Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tuesday Top Ten: Witches

Tuesday Top Ten is back ~ A weekly series for the list lover in you and the list maker in me

I have done nothing to get myself in the proper Halloween spirit this year. No costume contemplation, pumpkin purchases, candycorn chomping, demonic deeds --nothing. You got plenty of bloodsuckers last year, so let's stir some spellcasters into the top ten spot

Top Ten Witches

This list is dedicated to Billie Burke's pill popping Glinda (pink bubbles are not a natural method of travel -even for witches. She's supplementing) and Margaret Hamilton's eternally cackling Wicked Witch of the West. They set the good witch/bad witch mold in The Wizard of Oz (1939) and they've never been surpassed. Rest in peace my pretties...

10 "Gil" (Kim Novak) in Bell Book and Candle (1958)
I haven't seen this in so long but I loved it as a wee tyke. Seen it lately? Does it hold up?

09 "Lamia" (La Pfeiffer) in Stardust (2007)
Defying the Oz rule that only bad witches are ugly, this old crone is actually as beautiful as Michelle Pfeiffer once you get the dumb CGI scowls and excessive latex out of the way. Pfeiffer's BIG performance may be a thing of cartoon beauty but Lamia's is only skin deep: unless you're Hannibal Lecter you probably don't see the pretty in eating hearts and entrails. [prev Stardust posts]

08 "Grand High Witch" (Angelica Huston) in The Witches
From my review: "When Huston first arrives in the film, outside of the hotel where the bulk of the film's actions takes place, she's greeted with a sudden swelling of the film's score. It's entirely redundant. It's not like you could ever miss Angelica Huston's unconventional and powerful screen presence. From her very first lines and tunnel visioned haughtiness its clear that she's having a ball with the role, and making very specific imaginative choices. She zeroes in on "the most evil woman in creation" tag and wears it with pride. Not for this fearless actress a glimmer of humanity, then... "

07 "The Scarlet Witch" in The Avengers
I'm glad this comic book heroine hasn't been moviefied yet. I don't think she'd adapt well: they'd screw up either the luscious curls, the silver fox twin brother, her android loving ways, and especially her "hex" powers --I'm more than certain they would visualize her unpredictable chaos magic as bursts of colored CGI energy balls and who needs any more of those? (see also #10 and #3, sigh)

06 "Alexandra, Jane and Sukie" (Cher, Sarandon, & Pfeiffer) in The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
In this case a picture is worth a 1,000 1,000,000 words

photo by Richard Corman -a gift to actressexuals everywhere

05 "Madame Mim" in The Sword and the Stone (1963)
Her magical duel with Merlin --they try various animals on for size-- is the best part of a Disney movie that almost no one discusses.

4 "Witch" (Bernadette Peters) in Into the Woods
"It's the last midnight / It's the last verse / Now, before it's past midnight / I'm leaving you my last curse" Possibly my favorite stage musical of all time. Vanessa Williams was also pretty good in this role in a recent revival...they added a funny booty shaking beat to her reemergence as a beautiful witch and boy did she sell her strut across the stage. As Sondheim's arguably most commercial endeavor, I've always wondered why Into the Woods isn't the one to make it to the movies. Any theories?

03 "Willow Rosenberg" (Alyson Hannigan) in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)
You may have noticed that it's so hard for me to get through any topic without mentioning Buffy... damn Joss Whedon for usurping so much of my hippocampus.

02 "Samantha" (Elizabeth Montgomery) in Bewitched (1964-1972)
No matter how hard I try I can never make my nose wiggle from side to side but even had I mastered that impressive skill, who would have provided the tinkling sound effect? And what good is nose wiggling without it?

P.S. Elizabeth Montgomery
is a babe

01 "Maleficent" in Sleeping Beauty (1959)
You sent her an invitation to your latest party, right? Please tell me you sent her an invitation.


if you haven't had enough witchy women, please see the awesome Eartha Kitt "I Want to Be Evil" video in the sidebar. meow

Season 1 of Tuesday Top Ten (for new readers)
Alexander(s) The Great
-from Desplat to Xander
The Three Amigos
-Del Toro, Cuaron, Innaritu
Best of 2006
Marie Antoinette to The Departed
Oscar Talking Points
-from Winslet's record breaking to
Dreamgirls snub
Christian Bale -From
Newsies to American Psycho
Horseplay -From Equus to National Velvet
Celebrity Couples -From Madonna & Guy to Brangelina
Bald Heads -From Channing Tatum to Professor X
Art in Movies -From "David" to some girl with the pearl earring
Political Women "Pick Flick!" or reelect Laura Roslyn
Holly Hunter -my favorite Georgian ~take that Julia!
Tarantino Performances -From Harvey to Uma
Prosthetic Appendages -beer filled legs, Dirk's Diggler

Loveable Cads -from Rhett to 'Bond, James Bond'
Funny Girls from Jame Lee Curtis to Reese Witherspoon

Lesley Ann Warren -embarrassing things I might have said had I met her...
Box Office Bizarre -the sad reality vs. the paradisical imagined
Men of Summer -From Willis to Damon
Women of Summer -From Hathaway to Pfeiffer
Catwoman -Michelle's greatest role? meow
PTA Performances from Fiona Apple to "Rollergirl"
Pixar -What's your 'toon preference?
Top Ten of 2007 (so far) From
Grindhouse to Once
Oscar Nominationless -The Stars Oscar Refuses to Love
Fall Film Preview -anticipation for "prestige" season
Future Biopics -From Monty to Liza
H.S. I Love You -an unexpected love letter


Steven said...

