13 Classic Cinematic Betrayals
Tomorrow, The Social Network hits theaters, and if the early buzz is any indication, it should be a major success. Even if it fails to deliver at the box office, critical reception has been so positive that the film is already considered an Oscar contender. And it’s easy to see why. After all, who doesn’t love a good story of betrayal? While the events depicted in The Social Network are hotly contested by Facebook co-creator Mark Zuckerberg, a film involving friends back stabbing friends over a billion dollar idea seems a lot more watchable than a film about some guys coding a website.
In honor of The Social Network, here are 13 classic betrayals from the world of cinema.
SPOILER ALERT - THE WHOLE DAMN LIST IS A SPOILER!
Marcus Brutus - Julius Caesar (1970)
What list of classic betrayals would be complete without mention of Brutus from Julius Caesar. For well over 2000 years, the story of his betrayal has been making the rounds. And while there are many examples to choose from, I went with Jason Robards’ portrayal from the 1970 film. Why not James Mason’s 1953 version? F**k James Mason, that’s why! Limey git.
Judas Iscariot - Passion of the Christ (2004)
Another “must have” figure on any list involving betrayal, Judas Iscariot is synonymous with back stabbing. He’s a lot like Brutus, in the sense that people have been talking about him for over 2000 years. But unfortunately for Judas, the guy he killed turned out to have a pretty powerful father with a lot more clout than Caesar. To this day, billions of people curse his name.
The Bride - Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2 (2003 & 2004)
A lot of people like to pretend The Bride was the victim in the Kill Bill films. Those people are jerks. Clearly, Bill is the one who was wronged. He trained the woman, gave her a career, and loved her above all others. And how did she repay Bill’s kindness? By running off to marry some other dude while she was pregnant with his daughter. What an ungrateful trollop! Can you blame bill for massacring her wedding rehearsal? It’s a man’s world, Beatrix.
Holly Martins - The Third Man (1949)
Sure, Harry Lime (Orson Welles) is a callous prick who sells watered-down penicillin to sick children. But he’s charming! More importantly, he was your friend. Well, not your friend. But he was friends with Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten). And how did Martins repay his friendship? By exposing his whereabouts to the police who had previously thought he was dead. Choosing a bunch of sick kids over your friend? That’s pretty low.
Robert the Bruce - Braveheart (1995)
Technically, Robert the Bruce unwittingly betrayed William Wallace at the end of Braveheart. Bruce’s sexy looking father was actually the one to blame. But considering his earlier betrayal, secretly siding with the English at the Battle of Falkirk, we’re still adding him to the list. Of course, the movie’s 90% bullsh*t anyway, so perhaps Mel Gibson’s betrayal of history should be on the list instead of Robert.
Elsa -Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
What’s worse than finding out a woman has been sleeping with you for information? A lot of things, actually. One of them is finding out she’s a Nazi spy. Another is finding out she’s already boinked your old man! Supporting National Socialism is bad enough, but tricking someone into taking sloppy seconds from their dad is an unforgivable betrayal.
Price - Stalag 17 (1953)
Again with the Nazis? This time it’s Price (Peter Graves), a spy on the inside of a German POW camp who is trying to glean information from his “fellow Americans.” After thwarting several escape attempts and getting the escapees killed in the process, Price is on the lookout for another prisoner who is hiding somewhere in the camp. Luckily, Sefton (William Holden) was done putting up with his Nazi bunk, and exposed Price to the other prisoners. They didn’t take kindly to his treachery, and gave him a very special sendoff.
Dr. Charles Nichols - The Fugitive (1993)
Dr. Charles Nichols had developed a new wonder drug that was going to make him a lot of money. The only problem was that his friend, Dr. Richard Kimble, figured out it caused liver damage. Rather than lose out on all that cash, Nichols had a better idea: kill Kimble. That’s where things got a bit hairy. The hit man hired to do the job accidentally killed Kimble’s wife, instead, inadvertently framing Kimble for the crime. The rest, as they say, is mediocre movie history.
Nicky Santoro/Joey La Motta - Casino (1995)/Raging Bull (1980)
If I was Robert De Niro, I would keep my wife as far away from Joe Pesci as humanly possible. It seems Joe just can’t keep his hands of off Robert’s women, at least in the movies. In both Casino and Raging Bull, Pesci’s characters commit the ultimate betrayal by sleeping with De Niro’s characters’ wives. It was a little worse in Casino, since he also tries to have De Niro’s character killed, but at least he gets what’s coming to him at the end.
Lando Calrissian - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
When Lando first sees Han in The Empire Strikes Back, he greets him with the following line: “Why, you slimy, double-crossing, no-good swindler.” That’s what we psychology minors like to call “projecting.” By the time Han arrived, the fix was already in, and Lando had sold-out his old friend to the Empire. Granted, he redeems himself at the end of the film, but not before his friend is frozen solid and shipped of to a gangster’s crime palace. Too little, too late, Lando.
Fredo Corleone - The Godfather Part II (1974)
“I’m smart! I can handle things!”
Apparently not, since Fredo (John Cazale) was dumb enough to sell his brother Michael out to Jonny Ola and Hyman Roth. It’s understandable that he’d be upset about getting passed over as Godfather by his younger brother, but still. You never go against the family. Poor Fredo learned that the hard way, and now resides at the bottom of Lake Tahoe.
Lisa - The Room (2003)
If there is a more poignant tale of treachery and betrayal, I have yet to see it. Imagine discovering your future wife was only interested in you because she thought you could buy her a house. Now imagine that she’s been cheating on you with your best friend. That’s enough to tear any man apart, even our stoic hero, Johnny (Tommy Wiseau). Eventually, Johnny can no longer take the cruel torments of his two-timing fiancée, and takes his own life is a scene that can only be described as a cinematic tour-de-force.
What did I miss? Stab me in the front in the comments section.