Top 10 Kubrick Stares

kubrick stare

Few directors of film have a more striking and unique aesthetic style as the great late filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. It is known as the Kubrick Stare, often known as the Kubrick Glare is a typical camera shot of actors in the majority of Kubrick’s films. The Kubrick Glare has been described as”The “heavy-browed look of insaneness”. Roger Ebert said he simply believed that Kubrick thought it was an interesting angle from which to shoot faces of people. However, the person is shot in the film by Kubrick at a particular angle , with their head slightly tilted down while looking up. Sometimes, they do this with teeth exposed, and always wearing a menacing, detached or diabolical, angry, and a smug look in their eyes. Look at these The Top Ten Kubrick Films.

10. Joe Turkel

Lloyd the Bartender – The Shining


Joe Turkel played Lloyd the Bartender, who gives Jack Nicholson the drinks he would like as a gift in exchange for the soul of Jack Nicholson. One of my personal favorites Kubrick Stars, and probably my personal favorite role as a minor supporting character of all the wonderful minor supporting roles that were featured in Kubrick films. Turkel’s eyes are ablaze with evil with those devil eyes and the sly smile. This is an iconic Kubrick Stare and one that speaks of the most vile evil.

9. Tom Cruise

Dr. William “Bill” Harford – Eyes Wide Shut


Top 10 Kubrick Stares

Tom Cruise, playing the Manhattan doctor Bill Harford, has a terrible performance on the set of Eyes Wide Shut. The majority of viewers are unable to make sense of the Kubrick film that is as I’m sure exactly what Kubrick had in mind. It is the film’s based off the novel called “Traumnovelle” (Dream story) that was composed by Arthur Schnitzler. The story is based on a fantasy where almost everything happens in the characters’ dreams. The film follows Cruise is in the middle of a dream following a fight against his spouse (Nicole Kidman). As with many dreams, they make little sense. In only a dream can one gain entry to the after-hour bars in Manhattan simply by flashing the New York Doctors License. In all his attempts to sex all night, whether it’s with the prostitute or the Lolita character performed in the costume shop by Leelee Sobieski, in the store for costume as well as the scene in the mysterious mansion, will fail like they do in dream. The picture that Kubrick Stare Cruise gives us is the story of a disappointed lonely, very horny and lost man.

8. Sue Lyon

Lolita – Lolita

Sue Lyon plays the nymphet Lolita who is the character for which the film’s title is. The shot, which was taken just after Lolita discovers that her once beautiful Humbert has become a suffocating and insufferable bore, proves that Kubrick can make the Stare from an actress of female gender and male actors.

7. Kirk Douglass

Colonel Dax – Paths of Glory

Kirk Douglass, as Colonel Dax in Paths of Glory, is an extremely proud French soldier who is driven to the edge of madness due to the insane loss of life and death directed from the French military command. He is determined to fulfill his orders, but as all soldiers fighting on the front, he is aware that the futility of it all. The Kubrick Douglass stare can be described as a simmering rage An emotion Douglas did a fantastic job of portraying as well as Kubrick was able to get the most memorable performance of Douglas (though Douglass didn’t care about Kubrick).

6. Various Dr Strangelove Characters

Okay, I did cheat slightly to make twelve Kubrick Stares in the top ten, however the performances of the three actors who shine in the film are all worthy to be recognized together with their own Kubrick Stares. The dark comedy about the absurdity of nuclear warfare and the men who plan the war is 2001 A Space Odyssey, Kubrick’s masterpiece. If you’ve never seen Dr. Strangelove make sure make sure to go and watch it. Even if you don’t like Kubrick films, hate war stories, don’t like dark comedy, or just dislike movies all over the world, take a look at this film so you can experience the stunning performances by George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden and Peter Sellers.

