Saturday, April 24, 2010

Scripted Strangulations

Thank you all for submitting your selections for the best strangulations in movies and plays. The responses were overwhelming. Here are the results, just in time for the Broadway premiere of If She Did It.

There were loads of movie titles submitted. Horror flicks were in full force (Creepshow, The Fog, Halloween, etc.), and some monster favorites made the list (Frankenstein, The Mummy, etc.). Several James Bond scenes (The Spy Who Loved Me, Dr. No, From Russia with Love, A View to a Kill, End of Days, etc.) made the cuts, and similar action hero films such as The Bourne Ultimatum, Die Hard, Under Siege 2, and True Lies squeezed in.

Star Wars selections included Anakin strangling Padme in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Darth Vader’s telekinetic strangling of Admiral Kendal Ozzel in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.

The opening scene for No Country for Old Men was high on the list, as was the scene from Dial M For Murder when the beautiful Grace Kelly gets out of a strangle hold by stabbing her assailant with a pair of scissors. Youch.

But the Crazy4Crazies Oscar winner, “hands down” of course, goes to . . . the murder of Luca Brasi in The Godfather. Luca is a personal enforcer for Don Corleone, but the rival Tattaglia family and their boys do a number on him. Luca’s hand is pinned down to the bar with a knife, and then he is strangled from behind with a cord. The Tattaglias throw Luca’s body into the sea and then deliver a fish wrapped in his bulletproof vest to the Corleone family as a message that Luca “sleeps with the fishes.” Subtle, yet effective.

Fewer of our readers submitted choices for the best strangulation in a play, reflecting either our demographic or just the limited options out there.

Several of you chose Sweeney Todd’s killing of Adolfo Pirelli, which does start with a strangulation but ends with a slashing. Others went with The Phantom of the Opera, when The Phantom strangles Ubaldo Piangi, sings "The Point of No Return" in his place, and then kidnaps Christine. Ah, anything for true love. And who wouldn’t love the scene in the musical Jekyll and Hyde when Hyde scolds Lady Beaconsfield for her vanity, tears off her jewels and hands them to a beggar, and then strangles her?

But the Crazy4Crazies Tony Award goes to . . . Othello’s murder of his wife, Desdemona. If we have any Shakespearean purist readers, they might argue this one, since the murder is more often depicted as a pillow smothering than as a strangulation. Fair enough. But this is one of the great murders in theater history.

The murder of Desdemona is popular not because of Othello, but because of his antagonist. Iago claims to hate Othello for passing him up for a promotion, but he is truly driven by only the purest evil. He succeeds in convincing Othello that Desdemona has been having an affair with his lieutenant, Cassio, and encourages him to kill her. It is the demonically brilliant Iago who brings about the death of Desdemona, but without getting his hands dirty.

Will If She Did It outdo Othello for best on-stage strangulation? We can’t wait to find out. Since you’re Crazy 4 Crazies, check in afterwards to let us know what you think.


This is post #91 in The Satin Strangler Blogs (TSSB).

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