A. Loudermilk’s Guide to Movies with Personality

My article in PopMatters “mak[ing] the case for the recently-escaped-or-released-mental-patient narrative as its own subgenre, replete with a language of recurring themes, plot devices, and character archetypes.”


“…32 Films That Begin With Someone Leaving a Mental Institution (1904-2012)”

Please visit my companion website QUIRKY ACTORS, a photo blog starring over 300 quirky, obscure, supporting, or lesser-known actors, from both classic Hollywood and modern-day eras, many of them admired throughout QUIRKY CINEMA’s hundreds of entries. Plus find a hardy page dedicated to classic era actors parodied in cartoons of the era as well as a nostalgic page dedicated to retro television actors.

 A. Loudermilk’s QUIRKY ACTORS Photo Blog

Gene Wilder (June 11, 1933 – August 29, 2016)Geneheader_GettyImages-71494838-1024x631

Alexis Arquette (July 28, 1969 – September 11, 2016), as Georgette in Last Exit to Brooklyn (1989)

and promoting Killer Drag Queens on Dope (2003):


My review of Antonia’s Line (1993) for PopMatters

My article in PopMatters: “To Gong or Not To Gong The Gong Show Movie

How a major TV phenomenon inspired a flop film


CLASSIC ERA: Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), Autumn Leaves (1956), Gildersleeve on Broadway (1943), Hands Across the Table (1935), It! (1966), Ladies in Retirement (1941), Ma & Pa Kettle (1949), The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker (1959), Seventh Victim (1943) >>> COMEDY/DRAMA: Bagdad Cafe (1987), [Andy Warhol’s] Flesh (1968), [Andy Warhol’s] Heat (1972), [Cheech and Chong’s] Nice Dreams (1981), The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader Murdering Mom (1993), Prairie Love (2011), Thundercrack! (1975), [Andy Warhol’s] Trash (1970), The Watermelon Woman (1996) >>> DOCUMENTARY: American Scary (2006), Carmen Miranda: Bananas Is My Business (1995), Jefftowne (1998), Rabbit Hash: The Center of the Universe (2004), Tell Them Who You Are (2004) >>> HORROR: Babadook (2014), House by the Cemetery (1981), Legend of Boggy Creek (1972), Screamplay (1985), Willard (1971), Willard (2003) >>>

Dame Margaret Rutherford as Miss Prism, with Dame Edith Evans, in The Importance of Being Earnest (1952); and as eccentric medium Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit (1945)




The Babadook (2014)

by director Jennifer Kent (pictured below), based on her short film Monster from 2005


The board game on the big screen, Clue (1985) with Eileen Brennan (Mrs. Peacock), Tim Curry (Wadsworth), Madeline Kahn (Mrs. White), Christopher Lloyd (Professor Plum), Michael McKean (Mr. Green), Martin Mull (Colonel Mustard), and Lesley Ann Warren (Miss Scarlet)

“You’re as funny as a cry for help.” Obscure comedic actor Jody Gilbert to W.C. Fields in the memorable diner sketch in Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941). Look for her as well in Shadow of the Thin Man (also 1941), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), and Willard (1972).

Diner Sketch

American and Czech posters for Hal Ashby’s cult classic Being There (1970) starring Peter Sellers

Bryan Forbes’ stylish classic Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964)

starring Kim Stanley and Richard Attenborough


Tammy (2014)

Patricia Collinge in Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt (1943)



Susan Tyrrell (1945-2012), a Saint of the Quirky


The Boulting Brothers’ Twisted Nerve (1968):


Check out Bernard Hermann’s classic score: Twisted Nerve, Theme

Housebound (2014)

Video for Miss Jeannie Holliman’s “D.U.I. Blues,” from the documentary Mule Skinner Blues (2001)

D.U.I. Blues


CLASSIC ERA: Doll Face (1945), Home Sweet Homicide (1942), I Remember Mama (1948), Life with Father (1947), Purlie Victorious a/k/a Gone Are the Days! (1963), Séance on a Wet Afternoon (1964), Three Cornered Moon (1933), Whistle Down the Wind (1961) >>> COMEDY/DRAMA: Blues for Willadean (2012), The Future (2011), The Gong Show Movie (1980), The GoodTimesKid (2005), A New Leaf (1971), Paper Moon (1973), Willy/Milly a/k/a Something Special a/k/a I Was a Teenage Boy (1986) >>> DOCUMENTARY: The Atomic Café (1982), Blank City (2010), Finding Vivian Maier (2013), The Punk Singer (2014), Who Took Johnny (2013) >>> HORROR: Motel Hell (1980), 976-Evil (1988), Paperhouse (1988), Phase IV (1974), Q: The Winged Serpent (1982), The Sender (1982), Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things (1971), Tourist Trap (1979), Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964), Werewolf of Washington (1973), What’s the Matter with Helen? (1971) >>>

