Greatest Film Characters
Greatest Film Characters
of All-Time


Introduction



Greatest Film Characters of All-Time
(alphabetical, by character name)
Intro | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q-R | S | T | U-V | W | X-Z

Greatest Movie Characters: Criteria for Selection

What are the greatest or most memorable film roles or characters in the history of cinema? What criteria have been used to choose from the thousands of candidates? These selections are:
  • unique, fully-realized character roles that made a strong cultural impact in feature films (either live-action or animated)
  • award-winning, enduring, multi-dimensional and memorable characterizations
  • iconic individuals highlighted with notable characteristics (often instantly recognizable), or with identifiable phrases or lines of dialogue and behaviors
  • classic roles from both Hollywood's Golden Era and more recent roles, and some roles from non-English language films
  • sometimes a pair or group of characters who often appeared in a long-running film series or franchise
  • equally representative of heroes, anti-heroes, villains, heroines, super-heroes, killers, saints, as well as historical figures (non-fiction) and fictional individuals, and even a few monsters or creatures
  • inclusive of a wide range of genres (biopics, horror, westerns, action, war, comedy, etc.)

Some of these great character roles were:

  • Career-making (e.g., Dorothy (Judy Garland) in The Wizard of Oz (1939), Tom Powers (James Cagney) in Public Enemy (1931), Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn) in Roman Holiday (1953), and Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) in The Graduate (1967))
  • Inspired casting choices that brought Oscar-winning performances (e.g., Marty (Ernest Borgnine) in Marty (1955), Cesira (Sophia Loren) in Two Women (1960, It.), Annie Hall (Diane Keaton) in Annie Hall (1977), and Gen. Patton (George C. Scott) in Patton (1970))
  • Responsible for typecasting an actor forever (e.g., Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi) in Dracula (1931), or Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) in Psycho (1960))
  • Derived from the lives of real-life characters (e.g., T. E. Lawrence (Peter O'Toole) in Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Sir William Wallace (Mel Gibson) in Braveheart (1995))
  • Roles that summed up entire careers (e.g., Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) in The Searchers (1956), Margo Channing (Bette Davis) in All About Eve (1950))
  • Responsible for jump-starting a sagging or failing career (e.g., Mildred Pierce (Joan Crawford) in Mildred Pierce (1945), Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn) in The Philadelphia Story (1940))
  • Pairings or teamings of two performers who went on to repeat their roles (e.g., Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell and Myrna Loy) in The Thin Man films, or Astaire/Rogers in their many films together)
  • Often not the performers' best role or even very well-acted (e.g., The Sheik (Rudolph Valentino) in The Sheik (1925), Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller) in the Tarzan films, the Bandit (Burt Reynolds) in Smokey and the Bandit (1977), and Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts) in Pretty Woman (1990))

Filmsite doesn't believe in ranking one character against another, so they are organized here alphabetically by character name. Also, the list has more than a select number, such as 100, since this list should be inclusive, not exclusionary.

Additionally Recommended:

Note: The films that are marked with a yellow star are the films that "The Greatest Films" site has selected as the 100 Greatest Films

Greatest Film Characters of All-Time
(alphabetical, by character name)
Intro | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q-R | S | T | U-V | W | X-Z




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