Any movie villain can be diseased and malicious, but the legendary high-style baddies that live on for decades have all been no-laugh funny. They’re required to be deranged and demonic, of course, but they always deliver their lines with a certain flourish that says “if you don’t want to laugh or chuckle, fine…but I’m double-tracking all the same.”
Line deliveries by no-laugh-funny villains aren’t “dryly funny” or “offhandedly funny,” but contemplatively funny. They don’t mouth their lines with any humorous English, in other words, but their characters are amusingly skewed — darkly, weirdly so — when you recall them, and they always raise a smile at odd moments.
I’ve quietly laughed longer and harder at Jack Nicholson‘s Jack Torrance in The Shining over the years than at any Jim Carrey or Seth Rogen or Adam Sandler performance. Ditto Ben Kingsley‘s Don Logan in Sexy Beast, Robert Mitchum‘s preacher in Night of the Hunter, Al Pacino‘s Tony Montana in Scarface, William Hurt‘s wackazoid gangster in A History of Violence, Jeremy Irons in Dead Ringers, etc.
Which reminds me that Universal Home Video still hasn’t announced a date for their inevitable Scarface Bluray. They’ve milked this 1983 Brian DePalma film with how many DVD versions? Time for the big step-up.
MB: “I told him it didn’t make any sense, clippin’ you that way. He fucked up.”
TM: “You fucked up too, Mel.”
MB: “Don’t go too far, Tony.”