I’m really excited about The Great Villain Blogathon 2016. The first two iterations were loads of fun, with dozens of bloggers sharing their ideas of what, exactly, makes for a standout movie villain. In 2014, I explained why Leave Her to Heaven’s Ellen (Gene Tierney) is the ideal film bad gal: she’s smart, beautiful, stylish, deceitful, and deadly. Last year, I made the case for the equally glorious and wicked duo of Blanche Fury (Valerie Hobson) and Philip Thorn (Stewart Granger) in Blanche Fury. These films are visually stunning, enlivened by impeccable color cinematography. The former is akin to a splendid nature travelogue (spiked, richly, with mayhem), the latter to a series of Gothic paintings come to moody life. The immoral main characters of both are driven by selfishness, jealousy, and single-minded passion. They need what they need and are willing to do whatever it takes to get it, everyone else be damned. Or killed.
This year, I’m leading you down a path to a different cinematic world. It’s not beautiful, grand, or sumptuous. Passion is absent, but there’s plenty of greed and power-tripping to step in as the source of rotten plot behavior. Follow me to a black-and-white landscape where night is day, and everyone wants the opposite of what they have…except for the villain, who just wants more of the same and then some. His name is James ‘Capper’ Regan, and you won’t soon forget him.
ESCAPE BY NIGHT (1937) (SPOILERS! SPOILERS! ALL THE SPOILERS!)
Left to right: Dean Jagger, Murray Alper, William Hall, Ward Bond, Steffi Duna
PART I: JUST A SMALL TOWN BOY
Tourists visit The Big City for many reasons. Some go there to shop or check out famous landmarks, others to see shows or dine out in fabulous restaurants that are beyond the scope of their smaller towns. Then there’s miner Nicholas ‘Nick’ Allen (William Hall), who simply wants to feel the sun on his face. Why he couldn’t do that closer to his Pennsylvania home is anyone’s guess, but, fortunately for our plot, he’s right in the line of trouble at the exact moment a damsel in some very real distress needs him. Continue reading