George C. Scott gives one of his most memorable role (besides his Oscar winning role and meritorious part in the film as George Patton in Patton). The word “over the top” doesn’t even be a proper description of the performance Kubrick gives to Scott playing General Buck Turgidson. Kubrick has always been famous for having his actors takes after takes until they achieved the perfect look and performance that he wanted, made Scott get hammered with outlandish and cartoon-like gestures and faces. Kubrick stated to Scott they were “warm to” performances and they weren’t going to be the final shots in the final film. After Scott looked over the final film and realized that Kubrick had been lying to Scott and utilized those exact identical over-the-top performances, Scott vowed never to collaborate with him again. But Kubrick’s deception worked. Scott portrays Turgidson as an nearly child-like total madman who believes that it is the United States should go ahead and begin the nuclear war against Russia and the idea that “losing 10-20 million dead to be precise, and give or take the breaks” was a fair amount of losses. The character of Turgidson is loosely based off real persona of US Air Force General Curtis LeMay. When the president Merkin Muffley (one of the three principal characters performed by Peter Sellers) thwarts Turgidson’s desires to initiate an nuclear conflict, we witness Scott appear to flash his Kubrick Stare.

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The legendary actor Sterling Hayden had not performed in a film for several years prior to when Kubrick made him return to play the mad Brigadier General Jack Ripper, commander of the military base, who commands its nuclear bombers strike Russia under his own authority. Ripper makes use of a largely unnoticed law that grants the authority to initiate a nuclear counterattack against the Russians in the event that the President and highest government officials are killed in the Russian attack in the first. Once Ripper has issued the command to attack the planes, they cannot be returned until the signal has been preceded with a specific three-letter code, which is known only to Ripper. Ripper’s Exchange Officer in his unit, the British Royal Air Force (also as played by Sellers) is Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, who confronts Ripper with the ugliness of his actions and asks Ripper to reveal the code in order to return the planes before they begin World War III. The Kubrick star given to us from Hayden offers a traditional madman style, with a hint of anger and classic American disdain for Mandrake. Ripper refuses to give Mandrake the code and instructs her to “settle down and pour me a glass of pure grain alcohol, and some rain water and then fix whatever you’d like to drink.” Ripper is mad and obsessed with “communist infiltration, subversion by communists as well as communist propaganda and the international communist conspiracy that aims to take away and impure the precious bodily fluids of our bodies” — (he believes that water fluoridation is a communist plot and must be stopped at any costs). Ripper is unable to provide Mandrake an answer to the question. It’s not until Ripper is shot on the face (while shaving) that Mandrake uncovers the code. P.O.E. (standing in the sense of “purity in essence”).

Just just in time, Mandrake delivers the code to President Obama by means of a telephone booth in public (in another hilarious sequence involving the legendary actor Keenan Wynn as Colonel Bat Guano). However, just as the world appears to be safe from nuclear destruction the shrewd Texas pilot Major Kong (played by another legendary character actor , Slim Pickens) manages to pass through all Russian defenses, keep his plane in place and finally deliver his nuclear bomb, rodeo-style in the direction of “the Ruskies”.

As if an exchange of nuclear weapons between two superpowers was not enough and the Russians have a hidden weapon that is the ultimate weapon – that of the Doomsday Bomb. It is believed that the Doomsday Bomb is set to explode in the event that it is discovered that the Russian nation is hit and will release an “Doomsday Shroud” of radioactive particles which will surround the Earth and kill all living creatures. When Major Kong and his crew are nearing their targets It is revealed to those in the crowd, including US Military officials as well as the Russian ambassador and President it is clear that our world’s on its way to come to an end. Does there not seem to be any hope for humanity? Wait! In the dark is Peter Sellers again, this time as the crazy wheelchair bound ex-Nazi scientist the Dr. Strangelove. Strangelove believes it is likely that humans can withstand radiation for years in the deepest mine shafts. While he advises and consults the President on his bizarre plans the president’s arm and gloved hand attempt at strangling himself. The Kubrick stare delivered by Sellers is pure science-based insaneness. The madness of the men who came up with such terrible weapons believing that they could somehow manage the weapons.

