Movie Poll: Who’s Your Pick for Worst Movie Father?

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  • rufnek43

    Huston, of course. First rule of fatherhood, don’t molest your own flesh and blood.

    As for Duval’s father role in The Great Santini, I always sympathized with that deeply flawed character who nevertheless was doing the best he could. Plus he held himself to very high standards, too, riding his crippled jet down to avoid it hitting a residential area. The guy dies a hero–what more could you ask for.

  • Nora

    Don’t forget Burl Ives in The Big Country.

  • William Sommerwerck

    Though I voted for (against?) someone else, I thought readers might enjoy the following Father’s Day poem from Luke to Darth. (Darth Vader means Dark Father.)

    “You’ve terrorized most forms of life througout the universe.
    With billions dead, the rest in dread,
    You’ve done your little worst
    To make our galaxy a home for ruthless Nazi scum.
    But all’s forgiven, Dad, because you said
    ‘I’m really sorry, son.”

  • Doreen

    What about Robert Mitchum in “The Night of the Hunter”? I voted for Jack Nicholson, but if you include step-fathers, Mitchum would have been my first choice.

  • Ross Biondo

    When I saw Robert Duvall on the list , I thought it would be for Slingblade. There were very dark revelations in that movie. My vote on your list was for Huston.

  • Naturally Curlie

    For me the worst movie father is James Coburn in AFFLICTION. Unrelenting purposeful evil. Just because he could. Awful. Just awful.

  • Jim

    I’d have to vote for Christopher Walken in “At Close Range”. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. Great cast.

  • version

    Coburn for sure, DeNiro in Boys Life. Houston for his crimes against his daughter.
    I would add Cruise for War of the Worlds – well maybe thats just me – found him very irritating.

    BTW: Nicholson – was possessed – that was not his character folks.

    Willem Dafoe – in Spiderman

    Sean Connery in Family Business –

    Eddie from the Nat’l Lampoon Vacation series.

  • Mike

    My first reaction was Walter Brennan in My Darling Clementine,,but those Clanton boys were a unruly bunch..he had his hands full…I didnt’ see affliction but James Coburn could be as bad as Curlie says.. still thinking

  • Kenneth Hackney

    Actually, Walter Brennan got 2 shots at it by doing his takeoff on Old Man Clanton when he was in James Garner’s “Support Your Local Sheriff”.

  • Kai Ferano

    I’d say the insensitive, egotistical father of Rudolph, from the classic Christmas TV animation, “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” He refused to deal with his son’s unique snout and cast him out into the cold, despite his wife’s pleading for tolerance and paternal responsibility. And then, when Rudolph becomes a celeb on Christmas Eve, daddy glows with pride and welcomes him back.

  • Mario Brescio

    I voted for Darth Vader but my real pick for worst father would have to be Dad Meiks from the film “Frailty”(2001)played by Bill Paxton, who also directed the film.

    Dad: Only demons should fear me. You’re not a demon are you? The angle said you were. I can’t believe that. I won’t. You’re my son, and I love you more than my own life. You know what’s funny about all this Fenton? I’m afraid of you.

  • Mark

    Jim said it: Chris Walken in “At Close Range”.

  • Tallywhacker

    John Huston was definitely the worst, possibly because the book “Black Dahlia Avenger” suggests that he was playing a character in “Chinatown” who was much like himself in real life. I got the creeps when I saw the film “A Walk with Love and Death” directed by Huston and featuring a graphic love scene with his 21 year old daughter Anjelica. Huston was a crony of Dr. George Hodel, a suspected Black Dahlia killer acquitted of throwing a public defloration ceremony for his own teenage daughter Tamara. HUston could have been re-enacting incident he’d witnessed at the Hodel house in his 1969 movie.

  • E. H. Capes

    I would have to choose Robert Mitchum in “The Night of the Hunter”. He was so evil. That was an unforgettable performance.

  • cori

    I agree with the two who said “The Night of the Hunter.”

  • Susan

    Like most people, I was torn. I actually voted for Rodney Dangerfield (I just love his comedic work) because his character was so horribly callous and as someone else said, crimes against your own flesh are amongst the worst.
    My 2nd vote was for Robert DeNiro in This Boy’s Life. He was horrible in that movie- not evil, just spiteful and mean. I never felt that way about Robert Duvall in The Great Santini- he (as someone else mentioned) was weak but still trying his best.



  • Butch Knouse

    Tom Cruise in The War of the Worlds, wasn’t a bad father, just a totally irresponible doofus. But he got through it.

  • George

    Since you’re counting step-fathers, how did Robert Mitchum in Night of the Hunter miss the cut?

  • chad

    I voted for Huston, but I echo the sentiments for Walken in “At Close Range” as well. I just watched that movie again a couple of weeks ago and it still freaks me out! When I watched it as a teenager it haunted me for a long time.

  • Bill Pentland

    How about Jason Robards in A Thousand Acres? Bad man.

