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January 19, 2012 11:56 AM   Subscribe

The Script Lab's top10 character introductions in film
posted by Artw (56 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
No Harry Lime in The Third Man?!?!
posted by Bromius at 11:58 AM on January 19, 2012 [13 favorites]


Don't worry, Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka, you'll always be number one with me.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:01 PM on January 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


Surprising lack of Harrison Ford in there, but I guess his character's signature moments tend to come a little while after they're introduced an expectations set up.
posted by Artw at 12:02 PM on January 19, 2012


I was all " there had better be Norma Desmond in here" and there was.
posted by The Whelk at 12:03 PM on January 19, 2012


Harry Lime was my first thought too.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:03 PM on January 19, 2012


Don Vito Corleone.

Long, slow zoom. Custom-made lens. Undertaker. Kitty cat. Doing murder.

You know it's the best.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 12:03 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Harry Lime was my first thought too, but I guess this is from the perspective of a script writer, so the omission makes sense. Good list.
posted by Wemmick at 12:13 PM on January 19, 2012


I'm assuming they just didn't want to have two Billy Wilder scripts in the same otherwise Double Indemnity would be sorely missing:

A-15 UPPER LANDING OF STAIRCASE - (FROM BELOW)
Phyllis Dietrichson stands looking down. She is in her early
thirties. She holds a large bath-towel around her very
appetizing torso, down to about two inches above her knees.
She wears no stockings, no nothing. On her feet a pair of
high-heeled bedroom slippers with pom-poms. On her left ankle
a gold anklet.



Believe it or not, it gets better from there, actually.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:17 PM on January 19, 2012


in the same list even...
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:17 PM on January 19, 2012


TV not film, but I still get a kick out of President Bartlet's entrance line on The West Wing.
posted by Wretch729 at 12:17 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Annoying that the description of each covers far more time than the tiny snippets of script.

Hannibal Lecter's introduction is great, but I think a lot of it is down to Hopkins' physical acting in that first scene in which Clarice meets him: so still, but so commanding the space.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:27 PM on January 19, 2012


I think the introduction of The Dude would have been much better without the voiceover, but I am probably the most passionate hater of voiceover the world has ever produced. I wish DVDs provided the option to turn off voiceover. I'd always do it.
posted by perhapses at 12:29 PM on January 19, 2012


I'm sorry but the introduction of the Jesus in The Big Lebowski beats the Dude's ten to one.
PINS

scattered by a strike.

QUINTANA

wheeling and thrusting a black gloved fist into the air.

Stitched above the breast pocket of his all-in-one is his
first name, "Jesus".
posted by griphus at 12:31 PM on January 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


This.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:39 PM on January 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


I think Han Solo shooting Greedo calmly is still the best introduction. It's such a ruthless and coldblooded move, but I guess the rest of Han shows him much differently.

I would also accept Lo Pan in Big Trouble in Little China because the introduction is Jack suddenly running him over with his truck.

Actually, griphus is right. Jesus Quintana has the best intro I've ever seen. His dance is brilliant.

I'm kind of partial to Arnold suddenly looking up in Conan the Barbarian after pushing the wheel for like 15-20 years.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:39 PM on January 19, 2012


Another vote for Harry Lime - you can't call your list "top10 character introductions in film" and leave this one off.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:40 PM on January 19, 2012


One of my favorite character introductions is the intro of The Motorcycle Boy in Rumble Fish.

Mickey Rourke rides up on a motorcycle at the end of a rumble and says, "What's this? Another glorious battle for the kingdom?"

But I am probably the most passionate lover of the film Rumble Fish that the world has ever produced.
posted by perhapses at 12:41 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Quint, Jaws
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:41 PM on January 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm kind of embarrassed I haven't seen The Third Man then... can someone link a video of the introduction or would that ruin the movie somehow?
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:41 PM on January 19, 2012


Hannibal Lecter's introduction is great, but I think a lot of it is down to Hopkins' physical acting in that first scene

Yeah, agreed. I read somewhere (famous last words) that the pose and posture were Hopkins' own idea (as opposed to the script, which has Lecter lying on his bunk, as that article shows in its excerpt). Does anyone else remember this, or did I make it up? Maybe it was in a commentary track?
posted by theatro at 12:43 PM on January 19, 2012


I know everyone goes for the big reveal, but for my money give me Lawrence Olivier in Henry V.

