There are endless cliches out there about the importance of a first impression, but whatever truth they may hold in our everyday lives they go double for film. When there’s only a couple of hours to tell a story and capture its players, an audience’s first chance to meet a character is an asset no filmmaker worth their salt is going to waste. So with that in mind, CHUD is going to take a look through the many decades of cinema to extract the most special of those moments when you are first introduced to a character, be they small moments that speak volumes, or large moments that simply can’t be ignored.
Inevitably it will be the major characters and leads that are granted the grandest of entrances, but don’t be surprised to see a few supporting players and minor individuals get their due, when the impact of their appearance lingers longer than their screentime. Also know that these moments may be chosen for any number of reasons, and the list could never be exhaustive. But here you’ll find moments that make a big splash, say a lot with a little, or we think are just particularly cool.
We hope you enjoy, and can’t wait to hear from you about each and every entry. Don’t spend the effort guessing future choices or declaring what must be included– just enjoy the ride!
The Film…Django (1966)
Director… Sergio Corbucci
Entering From Stage Left… Franco Nero in the role of Django.
What Makes it Special…
Spaghetti Westerns are quite good at introducing their leading men as imposing, deadly figures, and Django is no exception. But not many make you immediately question just who this man is and what led him to this moment.
But then again, not many men are Django.
An uninterrupted two-minute long shot of the titular character walking away from the camera through a muddy basin shouldn’t be so memorable. In the first two shots of the film we see Django from the back, a man with a cowboy hat and army coat just trudging along. As it pulls back further we see that he’s got a saddle strapped to his back and a rope over his right shoulder which is attached to a coffin. He’s pulling it along steadily, with determination, never looking back.
Right away we’re curious about this guy’s story. How long has he been walking? What’s happened to his horse? And most importantly- why’s he dragging a coffin?
All will be revealed, in time.
Why it Resonates… There have been literally hundreds of Django ripoffs made, and it all leads back to here, to this mysterious loner.
This is why Takashi Miike made his own with some Eastern flavor (Sukiyaku Western Django) and why Tarantino is working on his own, 55 years later.
Other Grand Entrances… What’s in the coffin.
The reveal, when it finally comes, is done spectacularly. He isn’t carrying around a coffin because he’s been thinking about his own demise or because he can’t let go of a loved one’s corpse- oh, no. As a character who always thinks out for himself first and foremost he’s anticipating all the people he’s going to have to cut down.
Not too far into the film Django has already turned a small town upside down by merely standing up for a woman who’s about to be killed by a gang of former Confederate soldiers. A confrontation at a bar leaves him with new enemies and the town with a new bunch of bodies to bury, and Django boldly tells the leader of the gang to get all the rest of his men (48 more!) the next time if he wants to stand a chance.
As the red-hooded band of goons starts to advance on his location, as Django kneels all alone in the middle of an empty town half-hidden behind a downed tree, he slowly opens his coffin… and pulls this out of it.
That’s right, a gatling gun.
He mows down dozens of people as everyone looks on in complete horror and shock. And that’s what you call an entrance.
Day 3: Groucho Marx (Duck Soup)
Day 4: Jackie Gleason (The Hustler)
Day 5: Orson Welles (The Third Man)
Day 6: Clint Eastwood (A Fistful of Dollars)
Day 8: George C. Scott (Patton)
Day 9: Grace Kelly (Rear Window)