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The Movies' Top Ten Greedy Bastards

Money, money, money

The Movies' Top Ten Greedy Bastards

Greed is the way of the world. It always has been. Art reflects humanity so it's no shock cinema obsesses over greed. It's the most primal of vices. It's the go-to, off-the-shelf trait for most villains. And it's a common one for flawed protagonists too. So with the release of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps last week I felt it was time to point out the greediest of cinema's greedy bastards.

In order to narrow the focus, I chose greed-heads who desire material wealth. Otherwise, I'd have to consider every sex fiend, glutton, and vampire in movie history too. Obviously there were a few "juuust misses" such as Tuco from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, Goodfellas' Jimmy Conway, Hank and Sarah Marshall from A Simple Plan, and Aguirre: The Wrath of God's titular character. Ebenezer Scrooge was another character considered. Yet despite the countless adaptations of "A Christmas Carol," I felt he's a literary character above all else. Plus, he's just too damn easy. Not a very good reason. But I'm clinging to it.

So, now that a few possibilities are off the list, let's roll out this greed parade.

Randolph and Mortimer Duke (Trading Places)
When Randolph and Mortimer Duke aren't destroying lives over the bet of one dollar, these silver-spoon fed geezers are rigging the stock market to add even more zeros to their already obnoxious accumulative wealth. They're the faces of all that is wrong with the modern American bourgeois Wall Street culture. Unlike reality where Wall Street crooks rarely lose, these two money-kissing snobs get cleared out and decimated. As an added bonus to their comeuppance, look for their cameos as street vagrants in Coming to America.

Lex Luthor (Superman and Superman Returns)
All Lex Luthor wants is to own some land and build condos. So what if it means nuking a chunk of the west coast off into the Pacific or creating an entire new continent in the Atlantic? Millions or billions may die, but damn it, Luthor will come out as the king-pin of real-estate development (suck on it Donald Trump). Too bad no amount of money in the universe will buy off that jerk Superman.

Tony Montana (Scarface)
Admittedly Tony Montana mainly wants the money so he can get the power so he can get the "woomen." Montana is an insatiable greed machine. If you got money, he wants it plus more. If you got coke, he wants it plus more. If you got his sister as your "wooman", he's going to covet that too. Montana wants the world when just a little slice of Miami would satisfy most.

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  • http://www.filmmisery.com Alex C.

    Love this list! Old Man Potter was a heartless son of a bitch. Ebenezer Scrooge could have probably made this list as well, although he does redeem himself.

  • David Callahan

    How is John Hustons greedy ass not included? his character in chinatown should easily have earned him a spot on this list.

    • davidfrank

      He was considered. For some reason or another I cut him. But he should have been mentioned in the intro. At the very least I still have one of his movies on here

      • http://joker93.livejournal.com Nick

        Maybe the reason was that Noah Cross wasn't exactly after the money, but "the future, Mr. Gitts... the future". Not quite the material wealth, like you said in the introduction.

  • Stiggy

    How about this possible entry

    Michael Bay, the director of the Transformers movies.

  • Adriano

    As much as I love Phyllis Dietrichson, my vote for the greediest femme fatale goes to Linda Fiorentino's character in The Power of Seduction. Man, she even lets herself be raped just to put her hands in the money... Amazing movie.

    • Adriano

      Actually, the correct name is "The Last Seduction". "The Power of Seduction" is the brazilian translation.

      • davidfrank

        Yeah that's a great one. Have to admit that's a slightly embarrassing omission.

  • http://devilishmotionpictures.com MWHollywood85

    uhhh Scrooge McDuck????!!!
    The guy had a giant building full of gold coins and cash bags that he swam in while kissing it and saying "money money money"

    • Will

      Definitely!

    • davidfrank

      Ok. It's not that I'm ignorant of Scrooge McDuck. Rather, I forgot there was a theatrically-released Ducktales movie 20 years ago. But I'm just going to apply the same silly reason for McDuck as I did for Scrooge. I think of Scrooge McDuck as more of a tv character than I do movie character. Of course this logic is stupid since you could rip apart my inclusion of Lex Luthor on the list. But well, that's just the way it goes. I guess.

      • http://devilishmotionpictures.com MWHollywood85

        You may also have forgotten that that theatrical release 20 years ago was as gold as the $ sign on the side of the money bin.
        In all seriousness though, Lex was a pulp and cartoon character before Hackman and there are many on here that were literary characters first as well.
        I suppose a case could be made for Scrooge not being greedy but simply loving his money. However, it seemed like every episode revolved around him treasure hunting for more money or protecting/rescuing his colossal coin collection from the Beagle Boys. Thus, I think he could be aptly included in this list.

  • Dallas

    Although not a movie, Boy from The Giving Tree has to be the greediest character ever created. He took a full tree that was his 'friend', stripped him of his leaves, limbs, and roots before sitting on him at the end just to rub it all in his face.

    Greedy bastard.

  • Keyvn Adams

    you forgot the whole cast of Greedy

  • Jon

    I loved it all the way up until the #1 only because I have effectively tried to erased Its a Wonderful Life from my brain. I do love the list, however I thought Max from A Good Year should get honorable mention since he was willing to sell everything of the only person who ever loved him just to cut a profit.

  • William Pichkan

    Any mention of Night of the Hunter always gets an A+ from me.

  • http://www.carlosdev.wordpress.com Carlosdev

    You ommitted an entire sub-category here; the spoiled little rich girl. In that case, who is more greedy than Veruca Salt of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? In fact she has a whole musical number explaining that she "wants it all right now." What could be greedier than that? lol

  • Irf

    Danny DeVito in OTHER PEOPLES MONEY