Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Six Fictional Characters From the Mountain State

1.  Clarice Starling

This is one of the most compelling West Virginia born characters ever created.  In Silence of the Lambs her country origins emerge as a powerful part of her anxieties about dealing with superiors and the FBI world itself.  ATF ranked her as the sixth best protagonist in the last hundred years of film.

Her accent was a little off, but Foster was extremely convincing as a West Virginia native character.  her defining role.

2.  Aunt Bee

Francis Bavier had few other roles that anyone today would remember.  But she did get to portray one of American culture's most iconic characters.  The Andy Griffith Show's Aunt Bee was the perfect example of small town grandmotherly love and concern.  In real life, it has been said that she was a little more wild than the kindly woman seen on TV.  On the show, she hailed from Morgantown.  This was the actual hometown of co-star Don Knotts.

3. Harry Powell

This is one of the most disturbing characters to ever make it to the big screen.  Much of the credit goes to Robert Mitchum's portrayal of the dangerous con man/preacher in Night of the Hunter.

Love tattooed on one hand, hate on the other.  Powell seduces a widow on the chance of finding an ill gotten $10,000.  When she discovers the ruse, he kills her.

The plot only gets more diabolical from here.

4.  Connie Mills

The Connie Mills character from The Mothman Prophecies is a breath of fresh air for West Virginia film fans.  She is professional, strong, intelligent, attractive, yet down to earth.  She seems at home in the fake Point Pleasant seen in the film.

5.  Ray Gillette

This is one of the most interesting and hilarious characters ever drawn from West Virginia that manages to not be used to abuse the state.  In the FX show Archer, Ray Gillette is an openly gay field agent.

His backstory includes Olympic gold medals, experience as a Marshall University cheerleader, and former preacher.  The episode "Bloody Ferlin" shows him going home to save his brother from a corrupt sheriff, or so he thinks.  "Ferlin" is set in southern West Virginia and manages to be somewhat accurate wirthout being openly insulting.

The Gillette character and the Ferlin portrayal definitely lead you to think that there is or are West Virginia natives working on this show.

6.  Jennifer Elizabeth Marlowe

Jennifer Elizabeth Marlowe, the beautiful blonde played by Loni Anderson (pre Burt Reynolds) was a smackdown to a slew of stereotypes, not just West Virginians.  She is the receptionist at a struggling Cincinnati radio station called WKRP, but happens to be the smartest one of the bunch.  She uses her charms to attract wealthy older men's attention and money.  One never sees them, but their costly gifts generally show up in the lobby.  After years of West Virginia hicks and ditzy blond bombshells, her character was pretty well drawn.

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