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100 Best Female Character Roles

  1. Alma (Patricia Neal), Hud (1963)
    This slow-drawling, womanly, wised-up housekeeper tells the incorrigible Paul Newman she’d have happily had sex with him if he’d asked her instead of trying to rape her. Suffice it to say, this takes place in Texas.
  2. Ellie Andrews (Claudette Colbert), It Happened One Night (1934)
    The spoiled heiress must defy her father and run off to marry Mr. Right if she is ever to grow up and be her own person; and then, of course, she must learn that her father was right about how wrong her Mr. Right is so that she can see that her Mr. Wrong (who happens to be her father’s Mr. Right-for-her) is the real Mr. Right.
  3. Anita (Rita Moreno), West Side Story (1961)
    The feisty, hot, experienced, I-like-to-be-in-America girl who’s whore to Maria’s virgin, and causes everybody a lot less trouble for it.
  4. Anna (Deborah Kerr), The King and I (1956)
    The warmest, most gracious instrument of 19th-century Western imperialism ever invented.
  5. Mary Hatch Bailey (Donna Reed), It’s a Wonderful Life
    Sure, it’s a portrait of unquestioning love. It’s also a tribute to a lost breed–women who quietly, unfussily prevail.
  6. Judy Barton/Madeleine Elster (Kim Novak), Vertigo (1958)
    Victim? Predator? Ghost? Hitchcock’s enigma-to-beat-most-other-enigmas. The gal most guys deserve to meet.
  7. Ellen Berent (Gene Tierney), Leave Her to Heaven (1945)
    What goes on in this all-too-pretty head? Desperate strategizing. If your crippled brother-in-law threatens to take your husband’s attention away from you, simply engineer a tragic drowning. If your unborn baby makes the same mistake? Throw yourself down the stairs. Points for originality.

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