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Why do I have to be Mr. Pink?
December 2, 2012 5:51 PM   Subscribe

Film buffs! - Other movies where we never know the characters real names and are only given nicknames?

I just finished watching Exam (Netflix Instant, loved it) and it sparked this question. Other than Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs and Exam can you name other movies where the characters are not referred to by their name and are given nicknames at the beginning of the film? (Mr. Brown, Mr. Pink / Blonde, Black, Brown, Dark).
posted by xicana63 to Media & Arts (43 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
In Rebecca (book and movie) we never learn the main character's name (hint: it's not Rebecca).
posted by jander03 at 5:55 PM on December 2, 2012


fight club
posted by raihan_ at 5:55 PM on December 2, 2012


The Road
posted by vkxmai at 5:55 PM on December 2, 2012


Ryan Gosling's character in Drive doesn't have a name.
posted by jaffacakerhubarb at 5:56 PM on December 2, 2012


Zombieland!
posted by Justinian at 5:56 PM on December 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


Well, in Withnail and I, the film is narrated by the 'I', and you never get a name at all (it is Marlow).
posted by AnnaRat at 5:57 PM on December 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Mr. Big in Sex and the City...
posted by artificialard at 5:57 PM on December 2, 2012


The Sunset Limited (HBO TV movie)
posted by fuse theorem at 5:59 PM on December 2, 2012


Sergio Leone's Man With No Name trilogy: A Fistful of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More, and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:00 PM on December 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


In the Avengers movie I don't recall ever learning Father or Mother's real names.
posted by bunderful at 6:00 PM on December 2, 2012


M from James Bond
posted by Jon_Evil at 6:02 PM on December 2, 2012


In They Live, Roddy Piper's character is never named. He is credited as "Nada" — does that count?
posted by mumkin at 6:05 PM on December 2, 2012


Not quite what you're looking for, but I always thought it was funny that in Jackie Chan's movie 'Who Am I?' the Audience finds out his real name, but the movie ends without HIM ever finding out who he is.
posted by Caravantea at 6:07 PM on December 2, 2012


Once again, TV Tropes provides the wisdom you seek.
posted by mkultra at 6:09 PM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the OP is asking about cases where most of the main characters only have a nickname (apparently in Exam everyone is given a one-word name based on their physical appearance).

If we listed movies with at least one character that this applies to, it'd be a long list.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 6:11 PM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


jaffacakerhubarb: "Ryan Gosling's character in Drive doesn't have a name."

Nor does Ryan O'Neal's character in The Driver.
posted by octothorpe at 6:12 PM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


In Once, the characters are never named - the credits simply list them as "the Guy" and "the Girl."
posted by kbar1 at 6:16 PM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've never seen Faster but I noticed on the IMDB page the top billed actors are all generic names like : The Driver, The Cop, etc...
posted by ill3 at 6:17 PM on December 2, 2012


The two lead characters (who between them, have maybe 90% of the screen time) in Once are credited as "Guy" and "Girl."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:17 PM on December 2, 2012


Daniel Craig's character in Layer Cake
posted by supermedusa at 6:31 PM on December 2, 2012


In Feast and its sequels, the characters are almost all known by nicknames.
posted by Etrigan at 6:38 PM on December 2, 2012


The three sons in Kurosawa's Ran, known only as Taro, Jiro, and Saburo (first, second, third).
posted by thomas j wise at 6:49 PM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I asked my movie buff husband, and he mentioned The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, which Tarantino was almost certainly referencing in Reservoir Dogs.
posted by OrangeDisk at 6:54 PM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


A number of the characters in Lucky Number Slevin are only ever known by nicknames or pseudonyms.
posted by gudrun at 6:57 PM on December 2, 2012


I haven't seen the movie of The Virginian (apparently the "first true Western"), but in the book we never learn the Virginian's name.
posted by Lexica at 7:19 PM on December 2, 2012


In the show Scrubs, despite being a main character, the janitor is always just called "janitor".
posted by aldebaran at 7:24 PM on December 2, 2012


In Once Upon a Time in the West, Charles Bronson, who plays a harmonica, is only ever referred to as "Harmonica."

Dean Martin, in Rio Bravo, actually has two nicknames we know him by: "Dude" and "Borrachón." Everybody in that film is sort of nicknamy. There's an older disabled man called only "Stumpy."

It's not clear if Napoleon Wilson in Assault on Precinct 13 (1976; based on Rio Bravo!) is actually named Napoleon or not, and the source of his name is a running gag through the movie.

We never learn the name of The Artful Dodger in Oliver.

We don't find out most of the actual names of the various Mr. characters in Reservoir Dogs. Likewise, we don't find out Honey Bunny or Pumpkin's name in Pulp Fiction.

