Davis, de Havilland, Flynn, Cagney, Bogart ...

Davis, de Havilland, Flynn, Cagney, Bogart ...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

And You Thought YOUR Boyfriend Was Bad!

Everybody has had one ... the boyfriend who turns out to be the biggest four-flushing, dirt-eating, woman-ogling, foul-mouthed, eats-with-his-mouth-open, bullying maroon who breaks up with you the day before Valentine's and then wants to get back together the next day.  Gentlemen readers, you are free to substitute the feminine gender and any similar characteristics ... it's only fair.  The movies are chock full of nasty boyfriends, so count yourselves lucky, girls, that you didn't try to date any of these guys.
(Spoilers are par for the course here, so continue at your own risk.)

Johnny Rocco (Edward G. Robinson in Key Largo, 1948).

The ultimate gangster, Rocco has no conscience or love at all for the woman who has stuck with him for many years.  Gaye Dawn (Claire Trevor) is now an aging, alcoholic, former nightclub singer. She is pitiful, an abused woman who keeps coming back for more.  Rocco enjoys it a lot.  Oh, that horrendous scene in which Rocco forces her to stand and sing for her liquor!  Anybody with a heart can't watch that without wincing and feeling sick for this woman.  And then he welshes on his promise and won't give her a drink.  Thank heaven for Bogart, who not only gives Gaye her drink, but gives Rocco a bullet in the end.

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Morris Townsend (Montgomery Clift in The Heiress, 1949).

Every time I see this movie, my mind keeps repeating "How could he?  How could he?!"  Gorgeous, charming Morris, who makes rich, homely Catherine (Olivia de Havilland) blossom like a flower because she believes he loves her ... who can forget Catherine sitting in the parlor with her bags packed, waiting for Morris to come and get her so they can elope?  And he never comes ... her hopeful, loving face wilts and part of her dies forever.


Morris returns after Catherine inherits her money, with excuses and "the same old lies" says Catherine, after telling Morris to return that night and elope with her.  He returns, and in one of the most powerful endings ever, he hammers desperately at the bolted door while Catherine, now a strong woman, climbs the stairs and leaves him behind.  What woman wouldn't give her right middle finger to get that chance!  There are two separate camps of opinion about Morris.  Some believe he really did want to protect her from angering her father with an elopement and possibly losing her inheritance.  Others believe he was just a complete rat.  I'm with the rat pack.

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Danny (Robert Montgomery in Night Must Fall, 1937).

Definitely cute, Danny may not seem to fit the category of boyfriend to Olivia (Rosalind Russell), but the chemistry is there and the sparks fly throughout this story of a pathological killer.  Charm exudes from Danny and everybody loves him ... except Olivia, who feels that Danny is a dangerous man even while she is attracted to him.  Robert Montgomery is just wonderful in this part, quite a departure at the time from his usual light comedy fare.  This guy is scary!


Mrs. Bramson (Dame May Whitty) is an annoying bully of a woman, but she believes Danny is like a son to her.  She doesn't deserve her fate at the hands of the sweet young man who comes home to finds her alone and scared, and seems to be comforting her with brandy and sweet talk.  She doesn't know that a pillow and Danny's strong hands will follow that drink.

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Tom Stevens (Hugh Marlowe in The Day The Earth Stood Still, 1951).

The ultimate wormy guy, Tom somehow wriggled his way into Helen Benson's (Patricia Neal) life as her boyfriend.  Nothing really untoward had happened yet, although there were signs of jealous pique and controlling behavior.  However, when Klaatu and Gort arrived from space, Tom was unconcerned that he might be bringing doom to the planet Earth.  All he could think of was being a big man.  Helen pleads with him not to betray Klaatu, but all Tom could say is "You'll feel differently when you see my name in the papers."  "I feel differently now," she says.  Smart woman.


Obviously Klaatu (dreamy perfectly tailored Michael Rennie) would be a fabulous boyfriend, but even Gort would have been a better catch than Tom.

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Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard in Gone With The Wind, 1939).

I hope I don't get too much hate mail for this one, but I've always thought Ashley was a major wimp and quite a tease to Scarlett.  She always gets the blame, but Ashley kept stringing her along all through the movie.  (He counts as a boyfriend since he squired Scarlett around before his marriage and didn't give up the job completely after that.)  Rhett was so right ... Ashley couldn't go all out one way or the other.  It's a good thing for him Melanie was so kind and understanding, or he would have had the door slammed in his face pretty quick.  I would have had more respect for him if he had just thrown Scarlett down in the mud at war-torn Tara and had  his way with her.  They would both have gotten it out of their system and life could go on...


