Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert examine movie villains: why they are important to the success of films, how they've changed over the decades and which are the best of all time.


Episode cast overview:
Himself - Host
Himself - Host


Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert examine movie villains. Siskel begins by spotlighting some recent movie villains, who are often more sophisticated and charming than the heroes. Ebert takes a look at the entire history of movie villains from The Great Train Robbery (1903) to Chinatown (1974). Next, Ebert looks at how political correctness influences who the villains are. The American Indians, the Japanese, the Vietnamese and the Russians have always been safe villains, but that has changed or is changing. Eternal villains include Nazis, Arabs, political assassins and, safest of all, those of unspecific nationality. What makes a good villain? They should be intelligent, well-mannered and enjoy being evil. Charming, funny and weird are also good qualities. The critics also discuss antiheroes, who provide a means of questioning who the bad guys really are. Women villains were once ugly (e.g. Lotte Lenya in From Russia with Love (1963)); now they're bombshells like Sharon Stone in Basic ... Written by J. Spurlin

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Release Date:

1995 (USA)  »

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"Villians: So Bad, They're Good" is one of the great special episodes of "Siskel & Ebert"
26 August 2010 | by (Baton Rouge, La.) – See all my reviews

This was one of several special episodes Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert did during the lifetime of their show that focused on a certain theme of which this one was devoted to the great villains of the movies. Besides mentioning many of the ones that had a big impact like Norman Bates from Psycho or the Glenn Close character Alex Forrest from Fatal Attraction, they also mention how certain nationalities like the American Indian in The Searchers or Japanese soldier in The Bridge on the River Kwai could easily be villains during the Cold War era and before but because of Political Correctness today are more likely portrayed as victims like the former in Dances with Wolves and the U.S-born descendants of the latter in Come See the Paradise. Gene and Roger also discuss how villains then were bad just because when today, there's some explanation of how they got that way or that they were dirty clothed and messy in the olden days instead of more slickly dressed and with a smooth demeanor nowadays. After one more discussion of why many female villains today are so hot instead of ugly like Rosa Klebb in From Russia with Love, they each pick their favorite villain: For Gene, it's the HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. For Roger, it's Harry Lime from The Third Man. Very enjoyable show from the two and if you want to see the whole thing, it's right now on YouTube.

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