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… Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Director… Quentin Tarantino
Entering From Stage Left… all the dudes in the role of all the dudes.
What Makes it Special… The script.
What? Our second entry just throwing the entire ensemble of a Tarantino Movie in the spotlight? Well, sorta. See, while David felt obliged to give a nod to everybody on the cast – as no one character stood out more than another – what makes it special here is the fact that everyone is introduced together. And not just that they are, but how they are. Which brings us back to the script. When we start with a V.O. over black explaining that Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” is about a woman who’s fucking a guy with a big dick, you really can’t help but perk up a little bit. Even moreso once we cut to the table in the diner and see a table full of moderately well-dressed grown men. Black suits, slick hair, cigar smoke, foul language. But it’s not just foul – it’s amazing rapid-fire banter that covers everything from Madonna to whether or not Harvey Keitel should be shot for taking Joe’s book to an incredible (sorta-)monologue from Steve Buscemi about why he doesn’t tip. It’s all punctuated by a camera that keeps circling the table, as wrapped up in the conversation as we are and edits that do just as much to bring us into the group as let us spectate. Joe puts the last word on the tip debate and we cut to the exterior for the title sequence, where these guys put on their sunglasses and saunter across that parking lot in slow motion to the George Baker Selection’s “Little Green Bag.” We don’t even know these guys’ names but we want to be part of the group. There’s a real sense of camaraderie and friendship. And as we cut to the back shot and the title treatment hits the top of the screen we’re left watching some of the coolest motherfuckers we’ve ever seen walk away. There’s that little voice in our heads that says “fuckyeessss.”
Why it Resonates… Because while you’re still on that high, grooving to that title sequence music, you get the V.O. on black again, only it’s a new introduction. And to only part of the gang. And this is what you see…
Right away and without warning the rug is pulled out from under us and these guys that we just essentially hung out with are in some shit. And we honestly care because we felt like part of the gang. But as the movie goes on we learn that there wasn’t a gang, that these guys aren’t cool motherfuckers and, in most cases, they don’t even know one another. All it took was 11 minutes for us to feel like we knew these guys, to be on their side. That diner introduction resonates because for all intents and purposes it was lie.
Other Grand Entrances… Quentin Tarantino. It’s telling that the very first line we hear is his. A disembodied voice belonging to nobody but saying exactly what it needed to say to grab our attention.
Oh, and Stealer’s Wheel gets to show up in fine fashion here as well.
I’m always checking Facebook, keeping an eye on the comments below, and going back and forth on the boards- so I want to hear your thoughts somewhere!