[WARNING: Some scenes and text may offend] If your job description includes being able to thrash someone within an inch of their miserable lives and doing so with impunity while enjoying the odd drink on the job, you’re either a cop or a bouncer.
Bouncers, like cops, are there to maintain the status quo: ensuring that the good-looking, monied classes get preferential treatment and aren’t made to shuffle their feet with the rest of the lumpenproles in line, however this isn’t their sole responsibility: they’re also called upon to do the kind of math long forgotten since the 5th grade: being able to calculate how old someone is, simply by looking at the date of birth on their authentic, state of Hawaii Driver’s License.
Bouncers face occupational hazards that the average cop doesn’t have to deal with, the “I could take that guy” delusion that drunks with superhuman Popeye strength brought on by cheap bourbon rather than leafy greens think they possess. A cop faced with a similar notion could, say, have you quickly chalk outlined on the street, whereas a bouncer has to put aside their headset and determine whether a disorderly patron can be talked down, or separated from both their dental work/teary girlfriend and sent a-packing.
You’d think a profession where there’s a near constant threat of having a pinot bottle slammed off the side of your noggin like a newly christened cruise ship would land bouncers more film and TV gigs beyond the usual “Sorry sir, I don’t see a ‘Lindonhoffer’, party of two, anywhere on the list?” roles. Generally though, it’s their biceps that are called upon to wring the neck of the depressed, drunk protagonist, ignoring pleas of the leading lady as they toss them out of their favorite watering hole.
The doormen we’ve focused on here however, have accomplished more than simply folding burly arms and wearing suits three sizes too small, they’ve become pop culture icons.
So, for those who get paid to kick some gluteus max outside the confines of a ring or the auspices of an Athletic Commission, and who’d rather hold out for bribes than slave for tips, we honor the humble bouncer, with our Top Bouncers of All Time!
A Clockwork Orange
Roach, a Judo black-belt and former wrestler, played a red-bearded bouncer in the Stanley Kubrick classic, and though he didn’t actually utter any lines, he impressed the director so much that he was cast in “Barry Lyndon” and then famously, as the guy who gets his ass beat twice in “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, and is dispatched by propeller. The mute Clockwork role eventually led to parts in “Never Say Never Again”, “Willow” and “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves”. For making the most of being menacing, and doing security detail for one of the coolest bars around, the Korova, which serves up narcotics-laced milk rather than the use with which we’re more familiar—as a tasty dairy adjunct to Kahlua, Roach lands a spot here. Unfortunately I can not find a clip – or even a photo to accompany this item, so you get the intro to Clockwork Orange.
Michael Clarke Duncan
A Night at the Roxbury
SNL, for the better part of a decade, has brought us mirth-free Saturday nights, but prior to this, they were known to broaden eight-minute sketches into gray matter-atrophying, feature-length forgettables. “A Night at the Roxbury” bucked this trend somewhat, and did its best to derive Toyota Prius-like comic mileage from heads bopping along to the beat of What is Love? (baby don’t hurt me). Michael Clarke Duncan, the hulking gawk who later starred alongside Tom Hanks in the Green Mile, is no stranger to holding onto a clipboard having held down bouncer roles in both Bulworth and Married with Children for the doorman trifecta.
7) Craig Robinson
In most movies, bouncers get about as much dialogue and have as much on-screen presence as a large cactus, but “Knocked Up” bucked that trend with its hilarious exchange between Craig Robinson, of “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story” and “The Office” fame and Lesley Mann. Striking a blow on behalf of anyone ever deemed too ugly or old to enter a club, the Mann character lays into the bouncer, “What the fuck is your problem? I’m not going anywhere, you’re just some roided out freak with a fucking clipboard!” Robinson, (showing that, although appearances may at times suggest otherwise, bouncers are human after all) admits that the system is unfair, “It’s not cause you’re not hot, I would love to tap that ass. I would tear that ass up. I can’t let you in cause you’re old as fuck. For this club, you know, not for the earth.”
