Oh, The Dastardly Villain … by Charlene Sands

Before we get into the world of villains, desperados and scoundrels, I’d like to say how happy I am to be rejoining the Fillies at Petticoat Junction!  Thank you for having me back.   As usual, life has a way of dictating to you, rather than the other way around – I find I’m destined (gratefully so) to write strong hunky western heroes set in small towns!  It’s where I belong and where I’m most comfortable.  

Now on to the VILLAIN:

When I picture a villain, the cliché image comes to mind – a moustache-twirling, evil-eyed man wearing a sinister smirk.  

Wikipedia describes a villain this way:

A villain (also known in film and literature as the “bad guy”, “black hat“, or “heavy”) is an “evil” character in a story, whether a historical narrative or, especially, a work of fiction. The villain usually is the antagonist, the character who tends to have a negative effect on other characters. A female villain is sometimes called a villainess (often to differentiate her from a male villain). Random House Unabridged Dictionary defines villain as “a cruelly malicious person who is involved in or devoted to wickedness or crime; scoundrel; or a character in a, novel, or the like, who constitutes an important evil agency in the plot.”

In this quote by film critic, Roger Ebert, we see how much importance he places on villainy. “Each film is only as good as its villain. Since the heroes and the gimmicks tend to repeat from film to film, only a great villain can transform a good try into a triumph.”

In westerns, often the villain is the greedy land baron, the corrupt sheriff or the wicked stepfather.  Villains give a good story, conflict.  They can be the diverse opposite of the hero.  A good villain makes the hero, “heroic.”  

 I’ve certainly written my share of villains, who were evil and sometimes, murderers.  I have written villainesses as well and by far, they are the most fun to write.  But sometimes, a villain isn’t all that evil. Sometimes, they are merely, selfish, uncouth and greedy.  Not nice traits, to be sure, but those characteristic are just bad enough to make a story truly entertaining.  I really believe the success of my last Harlequin Desire, Carrying the Rancher’s Heir, which spent two weeks on the USA Today Bestseller List and 3 weeks on the Borders Top Ten List had a great deal to do with the sworn enemy theme.  Yes, it was a sexy story with an intriguing hero and heroine, but there was a villain that just couldn’t be brought down and his true appeal, to me, was that he really believed he was protecting his daughter, Callie, (heroine) the way any father would.   On one level readers could relate to him.  He was believable in his dastardly ways.   

Thank you Hawk Sullivan!

Sometimes a villain isn’t so much a person, per se, but a reputation or occurrence the hero or heroine has to live down.  That’s the case in my newly released Kindle romance, Smooth-Talking the Hometown Girl.  Kyle Warren comes back to his hometown of Bentley, Arizona to settle his father’s estate.  While there, he learns some things about his “Pop” but even more things about himself.  Wealthy and successful now, Kyle fights to change one woman’s opinion of him and debunk her wary perception about him, even if he has to be slightly devious to do it. 

I’ll challenge you to guess which of these Great Villains of the Silver Screen, holds the #1 Spot. 

The Joker –  Batman

Darth Vader – The Empire Strikes Back

Norman Bates – Psycho

Hannibal Lecter – Silence of the Lambs

Wicked Witch of the West – The Wizard of Oz

Mr. Potter – It’s a Wonderful Life

Nurse Ratched – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Did you guess?  Hang on – I’ll tell you at the end of this blog…

According to AMC these are the Top Seven Western Villains… some might surprise you.

  1. Walter Brennan  – My Darling Clementine
  2.  John Wayne – Red River
  3. Jack Palance – Shane
  4. Eli Wallach – The Magnificent Seven
  5. Lee Marvin- The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
  6. Lee Van Cleef – The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
  7. Richard Boone – Hombre  

My favorite villain(ess) from a movie is the character Kathy Bates played in Misery.  She scared the stuffing out of me.  My Western villain has to be, more recently, Russell Crowe, in 3:10 to Yuma.  So what famous villain from a novel or movie scares you the most? Who’s your favorite dastardly scoundrel and do you secretly love to hate them?  Did you guess right?  Post a comment and you’ll be entered into a RANDOM drawing for a $10 Amazon Gift Card.  

#1 Villain of the Silver Screen:

Hannibal Lecter



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43 thoughts on “Oh, The Dastardly Villain … by Charlene Sands”

  1. Hi Char,
    I’m up late tonight so I’m going to go ahead and post my comment since tomorrow is going to be hectic for me. Hannibal Lecter is so scary to me. I can’t watch that movie. I didn’t even TRY to read the book, although it’s my business partner’s FAVORITE BOOK of all time, I think. I think the villains that are the scariest are those that SEEM to be normal people and feel that they are doing the things they do for the right reasons–as you say, they don’t set out to be evil. How can you reason with someone who feels they are on the side of right? Western villains–I’m very prejudiced. Shane and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance are my favorite “oldies”–Jack Palance and Lee Marvin were both just excellent. But I also loved Russell Crowe in 3:10 to Yuma. He was so multi-faceted, so interesting. Great post on villains. They are one of my favorite subjects.
    Cheryl P.

