Essential Film Performances 2013 Update: Part 6

Essential Film Performances continues with great comic turns from Bette Midler, Leslie Nielsen and Jack Oakie, who goes tit-for-tat with Charlie Chaplin as another Great Dictator, as well as from Polish silent film star Pola Negri and Rita Moreno.

Bette Midler—Ruthless People
(Jim Abrams, David Zucker Jerry Zucker, 1986)

Devotees of Miss M have plenty of reasons to think her Divine, but to my mind it’s the fact that she so humbly threw herself into a gaggle of comedies with ludicrous concepts throughout the 1980s following a breakout Academy-Award nominated role in 1979’s The Rose. Ruthless People is one of those very films, but what sets it apart from Down and Out in Beverly Hills or Outrageous Fortune is Midler’s gleeful willingness to exaggerate and mock her own physical imperfections, to contort her face in strange ways and emit hideous

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