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  1. #1
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    The thing that annoys me most about many American films is the fact that you can always guess the villain because they have an English accent. (No idea why). Some US series also use an English actor/accent to portray a bumbling idiot.



    Have we ever been - or are we- guilty of the same?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Country: UK Moor Larkin's Avatar
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    name='JustColl'][FONT="Tahoma"][SIZE="3"]The thing that annoys me most about many American films is the fact that you can always guess the villain because they have an English accent. (No idea why). Some US series also use an English actor/accent to portray a bumbling idiot.
    Which is it then? Villain or Idiot?



    In answer to your qvestion. Ze Eeenglish haf never schtooped to schtereotyping anybody!! be zey French, Spanish or German!!!



    Anyvon arguing viz zis vill be poot against ze vall and shot!! Ziet Hiel!!



    That bloke's a nutter

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    name='Moor Larkin']Which is it then? Villain or Idiot?



    In answer to your qvestion. Ze Eeenglish haf never schtooped to schtereotyping anybody!! be zey French, Spanish or German!!!



    Anyvon arguing viz zis vill be poot against ze vall and shot!! Ziet Hiel!!



    That bloke's a nutter


    I vill zay ziss only vunce: Brbrbrbrbrbprprlllbrr (zat voz a vazberry)



    Sorry - didn't mean Europeans - I suppose I was wondering if we do it to the over-the-pondies?

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    name='JustColl']I vill zay ziss only vunce: Brbrbrbrbrbprprlllbrr (zat voz a vazberry)



    Sorry - didn't mean Europeans - I suppose I was wondering if we do it to the over-the-pondies?


    You mean the Europeans deserve it???????!!!!!

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    name='suzepulcheria']You mean the Europeans deserve it???????!!!!!


    No, that's not what I meant at all.



    Maybe it is the Americans I should be asking? Whenever I watch an American thriller/action movie and there's a bad guy, I can always tell who it is going to be; assuming there is an actor with a British accent. Also, in US sitcoms (my kids used to watch them) I noticed that the English were sometimes portrayed as erm... two reels short of a movie?



    So to ask from a different angle - are there any American posters here who when watching foreign films, notice that their countrymen are portrayed in a negative way?

  6. #6
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    name='JustColl']No, that's not what I meant at all.



    Maybe it is the Americans I should be asking? Whenever I watch an American thriller/action movie and there's a bad guy, I can always tell who it is going to be; assuming there is an actor with a British accent. Also, in US sitcoms (my kids used to watch them) I noticed that the English were sometimes portrayed as erm... two reels short of a movie?



    So to ask from a different angle - are there any American posters here who when watching foreign films, notice that their countrymen are portrayed in a negative way?


    I suppose I hadn't really thought of any negative perceptions of Brits in American films or television shows. But of course, you would notice things I would not.



    Americans appear very rarely in pre-1960 British films. Powell and Pressburger have Americans in prominent roles in A Canterbury Tale and A Matter of Life and Death, and they are portrayed in a positive light.



    I enjoy period epics and Americans do not play a role in Doctor Zhivago or Lawrence of Arabia or Nicholas and Alexandra!



    The Americans who appear in As Time Goes By and Fawlty Towers and Are You Being Served are ludicrous stereotypes - but those are comedies, and they are supposed to be funny. I certainly don't take offense.



    Very few British actors play Americans. Of those who do, I thought Kate Beckinsale's accent in The Golden Bowl was remarkable, flawless. I would have assumed she was American.



    Vanessa Redgrave's accent in Isadora was very, very poor - almost unbelievable. She is one of the finest actresses of the century, but she cannot do an American accent.



    Jane Seymour played an American in the mini-series War and Remembrance. Her accent was fairly good, with some slips - I can always tell by the pronunciation of "R". But she is so beautiful and the series was so well made that I graciously forgave her.



    I suppose it would be nice to see an American who is not from California or Texas or the midwest. This nation is enormous, with a great deal of regional variation. But that is hardly a complaint - I would just like to see it attempted. It would be interesting.

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    Thanks, Tim for an interesting response. I had never thought of the regional accent aspect (and I can, to a point, distinguish between some - deep south, Texas, Bronx etc). And now I come to think about it most of the British accents in US films are either RP or vague cockney. I can't remember having heard for example Cornish or Northern accents.