  2. Jack Palance and Lee Marvin have to be among my favorite villians. I have never seen Hannibal Lecter because just the commercials on TV scared me half to death. Perhaps it is another movie that I could watch with my eyes shut. Yep scary movies do that to me. I tend to shut my eyes during the scary parts and I find him to be very scary.

  3. My votes go to Charles Boyer as husband Gregory Anton in Gaslight, with, alas, Angela Lansbury as maid Nancy. Somehow, messing with someone’s mind seems to me more insidious than outright violence.

  4. Hannibal was definitely scary.

    I actually think the Emperor was worse than Darth Vader.

    My villain would be Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction.

  5. Hannibal had my vote even before I got to the end Charlene. And the Kathy Bates character made KB one of my favorite actresses.
    Congratulations on the success of your new Desire. And thanks for a fun blog.

  6. Hi Cheryl P – I agree with you that Lee Marvin is classic in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. It’s a great film. I’ve only seen Shane once, so the villain doesn’t stick out in my mind. And yes, Russell Crowe was so intriguing. He was almost heroic, in his villany… I think that’s why I liked him so much. Glad you enjoyed the blog!

  7. HI Connie – Too funny. I shut my eyes too and I was never able to go to a thriller when I was younger. I’d have nightmares. I only watched Silence of the Lambs once, it was enough for me.

  8. Liz – I’ve never seen Gaslight…don’t know the premise, but I believe you!! Someone who’s mind is whacko was Norman Bates in Psycho. And he was scary times ten!

  9. Hi Laurie -You’re right, the first time I laid eyes on the Emperor, I got chills. But I’ve seen the movie so many times now, neither one of the Star Wars villains scare me. How can Darth scare anyone, when he’s making commercials and is part of a Disney ride?

    Glenn Close – another one, where the mind is whacko!

  10. Hi Elizabeth — Kathy Bates was a great villainess. Who didn’t sympathize with James Caan in that movie!! Can’t wait to see your Desire on the bookshelf! When does it come out?

  11. Hi Charlene! It’s great to have you back. Loved this post…I’ve got a strong villain in my October 2011 LIH. I had the *best* time writing him.

    I didn’t pick Hannibal Lecter from the AMC list. I went with the Joker from Batman, but Hannibal is horrifically scary. Anytime the villain is insane, you never know what he’ll do. You just know it’ll be more terrible than you can imagine.

  12. Hi Vicki – Thanks for the welcome back! It’s nice to be here. I know, writing villains can be fun – you get to be mean! And writing western historical villains are even better, I think. Good luck with you October book!!

  13. I still get chills just thinking about the movie Psycho,Norman Bates-my brother scared me half to death one night,while I was taking a shower,I was 12-13 have a hardtime taking a shower late at night.I can’t remember the actress’s name who after Beyounce in that movie-I’m blank this morning anyways it was scary.

  14. Hi Carole – Hah! I know…I only saw that movie once. I don’t like to scare myself!!
    And I was pretty young too when I saw it. I couldn’t look at that actor again as any other character for all of his life.

  15. Hey, Charlene. Congrats on the fabulous sales for Carrying the Rancher’s Heir! You are so right about villains being necessary to make our heroes heroic. Otherwise they’d just be ordinary.

    Creepy villains make me squirm and the insane ones terrify me, so my favorite ones are the ones with cutting sarcastic wit. They are usually of the selfish, greedy variety but have the best one liners. All those things you secretly wish you could say but good manners keep you from it. I wrote one like that once, and I think I had a little too much fun living without the filter when I put myself into his point of view.

    Thanks for the fun post! And great to have you back in the corral!

  16. Hi Charlene. I think Hannibal Lector is extremely scary. It is the intelligent villians who scare me the most.

  17. Hi Karen W – thanks for welcome! I like your description “living without the filter”. It IS fun to do. And they do get the best one-liners. Great point! 🙂

  18. Awesome blog, Charlene! I couldn’t take a shower if nobody else was home, until the kids went off to college and I had to LOL. That was the power of Norman Bates. And Heath Ledger as The Joker was electrifying.

    That said, I recently made hubby watch one of my old time favorites, the terrifying Night of the Hunter with Robert Mitchum. He gives me goosebumps just thinking about his villainy. oxox

  19. There are a lot of film villians but the one that scared me was Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Then there was Freddie Krueger and Chuckie.
    For the women, Kathy Bates and a hammer….wow and any movie that Joan Crawford was in sheplayed the sly villianess.

