Top 5 Elis

Eli Wallach: A marvel in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly but, through a combination of poor judgement and worse luck will only be remembered as a character actor by film buffs and as a swarthy Hispanic with a flexible attitude to religion by everyone else. He made inconspicuous appearances in ill-fated sequels such as The Two Jakes and The Godfather Part III, and even had a role in Paradise Lost (although this is perhaps less spectacular when you realise it was a TV drama set in the Depression era rather than a film adapatation of Milton’s epic reworking of the Fall of Man).
Although he had several hits at the beginning of his career (including The Magnificent Seven, How to Steal a Million and The Misfits) he turned down the part of Angelo Maggio in From Here to Eternity – the role that made Frank Sinatra a star – and narrowly lost out to Arnold Schwarzenneger for the chance to play Mr Freeze in the lucrative, if vacuous, Batman and Robin.

Eli Hall: The unfortunate Yardie from Hackney who rose to fame for perpetrating one of Britain’s most pointless and stupid crimes at a sedate point in the news cycle. Mr Hall began a 15 day siege on Boxing Day 2002 by taking pot shots at people from a window in his Hackney flat and informing police that he had enough ammunition to “fill a bath”. The police refused to storm the flat even after Mr Hall’s hostage escaped and the career criminal eventually died when, in an attempt to keep warm, he asphyxiated himself by burning furniture with a high plastic content.

Eli: The high priest and judge from the Bible best known for having sons who shagged around with “the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation” and for accusing Hannah, a barren woman, of being drunk because she was unhappy at her inability to conceive.

Elia Kazan: Not strictly speaking an Eli, but worthy of inclusion for being an astonishingly famous film director despite having a relatively low portfolio of memorable films. Of the 21 he filmed in a 40 year career, a mere two retain any kind of profile: On the Waterfront, obviously, and East of Eden, which wasn’t much cop but did launch James Dean’s brief career.

Miss Ellie: Well, if Elia Kazan can get in, then what reason is there to exclude the kindly maternal figure from the 13-year soap opera Dallas? To my recollection she looked a bit like Jilly Cooper, but she must have gone off the rails somewhere because the scriptwriters at one point believed her capable of shooting her own son during the “Who Shot JR?” saga.

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