10 Best Character Introductions of All Time


>>Speaker 1: You only get one first
impression and that goes extra for movies. How we meet a character can define how we
feel about them through the entire film. So we’re breaking down all the different
ways characters show up with our picks for the ten best character
introductions of all time.>>[MUSIC]>>Speaker 1: At its best,
the character introduction is a reveal. A sequence with its own set up,
its own suspense, building its own anticipation
towards the moment we meet our hero. And one of the most classic examples
of this kind of reveal is what we like to call the introduction by parts. We see their hands,
their feet, their clothes, their morning routine, everything but
their face, it’s a small montage striptease of details towards
the money shot that is our hero’s mug. All the while giving us a front seat tour
of all the important details that make our character who they are. Think Oskar Schindler and Jesus from The
Big Lebowski, Patton, Patrick Bateman, and even sort of the Strangers on a Train. However, for our first pick,
we’ve got to go with the one and only Indy from Raiders of the Lost Ark.>>Speaker 1: This
sequence is pure genius. Not only do we see his hands,
his feet, his hat, and his whip, all before we’re giving the privilege,
nay, the pleasure of Harrison Ford’s grizzly visage, we also watch the small
parts of him tell us the story. All we see are the little details,
but they tell the whole tale, building up the suspense for
our mystery hero before his reveal. Of course it’s not always
about the immediate tease. Sometimes characters spring fully
formed into the narrative in abrupt and surprising ways that
grab us by the collar and growl at us like a bad
Christian Bale Batman impression. Think Quint from Jaws or Ruby Rhod from The Fifth Element The Joker
from The Dark Knight. Dr. Strangelove, from well,
Dr. Strangelove. And our number nine pick
John Doe from Se7en.>>Speaker 2: I knew I say yes.>>Speaker 3: Hey, we’re here.>>Speaker 4: Wonderful.>>Speaker 5: You’re wife before,
get yourself an answering machine.>>Speaker 6: Detective.>>Speaker 7: After this, I’m gone.>>Speaker 6: Detective?>>Speaker 2: No big surprise.>>Speaker 6: Detective!
>>Speaker 1: If you haven’t seen Se7en by now you might wanna go ahead and
skip forward about 45 seconds. Because otherwise,
we’re about to mess up your day.>>Speaker 6: You’re looking for me.>>Speaker 1: Se7en is 95 minutes into
its 120-minute run time with detectives Pitt and Freeman not much closer to their
serial killer than when they started, when he just shows up,
in the police station, covered in blood. And it’s Kevin [BLEEP] Spacey. You go to the movies, the poster says Brad
Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kevin Spacey. And 95 minutes in,
you haven’t seen Kevin Spacey. Who do you think’s gonna be Kevin Spacey? It doesn’t take a detective, but Kevin Spacey basically
gave the studio an ultimatum. Told them he’d only do it if they
didn’t give him top billing, and then went completely ninja on the press. He shows up 80% of the way through,
and we never see him coming. And Goddamn, does it work. Next up at number eight, sometimes the character is
introduced with a singular moment. A singular image that so
perfectly exemplifies their essence, that in that instant you know
them down to their very soul. This is Jack Sparrow, a proud pirate
atop a sinking mass, or Renton, grinning like a madman while slapping the
hood of the car that almost flattened him. Or Rick Blaine, sitting between
a cigarette, a drink, a checkbook, and a chess set. It’s Bronson, telling the camera
he always wanted to be famous. Holly eating her breakfast. Luke, grinning at his beheaded meters,
Alex, sipping his Moloko Plus. And the dude sampling some half and half. All of these films managed to take a
thousand words about their characters and distill them into a picture. But, we think none better than The Good,
The Bad, and the Ugly with Tucco.>>[MUSIC]>>Speaker 1: Let’s count all the things
we learned about the rat in all of about two seconds. He’s a gluten, a drunker, a wanted man,
armed creative any massive buffoon. Combine an almost too hilarious
bevy of hand props with a, let’s say creative method of entry. And button it up with the iconic good,