  20. Oh it has got be Anthony Hopkins for sure in Silence of the Lambs..
    Charlene, I just finsished reading Carring the Rancher’s Heir… let me say it was a great read..I can’t wait to read about the other two brothers… I hope…

  21. When I was a pre-teen, my parents took me to see the black and white movie—-Arsenic and Old Lace.This was in a theater! (I’m old) I sat between them and I was so scared I took my dad’s hat and had it in front of my face most of the movie. It wasn’t until many, many years later and I watched it on TV and laughed so much at it. Great movie. Peter Lorie was my scary actor, then.

  22. Hi Kathleen – You are so sweet to mention that. And Yes, Clayton Worth’s story is coming out in Nov/Dec and I’m working on Jackson’s story now, too. In April, I’ll have a western taking us back to 1880’s and how the Worth Ranch got started with Chance Worth’s story. Lots of Worth stories to come! 🙂

  23. No way. The scariest villain (villainess) ever – Cruella DeVil! She wanted to make a coat out of puppies!!! Inherently evil! LOL! I seriously couldn’t watch that movie (yes, the Disney animated version) until I was a teenager… It freaked me out as a kid!

    Congrats on your book! 🙂

  24. Hi Stephanie – thanks for the congrats. Oh, wow, Doesn’t Cruela DeVil, have the BEST villain name? I mean, cruel and devil all in one!
    She was pretty scary when I saw her as a kid. 🙂

  25. Welcome back Charlene. I could not agree with you more about Kathy Bates on the movie Misery. She scared me to death. So she is my favorite villain(ess). Now for my favorite villian would have to be Larry Hagman who played JR Ewing on Dallas. On the guess, no I did not guess right I picked Norman Bates.

    I love your books and the cover is just awesome

    Walk in harmony,

  26. John Wayne? Oh, my poor bruised heart. I can’t stand it.

    Favorite villain? Cruella Deville maybe? The stepmother in Cindella?

    Why did Disney do so many evil women. Mother issues perhaps??? 🙂

    My favorite…still thinking. I loved Alan Rickman in Quigley Down Under, Die Hard and Robin Hood with Kevin Costner. He plays a terrific multi-faceted villain who is so fun to watch you just can’t hardly hate him.

    Gene Hackman in The Unforgiven. That guy can play anyone.

    In Silverado, Jeff Goldblum was evil and fun, and Brian Dennehy was a great bad guy.

  27. Great post Charlene. I think Hannibal Lecter would have to be the worse villin to hit the big screen. Creepy if I have to say so myself. I did enjoy the movie Silence of the Lamb but it creeps me out just to think about it.

  28. I have read quite a few good villains… love trying to figure out who the bad guy is… oh and movies…wow… so many! Not so much a horror fan, but some characters definitely stand out as really really villainous… I like the characters that keep you guessing… they do not get identified until towards the end… 😀

  29. To me, the best villian was Darth Vader. He could choke people to death just by raising his hand!

    Some of my other favorite villians were Tom Cruise as LeStat in “Interview with the Vampire;” Kay Chancellor on the soap opera “The Young and the Restless;” and James Steinbeck from the soap “As the World Turns.” Oh, how could I forget Yule Brenner as Pharoah in The Ten Commandments.

    Favorite Villianess of all time, Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford in “Mommie Dearest.” Those eyebrows, that crazed look, the raised arm with the hanger…. *shiver* Still creeps me out.

  30. Welcome back Charlene!
    As far as villains go I don’t think you can beat Javier’s Bardem’s portrayal of Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men, which won him an Oscar.


  31. Welcome back, Charlene! So glad you are back !

    Favorite villains: Norman Bates, Hannibel Lecter

    Favorite lady villains: Kathy Bates, Ursula (Little
    Mermaid), Cruella DeVille.

    Pat Cochran

  32. Hi Mary – I know, I was SURPRISED to see John Wayne on that list too. He is the ultimate good guy!!

    Thanks for the welcome back!

    And you brought up some really good villains that we haven’t talked about today. You’re right, Disney does lots of evil women…why is that? 🙂

  33. Hi Pat – Thanks for the welcome back. 🙂

    Waving hello to Estella too!! 🙂

    Hi BrooklynShoeBabe – so great that you mentioned soap opera villains. We can add Stefano Demeria from Days of Our Lives too. (except I happen to know he’s a really, really nice person) but he is dastardly on the soap!! 🙂

  34. Hi Margaret – thanks for the welcome back too!! I have to admit, that movie looked so dark, I never wanted to see it. I heard it was gruesome, so I BELIEVE YOU!! 🙂

  35. Oh yessssss! I picked Hannibel Lecter for sure. Although the original silent version Dracula always turned my blood cold from when I was a little girl.Nosferatu!

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