EDITORIAL: Movies with collectors and hoarders

(image: blog.suntimes.com)

A literally weird editorial initiative from Examiner.com (where my articles and reviews are published) came down the pipe to their writers, including myself, this week.  It's entitled "Strange Collections" and the goal was to spotlight the people out there who take pride in collecting vast amounts of unusual things, whether it would be comic books, coins, stamps, or into the realms of weirder collectibles (link and link) that we can't even imagine.  As with most editorial initiatives, I tried to think of a movie-related equivalent or spin I could go with.  When I think of collections, I think of "hoarders," and there have been some unique, odd, twisted, funny, and great movie characters who fit the profile of either being a hoarder or a collector.  The best and first example comes from cinema history's highest regarded film, 1941's Citizen Kane.  Take a read and see what I mean:

EVERYTHING:  Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles) from Citizen Kane--The character, modeled off of powerful publisher William Randolph Hearst, was truly a man who had to have everything on his massive Xanadu estate (the above picture is from the end of the movie, as you will see in this clip that follows as well).  He had art, animals, property, antiques.  You name it.  Upon his passing, the mystery of his vast collection, set for either sale or destruction, was the identity of "Rosebud"  from the man's last words.  It's amazing how the little things we keep become dismissed for a time, yet remain a poignant memory later.

Get the idea?  Does that make you remember a few more?  If not, here are some more famous (and some not-so-famous) movie collectors and hoarders.  I present them in alphabetical order of what the character collects (word of warning: many clips have violence and/or strong language).  Enjoy!

ACTION FIGURES:  Andy (Steve Carell) from The 40-Year-Old Virgin,  the toy collector in Toy Story 2, and Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt) from Young Adult-- Call them nerd hoarders.  Whether they left their precious man-dolls in the box (Andy), sold them for rarity and riches (Toy Story 2), or amalgamated and modified them into new ones of your own creation (Matt), these guys have a thing for plastic muscles and outfits.

APES:  The human characters in Rise of the Planet of the Apes-- Between James Franco's science research facility and the cruel animal preserve run by Brian Cox, the apes are the ones collected in cages.  Turn about is fair play later on this list.  (full review)  (trailer)

ANIMALS:  Evan (Steve Carell) in Evan Almighty--Modeled after who may be the world's first collector and hoarder, Noah, our former newsman and congressman has to gather animals and repeat the famous Biblical plight of a coming flood.  (trailer)

ANTIQUITIES:  Laura Croft (Angelina Jolie) from the Tomb Raider series and Dr. Jones (Harrison Ford) from the Indiana Jones series-- Between raiding for your own collection or shouting "it belongs in a museum," these two adventuresome archaeologists knew what the good stuff was and how do find it.  It's a bummer in Indy's case that they all end up in a warehouse sometimes.

ARMOR:  Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton)  in Batman--When Bruce Wayne first introduces himself to reporters Alexander Knox (Robert Wuhl) and Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) its when the two of them are lost in the armory room of his mansion.  Small scene (ignore the bad audio), but an easy movie collection example.

ART:  Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) fromThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo--Plenty of movie characters in the century of cinema have had an affinity for art.  I could likely list many, but a unique art collection is Henrik Vanger's in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  You see, he mysteriously receives a painting of flowers every year for 30+ years from whom he thinks is his great niece's murderer.  (full review)  (eight minute prologue)

AUTOGRAPHS:  Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks) from The Terminal-- The most unique collection of autographs is what Tom Hanks keeps in the coffee can after being marooned in the international airport terminal in New York.  Watch the movie and see what all of the jazz is about. (trailer)

BODY PARTS:  Captain Love (Matt Letscher) from The Mask of Zorro and Francis Dollarhyde (Tom Noonan and Ralph Fiennes) in Manhunter and  Red Dragon--Yeah, I heard an "ewww" too.  If you remember, the minor villain inThe Mask of Zorro keeps jars of token body parts of the criminals he's caught and killed.  On a larger scale, the main serial killer in both versions of the first Hannibal Lector story collects body parts of his victims in Dahmer fashion.

