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.
- Walter Brennan – My Darling Clementine
- John Wayne – Red River
- Jack Palance – Shane
- Eli Wallach – The Magnificent Seven
- Lee Marvin- The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
- Lee Van Cleef – The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
- 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: