There’ve been hundreds of first-rate bad guys in films over the decades, but most of the time they’ve been cast opposite an equally dominating (or at least equally charismatic) good-person character. It’s relatively rare for snarly shitheads to be the lead figure in a film without a balancing good guy (or good woman) with a similar impact or a similar number of lines and close-ups, etc.
Rip Torn‘s Maury Dann, a selfish, scurvy, low-rent country singer in Daryl Duke‘s Payday (’72), was such a fellow — one of the most deplorable lead characters in motion-picture history.
HE readers are hereby requested to recall other leading nogoodniks. Just remember that they have to be stand-alone leads without any counter-balancing good guys or gals. This means that Paul Newman‘s Hud Bannon doesn’t qualify; ditto Kirk Douglas‘s Chuck Tatum in Ace in the Hole.