Famous Classic Movie Villains

Posted on 27 Jan 00:00


Imagine what would become of the world if there were no superheroes or valiant protagonists to protect us from super villains.  On the other hand imagine what would become of the world if the super villains didn't exist, or if the valiant protagonist didn't have anyone to fight against. No doubt, the whole world would be a big bore.  In fact, it is often the super villain that makes movies memorable and exciting!

All the classic films or out of print DVD’s that you have come to love for the protagonist roles of the lead characters, are only possible because these villains exist. Though they are often portrayed as the bad guys in their movies, these classic films villains are, in many cases, normal people like you and me. In fact, many of these popular villain actors can't hurt a fly in the real world and are cool people to be around. But they are brave enough to assume roles that label them as evil perpetrators in the eyes of the audience.

Let's examine some popular movie villains who have inspired many of the rare movies that we have come to love today.

  1. Mrs. Danvers - Rebecca (1940)

Mrs. Danver is the main villain or better still the only villain in the 1938 novel Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier. Mrs. Danver and her husband served under Maxim" de Winter, a wealthy Maximillian, who recently lost his wife, Rebecca. When Rebecca was still alive, Mrs. Danver served under her as a maid, and she grew up in Mr. de Winter’s manor, taking care of Rebecca’s affairs. Mrs. Danver’s loyalty to her deceased mistress and benefactor made her persecute Mr. de Winter’s new wife. She tries to drive a wedge between Mr. de Winter and his new bride, believing that the new Mrs. de Winter wants to "take Rebecca's place." Unbeknownst to her, the two women never met, and have nothing in common. She manages to convince the new Mrs. de Winter to wear Rebecca's old dress to a ball, knowing that how it would affect Mr. de Winter. However, she gets the shock of her life when she finds out that Rebecca, while still alive, was having an affair with Mr. Danvers. The story ends with Mr. de Winter’s manor in flames.

  1. Baby Jane Hudson - What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

'What Ever happened To Baby Jane?' is a 1960 novel, by the famous novelist, Henry Farrell. The story centers on Baby Jane Hudson, the main villain in the novel. In the 1962 movie adaptation, the character of Baby Jane Hudson was portrayed by Bette Davis, and she had a sister, Blanche (Joan Crawford). Baby Jane Hudson is portrayed in the movie as her father’s favorite while her sister Blanche had the affections of their mother. Unfortunately for Baby Jane Hudson, their parents sent them (her and her sister) to live with their aunt in Hollywood. The two women grow up on the Hollywood scene. Blanche becomes a celebrated actress, while Jane gets the leftover jobs from her sister’s contract. This reality drives Jane into a rage, and she humiliates her sister in front of her friends and colleagues. Blanche gets into a car accident and is paralyzed from the waist down, ando for the next 30 years Jane had to care for her, will boiling with resentment and contempt.

  1. Phyllis Dietrichson - Double Indemnity (1944)

The movie was based on the James M. Cain's 1943 novel of the same title, and this particular adaptation of the movie was directed by Billy Wilder. The movie, tells the story of a successful insurance salesman, Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray ) in a series of flashbacks. The story starts with Neff visiting the house of a client for a routine house call, but ends up flirting with the client’s wife (the villain of the movie), Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck). Using her female wiles on Neff, Phyllis manages to convince him to devise a plan that will make her husband’s imminent death seem like an accident in order that she can collect the money attached to the double indemnity, that would be triggered by her husband's death. Neff tricks Mr. Dietrichson and gets him to sign the policy papers unbeknownst to him that he was signing his death warrant. They succeeded in making the murder appear to be a suicide until Barton Keyes, a highly suspicious claims adjuster Edward G. Robinson, comes along.

  1. Iselin - The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

With regards to movie villains, Mrs. Islen is highly reverenced. Mrs. Iselin, was portrayed by renowned actress Angela Lansbury. She orders her husband around, forcing him to do her bidding by spreading fake rumors about Communist perpetrators in the US government ranks.  Her end game is to use her son (Laurence Harvey) to assassinate the US president. 

  1. HAL 9000 - 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

The villain in this movie is HAL 9000 (voiced by Douglas Rain), a sentient computer with zero tolerance for humanity. His lack of care for humanity results from a subtle malfunction of its systems. Everything changes when astronauts David Bowman and Frank Poole try to shut it down by removing HAL's cognitive circuits. They try to hide their intent from the machine by using their lips to form words without producing a sound. But unknown to them, HAL can read their lips and knows their intentions. So Hal kills Poole using one of the Discovery's EVA pods as a weapon and mayhem ensues.

  1. Frank - Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

The villain in this classic film is Frank (Henry Fonda). Frank is a ruthless, self-centered, and aggressive mercenary. He is employed by a railroad magnate, Morton ( Gabriele Ferzetti) to drive the current occupant, McBain (Frank Wolff), off of the land that he is interested in acquiring. However, Frank thinks it best to kill McBain and his entire family. Also, he leaves shreds of evidence at the scene to frame a rival gang, led by Cheyenne (Jason Robards) for the crime. Meanwhile, a mysterious gunslinger with a score to settle (Charles Bronson) and McBain's new wife, Jill (Claudia Cardinale), arrive in town. This is one of Fonda's most menacing performances ever!

  1. Hannibal Lecter - The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) is a crafty, enigmatic, intelligent, cannibalistic, and psychopathic serial killer in this 1991 classic movie, The Silence of the Lambs. This movie was directed by Jonathan Demme based on Thomas Harris’s 1988 novel, Lecter, nicknamed Chesapeake Ripper (because of his unique killer methods), was incarcerated in this particular adaptation. However, when FBI trainee Clarice Starling seek Lecter's help in a serial murder case by a psychopathic killer, nicknamed Buffalo Bill, he asks to be moved from his present asylum as payment for his consultation services. Later, Lecter kills his guard and escapes from the asylum. Starling with the help of Lecter uncovered the true identity of Buffalo Bill.

      8.  Hans Gruber - Die Hard (1988)

Last, but not least, Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) is the ultimate villain.  Hans Gruber is an internationally-feared German terrorist, the main antagonist in Die Hard and a posthumous antagonist in Die Hard with a Vengeance. He is the mastermind behind the Nakatomi Plaza heist, where he uses a gang of heavily-armed terrorists to take over the company's Christmas party and attempt to steal $640 million in negotiable bearer bank bonds inside the building's vault. Hans disguised this as a terrorist incident to distract the police from their robbery. It is implied that Hans is far more dangerous than he appears. He was most likely expelled from the Volksfrei movement for being too extreme. Eerily,  Hans always maintains his calm person and has no problem killing innocent people to promote his cause. Hans is extremely cold and unpredictable; far more so than any of the other terrorists in the film series. This movie showcases the best of both worlds, an exceptional protagonist, John McClane (Bruce Willis), and one of the best antagonist in movie history, Hans Gruber. 


What makes a villain a villain? Possibly, their ability to make other people’s lives miserable. Villains or not, these movie characters have made their mark on the world stage with their craftiness and skill in making other people’s lives a living hell. Hollywood and the entire world would forever remain grateful to the beautiful souls who executed the villain roles in these classic movies, making them true masterpieces of the Hollywood.

Movie Buffs Forever stocks classic DVD’s, old movies, rare movies, as well as out of print DVD's from the 1950s to the early 2000s. Browse our full collection of DVDs and old classic movies.