Thursday, August 18, 2005

Battle of the Evil Critics

With the demise of WWWF Grudge Match, I sometimes feel compelled to propose some matches they never got around to doing. So here's one:

Who would win in a fight between the two meanest, cruellest, wisecrackiest critics in the history of movies: Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb) in Laura, or Addison DeWitt (George Sanders) in All About Eve?

I'm going with DeWitt. Lydecker may be more dangerous in certain respects, but DeWitt has the size advantage, and a cooler head, and more strategic ability. His decision to blackmail and form a weird alliance with Eve (making them, according to some interpretations, 1950's original Ambiguously Gay Duo), is a far sounder strategic decision than Waldo's Pygmalion act with Laura. Addison in three rounds unless Waldo has something stashed in his old clock.

However, if it's a question of who's better at wisecracks, then Lydecker obviously wins. The man had most of the best lines in the picture and literally destroyed at least one person's career with a bad review. DeWitt really doesn't have all that many great lines (George Sanders makes some of his lines sound cooler than they are, but most of the best dialogue is for Bette Davis), and he's more successful as a behind-the-scenes Machiavellian schemer than as a critic. His spotlight review in the film, remember, is a favorable review, of Eve. Ergo, Lydecker makes DeWitt cry like a schoolgirl. But sonorously.

Your thoughts?

Addendum: Reader Dan W. correctly points out in the comments: "J.J. Hunsecker, on the other hand, would clunk both their heads together like Moe, and leave them in an unconscious heap in under 5 seconds."

No comments: