Thursday, September 29, 2011

Elegant Menace

by Susan Sey

I was listening to NPR the other day. Yeah, I listen to NPR in the car. I'm geeky like that.

Anyway, they were discussing an independent film about the studio musicians of the 50s & 60s, & how there was this prevalent attitude among serious musicians of the time that rock & roll wasn't 'real' music. Many of the established studio musicians of the time simply refused to play it.

Enter the carpet baggers. The profiteers. The soulless capitalists who'll do anything for money.

Enter the hungry studio musician wannabes who said, "Hey, I'll play that." And they did.

One particular set of musicians, the Wrecking Crew, took that ball & ran with it, becoming the power players of the next two to three decades. They played behind everybody from the Beach Boys to Elvis, Sinatra to Sam Cooke.

Charlie Watts, the drummer from the Rolling Stones, was interviewed for this film, & was asked to list his his top ten all-time favorite rock drummers. He was startled to find that five of them were Hal Blaine of the Wrecking Crew.

I feel this way about Alan Rickman.

I sat down with a writer friend the other day & our conversation turned (as it tends to do) to villains we love. I started waxing eloquent about how Alan Rickman utterly saved the movie Robin Hood. How he dripped well-heeled danger in Die Hard. How he oozed disdain so gorgeously as Professor Snape.

I realized in that moment that when it comes to villains, I have a favorite flavor.

Elegant menace.

This is what I like. This makes me happy. I like my bad guys smart, slick, well-funded & exquisitely well-spoken. I like them cool & calculating. I like brains with a side dish of evil.

Who knew?

So what about you? When it comes to bad guys, do you have a favorite flavor? Tell us about the villains you love!

42 comments:

Kaelee said...

Is the GR coming my way?

Kaelee said...

I got the rooster.
Since I don't watch movies I can only talk about villains in books. If I'm reading a book with a villain in it I want an intelligent one. They are so much more deadly than just plain old mean guys.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Kaelee, you got da chook!

Oh, Susan, I love elegant menace. I like elegant menace in a hero too (although he needs to redeem himself at the end). Think some of mine definitely fall into that category. The guy I'm writing now certainly, probably Ranelaw in Midnight's Wild Passion too. Love it when a man can cut with his words as well as with his rapier! Hmm, if I start talking about swords, you don't know WHERE this conversation will end up!

By the way, love Alan Rickman! I'm sure I've told you but I saw him on stage a couple of times when I lived in London. He was a wonderful (elegant menace indeed) Vicomte de Valmont in the original version of Dangerous Liaisons. Oh, man, was he sexy! First and only time I've really seen a man justify that 'moved like a stalking panther' thing you see in romance novels all the time. I think every woman (and quite a few men!) in the audience just melted!

Sheree said...

Congrats on the GR, Kaelee!

Yup, an elegant villain for me, too. To have a bad guy look the part is just too easy.

Anna Sugden said...

Ooh I like it, Susan - elegant menace! I think those kind of villains are awesome too, because you are drawn to them despite their evil.

As a fan of RS and thrillers, I think intelligent, cold, good-looking, but somehow charming, villains are the most interesting and the most chilling. In the late-lamented TV series Shark, there was a fabulous villain Wayne Robert Callison, played brilliantly by Billy Campbell, who fit that bill.

I think one of the reasons Dexter (the TV series) disappointed me was that I thought he'd be that kind of villain/hero - but the actor didn't play him like that.

Anna Sugden said...

Oh and can I add my vote for Alan Rickman's drool-worthiness?! His voice *delicious shiver*! Have loved him since Truly, Madly, Deeply!

Helen said...

Well done Kaelee have fun with him

Susan

I so love Alan Rickman in all of those movies I think it is his voice that gets me.

Some of the villians I have read in boks are very cool and slick and smart as well love them too.

Have Fun
Helen

Antonia said...

I'll probably always have a soft spot for Javier Bardem in "No Country for Old Men." Not only is his performance absolutely incredible, but his hair is in a realm of its own lol.

Donna MacMeans said...

Way to go Kaelee

Susan - I think there's a thin line between a good hero and a good villain. With the exception of "a touch of evil". I thought you described my ideal hero.

Anna - totally jealous that you saw Alan Rickman in that role. Must have been yummY!!!

MsHellion said...

Alan Rickman is definitely my Villain Flavor of Choice. For all the reasons you said; and let me just say, you've totally brightened my Thursday with those lovely pictures of my Al. :)

Anna, he played Vicomte de Valmont on stage? Oh, he'd make such a delicious rake! *swoons* I wish I could have seen it.

(Though I admit--he also makes the most wonderful, swoonworthy Regency hero, as Colonel Brandon. If you can't have Greg Wise as a husband, Alan Rickman, with his slow wooing ways, is sure to make a girl go "Greg who?" by the end of the season.)

Susan Sey said...

Hey, Kaelee, congrats! You DO get the Golden Rooster for the day! Careful, or he'll get you hooked on movies. James Bond is his favorite. :-)

And I totally hear you on wanting a villain with some brains. It's so disappointing when you get a cardboard cutout instead of a real villain.

