Things have been awfully heavy around here lately, so I thought I’d toss out a bit of lighter fare. Seems that ABC and People magazine have surveyed a half million people who proclaimed the greatest character in the history of film to be…Forrest Gump. According to the Daily Telegraph of Britain:
Out of more than half a million films made by Hollywood the character portrayed by Tom Hanks ranked top in the biggest ever poll of moviegoers.
Audiences adored Gump as they followed his life from a child to adulthood as he took part in many of the pivotal events of the 1960s and 1970s.
The film was also known for many of Gump’s phrases, such as “My momma always said, “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
While Gump was the runaway winner, British secret agent James Bond was named as the second greatest film character.
Scarlett O’Hara was rated as the third most memorable character.
Anthony Hopkins performance as Hannibal Lecter helped the cannibalistic serial killer rate fourth in the poll.
Indiana Jones, played by Harrison Ford, was named as the fifth most popular character.
Okey dokey. Gump isn’t a character, he’s a device for looking at the 60 and 70s (personally, I found Gary Sinise’s Lieutenant Dan character a lot more interesting). James Bond, on the other hand, is a cartoon character with as much depth as a potato pancake. So since the masses are so obviously wrong, here’s my Top Ten. Feel free to contribute your own in the comments.
1. Charles Foster Kane (played by Orson Welles) of Citizen Kane.
2. Rick Blaine (played by Humphrey Bogart) of Casablanca.
3. Michael Corleone (played by Al Pacino) of The Godfather and The Godfather, Part II.
4. Ellen Ripley (played by Sigourney Weaver) of the Alien series.
5. The Frankenstein monster (played by Boris Karloff) of Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, and Son of Frankenstein
6. Ratso Rizzo (played by Dustin Hoffman) of Midnight Cowboy
7. Terry Malloy (played by Marlon Brando) of On the Waterfront
8. Elwood P. Dowd (played by Jimmy Stewart) of Harvey
9. Atticus Finch (played by Gregory Peck) of To Kill a Mockingbird
10. Norman Bates (played by Anthony Perkins) of Psycho
UPDATE: A couple of things I thought of after putting this up. One is honorable mentions, which should include Hannibal Lector, Samwise Gamgee (played by Sean Astin) of The Lord of the Rings, The Joker (played by Heath Ledger) in The Dark Knight Returns, George Patton (played by George C. Scott) of Patton, Hans Beckert (played by Peter Lorre) of M, Guido Orefice (played by Roberto Benigni) of Life is Beautiful, Marie “Slim” Browning (played by Lauren Bacall) of To Have and Have Not, Frank McCloud (played by Humphrey Bogart) of Key Largo, Kasper Gutman (played by Sidney Greenstreet) of The Maltese Falcon, Margo Channing (played by Bette Davis) of All About Eve, Roger Thornhill (played by Cary Grant) of North by Northwest, and Travis Bickle (played by Robert De Niro) of Taxi Driver.
The other is the “greatest” is a flabby term. Think of it in terms of the character with the most psychological or spiritual depth, interior strength, multi-facetedness, or something like that.