A clever, devious movie villain can somehow pull off the most ingenious robberies or diabolical murders. Although such villains almost always pay for their crimes, they show us plenty of skill and intelligence along the way and sometimes even earn our grudging admiration. (These are the 50 most popular villains of all time.)
Well, most movie villains, anyway. Some, on the other hand are, well, dumb. They conjure up grand criminal plots, but fail at the execution. They don’t consider every contingency or they just have bad luck. When things go wrong, they panic, make wrong decisions, and often double-cross their partners. They’re bumblers.
To identify the most bumbling criminals in film history, 24/7 Tempo reviewed plot summaries from IMDb, an online movie and TV database owned by Amazon, and other sources in the U.S. and U.K.
Some of the criminals on our list are good people at heart who stumble into crime with no idea what they’re doing. Others are evil and get done in by their own greed.
Often, it’s rotten luck or bad timing that foils their plots. In “The Godfather II,” Carmine and Tony Rosato’s plan to kill a rival mobster in broad daylight at a bar is interrupted when a police officer walks in. Luckless Joe “Mental” Mentalino of “Dumb & Dumber” accidently poisons himself with what he thinks is his ulcer medication. The bank robbers in “Quick Change” get robbed themselves when they get lost in Brooklyn on the way to the airport.
Other miscreants underestimate their intended victims – like Jasper and Horace from “101 Dalmatians,” who are outwitted by man’s best friend, or Harry and Marv from “Home Alone,” tormented by the young boy whose house they’re trying to rob.
Some bumbling criminals are characters in serious films and come to truly tragic ends. Happily, though, many of them are in comedies, so we get to laugh at their expense. (Here’s a list of the funniest American movies of all time.)
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