Written by / 11/23/2012 / No comments / ,

FIFTEEN MAIN CHARACTERS DENIED TOP BILLING

1) and 2) CHRISTOPHER REEVE in SUPERMAN and SUPERMAN II
Christopher Reeve was a no-name actor when chosen to play the Man of Steel in the 1978 film, and Marlon Brando was the type of egotistical megastar to demand top-billing even in a small (but not insignificant) role as Superman’s doomed father. Gene Hackman (Lex Luther) also got credit over Reeve… and this isn’t the only time…  
And then, once again, Christopher Reeve failed to land first billing as SUPERMAN. Gene Hackman gets lead status, followed by Reeve, who would finally get primary credit in SUPERMAN III.
3) RAY LIOTTA (GOODFELLAS)
Wheeler-dealer Henry Hill, played by Ray Liotta, stars and narrates the epic mob classic about working class hoods in the New York mob while RAGING BULL brothers Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci get billed over the unknown, who only appeared in a handful of films including SOMETHING WILD as the scene-stealing villain.
4) MARTIN SHEEN (APOCALYPSE NOW) AND CHARLIE SHEEN (PLATOON)
 Keeping it in the family with father and son, and to start off, another example of Marlon Brando, not in the lead role, landing on top of the bill, even though the mission belongs to Martin Sheen, who comes in third after THE GODFATHER vets Brando and scene-stealer Robert Duvall... Followed by Martin's son Charlie, the main trooper in Oliver Stone's Oscar winning Vietnam flick PLATOON, taking third place after his loggerhead leaders Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe...
5) MELANIE GRIFFITH (WORKING GIRL)
Harrison Ford and Sigourney Weaver, two science-fiction icons, get status over working class lass Melanie Griffith, who the movie’s obviously about.
6) HOLLY HUNTER (BROADCAST NEWS)
William Hurt as a flighty but successful newbie newscaster and Albert Brooks as a cynical reporter beat out the real star, Holly Hunter, whose hyper-active, hard working yet socially awkward network producer was not only robbed of the credit status, but the Oscar as well.
7) MICHAEL KEATON (BATMAN)
Michael Keaton was a known actor but mainly for comedy films. He’s billed after Jack Nicholson (The Joker), who also landed the biggest paycheck.
8) TIM MATHESON (ANIMAL HOUSE)
John Belushi would sadly become a “legend” a few years later after a fatal drug overdose, but in 1978, being one of the most popular Not Ready For Prime Time Players on the original SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, he receives front runner status as Bluto in this John Landis college party classic, even though his character’s used sparingly while Tim Matheson’s smooth-talking Otter is the main Delta.
9) JENNIFER JASON LEIGH (FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH)
Jennifer Jason Leigh’s freshman Stacy Hamilton is the main character; even Tom Petty sings her theme song “American Girl” on the first day of school… But here we have another sporadic mascot, played by Sean Penn, receiving first star billing... over Jennifer and several other cast members (including Judge Reinhold and Phoebe Cates) with more important roles.   
10) JON VOIGHT (MIDNIGHT COWBOY)
It takes at least twenty minutes for Dustin Hoffman’s streetwise conman Ratso Rizzo to appear – then he disappears and reappears into the tragic New York City life of Jon Voight’s wannabe gigolo Joe Buck. But since THE GRADUATE star was the box office draw, and Voight (having beat out Lee Majors for the part) was a nobody, the little guy headlined.
11) SIGOURNEY WEAVER (ALIEN)
Tom Skerritt gets first billing over Sigourney Weaver, who not only turned out to be the luckiest crew member but wound up in every sequel thereafter.
12) PAMELA FRANKLIN (NECROMANCY)
Orson Welles lands the hefty lead credit in this Bert I. Gordon witchy thriller about a coven seeking out a beautiful young woman, played by Pamela Franklin, who the movie's all about.
13) KEN HUTCHISON (THE WRATH OF GOD)
This could be arguable since Robert Mitchum’s boozing cigar smoking priest is important to the storyline of contraband smuggling con artists, but perhaps it’s an opportunity to give mention to this reviewer’s favorite STRAW DOG Ken Hutchison, as the main character everything, and everybody, centers around. The saddest part is Ken’s pretty far down on the opening credit list, with another actor's name above his.
14) CHARLES BRONSON (ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST)
It's only after Claudia Cardinale, Henry Fonda and Jason Robard's name appear do we get Charles Bronson who, still a character-actor before hitting his stride, plays a mystery man named "Harmonica," the central character in this moody Sergio Leone epic Western.
15) GEORGE CLOONEY (BATMAN AND ROBIN)
Let’s end this first volume with another comic book movie – one of the worst ever made. Wimpy caped crusader George Clooney comes in second to Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose Mr. Freeze is as wooden as he’s icy. Yet you can bet all cast members wanted zero billing once this turkey took flight.
MAIN CHARACTERS DENIED TOP BILLING LIST BY JAMES M. TATE
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