Thomas Wictor

Because I’ve experienced great evil

Because I’ve experienced great evil

Almost every day I get a message asking me why I defend Israel and Jews. Most of the queries are sincere, while others are meant to be an accusation of sorts. Basically, people are accusing me of doing what I myself acknowledge I’m doing. Maybe they except me to snap out of a trance and think, Holy crud! I’m defending Israel and Jews! What happened to me? To the people who sincerely want to know, one answer is that I’ve experienced great evil in my life. Many times. At the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, I decided that I needed to try and negate some of the evil that I saw and heard.

The lies told about Israel are evil. It’s as simple as that.

Rather than talk about my life specifically, I’ve compiled a list of my top ten most repulsive movie villains. They’re repulsive to me; you may not find them that disturbing. Things resonate differently from person to person, due to our individual temperament and what we’ve encountered and withstood. Most movie villains don’t bother me. These ten still get under my skin.

1. Bruce Dern as Long Hair in The Cowboys.

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I saw this movie as a ten-year-old, and it tormented me for months. Long Hair is a fiendishly cruel outlaw who tortures children and old men simply for the pleasure of it. At the same time, he feels great self-pity. Most unnervingly, he can switch instantly from jocular to reptile-vicious. His threats force a little boy to keep silent about the fact that Long Hair and his men are stalking the cowboys as they try to get their cattle to market. The boy’s silence brings disaster, but it’s not his fault. He had nowhere to turn.

2. Humphrey Bogart as Glenn Griffin in The Desperate Hours.

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A creature of rage and hate, Glenn Griffin is an escaped criminal who chooses a family at random and forces them to harbor him and his two pals. It’s not enough that Griffin traumatizes the Hilliards; he also has to remind them again and again that they’re helpless, totally at his mercy. His moments of warmth show how depraved he is, since they’re proof that he could stop if he wanted. But he prefers crime and ugliness, rationalizing it by blaming others for his own terrible choices. A predator of the worst sort, he targets only those who can’t defend themselves.

3. Hank Garrett as Gunnery Sergeant William Lloyd, aka the Mailman, in Three Days of the Condor.

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The Mailman is utterly impersonal in his killing, which makes him even worse than the psychopathic Long Hair and Glenn Griffin. A government hit man, Lloyd simply follows orders. The Mailman has nothing against the people he mows down with his silenced submachine gun. He can’t be talked out of killing you, because killing you doesn’t mean anything to him. Lloyd has been assigned to liquidate CIA analyst Joseph Turner, so that’s what he’ll do. One of his qualifications is his ability to put you at ease before he strikes. He uses this talent for his job, which is taking from you the gift of life.

I met Hank Garrett and told him that he’d given me twenty years of nightmares. He apologized profusely.

4. Joseph Cotton as Charles Oakley in Shadow of a Doubt.

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A serial killer who despises humanity, Charles Oakley lives a double life, presenting himself to his family as the polar opposite of what he really is. When his sweet, innocent niece Charlie discovers the truth about him, he taunts her, threatens her, and emotionally blackmails her into keeping silent. He mercilessly exploits Charlie’s loyalties and humane nature in order to continue committing crimes. Once again a young person is forced to keep a terrible secret, the predator expertly playing on his prey’s difficulty in accepting awful reality. Oakley also relishes the pain he causes Charlie by showing her that her affection for him was misplaced. He wants her to think she’s an idiot for ever loving him.

5. Billy Zane as Hughie Warriner in Dead Calm.

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Easily one of the most hideous characters in cinematic history, Hughie Warriner wants only to destroy. He sees himself as entitled to wreak absolute havoc, and yet he demands to be loved. Everyone in the world is simply a character in the movie starring him, and when they don’t do what he wants, he kills them. They deserve death for disappointing the Great Hughie. Possessed of a glib, surface wittiness, he’s actually mired in schmaltz and mediocrity. His superficiality makes him inconceivably dangerous, since—childlike—he refuses to stop. His implacability forces his victims to do things that’ll haunt them for the rest of their lives. Part of his drive is to make people as diseased as he is.

6. Robert Mitchum as Max Cady in Cape Fear.

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Max Cady is an ex-convict determined to ruin the life of and then kill the prosecutor who sent him to prison. His great intelligence, physical strength, narcissism, and total amorality make him a demon in human form. He’s always one step ahead, and he revels in perversion. His raison d’être is to pollute all that’s good and untainted. He can’t be shamed; on the contrary, he continually tries to outdo himself in how low he can go. Every vice is a badge of honor. He lives in an upside-down world in which degeneracy is a source of deep pride.

7. Robin Williams as Walter Finch in Insomnia.

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As a crime writer, Walter Finch thinks of real people as mere characters in his books. Though he’s adopted a cringing, insinuating, unctuous persona, he’s actually as cold and as hard as ice. Death and suffering mean nothing to him. However, it’s important for him to feel that he’s not the inadequate failure that he knows he is. He needs company, so he tries to convince wrecked, fatally compromised police detective Will Dormer that they’re the same. Dormer is falling apart due to insomnia and his own crimes, which allows Finch to slip inside Dormer’s head—mumbling, whispering, and coaxing like a malign spirit.

8. Frank Sinatra as John Baron in Suddenly.

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John Baron is a professional hit man, but unlike most in his line of work, he loves killing. It gives him a sexual thrill. Also, killing makes him feel godlike. The ability to take lives reassures him that he’s somebody. But even killing isn’t enough. His inhumanity extends to inflicting physical and psychological agony on those whose house he’s taken over in order to carry out a hit. He has absolutely no redeeming qualities. All he cares about is killing and puffing up his pitiful ego. He’s an entity of pure negativity, an irredeemable savage who demands extermination.

9. Ernest Borgnine as Coley Trimble in Bad Day at Black Rock.

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They don’t come worse than Coley Trimble. A racist, sadist, and thug, he unhesitatingly assaults one-armed World War II veteran John J. Macreedy. Trimble is so primitive that he mocks Macreedy’s disability. Not only that, he does his best to goad Macreedy into a physical altercation, thinking that a one-armed man can’t fight. Massive, crude, and without a conscience, Coley Trimble is appalling because he’s smart. He has a poetic, humorous way with words, and he enjoys making his victims squirm. He’s a master of menacing playfulness; there’s no doubt that when he’s done toying with you, he’ll smash your face.

10. Robert Ryan as Montgomery in Crossfire.

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The one thing in the world that Montgomery hates is Jews. He hates them so much that he can be drinking with them one second, and the next second he’s killing them. His hate is based on medieval stereotypes; he’s never even known a Jew. The confused young soldier named Mitchell doesn’t know what he saw, but it was so bad that he disassociated. Montgomery uses this to his advantage. Though he seems like an animal, Montgomery is actually a skilled psychologist. He’s fully aware of the impact his deeds have on those who’ve never witnessed such brutality. Montgomery also possesses a threatening charm that both mesmerizes and cows. People can’t really believe what their brains are screaming at them.

At one time or another, all of these men were in my life.


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