    As for Jane Seymour - if I can mention a US film here - she was wonderful in 'Somewhere in Time'. Oooh! I've just realised that Christopher Plummer played a rather unpleasant character in that one too! ;-)

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    Maybe they use english accents to make it easier for there viewers to work out who the villian is, dont forget during the cold war, you were the enemy if you had a russian acsent!!!, nice and easy to portray.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    name='JustColl']Thanks, Tim for an interesting response. I had never thought of the regional accent aspect (and I can, to a point, distinguish between some - deep south, Texas, Bronx etc). And now I come to think about it most of the British accents in US films are either RP or vague cockney. I can't remember having heard for example Cornish or Northern accents.


    Well, we (Americans) have probably heard many of Britain's regional accents without realizing where they were from, simply because there used to be so many British actors in American films!



    British films are among my favorites, and I do work at understanding the various accents. I have become rather good at it. But I still make plenty of mistakes - usually when the actor is from Yorkshire or Cornwall.



    In Michael Powell's autobiography, he describes Margaret Leighton as having a "Brimingham accent". What is that? I have much to learn.



    Most of my favorite films are pre-1960, and Hollywood was extremely anglophile during much of that time. The list of anglophile films is very long - especially during the war years.



    The spirit of Kipling was alive and well in Hollywood long after he was mocked in Britain.



    Bob Hope, the quintessential American actor/celebrity/comedian - one of the most beloved Americans of the twentieth century (not exaggerating, mostly because of his work with the USO) - was born in England. Cary Grant. Elizabeth Taylor. Greer Garson. Ronald Colman. Deborah Kerr. Hayley Mills was the most popular child actor in US history after Shirley Temple.



    That, of course, is just the beginning.



    Americans who are interested in Britain tend to be anglophile; the majority of my countrymen are not really interested one way or ther other. This is unfortunate, but certainly true. Anglophobe attitudes are very, very rare.



    As for Jane Seymour - if I can mention a US film here - she was wonderful in 'Somewhere in Time'. Oooh! I've just realised that Christopher Plummer played a rather unpleasant character in that one too! ;-)


    That is a favorite of my wife's. I don't particularly like it (I leave the room when it is on because my comments are "not appreciated"! ) but I know it has a cult following.



    And Christopher Plummer is Canadian!

  10. #10
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    name='mcmanus.darrel']Maybe they use english accents to make it easier for there viewers to work out who the villian is, dont forget during the cold war, you were the enemy if you had a russian acsent!!!, nice and easy to portray.


    Are there really that many villains with English accents?

  11. #11
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    Dont get me wrong, we British stereotype, think of "Shirley valentine" spanish waiter trying to get off with the english girl!

    Having said that just look at post ww2 american warfilms, the british arnt always portrayed in a good light.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    name='mcmanus.darrel']Dont get me wrong, we British stereotype, think of "Shirley valentine" spanish waiter trying to get off with the english girl!

    Having said that just look at post ww2 american warfilms, the british arnt always portrayed in a good light.


    Sure - I take your point. It is a mix, really - and there are British stereotypes.

  13. #13
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    name='TimR']Well, we (Americans) have probably heard many of Britain's regional accents without realizing where they were from, simply because there used to be so many British actors in American films!



    British films are among my favorites, and I do work at understanding the various accents. I have become rather good at it. But I still make plenty of mistakes - usually when the actor is from Yorkshire or Cornwall.



    In Michael Powell's autobiography, he describes Margaret Leighton as having a "Brimingham accent". What is that? I have much to learn.
    For a small place there is a huge variety in the accents here.

    When Professor Higgins (in Pygmalion & My Fair Lady) said he could identify where someone came from within a few streets, it wasn't too far from the truth. People didn't travel as much then and they didn't hear many other accents



    There has been some levelling out over the last few decades, thanks mainly to TV. But there are still quite a lot of variations to be heard.



    The Birmingham accent, or its more extreme cousin, the Black Country accent, is often described as sounding like the speaker is whining or complaining, and having been to Birmingham quite often I can understand why



    Read and listen to this BBC page about Black Country accents



    Most of my favorite films are pre-1960, and Hollywood was extremely anglophile during much of that time. The list of anglophile films is very long - especially during the war years.



    The spirit of Kipling was alive and well in Hollywood long after he was mocked in Britain.



    Bob Hope, the quintessential American actor/celebrity/comedian - one of the most beloved Americans of the twentieth century (not exaggerating, mostly because of his work with the USO) - was born in England. Cary Grant. Elizabeth Taylor. Greer Garson. Ronald Colman. Deborah Kerr. Hayley Mills was the most popular child actor in US history after Shirley Temple.



    That, of course, is just the beginning.



    Americans who are interested in Britain tend to be anglophile; the majority of my countrymen are not really interested one way or ther other. This is unfortunate, but certainly true. Anglophobe attitudes are very, very rare.





