“I’m the butler, sir. I buttle.” Five favorite Tim Curry movies

When I start writing blog posts, could be on anything from video games to Vixen, my mind will often go off on tangents concerning other possible writing topics. So when writing, I usually keep open two documents, one for my primary thoughts and the other for the tangential and usually fragmented  thoughts. Most of the time these distractions end up in the electronic trash can; sometimes they turn into full-fledged blog posts. The latter is what’s happening here, now, before your very eyes…so to speak. While writing my previous article on the movie It, I had a stray thought about other movies starring Tim Curry (who played Pennywise in It). That thought in writing became:

“Tim Curry is so good as Pennywise. He’s good in a lot of movies. Pick 5.”

I know what you’re thinking…sheer poetry.

Anyway, that mental fragment made the long and surely perilous journey from my brain to my hands to the point of writing. This writing. Because I really do enjoy watching Tim Curry at work. He’s one of those actors who falls outside the realm of high-falutin’ Hollywood glitz. He’s apt in roles both large and small, leading and supporting. He’s performed in some really fun movies, and he’s great at the dramatics, even if he borders occasionally on the melodramatic. He’s not one who relishes much the spotlight, and I can count on less than one hand the number of interviews I’ve seen of him. But when he shows up in a role, he makes his presence known, even if he’s completely unidentifiable.

Glancing over his IMDB page, one might mistake him for only a voice actor, as voice roles represent the majority of his work since the 1990s — from Captain Planet and Gargoyles to The Wild Thornberrys and Jimmy Neutron. But he’s no stranger in front of the camera. He’s been one of my favorite actors to watch and watch out for ever since I first saw him in Clue. So without pretense or fanfare (please, simmer down now), here are five of my favorite movies in which Curry has starred. You already know the first one…

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Clue (1985)

Tim Curry and Leslie Ann Warren in Clue © Paramount Pictures (1985)
Tim Curry and Leslie Ann Warren in Clue © Paramount Pictures (1985)

I’ve no idea of the first time I saw Clue, but it was one of those movies that popped up frequently on cable after it was released, like Critters and Summer School. In it, Curry played a wry and witty butler who assembled a fairly famous ensemble cast (all under the aliases in the now-classic board game) in order to discover who was blackmailing all of them. Together, the likes of Colonel Mustard (Martin Mull), Mrs. White (Madeline Kahn), Professor Plum (Christopher Lloyd), and the rest toyed with melodrama and slapstick in and among plenty of wordplay and innuendo. And Curry was the glue that prevented the entire scenario from becoming unhinged. He was so easygoing and sly in the movie’s comedic setting.

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The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

Patricia Quinn, Tim Curry, Nell Campbell in The Rocky Horror Picture Show © Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation (1975)
Patricia Quinn, Tim Curry, Nell Campbell in The Rocky Horror Picture Show © Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation (1975)

Here’s the thing. I could write an entire book on my experience with TRHPS, how much it has affected my perception of the musical (both on stage and on screen), and how much I simply adore it. But I won’t do that here. (You’re welcome.) I love this movie for so many reasons, the first of which is Tim Curry as the flamboyant Dr. Frank-N-Furter. I’ve seen a number of different Franks in the role, but Curry simply remains my favorite. His grace, demeanor, and insurmountable personality eat up the screen in the best ways possible.

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Legend (1985)

Tim Curry in Legend © Legend Production Company (1985)
Tim Curry in Legend © Legend Production Company (1985)

Curry’s unrecognizable turn as Darkness in this cult-worthy flick, is one of those “can you believe it’s him?!” favorites. There are plenty of reasons to watch Legend — a young Tom Cruise, unicorns, the pretty Mia Sara in a plunging black dress, the dreamy music of Tangerine Dream — but Tim Curry trumps them all. His devilish dramatics are as coy and soothing as they are cold-hearted and sinful. He wants to destroy the light, after all, so he can enjoy a deep, dark world. And if that means killing unicorns and stealing away Tom Cruise’s bride, then so be it. Would you want to argue with that face?

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The Three Musketeers (1993)

Tim Curry in The Three Musketeers © Walt Disney Pictures (1993)
Tim Curry in The Three Musketeers © Walt Disney Pictures (1993)

When I first saw the trailer for Disney’s The Three Musketeers, I completely wrote it off as schlock. It looked so very cheesy with its young cast and modern dialogue. When I finally came round to watching it, oh, it indeed dolloped on the melted Velveeta, but it was also very charming. It was also a bit darker than I would have imagined for a Disney outing. And who cast that eerie shroud over the movie? None other than Tim Curry as the very smarmy and power-hungry Cardinal Richelieu. He oozed a unsettling and palpable delight in playing such a dastardly character, but he’s so charismatic that it was easy to forgive the sleaze…mostly.

 *****

Muppet Treasure Island (1996)

Tim Curry in Muppet Treasure Island © Jim Henson Productions, Walt Disney Pictures (1996)
Tim Curry in Muppet Treasure Island © Jim Henson Productions, Walt Disney Pictures (1996)

As far as I’m concerned, the Muppets can do no wrong, from starring in hokey car commercials to reinventing hallowed stories from the past. Muppet Treasure Island is a solid if not perfect movie starring (among the human cast) Tim Curry as Long John Silver. He’s very droll and likeable as the conniving pirate who takes in a young Jim Hawkins in order to get to his treasure map.  Tim Curry’s no slouch when it comes to fantastical circumstances, so he fit right along side Kermit, Gonzo, and the rest of the puppety crew as they both paid homage to and lightly mocked (as only the Muppets could) Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tale.  It seems Curry had plenty of fun in his role…or at least he was good enough to make us believe that he did.

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Like what you’ve just read? Cary posts to Geek Force Network every Friday. You can also find more words that she put together in paragraphs at Recollections of Play and United We Game

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6 thoughts on ““I’m the butler, sir. I buttle.” Five favorite Tim Curry movies”

  1. Yes! Sometimes it really bothers me that not as many people recognize him as he deserves. He is the kind of actor who could read a shopping list for the supermarket to me and I would be amazed! 😀

    1. His aversion to the spotlight only adds to his mystique, and he has certainly held his own (and them some) next to the greats.

      P. S. Tim Curry can read me my grocery list any day! ::swoon::

  2. I definitely loved him in The Rocky Horror Picture Show when I saw it for the first time around last year or two years ago? I’ve heard a lot about the movie and decided to give it a go one day. He’s really the best thing about the movie and the songs are really catchy. I’ll have to give Clue a try next! 🙂

    1. Rocky Horror is one of my most favorite modern musicals ever! It’s just ridiculously fun and easy to sing along with.

      And I highly recommend Clue — it’s a simple and entertaining movie. It doesn’t quite have the status of a typical 80s movie, but it’s still really quite good for being based on, of all things, a board game. (Better than what they tried to do more recently with Battleship, anyway!)

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