The Prizefighter and the Lady
Boxer Baer famously got Hitler’s mustache in a twist by dispatching Max Schmeling at Yankee stadium, while sporting Star of David trunks. “Madcap Maxie” also laid out 6’6 Italian strongman Primo “The Ambling Alp” Carnera, who, along with former heavyweight champ Jack Dempsey make appearances in the 1933 flick, “The Prizefighter and the Lady”, about a bouncer-turned boxer who tries to not let fame, fortune and loose women get to his punching bag rattled head. Baer also famously killed a man in the ring, an achievement he appears to relish if we’re to take the Ron Howard movie “Cinderella Man” at its word. With that kind of resume, he’s the exact kind of guy you’d want to be standing at your door if you’re a bar owner to pound a hippy into the dust if need be.
Steve Collins and Lenny ‘Gov-nor’ Mclean
Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
More former boxers to add to the list, same flick: one legit (well, as ‘legit’ as the current state of boxing could ever be), The “Celtic Warrior” Steve Collins, who once said of pound-for-pound champ Roy Jones after a deal fell through that he’d “fight him in a phone box in front of two men and a dog”. The other bouncer pugilist, famous in the less than legit London East End bare-knuckle scene, was a 500 lb bench-presser, who tossed enough toothless yobs out the front door of enough taverns to be crowed ‘King of Bouncers’ in the city’s pub scene. Though technically not portraying a bouncer in this film, The Guv-nor gets kudos here for his Barry the Baptist portrayal as well as for his scene stealing appearance in Bounce: Behind the Velvet Rope
“No one in here but card-players tonight and I do mean no one!’
The “Don’t forget to carry a big fuck off stick” and “This is the biggest irony. The ones that like you the least, normally those who have a degree in philosophy under their pacifist belts, and absolutely no fuckin’ idea about the reality of life outside the college campus, they are the ones that need you most when shit and fan meet.” bits of counsel, lands Winstone a spot here. Another former boxer, but more interestingly, another Indiana Jones connection here in that Winstone is to appear in the forthcoming flick Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, alongside Hollywood A-listers John Hurt, Cate Blanchett and the increasingly creaky piece of archeology that is Harrison Ford. Winstone, the actor, is a fan of the east London soccer team West Ham United, which neatly segues into our third position.
Rise of the Footsoldier
This Brit flick chronicles the rise of Carlton Leach, a West Ham soccer hooligan whose exploits randomly beating the crap out of opposing team supporters, were exactly the tools of the trade required to bounce in some of east London’s dive bars before becoming an enforcer for the local neighborhood heroin dealers.
“Everybody got what they came for. If you came in looking for a drink and a couple of birds, that’s what you got. But if you came in for anything else, you’d end up with my fist in your face. And if you came back with your little army wrapped around ya, well, I’d just have to get my metal bar out.”
Chow Yun Fat
Chow Yun Fat plays a club bouncer in the seedy back streets of Bangkok, Thailand, where instead of laying the smack down on pudgy middle aged Dutch pedophiles, runs afoul of a sleazy underworld boss and has to flee with his dancer girlfriend, a fellow bouncer, and his best buddy. Shown here in full on switchblade, ass-beating glory, here’s some ‘Fat’ camp.
After putting baby in a corner in Dirty Dancing, Patrick Swayze completely revamped his Johnny Two Step image, in this, the quintessential bouncer flick. He portrayed ‘Dalton’, a ‘cooler’ (head of bouncer security) called upon to haul drunk and unruly detritus out of the Double Deuce, a biker bar (a place that has a sign over the urinal that says ‘don’t eat the big white mint’) in a nondescript Missouri town. In addition to battling black t-shirted coiffured mullet typecasting, Swayze had to battle fired rival ‘Morgan’, played with engaging fierceness by one of the titans of the squared circle, former WWF heel, Terrible Terry Funk.
For kicking copious ass while uttering ‘Pain don’t hurt’ and ‘Nobody ever wins a fight’ cogitation, we salute Swayze with our #1 and sincerely hope he wins his real-life fight with the Big C.
Reprinted with kind permission from Christopher Lombardo from TheSharkBook
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