    As for Jane Seymour - if I can mention a US film here - she was wonderful in 'Somewhere in Time'. Oooh! I've just realised that Christopher Plummer played a rather unpleasant character in that one too! ;-)
    That is a favorite of my wife's. I don't particularly like it (I leave the room when it is on because my comments are "not appreciated"! ) but I know it has a cult following.



    And Christopher Plummer is Canadian!
    I got into a similar problem when all the ladies in the extended family (Mum, Aunt, Sister & female cousins) were watching Little Women on TV.



    I watched part of it and heard them referring to their mother as "Marmie".

    So when their father appeared I couldn't resist saying "Oh look, it's Dardie"



    Exit Steve, pursued by a hail of cushions



    Steve

  14. #14
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    name='TimR']Very few British actors play Americans. Of those who do, I thought Kate Beckinsale's accent in The Golden Bowl was remarkable, flawless. I would have assumed she was American.




    The late Barry Morse made a career out of playing Americans.



    Bob Hoskins played so many US roles in the 80s most American cinema-goers thought he WAS American! His accent always embarrassed me, but was apparrantly perfectly acceptable over there.



    Danger Man is one show that was always full of Brits doing awful American accents. Pat's accent (his US citizenship notwithstanding) was grating enough - thank goodness he dropped it for The Prisoner.

  15. #15
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    name='TimR']

    And Christopher Plummer is Canadian!


    Oops





    name='TimR']Are there really that many villains with English accents?


    It is usually a certain type of movie but yes, there really are. I once mentioned it to an American friend who recalled there being an article in Time magazine about it.



    It isn't the sterotyping that bothers me so much (though it puzzles me) - it's the fact that it gives away the plot.

  16. #16
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    name='JustColl']It is usually a certain type of movie but yes, there really are. I once mentioned it to an American friend who recalled there being an article in Time magazine about it.



    It isn't the sterotyping that bothers me so much (though it puzzles me) - it's the fact that it gives away the plot.


    The article in Time would be interesting to see.



    Actors often say that playing the villain is more fun than playing the hero.

    But could it be because there are a group of British actors who are just so good at playing villains?



    Malcolm McDowell, Anthony Hopkins, Gary Oldman ...

    They are very good at it



    Steve

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    name='Steve Crook']The article in Time would be interesting to see.



    Actors often say that playing the villain is more fun than playing the hero.

    But could it be because there are a group of British actors who are just so good at playing villains?



    Malcolm McDowell, Anthony Hopkins, Gary Oldman ...

    They are very good at it



    Steve


    Yes, I too would have liked to have seen that article. I wonder if they archive online?



    And yes, you do have a point - we have some excellent bad guys - and if it's a comedy, it doesn't bother me at all. It's more the whodunnit / who's-gonna-do-it that I find annoying. I *want* not to know. I *like* guessing / being surprised. I wish they'd have Gary Oldman playing the good guy just so I can be fooled!

  18. #18
    Senior Member Country: UK Moor Larkin's Avatar
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    Didn't all this British as baddies myth start and finish with Alan Rickman in Die Hard?



    Can't say as I've really noticed it otherwise. British actors often play baddies but they usually pretend to be American...... I'm thinking of that bloke from Yorkshire - Joss something or other was it? And Michael thingy, who does Dumbledore for a living nowadays. Gary Oldman is always American isn't he, when he does his gangstery stuff.



    So far as the Birmingham accent goes, I'm not sure 'whiny' is quite right. There used to be a good joke, that, as always I can't remember properly, but it was to do with the confusion between a man wearing a Kipper Tie (think 1970's) and asking for a Cup Of Tea.



    I thought the baddies in American movies were always Colombian anyhow..... Mexicans becoming too important a part of the potential Box Office over the years...... presumably.



    Americans are usually shown positively in old British movies because that way, the doughboys were more likely to give us chocolate and nylon stockings.




  19. #19
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    name='JustColl']The thing that annoys me most about many American films is the fact that you can always guess the villain because they have an English accent.
    I don't know about films, but obviously this writer stereotypes.

  20. #20
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    name='Moor Larkin']So far as the Birmingham accent goes, I'm not sure 'whiny' is quite right. There used to be a good joke, that, as always I can't remember properly, but it was to do with the confusion between a man wearing a Kipper Tie (think 1970's) and asking for a Cup Of Tea.


    Something like that



    The Birmingham / Black Country accent makes people sound like they're whining or complaining a bit. for the "full on" whine there's always the Liverpool accent



    Steve

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