- Entertainment and Media
Top 10 Best Noses in Film and Television (and song)
The biggest nose, the brightest nose, the creepiest nose, or the most abused nose - who has the the most memorable nose in film or television?
There are many characters in film and television history that are notable for their noses. Most of them are remembered fondly and much loved, but there are still a few that we think of with a shudder - the ones whose pointed noses pierce our nightmares and disturb our daydreams.
The ones that have made it into my Top 10 list are not memorable just for their noses - they are all iconic characters or actors in their own right who just happen to have a scnozz that is exceptional either for the way it looks, the way it is treated, or for what it can do. I should also point out that - with one justifiable exception - I have chosen not to include any of the considerable number of actors who really do have prominent real noses of their own. I think this would be disrespectful and not in keeping with the spirit of this list. (Check out the list to see why I have made an exception and who it is).
I hope you enjoy my countdown. Sniff out the You Tube clips and smell the links to Amazon if you wish to purchase any of these films or television series, and don't forget to leave me some feedback (if you think my lens stinks, I'll take it as a compliment!) I have included a voting form below and would especially like to hear of any great noses I have failed to pick.
10. The Great Gonzo
The Muppet Show resident stuntman
Poor old Gonzo - his nose remains his most noteworthy feature. For 5 series of The Muppet Show it gets bashed, broken, blown up, and used as a handle to pick him up and throw him. No matter how hard he tries, his feature stunt performances always end up in humiliation and pain (and often a broken nose!). You have to admire his bravery and perseverance though, and you gotta admit - he does a nice song every now and then. Here he is singing Buck Owens' "Act Naturally."
The Great Gonzo sings "Act Naturally"
Performed by Dave Goelz
The Muppet Show on Amazon
Top stars lined up to appear on this show in the 70s - John Denver, Johnny Cash, John Cleese, Alice Cooper, Paul Simon, Elton John, Lynda Carter, and Shirley Bassey were among the many who turned up to sing with a variety of bizarre characters and poke fun at themselves. Following on from Jim Henson's huge success with the Muppets he created for Sesame Street (Kermit the Frog, Big Bird, Ernie and Bert and many others), The Muppet Show became a show business legend with it's menagerie of eccentric and freaky characters performing a variety of comedy sketches and monologues, as well as many top quality musical numbers, often performed with major stars of the day.
The villain of the 1969 children's television series "H.R.Pufnstuf", Witchiepoo - or Wilhelmina W. Witchiepoo, to be precise - was in every way the classic cackling witch. With flowing robes, pointed black hat, and bizarre sidekick (who almost qualifies for a place in this list in her own right), she flew above Living Island on her Vroom Broom, screeching and shrieking and waving her wand, and kidnapping young Jimmy so she could steal his magic flute. It was the nose that set her apart from ordinary witches, however. It was magnificent - long, crooked and pointy with the obligatory wart, it dominated her whole existence and lifted the character from mere pantomime villain to psychedelic nightmare.
Intro to "H.R.Pufnstuf"
Featuring Billie Hayes as Witchiepoo
Witchiepoo and Pufnstuf on Amazon
All 17 episodes of the only series made of Sid and Marty Krofft's colourful and wacky 1969 TV show that blended live characters with puppets. Starring Jack Wild (fresh from his huge success as the Artful Dodger in "Oliver!") as Jimmy, and Billie Hayes as Witchiepoo, this show is very fondly remembered by those of us who were lucky enough to be kids when it first came out.
Ridiculed not because of his large nose - that's to be expected for an elephant - but for his oversized ears, Dumbo is the classic story of the outsider who overcomes adversity with the help of an inspirational friend and becomes a hero. A lovely story, and a lovely film from Disney, Dumbo's nose belongs here because what nose list is complete without at least one elephant?
Dumbo on Amazon
Disney's classic animated film about an elephant who could fly was adapted from a children's book written by Helen Aberson and illustrated by Harold Pearl. It was made as a low budget feature with the explicit intention of making some money to cover the losses incurred by the previous year's "Pinnocchio" and "Fantasia" (both of which are now considered among Disney's very best work). It worked - Dumbo was hugely successful and remains one of Disney's most enduringly popular films.
