Friday, July 29, 2011

Top 5 Films Featuring Harrison Ford

This list is in no particular order. These are just some of my favorite films that Harrison Ford, the actor and one of the stars of the new film Cowboys & Aliens has been in over the years that I enjoyed either based solely on his performance or it was just a generally well made and enjoyable film that he happened to part of in a supporting capacity.

Harrison Ford is such a cinematic icon that it almost seems like blasphemy to narrow his long and illustrious career down to five movies. But just because he has portrayed some of the most iconic characters of our time doesn't mean he can't make some bad choices here and there which he most certainly has. Some may cry fowl that I didn't include any of his Tom Clancy films or one of his better comedic performances in Working Girl but while those are good films, they are not my favorites. He was without a doubt the king of the eighties though (notice that all five of my picks are from that era) and none of his past or present work has ever been able to hold a candle to any of those masterpieces (arguably). Most of these are open and shut cases that would be on any persons list and certainly don't need my endorsement. While I would have loved to include some of his lesser known films, although there is at least a couple here, I couldn't in good conscience leave those more illustrious films off this list, especially if they are films that would be in my top 10 of all time solely on their own merits. In any case, here is what I have as my favorite films featuring Harrison Ford.


I can't really say anything to sell this film, mostly due to the fact that it doesn't need me to. But what I can say is that this is by far Ford's most fun performance he has ever given, that includes the sequels by the way. I have heard from many interviews that the character Indiana Jones was one of his favorites and it shows every instance he is on screen here. Raider's has been labeled as lightning in a bottle, a one time movie event that will likely never be replicated in our time and I can't disagree with that. It had a first time collaboration between two of the world's hottest directors in Hollywood at that time (Spielberg and Lucas), it had adventure in a grand scale, it had the makings of a cinematic icon like no other but most of all it was a good time. This film is impossible to watch without grinning to yourself more than once even on multiple viewings. It is simply put a classic that will never die and most likely never happen again.



Once again my words can never do this film justice. Besides being part of "The Holy Trilogy" it also has the distinct honor of being not only the best part of the three film saga but also by being proof positive that George Lucas had very little to do with it beyond the script level (by it being such a good movie in case you are slow on the uptake). While it is common knowledge that Ford never really cared for the character of Han Solo (he thought he was too one dimensional) you could never tell that from watching him in action which just goes to show how much of a professional the man is. But I have one simple question out there for the can one of the best movies of all time have one of the worst trailers of all time? This one gets a special commendation for including a trailer that is narrated by...wait for it...Harrison Ford himself! You really have to listen to it to believe it. But regardless, this film is without equal and is responsible for setting a standard for sequels that to this day has never been reached.



Here we go, something that I can finally talk about without worrying that I might upset some eager fanboy. So Witness, I remember seeing this thing in the theater when I was a kid and you know what, I liked it even then. Putting the question of why a mother would take her 8 year old son to see a rated R film about murder and romance aside, just what was it that made me like it even when I was at such a young age that I didn't get about half the stuff going on? First of all it was during that magic time in Ford's career where he just seemed to love acting, the man was clearly inspired and his performance here was one of his most reserved and powerful to date. Only a year later would he up the ante with the next film on this list. Second was the fish out of water story of a city man being taught the ways of a more simple life and all the comedy that comes with such a set up. I can't really say it is an amazing film but it is a well made one with a star trying very hard to leave his legacy behind...and mostly succeeding.



This is not my favorite performance from Ford but it is without a doubt his most powerful. Only he could make the viewer love and hate an individual as much as he does here. If there were one film from that decade of awesomeness that should be more recognized from his filmography it is The Mosquito Coast. The story of a stubborn, committed and dangerous father who drags his family into the jungle to leave the pains of a modern society behind is just as engaging as it sounds. You love him because of his determination and resilience but you hate him because of those same qualities. He is the type of guy that is really interesting to listen to but he kind of freaks you out at the same time. Also be on the lookout for one of River Phoenix's best performances as Ford's eldest son and a very young Helen Mirren as Ford's wife. A great film that has been criminally forgotten. Seek it out now if you want to see what Harrison Ford was like back when he liked being an actor. 



Lastly we come to the one film on this list that is not here because of Ford's performance. While he does an adequate job as the replicant hunting Deckard he never seems to come out of his shell (I personally blame the script here because you can clearly see some sparks of life that emerge from him in certain scenes). If you don't know why this is on this list though then you can do us all a favor and just leave now. Director Ridley Scott's vision of the future as depicted here is phenomenal beyond belief. You wanna know where modern Science-Fiction got it's start from, then look no further than Blade Runner. Seriously, the number of films and/or other media that were inspired by this film is innumerable. No other film I have ever come across has had the same effect that Blade Runner has had on me. I still find myself in awe today as I watch the beautiful imagery dance across the screen (the effects still hold up to this day). And if that wasn't enough it also has one of my favorite soundtracks of all time by Vangelis. This is a monumental film of excellence in both design and execution the likes of which have never been replicated...see what I did there?



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