bad, and ugly freeze frame music combo, and
you got the makings of a legend.>>Speaker 1: Other characters
are introduced not with an imagine, but with an action. It’s like the almost now cliche advice to
write a strong character by showing your hero save the cat. You prove to your audience that he’s kind,
capable, active, and heroic all at once, and they fall in love. Of course, Frank from Once Upon
a Time in the West does just about the opposite of this, but he’s still
an honorable mention on our list. The same with Harmonica. The same with Angel Eyes. The same with the Man With No Name. It turns out Sergio Leone’s pretty
damn good at these types of intros. Marion Ravenwood’s drinking contest
victory is another great example of this, as is Daniel Plainview’s
oil prospecting vignette. However for our number seven, we’re going
with Kamebei humbly cutting off his top knot in order to pose as a peasant to
rescue a young boy from seven samurai.>>Speaker 1: Although we haven’t
seen every movie in existence, we’re with Roger Ebert
in thinking that this might just be the original
example of the now pervasive tradition of
the action hero starting off the story with
an unrelated act of heroism. Perhaps even the first saving of the cat. It’s also probably where Leoni
got the idea for all the iconic character introductions that color
the beginnings of his spaghetti westerns. Seeing is how he drew so
much on Kurosawa for inspiration in just about every other way. Kamebei is a brief foray that
speaks to both his capabilities and his moral character. It combines cunning,
compassion, sacrifice, and violence to quickly teach us about and
make us like it, and it works perfectly. Kamebei is a bad ass for the ages and
it takes us all of 2 minutes to know it. Our next two slots go to those iconic
star moments where a character bounds into the story with a wink and
grin, and all the charm and charisma in the world, and
we see how Goddamn awesome they are. The kind of unforgettable entrance that’s
quintessentially classic Hollywood. And we’re splitting this category up into
two slots because we’re dividing it down gender lines so
we how kinda fucked up the difference is. See if you can spot the pattern. Male stars are introduced like this.>>Speaker 9: Hold it!>>Speaker 10: Ho steady, steady, ho, ho.>>Speaker 1: While female
stars are introduced like this.>>Speaker 11: Gilda, are you decent?>>Speaker 12: Me?
>>Speaker 1: Men are objects of admiration and capability the audience
is meant to want to be them. While women are objects of well,
being objects. The audience is meant to want to possess
them, men hold weapons, tools, guns, while women wear towels. And we think the clearest example of
these kinds of introduction belongs to James Bond, in Dr.
No and Lisa Fremont in Rear Window.>>Speaker 13: Card.
>>Speaker 14: Card. [FOREIGN]
>>Speaker 13: I need another thousand.>>Speaker 15: I admire your courage Miss?>>Speaker 13: Trench, Sylvia Trench. I admire your luck, Mr?>>Speaker 15: Bond, James Bond.>>Speaker 1: This is a classic instance
where spectatorship theory comes in handy to see the gender difference. Notice how Bond does the looking,
while we look Lisa in the eye. Bond is shown in over the shoulders
while Lisa is shown in direct POV. James Bond is effortlessly cool
while Lisa has us falling in love. Now we are condemning the use
of men as objects of cool, or the use of women as object of romance it
happens in the world all the time, both of these are natural normal things, they’re
just is not the only natural normal thing. The problem is that in movies women
are almost exclusively objects of romances while men get to occupy
lots of varied roles. But even they are of pigeonholed
into the uber-masculine, uber-suave, action-fantasy archetype. In fact, almost every woman with
a notable character introduction is in this category on our list. Which should speak significantly to
the role of women in classic cinema.>>Speaker 1: At number four, sometimes
a character introduction comes with a serious sense of doom. These are usually reserved for the big bad
and a big reveal that immediately says, [BLEEP] ‘s about to go down. Think Sexy Beast’s Don Logan, the new