A bonus of the film is the Oscar winning score, and several terrific songs, including 'Casey Jones', 'When I See an Elephant Fly', and the Oscar nominated 'Baby Mine'. A beautiful film that is especially good to watch with your young children.
7. C.D Bales in "Roxanne"
Steve Martin is upstaged by a nose
Fred Schepisi's 1987 film "Roxanne" is based on the 1897 play "Cyrano De Bergerac", by Edmond Rostand. In it, Steve Martin plays local fire chief C.D. Bales - a popular man whose unusually large nose has gotten in the way (so to speak) of romance. In the You Tube scene below, his nose is insulted by a bore in a bar, so he launches into his 20 nose jokes routine in a sustained masterpiece of self deprecating and ultimately disarming humour. This nose belongs in the countdown not only for its size and its importance to the story, but also for Martin's virtuoso performance with a proboscis as a co-star.
20 Something Betters
Roxanne and Steve Martin on Amazon
Roger Ebert describes this as a "gentle, whimsical comedy". He's right - it's as charming as Steve Martin's character C.D Bales - a small town fire chief who is hampered in romance by his extremely large nose. When a beautiful astronomer (played by Darryl Hannah) arrives in town, he falls in love with her, but lacks the confidence to woo her himself. Instead, he gives romantic advice and writes love poetry for one of his firefighters to use in his own quest for the heart and hand of this gorgeous newcomer. One of Steve Martin's funniest and most accessible performances.
Steve Martin live in concert - the title says it all.
Sesame St favourite
Along with his roommate Ernie, Bert has become a Sesame Street icon, as well as half of one of the best known comedy duos on television. Performed by the great Frank Oz for over 30 years, Bert is President of the National Association of W Lovers - an association for people who love the letter W - and also collects paper clips. Although his nose is not famous for its own sake, it has become one of his most prominent features due to its treatment by his offsider, Ernie - usually by way of its removal in one way or another.
Ernie and Bert - 2 noses
Ernie and Bert on Amazon
One of the best things about Ernie and Bert was their great songs, and this album collects many of their best known ones. "Rubber Ducky", "La La La", "Doin' the Pigeon", and "National Association of W Lovers" are among the sometimes hilarious, sometimes quite touching, and always brilliant tunes on this fantastic album. Get it for your kids and you'll enjoy it as much as they do.
Go on - admit it. Like me, you've probably spent part of your childhood and most of your adult life doing your own Ernie and Bert impressions - now you can do them for real with your own glove puppets. Entertain the kids - or yourself. I'll bet they come out every time you have a party.
5. The Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
The scariest nose
"There are children here somewhere. I can smell them." In the land of Vulgaria where children are forbidden by the Baron and Baroness Bomburst, this horrid creep is employed to find, capture, and remove them. Although ostensibly a classic pantomime comic villain, there is nothing at all funny about this man or what he does. Even without his long, child smelling nose he would be awful, but the man voted scariest villain in children's literature in a BBC poll has sniffed his way into the nightmares of several generations of children with his repugnant proboscis. He also appears in my lens Top 10 Scary Scenes in Non-Horror Movies at number 2.
The Child Catcher - Sir Robert Helpmann
A former principal dancer of the Royal Ballet (1933 - 1950), Robert Helpmann was named Australian of the Year in 1965, and knighted in 1968, the same year as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was released. He had a distinguished career in Ballet, Theatre, and as an actor, but it was his terrifying portrayal of the Child Catcher that is universally remembered.
The Child Catcher on Amazon
Now you can frighten the children whenever you want, with this collector's toy from the movie. Also available in the equally creepy candy seller disguise, and with the spy.
One of the best ever children's movies, featuring Dick Van Dyke, Lionel Jefferies, Benny Hill, and Sally Ann Howes among a star studded cast. The scenes with the flying car are still amazing and exciting, even in an age where CGI makes anything possible in film. This is funny, scary, exciting, sad, and highly original, and has lots of terrific songs as well. Also notable for some brilliant dance routines by the inimitable Dick Van Dyke.