Thank you for including the Witch from Into the Woods, Willow, and Maleficent on your list. I mean, how could you not? Clearly, three of the badassiest witches out there.


c.p. iñor said...

Love The Witches of Eastwick and Madame Mim.

But Maleficent and Willow are of course my top 2.

Good Job Nathaniel!

Brian Darr said...

I saw Eartha Kitt perform that song live last year. The sexiest 80-year-old imaginable.

Not strictly a witch, but a favorite cinematic woman-with-supernatural powers is the medium in Rashomon.

J.J. said...

More applause for your inclusion of Sondheim's Witch and Disney's Maleficent (whom I pondered here).

Although I'd put the witches of Hocus Pocus into the top 10 immediately. Love them.

P.S. Into the Woods is also my favorite stage musical, but it would die onscreen. Its components are commercial (fairy tales and fables) but the way they are spun together lyrically and thematically calls only for the stage. Almost anything else in the Sondheim canon is a better candidate for screen adaptation.

Anonymous said...

Where's URSULA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Neel Mehta said...

Ursula is an octopus woman.

And well played, Jack Nicholson. Well played.

ant said...

I love the Top Ten! Welcome back Top Ten! And what a top ten to come back with. This one was awesome. Very well played. 1) Bell Book and Candle holds up for the most part. http://antfromnaptown.blogspot.com/2007/04/bell-book-and-candle.html 2) I would add the 7th Victim, Lemora, and I Married a Witch. Veronica Lake in I Married a Witch is gorgeous. Gives Kim Novak a run for her money.

mB said...

Another great list: who doesn't love Maleficent - such a gay witch, no wonder it was the inspiration for another Queer villain come the 1990s (Jafar).

Deborah said...

Bell, Book, and Candle indeed holds up, and Kim Novak is enchanting.

But my very favorite witch is the Wicked Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. She is magnficent in every way. And what I love best about her is she embodies both of the stereotypes of the witch: She is the sexy, powerful vamp (in Queen guise) and the hideous hag (in Old Woman guise). It's two, two, two witches in one!

NicksFlickPicks said...

Is there any truth to the story that Maddox Jolie was watching Sleeping Beauty during a dinner party and Maleficent came on and he pointed to her and said, "Mommy!" I heard that once. And there is something of a resemblance.

NicksFlickPicks said...

And by, "Is there any truth to that story?" I suppose I mean, "Did anyone else hear this totally unverifiable story in any kind of credible context?"

Anonymous said...

Re: the nose twitch... I can do it and you're right, without the sound effect it's a pretty useless trick. In fact I practiced so much to be able to do it as a child (okay, adult, don't judge me) that now it's a habit and I get weird looks from time to time cause I'm wiggling unaware.

Also, Maleficent is and will always be #1.

Anonymous said...

OMG B!TCH! No Granny Weatherwax?

Wouldn't it be awesome if, in twenty years, someone made a movie paralleling the lives of Margaret Hamilton and Billie Burke post-Wizard of Oz with Margie played by Eva Amurri and Billie played by Juno Temple?

Anonymous said...

yay madame mim! she's one of my fave disney characters.

adam k. said...

Um, sorry, but Anjelica Huston's cooler than Melificent. Totally.

And what is the Hugh Jackman picture (by the old top ten posts) about? I don't see him referenced in any of them. But I didn't look too hard.


he was in the bald head countdown (for The Fountain)

if i saw "who's granny weatherwax?" will people come after me? i'm thinking i'll smack my head and say of course once you tell me but i'm drawing a total blank

NICK --I heard the story too! but i heard it on the web and we all know how "credible" online gossip is. As credible as gossip anywhere which means huge grain of salt. but i love the story too. Every story about Maddox makes me laugh. I am convinced he needs his own television show. Not that that wouldn't screw him up even more than growing up making "most powerful men under 30" lists at the age of 3. I hope his first word wasn't "paparazzi" but with four syllables would that be some kind of record?

Kurtis O said...

Screw Ursula. Malificent is fabulous. Not only is she the best and most bad-ass Disney villain ever concocted, her entrance scene is one of the better introductions of all movie villains. Nathaniel, you have impeccable taste.

Anonymous said...

Maleficent rules!!! Scared me silly as a kid... and still gives me the shivers!!! Pure evil!

Dame James said...

j.j.--- Amen about the witches of "Hocus Pocus". It wouldn't be Halloween without the Sanderson sisters!

Anonymous said...

Bell, Book and Candle holds up extremely well. If everything Richard Quine directed had been that good, he'd be considered a major director today.

If you like The Witches of Eastwick, you might want to check out Erotic Ghost Story which is a quasi-remake set in medieval China. Colorful production design, exciting special fx, and hot softcore sex make this film primo eye candy.

Suzie Ridler said...

Of course there is also Witchypoo from H&R Puff n Stuff, the psychodelic trippy 70s film and TV show for kids.

Love this! Witchy women rock!

Anonymous said...

I’m with you on Maleficent. Pure evil that one. But in my view NO witch list is complete without…

The Sanderson Sisters (“Hocus Pocus”) and
The Blair Witch (“The Blair Witch Project”)

...damn I LOVE lists!

Anonymous said...

Granny Weatherwax = read the Discworld books. They might seem light but they are excellently written - Granny is one of the greatest contemporary literary characters.