hope’s Darth Vader and Tim Burton’s Joker. However come on, who does this better than Fritz Lang with his murderer in M.>>Speaker 16: [FOREIGN]>>Speaker 17: [FOREIGN]
>>Speaker 1: He shows up as a shadow over
a wanted poster for himself. You don’t even see him, but
he’s introduced in the vilest, evilest, scariest way possible. The bouncing ball, the dialogue,
the lean, the cut to her mother. Ugh, what a villain, what an entrance,
what an introduction. Next up at number three, we’re looking at the arrival
that is itself, tension-filled. Where the characters very approach to
the screen fills us with apprehension. It’s not a scary reveal as much as it’s
a long, slow entrance that gets worse and worse the closer we get. Think Henry V, Silva from Skyfall,
and the original Dracula. They’re all larger than life characters
starting small in the frame and then walking towards us,
filling it with their stature. Of course, no one’s ever done the slow
axial approach better than David Lean, which is why we really have no choice but to give the spot to Sharif Ali
from Lawrence of Arabia.>>[SOUND]>>Speaker 18: Tex?>>Speaker 1: Rendering the wide
expanse of the desert as claustrophobic as a coffin, Lean’s iconic cinematography
has him emerging as if from a mirage, shimmering in the heat of the distance and
creeping closer for what seems like ages. And then, when if feels like it
can’t get any more unbearable, his Bedouin guide lunges for his gun and
is brought down in a single shot and then more quiet Ali slows,
dismounts and only then speaks.>>Speaker 19: He is dead.>>Speaker 18: Yes, why?>>Speaker 19: This is my well.>>Speaker 1: Is he a bad man, a good man? A righteous man, an enemy? That we don’t know, but we do know, you
probably shouldn’t [BLEEP] with his well. Closing in at number two,
we have the long awaited reveal. The character whose
reputation precedes him. Who has been talked about and
rumored, pursued and sought after. Who is by now more myth and
legend in our mind than a face. A symbol of something rather
than the thing in itself. This is Bill from Kill Bill,
Oberhauser from Spectre, Superman and Colonel Hurts in
definitely Hannibal Lecter. However, if you know us,
you already know who we’re gonna pick. Harry Lime, from the third man. What kind of a spy do you
think you are satchel foot?>>Speaker 20: What
are you tailing me for? Cat got your tongue?>>Speaker 20: Come on out. Come out, come out, whoever you are.>>Speaker 20: Step out in the light and
let’s have a look at you. Who’s your boss?>>Speaker 21: [FOREIGN]>>Speaker 1: If you were to accuse our list maker of having a hard-on for
Harry Lime, you wouldn’t be far off base. With so much time dedicated to rumors
of his notoriety how could the actual man possibly live up? But that is the magic of cinema, sometimes the man on the screen
can be larger than life. And I don’t think it happens
anywhere else better than here. First of all, it’s Orson Welles at
his most mischievous, and that face. Maybe it’s our rose tinted nostalgia
glasses talking here but for our money, we’ve never seen a face that
gives us more boundless unending glee. Combined it with the lighting cue,
the music, the camera move and the classic Third Man and somehow
Orson Welles makes the rumors look small. And finally number one, we’re looking at the introduction that
comes with a reversal of expectation. Maybe we heard one thing or
anticipated something else, but the person we meet
surprises us all together. Often played for comedic effect, this is
Inspector Clouseau from Pink Panther or Mozart from Amadeus or
Bela Lugosi from Ed Wood. But today, our number one goes to no other than Willy Wonka.>>[APPLAUSE]>>Speaker 1: There is perhaps no better time to reminisce about our hello’s as
when we say goodbye, so here’s to Mr. Wilder and all the entrances he ever made,
thanks for the laughs Gene.>>Speaker 1: So what do you think? Do you disagree some of our picks? Did we leave out any of your
favorite introductions? Let us know in the comments below. Come check out our bi-weekly movie
list talkback on Facebook Live, Thursdays at 3:00 PM Eastern
after every episode, where we answer your questions and
respond to your comments. And be sure to subscribe for
more Cinefix movie lists.

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