4. Samantha Stevens - Bewitched
The second witch in our countdown, Samantha Stevens (played by Elizabeth Montgomery) is here not her for her nose per se, but for what it can do. She uses her nose to cast spells, against the wishes of her advertising executive husband Darren (Dick York). When Darren is not looking, she twitches her nose and conjures up all manner of things - a houseful of servants, a new dress, or anything else she thinks necessary. Funnily enough, if you look closely when she twiches her nose, you will notice that it is, in fact, her top lip that she twitches, not her nose. The effect is the same, however, and a whole generation of fans remember Samantha (and her infant, half witch daughter Tabitha) for the magic nose.
Samantha's Magic Nose
Samantha has to finish an evening dress in a hurry, but it is going wrong. She solves the problem as only she can - with a twitch of her nose.
Bewitched on Amazon
The first season, which includes the 1st episode, when Darren finds out Samantha is a witch (on their wedding night). One of the most popular television sitcoms ever, part of the charm of this series is that it did not overdo the witchcraft aspects, but played out more like the screwball comedies of the 30s and 40s with its witty repartee and farcical situations, and the ongoing tensions between Darren, who wanted to provide for his family by working hard and climbing the corporate ladder, and Samantha, who was not averse to occasionally breaking her wedding night promise to not use magic when she felt it necessary. The magic was often the catalyst for either creating or solving a problem, but the stituations stood up well on their own. This series which ran from 1964 - 1972 has aged remarkably well, and it is good to see it in this edition in its original black and white.
Note that this set contains the colourised versions of seasons 1 and 2 which were originally filmed in black and white. From season 3 on they were all filmed in colour. These are the seasons that featured Dick York as the original Darren, before he had to leave the show because of ill health.
Tell me lies and your nose will grow
Pinocchio's nose is one of the most famous in the world. It grows when he tells lies, and has become immortalised through books, films, stage productions, and songs. The most well known of all of these is Walt Disney's classic animated film of 1940, listed at number 2 in the American Film Institute's Top Ten animated films (after another Disney classic - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs). The nose nobody wants, but everybody knows comes in at number 3 in our countdown.
Pinocchio learns about lying
Pinocchio on Amazon
One of the most loved animated movies of all time, Pinocchio is now considered by critics to be Disney's most technically perfect film ever. However, innovative camera work and animation take second place to the story and characters in this iconic work of art. Pinocchio (voiced by 11 year old Dickie Jones) is a puppet made by the woodcarver Gepetto (Christian Rub) who longs for a real son of his own. Pinocchio wants to be a real boy, but first he must prove he has a heart. His adventures are well known - his straying into temptation, his rescue of Gepetto from the belly of the whale, his redemption and finally the achievement of his one wish. But this story is best known for Pinocchio's nose - the more he lies, the longer it gets. Check out the You Tube clip above for this witty and charming scene. This set contains Blu Ray and DVD versions of the 70th Anniversary edition of this classic family film. Highly recommended.
A framed cel from one of Disney's finest animated films. A must have for collectors.
2. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is the subject of a story and a song, both written in 1939 by Robert L May, an employee of the Montgomery Ward department store. Popularised through Gene Autry's 1949 recording of the song, Rudolph and his nose have become an enduring Christmas icon around the world, and are as much a part of childrens' Christmas Eve tradition of leaving out drinks and snacks for Santa as the jolly red fellow himself. Laughed at by the other reindeer for his shiny red nose, Rudolph is a bit of an outcast until Santa realises that his nose can light the way for his sleigh as he travels through the night sky making his deliveries. Rudolph becomes a hero with the other reindeer, and has remained one for children ever since. His nose comes in at number 2 on our countdown - narrowly beating out Pinocchio as the most famous and popular nose.
Classic 1964 animated TV version of Rudolph
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer on Amazon
DVD Collection of classic Christmas stories, featuring the much loved stop motion animation version of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer first broadcast in 1964 which has become a perennial Christmas favourite.
Charming musical figure with Rudolph leading the other reindeer as they pull Santa's sleigh.