The two guests who come to visit George and Martha in Who's Afraid of Virigina Woolf are Nick and Honey. Honey is a nickname; we never learn her real name.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:34 PM on December 2, 2012


In the show Scrubs, despite being a main character, the janitor is always just called "janitor".

He gives his name once, but then someone else calls him by another name. But it's probably Glenn. Wikipedia says:

In the Season 8 finale he tells J.D. that his name is Glenn Matthews .... However just a few seconds later, someone else walks by and calls the Janitor by a different name However In a Facebook post by Bill Lawrence on April 13, 2011, he confirmed that the janitor was telling the truth when he revealed his name as Glenn Matthews.
posted by zippy at 7:34 PM on December 2, 2012


In Jesus' Son, Billy Crudup's character is called "Fuck Head" repeatedly by another character, and is listed as FH in the credits.
posted by puritycontrol at 8:00 PM on December 2, 2012


The protagonists of 12 Angry Men are only referred to as Jurors 1–12, if that counts as a nickname.
posted by teraflop at 8:18 PM on December 2, 2012


One of my favorite bits of movie trivia: In the Bill and Ted movies, we don't know Rufus's real name!

He is only called Rufus because Bill and Ted hear themselves-from-the-future calling him that, creating a circular reference. He never corrects them, and never refers to himself by name.
posted by jozxyqk at 8:33 PM on December 2, 2012


In Emperor of the North Pole, Lee Marvin's character is only known as "A number 1".
posted by usonian at 8:36 PM on December 2, 2012


If you take Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2 as separate movies Uma Thurman's character is initially just "The Bride." Though eventually in the second film her name is revealed Tarantino is clearly playing with the idea of an main character without a name.

And another kind of a cheat since it's not a film but The Doctor from Doctor Who is a famously unnamed main character.

The most famous ones from above, and the ones that use the concept to greatest effect: The Man With No Name Trilogy, Once Upon a Time in the West, 12 Angry Men, Drive.

I imagine there must be a couple more spaghetti westerns since those films are notoriously derivative of each other and Leone's films were incredibly popular.
posted by dr handsome at 9:00 PM on December 2, 2012


Oh, I forgot to finish my point about Tarantino -- he borrowed this convention from the original "Taking of Pelham One Two Three." The characters are only referred to be color names. Mr. Brown, etc. We eventually learn a few of the names, but, as I recall, not all.

Emperor of the North Pole, mentioned above, is superb. Keith Carradine in the film is only referred to as Cigaret, Elisha Cook is only referred to as Gray Cat, and Ernest Borgnine is only referred to as Shack. As befits a tall tale, which this film is, the characters don't have proper names, but mythic nicknames.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:10 PM on December 2, 2012


Comic Book Guy, in the Simpsons.

Nameless, in Hero.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:11 PM on December 2, 2012


Zombieland, where none of the characters are ever named other than nicknames derived from their home states/towns (with the exception of Bill Murray).
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:13 PM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Almost every character in the movie Clue! The only exceptions are Yvette, the maid, and Wadsworth, the butler. All the main characters are addressed by a pseudonym. Even the side characters are known only as "the cop," "the motorist," and "the singing telegram girl."
posted by Illiterate Savant at 9:47 PM on December 2, 2012


Inside Man does this a bit. The gang calls themselves and each other some version of Steve, like Stevie, Steve-o, etc.
posted by pepper bird at 4:57 AM on December 3, 2012


Donnie Brasco.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 5:36 AM on December 3, 2012


Because it's all about dodgy Londoners, most of the characters in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels either only have a nickname or their nickname is part of their name. So as well as some named characters there are: Soap, Bacon, Big Chris, JD, J, Barry "the Baptist", Plank, Little Chris, Harry "Hatchet" Lonsdale, Nick "the Greek" and Diamond Dog.

See also Layer Cake (directed by L, S +2B's producer), where many of the characters are also known by their nicknames only and the lead character is never named and appears in the credits as XXXX.

Orwight?
posted by MuffinMan at 8:06 AM on December 3, 2012


In "That Thing You Do" the bass player has no name, he’s just the bass player. Ouch.
posted by bongo_x at 10:07 AM on December 3, 2012


In Sucker Punch, the asylum inmates are just known by their nicknames: Baby Doll, Sweet Pea, Rocket, Amber, and Blondie.

Also, the "Only Known By Their Nickname" page on TVTropes looks helpful for this.
posted by zoetrope at 11:56 AM on December 3, 2012


M from James Bond

M's first name (Miles) is revealed in The Spy Who Loved Me.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:35 PM on December 3, 2012


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