by Rosalie Kicks!, Old Sport
Some of my favorite movie characters are liars. Let’s face it, the truth is a snore. Fabrications are so much more fun. Embellishing makes the mundane interesting. Liars tend to live dangerously and have exciting thrilling adventures that involve car chases! Movie characters whose pants are on fire often are mysterious, suave, and sophisticated. This is probably one of the main reasons that I love them so much. They are the characters that keep you on the edge of your seat in the theater. They are the characters that stay with us and the ones that we tell all our friends about. They are the characters that we live vicariously through and secretly wish we had the confidence to pull off half the schemes they do.
Here’s a round-up of some of my favorite liars in film.
“Ah, people only know what you tell them, Carl.” - Frank Abagnale Jr. in Catch Me If You Can
Moviejawn secret: I saw Sp**lb*rg’s Catch Me If You Can in the theater! Three(!) times. Shhhhhh don’t tell The Projectionist butttttt...I love this damn movie. It has it all: A great story, superb cast, and wonderful imagery. Seriously, how cool is Frank? Is he an airline pilot, a doctor, a lawyer or is he just a silly kid in love? Throughout the movie we witness him jetting off to all sorts of interesting and exciting places. Where’s he going? Somewhere exotic? Leonardo DiCaprio gives a great performance about a guy who cons millions of dollars as a paper hanger aka check frauder.
“Listen, Gondorff! Am I gonna learn the big con or not?” - Henry Gondorff and Johnny Hooker in The Sting
My dad introduced me to this film. After watching it I realized I needed more Paul Newman in my life. Paul and Robert play two con men seeking revenge for the death of one of their close friends. So they set up one of the most elaborate sting operations in order to swindle a slimy banker’s fortune. These two are a couple of smooth criminals.
“And I want to justify your faith in me by being a very good butler, and filling the void created by your late, lamented Pomeranian.” - Godfrey in My Man Godfrey
Before watching this, I think I only had watched William Powell in The Thin Man series. After seeing My Man Godfrey, I started to peruse his filmography. In this film, he plays a butler for a wealthy family. One of the daughters, portrayed by screwball comedy queen Carole Lombard, first encounters Godfrey (Powell) while on a scavenger hunt in which the objective was to find a “forgotten man”. Lombard, offers Godfrey, a vagrant, a job as her family’s butler only to learn that there is more to this cute man that uses “lovely big words”.
“He isn't backwards. He's a scientist.” - Jean Harrington in The Lady Eve
Barbara Stanwyck is definitely one of my favorite actresses and liars. When I started making this list, I found she was one in particular that just kept popping up. There’s Double Indemnity, where she plots to murder her husband in order to collect the insurance monies. Or in Christmas in Connecticut in which she portrays a food writer that has convinced everyone she is the perfect little housewife and hostess. In reality she can’t even fry an egg. However, The Lady Eve is definitely one of my favorite Stanwyck flicks. I watched this recently after discovering Preston Sturges (check out Sullivan’s Travels). In The Lady Eve, Stanwyck plays a card cheat aka card sharp who is out to deceive a brewery heir of millions. Of course she ends up falling for this awkward gent which leads to a rather comedic romp.
“No, I don't know what it is, but if you got 'em, it's a sure bet they belong to somebody else!” - Addie Loggins and Moses Pray in Paper Moon
No list of liars would be complete without these two shysters. Addie may or may not be Moses’ daughter, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is he owes her two hundred dollars and she doesn’t care how he gets that money even if that means lying, cheating, or stealing.
“There was supposed to be ice cream and pizza. What's going on?” - Preston Waters in Blank Check
Guys, this movie is freaking amazing. A kid gets a hold of a blank check and what does he do? Calls himself Macintosh (yes, after the computer) and writes it for one million smackers! Everything is going great: he orders tons of pizza, Art (Rick Ducommun) from The 'Burbs is his chauffeur, he’s got a girl and then uh-oh! The money he is having a blast with actually belongs to GANGSTERS and George Clooney’s cousin (Miguel Ferrer). Here’s another Moviejawn secret: I actually own this movie (and you should too!). After telling a lie to the manager of the video store that I was working at that a customer contacted us and requested it to be ordered, he purchased it. Guess what? I was the customer. Once it came in, I immediately “rented” the film and never returned it. Seriously, this movie is sooooooooooooo great. Watch it.
“Chiiilll... dren! “ - Harry Powell in The Night of The Hunter
Most of the Robert Mitchum films I have seen, I have found him to be rather unsettling. In this particular film he is at his creepiest. While in prison Harry Powell (Mitchum) learns that his cellmate who is destined for death row stole $10,000 and that the money is hidden with his family. After being released, Powell, a supposed religious fanatic rolls into the cellmate’s small town, shacks up with his widow and tries his darnedest to convince her children that it would be in their best interest to tell him where the money is hidden. He is prepared to do anything to find this money, marry the widow, “father” her children and murder.
“Yeah, but I'm saying that TruCoat. You don't get it, you get oxidation problems. It'll cost you a heck of a lot more than $500.” - Jerry Lundegaard in Fargo
Of course no movie list of any sort is complete without naming at least one Coen Brothers film. Jerry is by far one of the greatest and worst liars. He’s so fun to watch, but so nerve wracking all at the same time. You want him to get caught, but are so damn amused watching him. I love this movie.