1. Jimmy Durante
The Great Schnozzola
At number 1 on our list is the wonderful Jimmy Durante. Jazz musician, comedian, film star, pianist, singer, radio personality, television star, and humanitarian, Durante remains one of the best loved and most imitated personalities of the 20th century. The only real nose on a real person to make this countdown, Durante's nose (or schnozz, as he called it) is here with the greatest respect for a man who made more jokes about his own large nose than any of the countless comedians and impressionists who have imitated him over several decades. In fact, this is the reason it seems appropriate to include him on this list - he always got in first with his own nose jokes, disarming any attempt by others to poke fun at him (see the Roxanne clip at number 7 for a fictional example of this).
In the 1947 movie "It Happened in Brooklyn", Durante tells Frank Sinatra during the song "Sing From the Heart":
Jimmy Durante: "Why only last year the kids asked me to sing at their graduation exercises.I did, but I made a ghastly mistake. I didn't sing from the heart, I sang from the nose."
Sinatra "Well, how did it sound?"
Jimmy Durante "I don't know. The note hasn't come out yet." (See You Tube clip below)
and he once said to Bob Hope: "When it comes to noses, you're a retailer. I'm a wholesaler."
Although he made fun of himself - to the point where he is now perhaps remembered more for his nose than for his many other talents - Durante never made fun of other people's appearance. When talking of his childhood and being teased at school for his looks, he said:
"I'd go home and cry. I made up my mind never to hurt anybody else, no matter what. I never made jokes about anybody's big ears, crossed eyes, or their stuttering." (Wikiquote)
This personal integrity, coupled with his warmth and humanity, endeared Jimmy Durante to several generations of Americans and around the world. His compassion for others is perhaps best illustrated by his long term commitment to The Fraternal Order of Eagles, a charitable organisation that raises money for handicapped and abused children. For many years he performed at the order's conventions, refusing all offers of fees or expenses. So grateful was the order that they re-named their children's fund as The Jimmy Durante Children's Fund in his honour.
By the time of his death on January 29th, 1980, Durante's career had spanned 6 decades. During that time he had performed with many of the major stars of his time, won a 1952 Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, and become a much loved household name. He is referenced and imitated in countless television shows, films, songs, and comedy routines. His famous catchphrases - of which there are many - are used and quoted in everything from The Simpsons to the Powerpuff Girls, from 42nd St to Sesame St, and many others besides.
Jimmy Durante was a true star; an all round entertainer who linked the generations from vaudeville, to speakeasy and concert hall, then on to radio, film, and television, seeming at home in all of them.
Goodnight Mr Durante, wherever you are.
The Song's Gotta Come from the Heart
This 1947 film was Frank Sinatra's 3rd. By this time, Durante had appeared in more than 30, and had already established his film persona with his blend of self effacing comedy and upbeat songs, and his ragtime piano style. (The quote mentioned above is at 1.04) This clip is also interesting for Sinatra's impersonation of Durante (at 3.29)
Goodnight Mrs Calabash ...
Jimmy Durante was also known for his many catchphrases. Among his best known were "Ha-cha-cha-cha"; "I gotta million of 'em, a million of 'em"; "Dat's my boy dat said dat"; and "Everybody wants ta get inta the act", and although these and many more became standards, he was best known for the phrase he used to close his radio show, and then his television show each night - "Goodnight Mrs Calabash, wherever you are." The origin of the phrase is much debated, but Durante himself said that Mrs Calabash was a pet name for his first wife, Jeanne, who died on Valentine's day 1943 after 22 years of marriage. This poignant clip is from 1955, several years after her death - note the sadness on his face when he says it.
(Check out some interesting viewers comments below this clip)
Jimmy Durante on Amazon
2001 documentary about Durante. This features appearances by John Wayne, Carmen Miranda, and Frank Sinatra, among many others. In the absence of any box set release of Durante's television shows from the 1950s, this is a great opportunity to see excerpts from those shows and get an understanding of what made him so universally popular. Includes interviews with family members and colleagues, and insightful analysis from Leonard Maltin. A rare opportunity to see the legend in action, and not to be missed.
Live recordings of songs and comedy from his television show, featuring duets with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. Check out the hilarious piece with Hope - "The Boys With the Proboscis".
Whose is your favourite nose? I have included famous noses for more than just their proboscosity, so feel free to vote for the film or TV show you like, or the nose itself. If there are any well known noses I have not picked, I'd love to hear about them and include them in an updated version of this list.