There are tough guys, there are bad guys, and then there is Charles McGraw, the toughest, baddest, most terrifying of them all. With his raspy voice and his cold, piercing eyes, Charles McGraw meant business. Mean, meancing, murderous business. From the moment he steps out from behind Henry’s Diner in the opening scene in The Killers (1946), in what has to be one of the greatest entrances of all time, you just know he’s not one to mess with. This was his break-through role and throughout the 1940s, 50s and 60s, he was a constant presence in some of the screen’s greatest films as well as some of its most treasured cult classics, whether in bit parts or leads, with Armored Car Robbery (1950) and The Narrow Margin (1952) finally giving him top billing. In 1947 alone, he appeared in eight films, most notably T-Men (1947) and Brute Force (1947). If you’re sensing a theme here, it’s because there is one. Noir was his genre, and, like Neville Brand or Dan Duryea, he was one of its greatest cads. But unlike Brand or Duryea, McGraw wasn’t one you ‘loved to hate’. His characters weren’t misunderstood or even charming. He was just utterly, unashamedly terrifying. I don’t know about you, but I love seeing his name on the credits. I gasp every time he comes on, whatever the movie is. I know I’m going to be rocked to my core with just one line or even a look. I know that whatever bad stuff happens, it will be because of Charles McGraw. It’s perhaps no surprise that he is the one responsible for the most horrifying death in film noir history, that of George Murphy’s character in Border Incident (1949). It’s a truly horrible moment and one that only McGraw could pull off. He wasn’t just good at being bad. He was the best. For more posts on the What a Character! Blogathon, click here.