Thursday, 1 March 2012

List #8 Top Ten... creepy coppers

Uh... you don't think we look sleazy, do ya Val...? Val?!

For the first list in a while, I thought it best to celebrate Woody Harrelson's superb turn in Rampart: so here's a rundown of my favourite examples of that fine cinematic archetype - the creepy copper. Read on...

10. Harris Yulin - Scarface

Yulin's milk-drinking Mel Bernstein laid down the modern template of the corrupt cop - the man for whom it takes a gut-shot to be convinced of his own vulnerability.

9. John C. Reilly - Gangs of New York

The turncoat Happy Jack Mulraney is a multi-purpose archetype: as well as lurking around the Five Points taking his cut of swag, he also lays a template for the classic tough-guy Irish NYC beat cop.

8. Michael Douglas - Basic Instinct

Ugh, there's an ass you won't forget in a hurry. Michael Douglas - perfectly cast -  piles on the sleaze in Paul Verhoeven's early-nineties thriller. Also memorable for a comically awful nightclub-seduction sequence.

7. Sean Harris - Red Riding: the Year of Our Lord 1980

"I like chewin' minge, Mr 'unter. Why?" We only wanted to know your hobby, Sean. His Inspector Bob Craven is despicable throughout the Red Riding Trilogy, but never more so than opposite Paddy Considine in the second instalment.

6. Graham Beckel - LA Confidential

Although he gets his comuppance early-doors, it's fair to say that Dick Stensland reflects everything that's rotten about James Ellroy's LAPD - a violent, corrupt, morally bankrupt, borderline alcoholic physical mess.

5. Gary Oldman - Leon

"You... don't like Mozart". Er, OK? So this is probably the apogee (or nadir, depending on your point of view) of Oldman's 'scenery-chewing' phase - but I loved his bonkers turn in Luc Besson's Leon.

4. Kevin Bacon - Wild Things

Oh, Kevin Bacon. Even his name sounds improbably sleazy. One of a range of standout performances in this cheesy classic and as with Michael Douglas (above), we see a bit too much of the Philadelphian than might be hoped. Sometimes six degrees of separation just ain't enough...

3. Casey Affleck - The Killer Inside Me

From the daft to the genuinely chilling now: Affleck the Younger proved beyond any doubt that has the chops in this compelling and dark adaptation of Jim Thompson's troubling pulp novel.

2. Denzel Washington - Training Day

Remember when Denzel wasn't turning out tripe like Safe House or Unstoppable? His turn as in-too-deep Alonzo Harris, a man with too many problems for all of your fingers and toes to count, is my favourite of his performances.

1. Harvey Keitel - Bad Lieutenant

It couldn't really be anyone else at number one... just so many horrible grimace-and-avert-your-eyes, whether gambling, snorting, drinking, or engaging in questionable car-window activities with young women, The Lieutenant takes it.

Special mentions also go to Nic 'n' Val in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon (yet another bare arse), Richard Gere (remember him?) in Internal Affairs and, of course, Orson Welles in Touch of Evil.


  1. Nice post Joe! I really liked the Herzog version of Bad Lieutenant it brought something different and deeply Herzogian.

  2. Thanks! I also loved (and prefer) the Herzog Bad Lieutenant ("Shoot him again! His soul is still dancing!"), but Cage is nowhere near as repulsive as Harvey Keitel.