's chauffeur. The latter is General Sternwood's personal Joe Friday, the guy who drinks the brandy General Sternwood can no longer drink. Sean Regan has vanished before the movie even begins. Owen Taylor's car gets run off a pier. This disappearance and this death ostensibly drive the film but no one knows what actually happened to them. Raymond Chandler wrote the freaking story and he didn't know what happened to them. But thank God that whatever happened to them happened to them because if it hadn't then Phillip Marlowe never would have met Vivian Sternwood Rutledge and if Phillip Marlowe hadn't met Vivian Sternwood Rutledge then we would have all been denied cinema at its most purely beauteous. Owen Taylor and Sean Regan - the true expendables.


Derek Armstrong said...

Hey, I'm reading this!

A couple I'd include if I were making this list:

Mike, Inside Llewyn Davis
Skipper, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Jabba the Hutt, Star Wars (remember when Jabba wasn't in Star Wars?)

There are a couple more at the tip of my tongue, but, you know, they ain't budging from there.

Nick Prigge said...

Ha! Jabba the Hutt! Well played, sir. That is ultimate evidence, right, of the character you don't see being more frightening than the character you do.