Here's the worlds most famous Shakespearean actor in a role that was world-wide anticipated, and how does he choose to enter? He walks on, refuses to look at the audience and coughs a bit.

*slow hand clap*
posted by lumpenprole at 12:43 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Good, The Bad and the Ugly has three of the best character intros all in one movie. You could easily argue those intros make the movie.

For brevity it's hard to beat the introduction of William Holden's character in The Wild Bunch.
posted by furtive at 12:43 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm kind of embarrassed I haven't seen The Third Man then... can someone link a video of the introduction or would that ruin the movie somehow?

The mere fact that Harry Lime's appearance has been mentioned is a partial spoiler for the movie. Just go watch it. It's one of the truly great noirs.
posted by mightygodking at 12:43 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Geez...How about Charles Foster Kane????
posted by Thorzdad at 12:44 PM on January 19, 2012


Lime's Introduction - It's kind of a visual thing.
posted by Artw at 12:45 PM on January 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also I hope you like zither music.
posted by Artw at 12:46 PM on January 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


See the movie, Castle. The introduction out of context hurts its import.

On a side note: I wonder what Eli Wallach's reaction was to hearing the title of the movie? Wait a minute, I'm not the good, that's Blondie, I'm not the Bad... oh shit.

Rick Blaine in Casablanca. The characters all talk about him. The introduction finally shows extreme close-ups of his hands, small motions, before we see his face.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:46 PM on January 19, 2012


What's great about the Hannibal Lector entrance is that when we first see him, he's standing there, smiling and waiting, like a man waiting eager to receive guests at his party. Then you remember, that's exactly right and obviously not in the way one would think.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:46 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I should get out of this thread before I am compelled to watch or rewatch every single movie here.

I'll watch The Third Man tonight because like all great things I can stream it!
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:48 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


For it's time (1975), the introduction of Sonny's "wife" in Dog Day Afternoon.
posted by perhapses at 12:52 PM on January 19, 2012


Here's the first view of Lecter, the link should jump to the scene, if not, start at about 12:20.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:53 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Eliminators: the random introduction of an inexplicably magic ninja in the third act. Revolutionary filmmaking. Coined the "ninja in the third act" trope now incorporated, in adumbrated or abstract form, into many mainstream Hollywood productions.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 12:57 PM on January 19, 2012


The opening scene from Spider is one of my favorites, and it manages to introduce us to Spider without a single word.
posted by Gygesringtone at 1:04 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Whelk That Sunset Blvd. moment is one of the great metatheatrical moments in all of film.

On one (fictional) level, there is Norma Desmond, famed star of yesteryear, complaining to the (supposed) overdue animal undertaker, "You there! Why are you so late? Why have you kept me waitlng so long?"

And then on the higher, real level, Gloria Swanon, once the biggest star in Hollywood is now making her comeback after being away from the screen for ten years. Glaring directly into the lends, she snaps at the cinema audience, "You there! Why are you so late? Why have you kept me waitlng so long?"

I've seen this picture dozens of times, and I still gasp at the sheer boldness of that introductory scene.
posted by La Cieca at 1:08 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also: Frank T.J. Mackey.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:10 PM on January 19, 2012


Danny Elfman in Forbidden Zone takes it for me.
posted by mykescipark at 1:12 PM on January 19, 2012


Hey look! It's Ringo!
posted by Iridic at 1:16 PM on January 19, 2012


This of course was legendary when I was a teenager. Stone cold legendary.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:17 PM on January 19, 2012


I don't know if it's one of the greatest intros of all time, but I'm partial to Kakihara's first scene in Ichi the Killer where it shows him blowing smoke from his slashed mouth before you see his face.
posted by dortmunder at 1:20 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


You are all crazy. Best introduction ever: Black Dynamite.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:57 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


How about Frank in Once Upon A Time In The West?
posted by stinkycheese at 2:38 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Omar Sharif in Lawrence of Arabia, riding in from the horizon as barely a pip on the Cinerama screen, obscured by heat, sound of the camel's hooves, Lawrence's guide recognizing Sharif, the shot rings out, the guide falls dead, and Sharif finally arrives in all his splendour.
posted by Capt. Renault at 3:05 PM on January 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Willy Wonka.

