6 Movie Hostages Who Fought Back

Monday, November 14 by Joseph Gibson

Hostage situations are common in movies because of the inherent drama they represent. What could be more dramatic than a tense stand-off between captor and captive? Even more dramatic: when the supposedly "helpless" hostages fight back against their captors. If that sounds like a fun way to spend an afternoon, here are six movie hostages who fought back.

  1. Alan Squier, "The Petrified Forest" One advantage a hostage can have against the hostage-taker is being suicidal. With nothing to live for, the hostage becomes a lot harder to manage. That's how it is for Duke Mantee, the escaped fugitive who takes a handful of people in a small rural diner and filling station hostage in "The Petrified Forest." The movie ends with Alan imploring Duke to kill him so 'the girl' (Bette Davis) of the story can collect an insurance settlement—kind of a weird way to fight back, but since Duke gets shot down by the police a few minutes after, it's a tally for the "win" column.
  2. Dorothy Gale, "The Wizard of Oz" Everyone knows the plot of "The Wizard of Oz," so suffice it to say that Dorothy doesn't just sit back and allow herself to be held by the evil Wicked Witch of the West. She and her friends stage a daring escape, which culminates in dousing the Witch in water, which causes her to, of course, melt. Pretty gruesome when you see it all typed out like that, huh?
  3. Frank McCloud, "Key Largo" When the owners (and a couple guests) of a Key Largo hotel are preparing for an impending hurricane, the last thing they need is some old-time gangster like Johnny Rocco barging in and holding them hostage. Luckily, one of those guests is Frank McCloud, a guy who's done some pretty terrible things in the War and who's willing to do some more terrible things now. The stand-off on a boat is one of the most famous movie endings of all time, as McCloud gets the drop on Rocco and blows him away. The lesson here: Never let your hostage get a hold of a gun.
  4. Susy Hendrix, "Wait Until Dark" The interesting thing here is that for a lot of the movie, the blind Susy Hendrix doesn't even realize she's being targeted by criminals, after a stash of heroin she doesn't even know she has. But once she gets wind of the situation, her captors better watch out: Susy's crafty – the first thing she does is smash out all the lights so they can be as in the dark as she is.
  5. The President of the United States, "Escape from New York" Sometimes all it takes to give a hostage the courage to fight back is a helping hand. In the case of this particular famous hostage, that helping hand is Snake Plissken, a criminal in a dystopic future society where New York City has been converted to a massive city-size prison. When Air Force One crashes into the middle of that prison, it's Plissken who has to go get the Prez out.  But the President doesn't get rescued without firing a few shots at his former captor, The Duke of New York. Man, this is a weird movie, isn't it?
  6. Jean-Claude Van Damme, "JCVD" Life is tough for Jean-Claude. He lost his daughter in a custody battle, and he's got no money to pay his attorney. So it's safe to say that it's not his day when he gets embroiled in a hostage situation at a post office, and the authorities all think he's the guilty party. He eventually fights back in ways both physical and intellectual, although the roundhouse kick to the face he fantasizes about delivering turns out to be just a quick elbow to the gut before the police intervene. Real life isn't as exciting as the movies.
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