5. Keir Dullea

Dr. David Bowman – 2001

Kubrick’s second masterpiece, and possibly his best film is a science-fiction story. It is a three-act film and two of them include beginning with the “Dawn of the Man” sequence, and the closing “Jupiter and Beyond The infinite” sequence, do not contain any spoken dialogue. Its middle part of movie depicts the future of mankind when we travel to space, find a unknown black monolith in the lunar surface and then travel with two astronauts who are Dr. David Bowman and Dr Frank Poole on the spaceship Jupiter. Kubrick illustrates that as of 2001 and the day of man’s exploration into space the man has become apathetic and robotic with no emotion or emotions. It’s up to the computer running all the operations within the spaceship (called H.A.L.) to be the only “human” aboard the spaceship. H.A.L. is the only character on the board, actually throughout the film who is human. H.A.L. although non-human is full of human emotions that Poole and Bowman are lacking. H.A.L. is jealous, he’s insecure, he’s jealous And, in the end, he develops paranoia and becomes a killer. This is, in other words, the perfect character to show off your Kubrick Eye (more on the subject in the future).

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H.A.L. finds out that Poole as well as Bowman are plotting to break up with him. He then decides he will not let that occur. H.A.L. is sent by H.A.L. Poole out to repair an antennae that has broken, and is killed by H.A.L. Bowman sets out in a spacecraft to save Poole. H.A.L. Then, H.A.L. locks Bowman out of the spaceship, and refuses to let the pod’s doors open for Bowman return. Bowman was in a rush to save Poole and escape the pod, left in the absence of his helmet for space and, without it Bowman can’t re-enter the spaceship. Or can he? H.A.L. does not recognize the genius of humankind Then, Bowman is aboard the ship however. The ship’s ingenuity is not recognized, and Bowman finally displays emotion. When he walks, (helmet now on) toward H.A.L.’s logic system, which is designed to turn out his mind and take out H.A.L., we see Bowman flash the Kubrick Stare , one that evokes anger and ending emotion. Bowman is slowly unplugging H.A.L. and we can hear his artificial mind drifting away while he pleads Bowman to “Stop. Why don’t you be able to stop Dave?”

4. Vincent D’Onofrio

Pvt. Leonard “Gomer Pyle” Lawrence – Full Metal Jacket

First time that I became aware of of Kubrick Stare, was back in 1987 when Kubrick’s Vietnam war film, Full Metal Jacket, was released. I was reading a critique of the film, and there was this stunning still photograph of actor Vincent D’Onofrio in his underwear and staring like a madman towards the camera. The writer of the article declared that once again, Kubrick has delivered a character who flashes the famous Kubrick Stare.

Kubrick identified the actors who would play his Marine recruits, who were first sent to boot camp, and then to war, through an open casting call across Canada and the US as well as Canada. Kubrick received thousands of videotape auditions. They were then cut down to around 800 that Kubrick personally watched. Of these the auditions, he picked young actors, such as Matthew Modine, who would portray “Private Joker”, Adam Baldwin who was to play “Animal Mother” as well as D’Onofrio who would portray the iconic character from Private Pyle.

The actor R. Lee Ermey played Gunnery Sergeant Hartman who is an instructor of drill who is a terror to trainees in boot camp and then becomes Private Pyle’s personal nightmare. Ermey was initially a technical advisor to Kubrick on the film however, he asked Kubrick to play Hartman instead. Kubrick initially turned him down but Ermey made his own videotape of casting. He was himself filmed throwing an endless series of insults and expletives towards British Royal Marines, while off-camera , he saw people throwing citrus and tennis balls at him. Ermey never flinched as he was pelted, and stayed in character for 15 straight minutes of classic R. Lee Ermey insults (Ermey is best known today for his appearance as the none-too-compassionate therapist who tosses a box of tissues at a wimpy patient in the Geico commercial). Kubrick watched the tape and was able to change his mind acknowledging that Ermey’s genius was the key to the character as well as the film.

Through the boot camp Private Pyle is in the way of his life, both emotionally and physically. Hartman hates him and tortures him constantly. Only the private Joker does anything to help him. The one thing Pyle realizes he’s great at – and in fact, his strength is shooting. He is a superb marksman, and the top in the group. But that’s not enough. The night they leave the boot camp Joker takes over nightwatch and is shocked to find Pyle sitting in his underwear in the bathroom, holding an assault rifle. He attempts to convince Pyle to get rid of the weapon before Hartman discovers and they’ll be both as Joker declares”in a world of shit. “in an unimaginable world of the shit”. However, Pyle has no interest in the matter now. He shows one of the best and well-known Kubrick Stares and declares “I am living in the midst of a maze of the shit”. Hartman awakes, notices the noise, and heads into the bathroom in order to face Pyle. After a final remark regarding his mom not being a loving enough mom, Pyle pulls the trigger and kills Hartman. Then, he places the gun on himself to kill himself avoiding Joker.