Susan Sey said...

Anna C wrote: Love it when a man can cut with his words as well as with his rapier!

I knew I could count on you to put it into the exact right words, Anna! That's perfect. Words as mannerly weapons. Love it!

Susan Sey said...

Sheree wrote: Yup, an elegant villain for me, too. To have a bad guy look the part is just too easy.

And not only easy but disappointing! It's no fun if the hero & heroine are fighting against somebody too stupid to live. We don't accept that in our heroines, why would we accept it in a villain? Let's raise the bar, right?

Susan Sey said...

Anna S wrote: I think intelligent, cold, good-looking, but somehow charming, villains are the most interesting and the most chilling. In the late-lamented TV series Shark, there was a fabulous villain Wayne Robert Callison, played brilliantly by Billy Campbell, who fit that bill.

I've never heard of Shark but you can bet your bippie (as my grandpa used to say--I have no idea what a bippie is) that I'll be googling that as soon as today's pages are done. It'll be my little treat, the carrot at the end of my stick.

And what does it say about me that a really gorgeously evil villain is my carrot?

Susan Sey said...

Anna S also wrote: Oh and can I add my vote for Alan Rickman's drool-worthiness?! His voice *delicious shiver*!

I *know*! He rolls the words around in his mouth like they're too good to let go. Makes me want some of whatever he's having.

Susan Sey said...

Helen wrote: I so love Alan Rickman in all of those movies I think it is his voice that gets me.

You can join me & Anna S, then, in the I Heart Alan's Voice club. :-) We're smitten.

Susan Sey said...

Antonia wrote: I'll probably always have a soft spot for Javier Bardem in "No Country for Old Men." Not only is his performance absolutely incredible, but his hair is in a realm of its own lol.

Yeah, his hair should have won an Oscar, too, because by the end of the movie I was sort of rooting for *it*. :-)

But I totally agree about Javier Bardem. He just drips sex appeal, & something about playing bad just heightens it. Yum.

Susan Sey said...

Ms. Hellion wrote: (Though I admit--he also makes the most wonderful, swoonworthy Regency hero, as Colonel Brandon. If you can't have Greg Wise as a husband, Alan Rickman, with his slow wooing ways, is sure to make a girl go "Greg who?" by the end of the season.)

Dude, if confronted with a slow-wooing Alan Rickman, I wouldn't even remember my *own* name. The only word I'd remember would be yes. Maybe "yes *please*" if I were really on top of it. :-)

MsHellion said...

My friends know my adoration for Alan Rickman. In fact, I've told them that I believe his voice has a subliminal quality to it. Whenever he's on screen, no matter what he is saying, whether it's "No idea" or "Give me an occupation or I shall go mad", what I really hear is "Take off your clothes and lie on the bed."

Of course the last time I said that, my friend's husband looked at her and said, "How do I get a voice like that?"

Louisa Cornell said...

Woot, Kaelee! Congrats on nabbing our favorite villain!

And oh, Susan, you made my day. LOVE Alan Rickman! He does evil SO WELL!

La Campbell, you saw him as Valmont! THUD! I am eternally jealous!

I love a villain who makes you shiver and you can't decide if it is from fear or lust. Or BOTH!

I love a villain that you can't decide whose side he is on until the very last minute.

Someone else who does delicious villains is Tim Curry. In the film Legend he was unrecognizable, but he still managed to exude sexy evil.

And Vrai Anna, I LOVED Shark! I was furious when they cancelled it and you are SO right about the Billy Campbell portrayal of WRC ! Delish!

Jenn3128 said...

Mmmmm...my favorite villian right now is Timothy Dalton. He was an amazing addition to "Chuck"! The accent, the eyes, the hair...swoon worthy!

Anna Sugden said...

Susan, Shark was fab! It starred James Woods as a sleazy defense lawyer who's kind of turned over a new leaf. Also starred the lovely Jeri Ryan (who always reminds of our very own KJ).

I was gutted when they cancelled it after two seasons.

James Woods always plays great villains too.

p226 said...

It seems the world's most dangerous villains are the ones equipped with suits and smiles.

Even though he was a protagonist, it's hard to argue that Don Vito Corleone didn't make one helluva villain, no?

When thinking of good villains, I'm also reminded of a quote from Goodfellas.

"I knew they were cops. Only cops talk that way. If they'd been wiseguys, I wouldn't have heard a thing. I would've been dead."

He went on to complain that they come with smiles on their faces and a pat on the back.

The most dangerous and compelling villains, both in literature and in my personal life have always been extremely charismatic, genuinely likeable people.

Half the villains in literature, it takes about 30 seconds of reading or observation to come to the conclusion, "aha, there's the bad guy." Of course, that's often by author design. But the BEST villains, IMO, are the ones, not knowing any better, you'd be likely to invite over for dinner or a beer.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

I think I like Snapes style pretty well, cool disdain works for me.