Man up, Mr. Wilkes!  Do it, or don't do it, but bring it to some kind of climax already!

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Bluto (Popeye cartoons, beginning 1933)

Everybody's favorite big bully, Bluto courted and abused Olive Oyl at every opportunity.  Popeye was always there to save her, but wait a minute ... is it possible that Olive was responsible to some degree?


Yep, there's old Olive fawning and simpering over big bad Bluto.  I just can't feel sorry for her ... in her case, she really asks for it!

The moral of all this is:  Listen to your Mom and Dad when they beg you to dump that guy!

13 comments:

  1. As much as I adore 'The Heiress,' I always have a bit of a hard time accepting that ODH is supposed to be a plain-jane. (Granted, she was no Rita Hayworth, but still...) It's a common Hollywood trope: all an 'ordinary' looking chick needs is to remove the glasses or get a makeover and dudes fall all over her all of a sudden. Here, though, all she needed was an attitude adjustment.

    For the longest time I had no doubt in my mind that Morris deserved to get kicked to the curb. It wasn't until I started reading online critiques on the film that this element of doubt entered the picture, but even if it's possible, I don't think the movie can or should end any other way. We need to see that Catherine has grown up and learned something after being everybody else's girl throughout the whole story, instead of being her own. So I don't hold with that theory either.

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    1. Isn't that the truth about the girl taking off her glasses, taking one pin out of her hair and suddenly she's a glamor puss? It is hard to make Olivia look bad, although they did pretty well, darkening up her eyebrows and her lower hairline. I know what you mean about Morris. I wanted to think better of him, but he just acted so swinish! The book does not end the same way, but in this case I think Hollywood actually improved it with that ending!

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  2. Very good list! Monty could be gorgeous, but Morris was an idiot. And how much I'd like if Patricia Neal eloped with Klaatu!
    Nice to mention Bluto (he's called Brutus here), without a doubt the biggest douchebag in cartoons.
    Kisses!

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    1. Thanks Lee! Oh, I had a crush on Klaatu myself! You know, the cartoon started calling him Brutus here too -- I never really knew why, but I read somewhere they wanted to make him a different character. Really? It didn't work -- he was always Bluto to me!

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  3. Becky, I loved your round-up of movie jerks! I especially liked your comment "What woman wouldn't give her right middle finger to get that chance!" :-) I always felt Danny in NIGHT MUST FALL was creepy, and Hugh Marlowe always had me itching to belt him one! Your pick for Bluto was inspirational! :-) Awesome post, Big Sis! :-D

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    1. Hey thanks, Dori-Tenore! These are some of my faves, but there are a lot!

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  4. It was great fun to read you calling all those jackasses out on their bad behavior. Guys! Can't live with them. Can't use them for fish bait.

    Personally, I have always wanted Isabella to wallop Heathcliff good in "Wuthering Heights". Pining for that old Cathy all those years and making everybody miserable. That guy had issues.

    If Ma Powers had seen how her Tom wasted that grapefruit on Kitty, she'd be appalled.

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    1. Great additions with Heathcliff and Tom -- they may have looked good, but what a pair of cads! Glad you liked it, CW!

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  5. Oh, Becky - cut those bad-boy lovin' gals some slack! Now, I totally agree with you about Ashley Wilkes - he was a wimp and a cur to lead poor Scarlett on. About Morris - I guess he was a rat, but, gee, at least she could have had some fun with him. After all, what the hell was she going to spend her money on - embroidery?????

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    1. You're right about Catherine -- she actually said something to that effect to her horrible father -- why not just let her believe and be happy? There's something to that, for sure! Embroidery -- snort!

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  6. Great line-up of jerks! Danny and Morris Townsend SEEM to be the worst on this list, but honestly, its those wormy guys like Tom Stevens that makes even Danny seem not half bad. I think Olivia was just transfixed by Danny...he was the wickedest man that ever came into her life. But poor girl, at least the old lady got chocolates from him...she didn't get anything out of him.

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  7. Thanks for stopping by, Constance ... Yes, the wormy guys are in a lot of ways even less desirable! Danny was a fascinating character to me -- he opened his mind to Olivia more than anyone else before, but it didn't help, did it? He still fed the old lady her chocolates and brandy and did her in, and was going to kill Olivia too ... I really love that play!

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  8. Excellent list! I agree with it whole-heartedly!

    And, for what it's worth, I am so pleased to see Ashley Wilkes on that list.

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