Greetings, Manic Fans. Les here to admire those film characters who are homeless, at least at the start of the film, that is. These are the bums/hobos/street rats that may be down and out, but still have something amusing about them that makes a strong impression in the films they are in. And so, I’d like to list my top 12 favorite cinema hobos. Why 12? Because I like to go one step beyond one step beyond.

 

Warning: Some spoilers and great bums ahead….

 

#12. Random bum in the alleyway(Stan Yale-The Terminator)

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He’s not on the screen long, but he’s just such a strong impression. He’s the alley bum who witnesses Kyle Reese’s(Michael Biehn) arrival from the time displacement. Reese falls from the sky, naked, hurt and shivering. He gets up and runs up the alley where he spots this bum.
“Hey Buddy….Did you just see a real BRIGHT LIGHT?”….it’s one line, but he’s just so intoxicated and serious, he’s not even mentioning a total stranger who’s naked in the alley with him?…GREAT LINE, and it costs him his pants(that Reese liberates from him just as the police show up).

 

#11. Hobo Joe(Zach Galafanakis-The Muppets)

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“Everyone always forgets Hobo Joe”-says the only guy who shows up to the Muppet Show Telethon(at first). He ends up making a few buck pretending to be an usher LOL! C’mon…it’s Zach Galafanakis! That guy could make any role funny.

 

#10. Old street beggar(Les Podewell-Groundhog Day)

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A very small role in the film where weatherman, Phil Connors(Bill Murray) keeps waking up reliving Groundhog day over and over again. In the daily routine, he passes this old beggar on his way to do the Groundhog Day report…again. At one point, Phil decides to try and help him, after discovering he dies that night. He tries feeding him a lavishly healthy meal in the diner…he learns to be a doctor so he can try and save his life in the hospital…he even attempts to give him CPR in the alleyway…before he learns, he can’t save him and he’ll die every day he relives Groundhog day. In the end, he simply gives the beggar some money in his cup. He helps him by simply acknowledging him and showing him a small kindness. Such a small role, but such a profound lesson he teaches Phil.

 

#9. San Francisco Hobo(Rob Schneider-Around the World in 80 Days)

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While not as good as the original Around the World in 80 Days, this remake by Disney is still a lot of fun to watch, and small character roles like this one are why. When Phileas Fogg(Steve Coogan) gets mugged in San Francisco, he ends up begging on the street. This guy, gives him some small pointers about how to beg.
“Now, your greatest asset…is your stink!” Which he demonstrates is so repulsive that a pedestrian gives him money just to get away from him. When Fogg tries it, however, the pedestrian punches him in the nose. The hobo gets serious for a moment.
“I’ll be honest with you…that’s gonna happen about 50% of the time.” LMAO!

 

#8. Abu(Sabu-The Thief of Bagdad(1940))

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If you haven’t seen this film, I highly recommend it. You’ll see 90% of the inspiration for Walt Disney’s “Aladdin” in it. Abu is the titular “Thief” who has a grand adventure helping his friend, ex King of Bagdad Ahmad(John Justin), win the heart of a princess and bring to justice the villainous Jafar(Conrad Veidt)who deposed him. He’s clever, resourceful and passionate in all his actions. A very good street rat, becomes hero story.

 

#7. Jiminy Cricket(Tee Hee-Pinocchio)

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Before becoming Pinocchio’s conscience, Jiminy was a hobo cricket. It’s absolutely fascinating to see him “discover” all the wonders in Gepetto’s shop(he dances with a figurine in a clock). It’s also fun to see him make himself at home wherever he finds himself.

 

#6. Jerry Baskin(Nick Nolte-Down and Out in Beverly Hills)

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In a tale where a rich family takes in a homeless man who tries to commit suicide in their swimming pool, the bum ends up getting under all their skins. After all…a homeless person could’ve been anyone and done anything before becoming down and out. Jerry shows skills and knowledge of having lived in an Ashram, played concert piano, owned a Rolls Royce..and many other things that make him so likable and unpredictable.

 

#5, #4 and #3 are a tie

 

#5. Everett Ulysses McGill(George Clooney)

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#4. Delmar O’Donnel(Blake Nelson)

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#3. and Pete Hogwallop(John Turturro-O, Brother Where Art Thou?)

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3 men who escape the prison farm while still chained together, Everett, Delmar and Pete are absolutely likable characters who have varying levels of common sense, superstitions, weaknesses and motives for what they do. Basically hobos through most of the film, their adventures in 1920’s Mississippi are loosely based upon Homer’s “The Odyssey.” I just love watching them bumble through all the challenges that they come across.

 

#1 and #2 are also a tie

 

#2. Mortimer(Don Ameche)

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#1. and Randolph Duke(Ralph Bellamy-Coming to America)

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One of the greatest cameos in a film ever…a really clever in-joke that relies on your having seen another film: “Trading Places.” In that film, these guys are filthy rich men who make a $1.00 wager that they can take an elite gentleman and a street bum and change them into each other by switching their living arrangements. The Bum, Billy Ray Valentine(Eddie Murphy) and the Elite, Louis Winthorpe III(Dan Aykroyd) join forces and trick the Dukes into losing all their money.

 

Move ahead in time to the new movie. In this film, Eddie Murphy plays Akeem Joffer, an African prince, who comes to Queens, New York to find a princess to marry. Along the way, he gives a huge bankroll as charity to a street bum(Randall Duke) who counts the bills, his eyes go wide, and he shakes the other bum who’s asleep next to him. “RANDOLPH!….RANDOLPH!” he shouts and the other one wakes up. “WE’RE BACK!” Having them saved by the same actor who ruined them in the previous film was awesome.

 

And those are my top 12 cinema hobos. Did I miss any of yours? I’d love to hear which homeless characters made a strong impression on you, my friends. Peace.

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