  • Bryan

    I almost voted for the Shining, You ought not kill your family, but he did lose his mind! He was crazy, didn’t really know what was going on, was possessed! I had to give him that one. I had to vote for Chinatown, sleeping with our own kid!? That’s just wrong on every level!

  • david richardson

    i could only vote darth. i have not see any of the other bad fathers

  • MMGZ

    Bill Paxton, the father in FRAILTY, who brutalizes/teaches his sons to become ax murders for God is a real gem worth mentioning. Although, the big sleaze winner is John Huston’s scuz-bucket loser character in Chinatown. As rufnek43 states: Don’t molest your own flesh and blood.

  • patricia

    I voted for Robert De Niro, in “This Boys Life.” There was not one redeeming quality about that man. He made me very uncomfortable. Robert Duvall in The Great Santini was similar, he was not even nice to his wife or daughters.

  • Rick

    If you include newer movies i would have to put Tom Cruise in “War of the Worlds” at the top. He made virually every parenting mistake possible. In fact his teenage son finally ran away from him half way through the film and alone made it to his Moms house well before Cruise finally showed up.

  • Martin Stumacher

    John Huston for sure. He portrayed a disciple of the devil. Jack Nicholson, completely out of his mind evil through and through.

  • mike jaral

    china town got my vote. incest the worst crime aside from murder a parent can do to his own child.

  • Jackie

    Definitely Robert Mitchum..but he was the childrens’ STEPFATHER, remember. I believe the real dad was executed and he had hidden diamonds or something in the little girl’s doll and dear old ” Preacher Dad” was trying to find out where the jewels were.He and the real dad were cell mates. A very Powerful MOVIE! Shirley was at her mousiest best in this!Remember her in the movie where she is murdered as well in ” A PLACE IN THE SUN ” opposite Montgomery Cliff.


    Huston was a real f-in creepy creep!

  • Jon DeCles

    How about the father in “Long Day’s Journey Into Night?” One of the great plays, available on video with, if I recall, Jason Robards Jr. and Kathryn Hepburn. (It’s been years.) He is probably going o let his son die of tuberculosis, and he has driven his poor wife to drug addiction.

  • Curt

    Ralph Richardson was the father in Long Day’s Journey Into Night, and he was both pathetic and without feeling for his family. One of the worst, no question. Walken in At Close Range was just plain evil, another super bad dad. How about Brando as Don Corleone? What a complex character, a man with two families who had made murder part of the family business. He mourned Sonny (James Caan)and sincerely regretted Michael (Al Pacino) entering the family business, but he was an unapologetic crime boss, not a terrific role model. I always found the character to be reprehensible just beneath the surface of the man of honor that he was portrayed as. But you can’t argue with John Huston in Chinatown. You could practically see the sleaze dripping off of him.

  • Navy Jim

    I choose Celie’s father in “The Color Purple.” What an evil man, just satisfying his own libido at the expense of his “daughter.”

  • John T. Borek

    Hands down the worst father in a motion picture has to be Ralph Richardson in The Heiress opposite Olivia deHavilland and Monty Clift. The way he talked to her and put down his own daughter, what a CREEP!

  • Ann Landry

    You forgot Christopher Walken as Brad Whitewood, Sr. How much worse can you get than shooting your own son and burying him in the dirt out in the wood.

  • Luis

    The father of the kid who wantd to act in “Dead Poet’s Society” was a bit of an jerk, wouldn’t you say? I think Kurtwood Smith played him which is crazy since he went on to play a tough dad in That Seventies Show…

  • sugarpussoshea

    I believe Ralph Richardson in “The Heiress” was one of the worst screen dads I’ve ever seen. Got what he deserved from his daughter in the end, too. But I don’t believe she will keep her resolve with “Maurice”- he’ll come back and she will relent……….

  • sugarpussoshea

    sorry – John T — just now read your comments. but we are definitely on the same track.

  • Jackie

    About” Night of the Hunter” I meant Shelly Winters,not Shirly.She was the most versetile actress I ever saw!

  • sugarpussoshea

    Good Morning and Happy Father’s Day to all dads and father step-ins and understudies.
    I felt like I needed to extend a truly “worst” dad comment to “Baby Face” ‘s dad. Now, there was a man who thought experience was the best teacher. What a guy!!

  • Gerald Ray

    The deranged preacher Donald Pleasence and his murderous offspring in “Will Penny”.

  • Frank Guerrasio

    James Coburn in his Oscar winner.

  • Clay Robinson

    FYI Those of you who voted for Robert Mitchum’s performance in Night of the Hunter: his character was NOT the father of the children whom he sought after — to force them to tell him “where’s the money”? He was their stepfather; their father ( Peter Graves ) had already been hanged, when Mitchum marries their mother,Shelly Winters, who Mitchum later murders, in order to get to her chidren.

  • Antone

    Step-father John Cassavetes in Rosemary’s Baby. As far as the rest of the world is concerned, he is the father of Rosemary’s baby.

  • jcog

    Spencer Tracey in “Edward, My Son.”