WCW: All the Bad Girls and Bitches

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Today, we celebrate the bad girls, the bitches, the snark queens, and the mean girls of historical costume flicks.

 

Lady Catherine de Bourgh – Pride and Prejudice (1995)

Barbara Leigh-Hunt’s portrayal of Lady Catherine de Bourgh is hands-down my favorite. From her wide-eyed incredulity that screams “I can’t even with this bitch,” every time she looks at Elizabeth Bennett, to the expert way her pleasant smile morphs into a look of seething disdain, she manages to avoid being too cartoony or too straight-up bitchy. It’s subtle bitchiness at its finest.

No one under the age of 35 is allowed to have an opinion in this house!

Dissing your mother. Cold!

This look says it all.

 

Marquise de Merteuil – Dangerous Liaisons (1989)

Next up, we have Glenn Close’s contribution to the Mount Olympus of Bitchdom, with the Marquise de Merteuil, the Queen B of all 18th-century frock flicks. She won’t even wait until your back is turned to stab you, she’ll just plunge the knife in while staring you in the face.

 

Eleanor of Aquitaine – The Lion in Winter (1968)

Glenn Close did an admirable job in the role of one of the most badass queens in Western history, in the 2003 remake, but Katherine Hepburn‘s Eleanor is THE Definitive Eleanor as far as I’m concerned. She’s snarky, scathing, and looks fabulous in a wimple — three things I like in a woman.

Eleanor, charter member of the “I Don’t Care if it’s Period, I Just Want My Tits Out” club.

A Lion in Winter

They clearly take after their father.

 

Scarlett O’Hara – Gone With The Wind (1939)

Vivien Leigh defined the role of the young, beautiful, immature spoiled brat who shockingly is still somehow likable even if you know that in real life, you’d want to shank that bitch five minutes after meeting her.

Well, fiddle-dee-fuck you.

 

QueenieBlackadder II (1986)

Miranda Richardson’s Queenie is delightfully evil. Her one joy in life is tormenting Edmund Blackadder and watching him freak-the-eff out, all while trying to suck up to her and edge Lord Melchett out of her favor.

 

Marguerite – Ever After (1998)

You think Ludmilla, the wicked stepmother, was the worst of the bunch? You clearly haven’t run into Marguerite, the eldest stepsister (played by Megan Dodds), who gives her mother a run for her money in the bitch department. Like Lady Catherine de Bourgh, it’s not necessarily the bitchiness that comes out of her mouth at every opportunity, but the tiny expressions of pure loathing that do it for me.

I have been trying to perfect this look since the movie came out.

Sorry not sorry.

 

 

Want to fight me on which Lady Catherine de Bourgh was better, Barbara Leigh-Hunt or Judi Dench? Bring it in the comments!

26 Responses

  1. MoHub

    I will take Judy Parfitt’s Lady Catherine in the 1980 P&P. And Hepburn’s Eleanor is, as you say, definitive.

    Reply
    • Susan Haseltine

      I totally agree about Judy Parfitt as Lady Catherine – aside from lusting after her wardrobe! Not that I disagree about any of the others – it’s the bitches that are the salt in the soup!

      Reply
  2. thedementedfairy

    Haven’t seen the last one, and it’s been years since I revelled in Hepburn’s queen bitchery, but yeah baby! Bring on the evils! You forgot Sian Philips’ wonderful Livia in ‘I Claudius’ though. I could slide off my seat just thinking of that amazing, evil drawl and those eyes. Meeow,

    Reply
  3. ladylavinia1932

    How about Diana Rigg as Arlena Marshall in “Evil Under the Sun”? The actress who had portrayed Arlena in the 2001 version was a ghost of Rigg’s version.

    Reply
  4. revknits

    Omgosh, yes, Livia is everything. I thought Judy Dench was a little too reserved in her Lady Catherine role – a matter of taste, I suspect. And Katherine H’s Eleanor is one of my fav performances ever.

    Reply
  5. Charity

    I was yelling, “GAWD YES” at every single one of these.

    I know you hate Reign with the power of a thousand suns (and for good reason) but their Catherine de Medici is spot on a colossal royal bitch — and hilarious to boot. She is LITERALLY the only reason I watch that hot mess — to see her insult, scheme, manipulate, humiliate, demean, and poison people.

    Reply
  6. Susan Pola Staples

    I love them all, with the exception of Scarlet. My favourite GWTW character was Melanie.
    But you forgot Cate Blanchett in Cinderella. And Nicole Kidman in Golden Compass.

    Reply
  7. Bea

    I’ve only seen clips, since it was a stage play, yet Lindsay Duncan’s Marquise de Merteuil tops Close’s. She’s an acid-coated iron fist in an obsidian-edged glove made of piano-wire lace. If she doesn’t scald you, she’ll cut you. And then complain about what it’s done to her glove.

    Reply
    • Lyn Robb

      Lindsay as Servilia of the Junii in “I Claudius” was also brilliantly cutting (and a royal mention goes to Polly Walker in the same show).

      Reply
    • Stephani

      Ah, Sandy Duncan kills me! She’s faaaaabulosly bitchy as Lady Bellaston in Tom Jones (1997). Scheming, gorgeously dressed, gets all the hot young men, and orchestrates the attempted rape of her own niece.
      I have a serious soft spot for Tom Jones.

      Reply
  8. Leigh

    Eleanor/Katherine. Hands down for me. Names both my daughters after that combination/performance.

    Reply
    • Janette

      Eleanor was my chosen name for a daughter but we only had boys so it is on hold for the first granddaughter and I will be the bitch mother in law insisting on my choice of name, which is oddly fitting really given the namesake.

      Reply
  9. Jill

    hee hee hee I totally forgot about Marguerite. She’s the best/worst. Also, I’ve just added Dangerous Liaisons to my To Watch list.

    Reply
  10. Mr Elton

    I like Dame Judi in almost everything but her portrayal of Lady Catherine d B is, imho, one-dimensional. She is just angry or upset in every scene. (+ It always bugs me that she is so tanned.) Barbara Leigh-Hunt’s formidable Lady C would instantly break down my self-confidence. I’d loose my will to live if I’d summer with Mr Collins and walk over to Rosings every evening for one of Lady Catherine’s monologues or interrogations about my family…

    Reply
  11. Marie McGowan Irving

    I just about died laughing at ‘Well fiddle dee fuck you.’ I may have to steal it :D

    Reply

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