Sonali said...

ooh you have one of my favorite villain's featured in the post- Professor Snape. I love his understated menace.

Nancy said...

Kaelee, congrats on the bird!

Susan, what a fun topic! I particularly liked Alan Rickman in Galaxy Quest.

I can go with elegant menace in a villain. I also like my villains to have a brain.

Nancy said...

Jenn, I love Timothy Dalton! He was great as Bond, I thought.

LilMissMolly said...

I agree with Alan Rickman - but he redeems himself every time I watch him as Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility. I also really love Mark Strong as a bad guy - he was the bad guy in Sherlock Holmes, Jayne Eyre, the Green Lantern and The Young Victoria. Again, he redeems himself when I watch him as Mr. Knightly in Emma.

Susan Sey said...

Ms. Hellion wrote: Of course the last time I said that, my friend's husband looked at her and said, "How do I get a voice like that?"

You don't get a voice like that. It's a gift from the heavens. It's Alan's special burden to bear. It's our job to simply enjoy it.

Susan Sey said...

Louisa wrote: I love a villain who makes you shiver and you can't decide if it is from fear or lust. Or BOTH!

Oh, yum. Exactly! Well put, Louisa!

Susan Sey said...

Jenn3128 wrote: Mmmmm...my favorite villian right now is Timothy Dalton. He was an amazing addition to "Chuck"!

Oh my gosh, Timothy Dalton was on Chuck? How did I miss that? See what I get for abandoning network tv?? That'll teach me. Then again...there's always YouTube. :-) I will catch up & get back to you all on this.

Susan Sey said...

Anna S wrote: It starred James Woods as a sleazy defense lawyer who's kind of turned over a new leaf.

Okay, you had me at James Woods. :-) I'm in. Where do I sign up?

Susan Sey said...

P226 wrote: But the BEST villains, IMO, are the ones, not knowing any better, you'd be likely to invite over for dinner or a beer.

YES! This is it exactly! You'd have him in your house, in your life, & maybe you'd suspect he wasn't entirely pure but you'd never have thought...would you? In retrospect?

*shiver*

Susan Sey said...

hrdwrkdmom wrote: I think I like Snapes style pretty well, cool disdain works for me.

Yep. Me, too. I don't know what that says about me but I'm pretty sure it's not good. Then again, if that's wrong I don't want to be right. Give me my Snape!

Susan Sey said...

Sonali wrote: ooh you have one of my favorite villain's featured in the post- Professor Snape. I love his understated menace.

Yes, Ma'am. I aim to please. :-)

Susan Sey said...

Nancy wrote: I can go with elegant menace in a villain. I also like my villains to have a brain.

It's amazing how many people leave this part out, isn't it? Stupid people are scary, no question, but smart & amoral people are terrifying.

Easy to say, I guess, hard to write.

megganconnors said...

You are a group after my own heart.

Cool, collected, elegant villains so float my boat. And when they're done well, I always find myself rooting (even if just a little) for the bad guy. Always.

And Alan Rickman... well, I hear his voice and a shiver. Whew!

Susan Sey said...

LilMissMolly wrote: I also really love Mark Strong as a bad guy - he was the bad guy in Sherlock Holmes, Jayne Eyre, the Green Lantern and The Young Victoria. Again, he redeems himself when I watch him as Mr. Knightly in Emma.

Ooooh, Mark Strong *is* a good baddie! I had no idea he played Mr. Knightley in Emma! Which version? The only one I know is the one with Gwyneth Paltrow as Emma, Jeremy Northam as Mr. Knightley & Ewan MacGregor as the heartless cad who trifles with her affections. Is there another one I've missed? Oh please say yes because I'd dearly love a reason to watch another Emma.

Susan Sey said...

meganconnors wrote: Cool, collected, elegant villains so float my boat. And when they're done well, I always find myself rooting (even if just a little) for the bad guy. Always.

I know, right? You know you shouldn't & yet...you feel like if somebody just *understood* him like I do. If somebody just *loved* him, we could turn this ship around!

And when it's Alan Rickman, well. You're right. It's the voice. Yum YUM.

marybelle said...

Elegant Menace - I'm loving that. You actually picked mine. I have had a major crush on Alan Rickman for years. He was also brilliant & deliciously evil in Sweeney Todd.

Cassondra said...

Oh, Susan, I'm so sorry I missed this blog...I LOVE Alan Rickman. He's my favorite snide character.

He played a fantastic villain in Quigley Down Under, too.

I did love him in the movie Bottleshock as well--and it's interesting to me that two of my top ten movies have Alan Rickman in them...hmmmm...--but anyway as I was saying (that's me, easily distracted)in Bottleshock, he played a good guy. But you were never quite sure--because he's such a great actor he made the guy incredibly complex and believable, and of course, with just a bit of selfish badness in him.

Cassondra said...

Hellion, did you see that you won something from one of my blogs this past month? If you didn't see that, well...YOU DID! *grin*

I haven't been into our email to see if you've sent address info, but if not, Do it DO IT!

;0)