Finding Vivian Maier (2013)

Elsa Lanchester is a saint in the scheme of the Quirky, along with her husband Charles Laughton. She’s known most for playing the Bride in Bride of Frankenstein (1932), wife #4 in Private Life of Henry VIII (1933), Aunt Queenie in Bell, Book and Candle (1958), Katie Nanna in Mary Poppins (1964), the domineering mom in Willard (1971), and Jessica Marbles in Murder by Death (1976). My February 2014 article on Elsa Lanchester and songwriter Forman Brown focuses on their time with the queer and eccentric Turnabout Theatre. Read Online: Polari. Also see Turnabout: The Story of the Yale Puppeteers (1992, dir. Dan Bessie) in Documentaries (M-Z).


Philip Seymour Hoffman (1967 – 2014)

Still waiting for the Zellner Brothers’ Kid-Thing (2012) to be released on DVD.

A 2012 movie from the director of Sordid Lives (2000), released on DVD in February 2014.


Viña Delmar (1903 – 1990) wrote the Oscar-winning comedy The Awful Truth (1937) as well as the heartbreaking drama Make Way for Tomorrow the same year, both for director Leo McCarey.


The Mad Room (1969) directed by Bernard Girard,

a remake of Charles Vidor’s gothic-noir classic Ladies in Retirement (1941)

Algonquinite humorist Robert Benchley may not have originated the mockumentary but he was the first to popularize it. His many one-reelers are collected on DVD though hard to found. Try YouTube. Perhaps begin with “How to Sleep” (which one an Oscar) or “The Sex Life of the Polyp.” See entry on How To Sleep: Robert Benchley’s Miniatures in Classic Era (A-L).

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      Steve Buscemi b+w portrait by James Dimmock

A fashion-focused montage of clips from the otherwise impossible to find German film It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives (1971). Directed by Rosa von Praunheim.

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It Is Not the Homosexual

Christopher Guest as Corky St. Clair in Waiting for Guffman (1996) showing us his Remains of the Day lunchbox

Jennifer Coolidge and Patrick Cranshaw in Christopher Guest’s Best in Show (2000)

Jimmy Stewart, Thelma Ritter

From the Mike Leigh classic High Hopes (1988) with Philip Davis and Ruth Sheen

Roddy McDowall reads the stories of H.P. Lovecraft. Click link below to hear “The Outsider”

“The Outsider”

The Atomic Cafe (1982)

Bill and Coo (1948): Movie starring birds dressed as humans with a plot reflecting wartime fears and pushing patriotism. The tiny set won a special Academy Award.

Bill and Coo (Full-length Movie)

Pages from a Pop Culture Scrapbook I started in 1987:

My article in Polari on female impersonator Charles Pierce, the most famous Bette Davis impersonator in the world and supporting player in the film adaptation of Torch Song Trilogy (1988). There’s a link to Pierce’s one-person show, Legendary Ladies of the Silver Screen, at the bottom of the article.


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Misleading poster for the nearly impossible to find 1967 thriller Our Mother’s House with Pamela Franklin and Dirk Bogarde. From Jack Clayton, the director of The Innocents (1961) and The Pumpkin Eater (1964). Links below to trailer and Georges Delerue’s theme.


Our Mother’s House (Trailer)

Our Mother’s House (Theme Song)

Still not available on DVD in the US: The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (1972).

Here’s a link to Caglar Juan Singletary’s song-poem titled “Non-Violent TaeKwonDo Troopers” as featured in Jamie Meltzer’s highly recommended documentary Off the Charts: The Song-Poem Story (2003).

Singletary’s Song-Poem

This 2012 documentary is required viewing for fans of Cinema with Personality and film buffs generally

About UK poet Stevie Smith (1978); see entry in Comedy/Drama (M-Z)

Quirky actor of note: Dick Shawn gave voice to Snow Miser from A Year Without a Santa Claus (1974) and had memorable roles in movies like The Producers (1968) and the first Angel movie (1984). In 1987, he suffered a heart attack onstage while performing his act and died. He was 63-years-old. Check out my entry on his suicidal comedy Good-bye Cruel World (1983) in Comedy/Drama (A-L).

