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Five Great Scene Stealers: Ladies Night!

July 25, 2010

Eileen Brennan as \”Mrs. Peacock\” in Clue: The Movie

In the previous installment I listed great male scene stealers. Now it’s time for the ladies!

5. Vanessa Redgrave in Mission: Impossible

Ahhh, the incomparable Vanessa Redgrave shutting down the scene. Even her pauses are Oscar-worthy. Thank you for giving her something interesting to do. Of course I’d watch her read the instructions to my wireless router. So cheeky and dismissive. “My dear boy…” This is one of the best parts of the film. She talks like the Cheshire Cat. “Whooo arrrreee you? Can you stand on your head?”

– from De Palma Screening: Mission Impossible

4. Lorretta Devine in Waiting to Exhale
It’s been years since I watched the film, but I will never forget Loretta Devine sashaying her cute self away from new love interest played by the late Gregory Hines, “Ooh, I hope he’s not still watching…he’s still watching.” She was my favorite character in the generally overwrought, melodramatic adaptation of Terry McMillian’s overwrought, melodramatic novel.

3. Sandra Oh in Sideways
I have been a fan of Oh’s since I saw Double Happiness at an art theater in the mid 90s. Oh had bit parts in a couple films before snagging a supporting role in 2003’s Under the Tuscan Sun (where her partner was played by Grey’s alum Kate Walsh!). But she owned the screen in Sideways as Stephanie, a winery employee. She is my favorite part of the film, effortlessly outshining Virgina Madsen and the rest of the cast.

2. Eileen Atkins in Cold Comfort Farm
Cold Comfort Farm is a charming comedy of manners, which boasts an impressive line up of British acting luminaries: Kate Beckingsale, Ian McKellan, Joanna Lumley, Stephen Fry and the great Dame Eileen Atkins, who plays Judith Starkadder, the dour matriarch of the luck deficit Starkadder clan. If you haven’t seen this film, I highly recommend it. I am used to seeing Atkins in an array of corsets and costuming so her decidedly unglamorous performance was a departure! Still, she displays exquisite comedic timing and her deadpan dialogue delivery is freaking hilarious.

1. Eileen Brennan in Clue
Oh it was truly a battle of the Eileens. Mrs. Peacock gets some of the best lines, particularly my favorites – “Get your hands off me, I’m a Senator’s wife!” and “But look what happened to the cook!” Clue is a totally underrated comedic masterpiece, featuring a host of strong comedic talents playing it straight with hilarious results.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. July 25, 2010 8:03 pm

    OH EM GEE I love you! Clue is one of my all time favorite comedies ever! Truly an underrated gem. And Eileen Brennan is hilarious in it. Although I would argue that Madeline Kahn was a bit of scene stealer too with her “I hated her so much that..fl-flames…flames…on the side of my face” improvised moment. Classic.

  2. Alyx Vesey permalink
    July 25, 2010 9:35 pm

    Oh! I loved Sandra Oh in Sideways. One of the great movie exits in recent memory.

  3. July 25, 2010 9:53 pm

    Although I would argue that Madeline Kahn was a bit of scene stealer too with her “I hated her so much that..fl-flames…flames…on the side of my face” improvised moment. Classic.

    It was really difficult to choose between Leslie Ann Warren, Eileen Brennan and Madeline Kahn! They were all flawless!

  4. July 25, 2010 10:36 pm

    It’s a choice I would not be able to make! My bandmate and I are known to often exclaim “Who are you? Perry Mason?” at one another.

  5. July 25, 2010 10:39 pm

    ““Who are you? Perry Mason?” at one another.”

    Whenever I catch my friend getting a call from an unfamiliar number I say, “Why are you receiving phone calls from J. Edgar Hoover?”

  6. July 26, 2010 4:38 am

    We actually love the movie so much our second album, In With, has 3 alternating covers of us as Clue-esque characters:

    Sadly I did not have the time/resources to do Mrs. White drag.

  7. July 26, 2010 11:56 am

    I always got really excited when Eileen Brennan popped up on Newhart. I think she did great, judicious guest-starring in the late 80s and early 90s. Also, this:

    Prof. Plum: What are you afraid of, a fate worse than death?
    Mrs. Peacock: No, just death, isn’t that enough?

    and this has been mentioned, but let’s just watch it too:

  8. July 26, 2010 11:58 am

    Prof. Plum: What are you afraid of, a fate worse than death?
    Mrs. Peacock: No, just death, isn’t that enough?

    Ha. Classic Mrs. Peacock. I always LOL at that line, which barely has time to register before she nearly falls down the cellar stairs.

    Oh hell, Fry Butter is begging for a post on Clue.

  9. July 26, 2010 12:03 pm

    Yes, I think we need a whole Clue post.

    In the future, I would like to direct and stage a small town theater re-enactment of the movie.

  10. irishup permalink
    July 26, 2010 12:11 pm

    It has been years (decades?) since I’ve seen “Clue”, but I should revisit ASAP! I’ve loved me some Thomas Hayden Church ever since his Lowell days, but without Ms Oh, it would have gone from “Sideways” to “All Downhill” for me.

    The first scene stealer I thought of was Jean Hagen in “Singing in the Rain”. Lina Lamont had to be BIG to make that role work, and Jean made it WORK! But I think the first performance that impressed me as scene-stealing belongs to Piper Laurie as Margaret White. I was 12 when an older cousin got us all in to see it (not that my parents minded, my dad took us all to see the Omen that year and we ranged from 7-12), and was simply mezmerized by the horror of a parent’s love gone so very very wrong. Catherine O’Hara in (everything) Beetlejuice, because I love all the things she does with her face and her voice – “I will go insane and I will take you with me!”.

  11. July 26, 2010 1:46 pm

    “I will go insane and I will take you with me!”.

    Haha. Yes. “This is my art and it is dangerous!”

  12. July 26, 2010 4:32 pm

    Oh gosh, all of the women from Clue are fabulous. It’s one of my all-time favorite movies to quote and thoroughly confuse people with.

    The only thing I can think of from Cold Comfort Farm is Sir Ian McKellan and the line “There’ll be no butter in HELLLLLLL!” which is oft-quoted by my partner’s dad at random moments.

    I think that Parker Posey in Best in Show deserves an honorable mention, as does Jennifer Coolidge in A Mighty Wind. “Without the model trains, they never would have thought of the real ones!”

  13. AmyGee permalink
    August 3, 2013 10:57 am

    Whole Clue post! Whole Clue post! Whole Clue post!!!!

  14. August 4, 2013 7:01 pm

    Hey AmyGee, we did one of those!

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