Won't somebody think of the kids?
posted by punkfloyd at 3:19 PM on January 19, 2012


Mean Streets: Robert DeNiro in a goofy hat rolling into a bar with a couple of women in tow, hollering into the crowd and generally acting the fool, his slow-motion progress intercut with shots of Harvey Keitel waiting at the far end, sipping his drink, expressing his opinion of DeNiro's character with a single styptic blink, as the opening of "Jumping Jack Flash" plays.
posted by FrauMaschine at 3:40 PM on January 19, 2012


Goddammit. Pretend that YouTube link works.
posted by FrauMaschine at 3:41 PM on January 19, 2012


Pixar understand how to introduce a character. Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story, Mike Wazowski in Monsters Inc (hearing his voice and thinking he's the radio), Incrediboy, Edna Mode and Syndrome in The Incredibles... you can name more, but they know how to give a character an entrance.
posted by Hogshead at 3:41 PM on January 19, 2012


griphus: I'm sorry but the introduction of the Jesus in The Big Lebowski beats the Dude's ten to one.
It's a great scene, but the list seems to be about introductions that rapidly convey a great deal of characterization. Swaggering Purple Jesus turns out to be a character even for the character, though, and that's the whole point of the role, to the extent that there is a point.
posted by Western Infidels at 5:15 PM on January 19, 2012


I like the homage to The Godfather's opening at the beginning of Millers Crossing.

We first see Brad Pitt's character in Snatch going to the bathroom (#2) behind a car.

Introductions are one thing, but I can say without hyperbole that the greatest entrance in motion picture history is Ricky's in Better Off Dead.

For brevity it's hard to beat the introduction of William Holden's character in The Wild Bunch.

His character's introduction in Sunset Boulevard--dead and floating facedown in a swimming pool, while doing the voiceover narration--is pretty good, too.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:16 PM on January 19, 2012


Well, for my personal number 1, I woulda said Unicron. Fucker turned up and ate a planet.
posted by tumid dahlia at 7:07 PM on January 19, 2012


I'd also suggest the character introductions for Trainspotting. Not just the lust-for-life running sequence with Renton having a detached moment when he almost gets plowed by a car, but the part after that when everyone is playing football at night:
The opposition all wear an identical strip (Arsenal), whereas Renton and his friends wear an odd assortment of gear....

Sick Boy commits a sneaky foul and indignantly denies it.

Begbie commits an obvious foul and make no effort to deny it.

Spud, in goal, lets the ball in between his legs.

Tommy kicks the ball as hard as he can.

Renton's litany continues over the action:


RENTON (v.o): Choose leisure wear and matching luggage. Choose a three piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked-up brats you have spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life.

Renton is hit straight in the face by the ball. He lies back on the astroturf. Voice-over continues.


But who would want to do a thing like that?
posted by furtive at 7:25 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


What is The Script Lab anyway? There seems to be no About page, and googling one of their feature writers turned up nothing other than their articles on that site.
posted by philipy at 7:28 PM on January 19, 2012


3 O'clock High. Buddy Revell. End of discussion.
posted by jadayne at 3:59 AM on January 20, 2012


"Call the cobra". Stallone as Marion Cobretti, now there's an introduction... Thanks for the post, this subject will dominate the dinner parties we have lined up for the weekend.
posted by ouke at 6:11 AM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ha! Cobra entered my mind too. His character introduction was so great, it was of course paid homage to years later in The Spongebob Squarepants Movie.
posted by stinkycheese at 7:08 AM on January 20, 2012


Gee, it took them until 1950 to figure out a good way to introduce a character in a movie. Boy, all those directors from the 20s, 30s and 40s must have really been pissed at Billy Wilder when he finally cracked it.
posted by yoink at 10:10 AM on January 20, 2012


Uh, the Ringo Kid's entrance in Stagecoach. I finally "got" John Wayne.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 11:20 PM on January 22, 2012


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