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3. Malcolm McDowell

Alexander DeLarge – A Clockwork Orange

The scene depicts Malcolm McDowell playing the leader of the group (called Droogs) of teenage criminals who take in a spree of “ultra violent violence” all over England and wears his bowler hat that is tilted and wearing eye makeup as he stares up at the camera, head turned up and a terrifying, mad look on his face . This is the ultimate Kubrick Stare. McDowell is, more than other actors in Kubrick’s film has perfected the Stare and employed it with great impact in the entire film. The film Clockwork Orange is a bleak dark, depressing glimpse of the future and the kind of society “civilized Western society” could turn into. Alex DeLarge is the ultimate illustration of the degeneration of men into a mindless desire for sex and violence as a sociopath who has not a glimpse of an ounce of conscience. While he was admiring Kubrick as director and artist, McDowell could never call Kubrick an outstanding director of film, since the majority of his films were for McDowell brutal and cruel. McDowell believed that they did not show the good side of mankind and only the bad side and believed that this was the biggest flaw in Kubrick’s narrative style. But, McDowell (along with Sellers in Dr. Strangelove and Ermy in Full Metal Jacket) holds the distinction of being among the few actors never-stopping Kubrick allowed to create improvised scenes and dialogue lines. In actuality, the iconic scene in which Alex brutally kicks the old man who is restrained to the ground by another Droog as he performs “Singing in the rain” was made up by McDowell.

2. Jack Nicholson

Jack Torrance – The Shining

It’s difficult to place anyone over McDowell as well as his performance of Alex DeLarge when it comes to the high quality that is the Kubrick Stare, however Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of the frightened and insane father and husband, Jack Torrance, in The Shining, has grown to me so much over the many years of watching the great film that I consider it to be the finest Kubrick Stare of all (human) versions. The thing I really like most about the Kubrick star’s performance by Nicholson is the way Nicholson gradually develops the character through the course of the film. Nicholson is Torrance as a simple typical husband and father in the beginning of the film. There isn’t any hint of chaos or The Stare up until the time he is taken into the Overlook Hotel. We then watch The Stare grow as Torrance plunges deeper and deeper into chaos. Then, at the close of the film when Torrance is dragging himself into a room to murder the wife of his well-known “Here’s Johnny!” scene, and after chasing the son Danny in the maze in a snowstorm as we watch Nicholson reveal all the Kubrick Stare in the full beauty. Even when dead, like a block of ice Nicholson provides us with that iconic Kubrick Stare.

1. HAL


Some might say”that shining”red “eye” that appears on H.A.L. Computer in 2001 A Space Odyssey is not actually a “Stare”. It is the top choice due to the genius of Kubrick to create a computer that is that is simultaneously the most compassionate warm and affectionate “human” aboard the spaceship headed to Jupiter and, in the same time being the epitome of the evil we associate from”the” Kubrick Stare. Kubrick accomplishes this by the setting and mood, lighting , sound, and the interplay between Poole and Bowman and the two of them is accompanied by H.A.L. As with Nicholson at the beginning in The Shining, there is no hint at the opening of the second part that H.A.L. is anything more than a trusted local artificially intelligent computer that assists Poole and Bowman manage the ship. However, as the story progresses, H.A.L. displays evidence of his “evil eyes” until he finally stares at a the cold Kubrick Stare distancing towards the mouths of Pole and Bowman when they discuss ways to disconnect H.A.L. (as they remain inside the pod). The scene in which H.A.L. is able to determine that Poole as well as Bowman are planning to kill him, and decides to fight back his own interests (and take on murder) It is a chilling scene and is a great illustration of the Kubrick Stare.

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