17 thoughts on “MCM: Willem Dafoe

  1. Thanks for this post! I adore Willem Dafoe, especially in Shadow of the Vampire. :)

  2. The old “White missionary travels to far away land and falls in love with a local married woman, testing his faith” plot.

    That is absolutely not the plot of Pearl Buck’s book which is all about Madame Wu a middle aged Chinese lady who has never loved anyone, not her husband, not even her sons, and doesn’t even realize there’s something wrong until a heterodox foreign priest makes her see herself as she really is, a trauma that is only bearable be ause she loves him, platonically, and he her.

  3. I’m honestly shocked at how many of these films I’ve seen or known about, and never realized Willem Dafoe was in them. Adding a bunch to the rewatch list right now.

    Ooo, yes, please do a review of The Aviator at some point!

    I remember Shadow of the Vampire being a really good film, but I’ve never revisited it.

  4. Love Willem Dafoe. He’s quite the actor’s actor. Can do funny or frightening, handsome or hideous. I heard him speak once on In the Actor’s Studio and it was enlightening. Controversy over The Last Temptation of Christ was misplaced; it’s one of the most spiritual depictions of the story and faithful to the Book. His hair in it is bad though.

    1. Well put – I completely agree.

      Especially about The Last Temptation of Christ – I feel a lot of its controversy stems from people not actually watching it but hearing its contents out of context. It was my favorite film depicting Jesus until a few years ago I saw the incredibly literal The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964). The Last Temptation still retains a comfy second place for me, though.

      David Bowie’s brief role as Pontius Pilate is simply great.

  5. Willem Dafoe and Eddie Izzard in Shadow of the Vampire. What more could you ask for? Dafoe’s tongue-in-cheek Nosferatu reminds me of Tony Hopkins equally funny Van Helsing in the Gary Oldman Dracula. Love to laugh at the “horror” of it all!

  6. Willem Dafoe is one of my favorite actors and I love so many of these movies.

    I thought Heaven’s Gate (1980) was a meandering and flawed ambitious piece. Visually stunning – directors should be jealous at how well done some of those scenes are – and one the best topics I’ve ever seen for a Western, however confusingly executed.

    Cry-Baby (1990) is classic John Waters but I did wince when Johnny Depp pronounced the “t” in Baltimore. John Waters is a native and should have caught that.

    I haven’t seen Manderlay (2005) yet but its precursor with the same characters, Dogville, was incredibly harrowing to watch but unforgettable.

    I have seen The Reckoning (2002). It was interesting enough, though in my opinions the costume designers just sort of shrugged when it came to late 14th century clothing. Matthew Macfadyen’s character in particular has a very “what in the fresh hell?!” haircut and costume. Full blown Castlevania cosplay. The brief appearance of Medieval armour is actually pretty good, even though it’s completely unnecessary (suggesting knights would travel that way).

    1. Hey, I’m from Baltimore and we always pronounced the “t.” It depends on which part of Baltimore you’re from.

      1. You take that back, traitor!

        There’s no “t” in Baltimore. It’s “Bawlmer” or if you’re being fancy, “Baldamore”. Funnily enough it’s on the “Baltimorese” Wikipedia. And in the guide to moving to Baltimore: “Saying ‘Ball-tee-more’ instantly brands you as an outsider.”

        Ten Hail Marys and throw some Old Bay over your left shoulder.

      2. We had family in Baltimore who went out of their way to overpronounce it, to the point that they called it “bal-tee-more.”

    2. “Cry-Baby (1990) is classic John Waters but I did wince when Johnny Depp pronounced the “t” in Baltimore. John Waters is a native and should have caught that.”

      Nope. A good number of John Waters movies before and after CRY-BABY have local people pronouncing the “T” in “Baltimore”– it isn’t just “outsider” Depp.

      For example, the “classroom snitch” scene in FEMALE TROUBLE (1974) has the teacher (“Mr. Weinberger!”) clearly and crisply enunciating the “T”– the first thing you hear in this clip:

      Furthermore, while he describes the local accent and the “Bawlmer” pronunciation in his 1981 book SHOCK VALUE, John Waters himself pronounces the “T” regularly– as can be heard in this interview, particularly in a stretch at about 3:30 in:

      And as a longtime John Waters fanatic, I am absolutely tickled to see CRY-BABY listed as a “frock flick” in an overview. Waters actually did do a tiny amount of “period” work that qualifies.

      In addition to the best-known example HAIRSPRAY (1988), which takes place in 1962, FEMALE TROUBLE has its opening scenes with “troubled teen” Dawn Davenport set in the early ’60s as well (as can be seen in the YouTube clip above).

      And though it’s now nearly impossible to see, his early short film EAT YOUR MAKEUP (1968) contained a brief recreation of the 1963 JFK assassination, when a character played by Divine imagines herself as Jackie, pillbox hat and all:

      Of course, Waters’ early films had pretty much zero budget for costuming (and even HAIRSPRAY and CRY-BABY were low-budget by Hollywood standards)– and they were trying to make everything as ridiculous and trashy as possible– but they really did manage to get the look right in a number of ways.

  7. Willem Dafoe is just soooooooooooo good.He’s definitely a top-notch choice for MCM!! He’s always compelling. He has a face you can’t take your eyes off and his acting chops are phenomenal–even if he’s in a production that’s unworthy of him. I love, love, love Shadow of the Vampire and The English Patient (as much as one can “love” a tragedy). Gotta plug, as always, The Reckoning. I think this post contains the most shocking sentence I’ve ever read on this blog, “I honestly forgot he was in this film” (re The English Patient). Just the pic of The Night and the Moment looks like everything I ever wanted–gotta check it soon. Thanks for this post. Willem Dafoe is definitely a top-notch MCM choice!!

  8. I hear the costumes in The Northman are very good indeed, except for the leather speedos 😉
    These keep popping up in ancient and medieval period drama, though to the best of my knowledge they were never, ever worn in RL anywhere.

    1. Honestly I suspect leather speedos are more a concession to modern actors/expectations than anything else considering that for the great majority of history most men didn’t wear underwear other than perhaps a loincloth or light linen shorts.

      We can also probably blame the Zack Snyder film ‘300’…

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