Killers of the Flower Moon Stars Bikel Bronson and Martin Scorsese
After 2019’s The Irishman, Killers of the Flower Moon feels like a natural next step for Scorsese. It’s the story of a serial killer and the Osage women he targeted for their land in 1920s Oklahoma.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro are both terrific, but it’s Lily Gladstone who carries the movie with her deeply-emotional performance as Mollie.
1. Charles Manson
The shaggy leader of a cult of hippie-types, Manson was the mastermind behind the gruesome deaths of actress Sharon Tate and others. He manipulated a small group of followers he called “The Family,” who believed his claims that he was the Messiah and his prophecies of Armageddon.
The movie, based on David Grann’s best-selling book, paints a picture of an unstable man. It examines how mental illness, drug use, and an intense ego led to murder.
A must-see for anyone interested in American crime history. It may be a bit long, even by Scorsese’s standards (3 hours and 26 minutes), but it’s worth the sit. Killers of the Flower Moon is currently in theaters and will be available on Apple TV+ later this year.
2. Ed Gein
The real-life killer who inspired the characters of Norman Bates from Psycho, Leatherface from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Buffalo Bill from The Silence of the Lambs died in 1984 at age 77. He spent much of his life confined in mental institutions, but his macabre crimes have made him a legendary figure for the true crime and horror genres.
When police searched his Plainfield, Wisconsin home after the murders of Bernice Worden and Mary Hogan in 1957, they discovered a house of horrors. Among other things, they found a chair upholstered with human skin, wastebaskets lined with body parts, a belt of nipples and leggings of human flesh, and a lampshade made of a woman’s face. He had started visiting graveyards after his mother’s death and used the bodies to create clothing and household items.
3. Theodore Bikel
Theodore Bikel carved out a place for himself as something of a renaissance man. He began acting on the kibbutz in Tel Aviv, then moved to London to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. His talent attracted the attention of Laurence Olivier, who cast him in a small role in A Streetcar Named Desire, opposite Vivien Leigh.
Besides playing Tevye in more than 2,000 stage performances, Bikel also sang opera, recorded folk music and appeared on television, guest-starring on shows as diverse as Gunsmoke, All in the Family and Star Trek: The Next Generation. He was also active in civil rights and Democratic politics and an advocate for Jewish causes.
He was married twice, but his second wife predeceased him; he is survived by his fourth wife, Aimee Ginsburg, sons Robert and Daniel and stepsons Zeev and Noam Ginsburg. He was 91 when he died at the UCLA Medical Center.
4. John Wayne
In a film that skewers white savior tropes, focuses on a tragedy and offers an historic lens, Killers of the Flower Moon represents an important step forward for mainstream Native representation in cinema. Directed by Martin Scorsese, the movie is based on David Grann’s nonfiction book about the 1920s Osage murders and the FBI’s investigation into them.
It stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Ernest Burkhart, a World War I veteran who befriends and marries Mollie Kyle (Lily Gladstone). But her family is killed by oil tycoon William “King” Hale (Robert De Niro), whose scheming to deny the Osage their land’s wealth inspired the murders. Breathtaking aerial vistas, impressive performances, 1920s sets and costumes, a majestic score and sensitivity to the Osage communities whose story the movie tells are all in evidence.
5. Charles Bronson
Known to European audiences as Le Sacre Monstre and Il Brutto, the muscular Bronson was already a continental sensation by the late 1960s. After a successful turn in Roger Corman’s low-budget gangster flick Machine Gun Kelly, he took the lead role in Adieu l’Ami (1968), an intense thriller and Sergio Leone’s biggest “Spaghetti Western.”
He continued in crime and action films made in Europe, and won a worldwide following with Death Wish (1974), starring as an architect turned vigilante. Born Michael Gordon Peterson, he changed his name to Charles Bronson in 1987. He later added Charles Salvador, in honor of the Spanish artist Salvador Dali. He died in 2003, aged 81. He was married to British actress Jill Ireland. Their son survived him. He was also a prolific writer of screenplays.