CLOCKS:  Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) in the Back to the Future series-- Anyone who's seen the opening credits of the first Back to the Future know that Doc's got a thing for clocks.  (montage)

COINS:  Mr. Tyree (Richard Jenkins) from Dear John-- Richard Jenkins's father character to Channing Tatum's lead and his OCD for coins plays a prominent part of the father-son relationship.  (opening scene)

CARS:  The thieves (led by Nicolas Cage) in Gone in 60 Seconds-- Some collections aren't owned.  They are stolen.  How pretty are those cars with female names in this movie?  Hello ladies!  (trailer)

EVIDENCE: Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) in Memento--  Plenty of cops track down and keep evidence, but when an everyday person does it through Polaroid pictures and tattoos, that's something a little different. Christopher Nolan's original backwards mindbender always makes a good viewing challenge.  (trailer)

GADGETS:  Major Geoffrey Boothroyd, better known as "Q" (Desmong Llewelyn), from the James Bond series-- Where women (and some men) love their multitude of trendy Bed, Bath, and Beyond kitchen gadgets and men (and some women), raid Sears for every cool Craftsmen too possible to fill the garage, the best of the best in terms of collecting and keeping the best tools and gadgets goes to our main man Q at MI6.  (first appearance and a later clip)

GARBAGE:  Ariel from The Little Mermaid and Wall-E from Wall-E-- In some circles, the "picking" and collecting of trash, garbage, and the discarded items of others is an art finding buried treasure.  In other circles (article), those people have serious psychological issues.  That being said, who's going to call Wall-E (clip) or Ariel (clip) weird, ill, or crazy?!

GLOVES:  Willie Mays Hayes (Wesley Snipes) in Major League-- With a goal of 100 stolen bases for the coming season (well, when he's not sliding short), Willie buys 100 pairs of batting gloves, one for each stolen base.  After each successful stolen base, he mounts the pairs of gloves to his wall.  Classy decor!

GUNS:  Col. Frank Fitts (Chris Cooper) in American Beauty-- For as much as classic guns are pretty, they could come in handy when you need a few bullets.  (5:57 mark of this clip)

LIGHTSABERS:  General Greivous from Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith-- This four-armed  guy likes to carry around the lightsabers of the Jedi he's bested.  (clip)

OLD JOBS:  Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers) from Wayne's World and Bob Parr in The Incredibles Some guys can't let go of their old lives and cling to tokens of their old stomping grounds.  Take Wayne and his old nametags and hairnets and Bob with his memory-filled trophy room of news clips and souvenirs from his days as Mr. Incredible (check out this unreleased teaser to see more).

SOULS:  Any movie incarnation of the Devil-- Mr. Mephistopheles is always shopping in different shapes and forms in dozens and hundreds of horror movies.  Putting the horror genre aside, was their a better cinematic incarnation of Satan than Al Pacino in The Devil's Advocate?  I think not.  (speech #1 and speech #2)

SKIN:  Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine) in The Silence of the Lambs-- Just as bad as other Hannibal Lector back-up villains, our lotion expert Buffalo Bill likes to take skin from his victims for a human quilt.  Ewww again!  (clip)

SKULLS AND SPINES:  The alien trophy hunter from Predator-- The bigger question than why is how does he pull it out without bringing ribs with it? It's as preposterous as it is gross, especially when he's later steaming the flesh off of the heads of his kills like he's cooking.

UMBRELLAS:  Oswald Cobblepot (Danny DeVito) in Batman Returns--Who knew he loved Rihanna before we did?  (homage clip)

VINYL RECORDS:  Shaun (Simon Pegg) from Shaun of the Dead and Rob (John Cusack) from High Fidelity-- To the old-school music lovers out there, vinyl sounds better than CDs or MP3.  For zombie-killer Shaun, they make good weapons too, but only certain discerning ones.  On the complete opposite end of the spectrum for our Chicago guy Rob in High Fidelity, music creates the autobiographical moments and windows to key events in his life.  The tracks he experiences and the Top 5 lists he makes define him.

WAR TOKENS:  The "Bastards" (lead by Brad Pitt) from Inglorious Basterds and Sgt. Mike Horvath (Tom Sizemore) from Saving Private Ryan-- Plenty of soldiers earn medals and keep their old uniforms after war with pride and patriotism in remembrance and reminder to their time there.  And then there are the "Basterds" led by Col. Aldo Raine.  As described by him on their first day of duty, they are on the quest for 100 Nazi scalps.  That's definitely not my cup of tea.  I'll go the Sgt. Horvath route in Saving Private Ryan  and collect sand and soil souvenirs (4:40 mark of this clip) in old tobacco tins from all of countries he served in during World War II.  I'd say it's all little easier to package and clean-up.

WOMEN:  The "Casanova" (Cary Elwes) and "Gentleman Caller" (Tony Goldwyn) killers from Kiss the Girls-- Last and on the road of least, Morgan Freeman's detective superstar Alex Cross deduces that killer (and soon, killers) he's after is not just a killer, but a "collector" of young fine women in the woods of North Carolina.  That wasn't good news for Ashley Judd, until she got away, in one of the best serial killer thrillers out there.  (trailer)