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The Secret Garden (1949) with Brian Roper, Dean Stockwell, Margaret O’Brien

Lucio Fulci classics

Shirley Valentine (1989) starring Pauline Collins

Paula E. Sheppard played bad seed Alice in the beautiful cult classic Alice Sweet Alice (1976) (see Horror A-L). She can be seen in only one other movie, an equal cult classic yet much rarer, called Liquid Sky (1982). She sings “Me and My Rhythm Box” (link below).

Clip from Liquid Sky: “Me and My Rhythm Box”

I really loved the manservant character in A New Leaf played by George Rose and had a vague memory of reading about him as an obscure gay icon who was murdered by his own recently adopted son. For more on the tragedy, see The Killing of Mr George


Went from a rather dry documentary Kraftwerk and the Electronic Revolution (2008) to an Indonesian jungle-cannibal flick Savage Terror from 1980 with the opening theme song being, of all things, Kraftwerk’s “We Are the Robots”! Thank ye gods of Quirky Cinema for another unpredictable thrill.


Ray Bradbury’s: The Electric Grandmother (1982) with Maureen Stapleton. A quirky family film that’s perfect for the winter months. 60 minutes and currently almost impossible to find on VHS let alone DVD.

House of Psychotic Women program playing at 92YTribeca



The much loved gay character Lindy (played by Antonio Fargas) added a queer kind of quirk to the cult classic Car Wash (1979). Censors cut Lindy out of the movie altogether when Car Wash aired on TV, robbing viewers of the movie’s most famous line, delivered with dignified sass (link below).

Scene from Car Wash

Fall from Grace (1990)

Virginia O’Brien (1919-2001), quirky vocalist known as “Miss Red Hot Frozen Face.” She wowed audiences in MGM musicals like The Big Store (1941) with the Marx Brothers and Panama Hattie (1942). See links below.

Virginia O’Brien “Did I Get Stinkin’ at the Club Savoy”

Virginia O’Brien “Rock-a-Bye Baby”

Posters for two movies by the Duplass Brothers

Frequent butler, Eric Blore, here in Picadilly Jim (1936)

Watch clip with E.E. Horton and Eric Blore from Shall We Dance (1937)

Thora Birch as Enid in Terry Zwigoff’s Ghost World (2001)

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

Strangers in Good Company a/k/a The Company of Strangers (1990)

Girl Stroke Boy (1971)

Revenge of Bigfoot (1979) starring Rory Calhoun, so obscure even I can’t find a copy. “An Indian moves in with a friendly rancher and a local bigot tries to run the Indian out of town. A bigfoot monster gets in his way” (IMDb).

Eating Raoul (1982)

(Check out Mary Woronov‘s paintings at http://www.maryworonov.com)

The Baby (1973)

Two actors who can be found throughout the Classic Era sections are Patsy Kelly (Movie Struck a/k/a Pick a Star, My Son the Hero, Nobody’s Baby, Pigskin Parade, Road Show, Topper Returns) and Zasu Pitts (Dames, Life with Father, Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch, So’s Your Aunt Emma! a/k/a Meet the Mob). Patsy Kelly was iconic enough to become the subject of a so-called Tijuana Bible. As for Zasu Pitts, her candy recipes were published posthumously as a book called Candy Hits by Zasu Pitts.

tumblr_lxbx5mtT401qe6nze (2)5135_1422559052


My essay on stalker movies from a sissy point of view is up at BRIGHT LIGHTS FILM JOURNAL:

“Last to Leave the Theater: Sissy Spectatorship of Stalker Movies and the ‘Final Girls’ Who Survive Them”

 Aline MacMahon and Guy Kibbee in Babbit (1934)


Brother Boy (Leslie Jordan) in Sordid Lives (2000)


Tugboat Annie (1933)

Quirky actor extraordinaire Marie Dressler incognito.

Click here to see clip of Marie Dressler in Dangerous Females.




The marquee of the movie theater in my hometown in southern Illinois, and an old newspaper ad

Legal Notice: This is an online reference guide. All the writing is by me, A. Loudermilk. I do not, however, own copyrights for any of the images. They are offered in the spirit of education, film studies, and cultural criticism. If you own the copyright of a certain image and wish it removed, leave a comment below.




Classic 139; Comedy/Drama 129; Documentary 133; Horror 128; 529

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