Top Five Harrison Ford flicks


We had a list in the paper Friday, compiled by someone with Newsday, that purports to be of Harrison Ford’s 10 best movies (among which, sadly, I hear his latest would not be a contender). The list had its good points and bad points. Basically, it lacked discipline. With Harrison Ford, you only get serious when you try to come up with a Top Five List. Here’s mine, unranked:

  1. Blade Runner — The one de rigueur item on the list, for aesthetic reasons if none other. The film buff’s Harrison Ford movie, if not his most popular (and not my favorite).
  2. Star Wars — A.K.A. "Episode IV: A New Hope." Note that I include this rather than The Empire Strikes Back. Sure, the plot of the latter is built more around Han Solo, but he defines the character in the first film. After that, the freshness, and the fun, is gone. Han is at his best before he becomes heroic, when he is the brash rogue who had not yet decided to do the right thing.
  3. Air Force One — My kind of president, with my kind of foreign policy set out in the "Be Afraid" speech: "Never again will I allow our political self-interest to deter us from
    doing what we know to be morally right. Atrocity and terror are not
    political weapons. And to those who would use them, your day is over.
    We will never negotiate. We will no longer tolerate and we will no
    longer be afraid. It’s your turn to be afraid." And don’t forget Gary Oldman’s villain — his best line is when he says "smart bomb." Like many action movies, this requires suspension of disbelief, but Wolfgang Petersen makes that easy and pleasurable.
  4. Witness — In this one, Ford represents Modern Man with all his violent foolishness, the "English" among the Amish, and this is what he’s good at — Regular American Guy out of water. Also featuring Danny Glover as a bad guy, which was running against type, but he carries it off.
  5. Raiders of the Lost Ark — The Regular American Guy resplendent, letting it all hang out in a story based in an All-American story-telling form — the old-style adventure cliff-hanger serial. East meets West in a most stark fashion — Indy comes up against the masterful scimitar-wielding opponent, gives an "I don’t have time for this" shoots and shoots him. He’s scared of snakes, and just making it up as he goes along. As regular as a guy gets.

Close contenders for the list: "The Fugitive" and "American Grafitti" But the former is more a showcase for Tommy Lee Jones’ talents, and his part in the latter just isn’t big enough. I also liked "Regarding Henry."

22 thoughts on “Top Five Harrison Ford flicks

  1. David

    I was a huge fan of ‘Bladerunner’ when it came out, although I didn’t think Ford was the towering stand-out talent central to this films’ success like he is in many of his movies. The whole “feel” of Bladerunner was what made me love it.
    As far as the best Harrison Ford movie per se, I thought ‘Witness’ was a great one, and that he was simply great in it. To me, ‘Witness’ was for Ford what ‘Patton’ was for Scott. David

  2. nomad

    how about the right wing’s dream piece…”Clear and Present Danger”?
    You know, the one where the President ignores Congress and decides to hold a war on his own.

  3. Phillip

    Yup, nomad, sadly many Americans think of the world in terms of movies like Air Force One; they, too, think our Presidents should model themselves after fictional action heroes, and believe the world is actually as simple as those movies make it out to be.
    But the tide may be turning. Actually one could turn the quote from Air Force One around now, like this:
    “Terrorism—and the threat of terrorism—is not a political weapon to be exploited. To those who would use it as such: your day is over. We will no longer tolerate that. We will be vigilant, but we will no longer be afraid. We will no longer govern using fear as a political tool.”
    Now that’s MY kind of President, Brad. Or action hero, take your pick. Hey, he might actually get elected. The country does often seem to find its way back after veering off course.

  4. the molten squid from Lake Murray

    Harrison Ford has been nominated once for a best-actor award five times (once for an Oscar and four times for Golden Globes), but he has never won one.
    The last of those nominations, for a Golden Globe for “The Mosquito Coast” in 1986, saw him lose to Alan Hoskins, who starred in some movie by Handmade Films, a company formed by George Harrison to make a Monty Python movie.
    Personally, I think George Harrison indirectly getting in Harrison Ford’s way with a “Python” in the mix is nature’s way of telling us there is a “National Treasure” out there somewhere.
    “The Mosquito Coast” might well be one of the worst movies of all time, so that should tell us something, too.

  5. the molten squid from Lake Moultrie

    Pardon me. I’m on the move, so it’s tough to type while I’m swimming. That should read:
    Harrison Ford has been nominated for a best-actor award five times (once for an Oscar and four times for Golden Globes), but he has never won one.

  6. Phillip

    Squid, Auntie M, etc. (hard to keep track of you with all those different monikers), I think you mean Bob Hoskins?

  7. just saying

    I _love_ Blade Runner. The only problem I’ve had getting others to agree is the voice over. The voice over is a big help the first time you see it (if you don’t already know what’s going on)… but once you’ve seen it, the final cut is much better.

  8. leftover squid at breakfast table

    Dadgummit, Phillip, when you’re swimming, and trying to decide which moniker to use next, it’s tough to get all the details right, especially when you can’t even remember the name of the movie you’re talking about. Of course it’s Bob Hoskins, I think. And off the record, you can quote me on that.

  9. David

    Squids can think? Hmmm…I didn’t know that. Guess I ought not be too awfully surprised though, there actually seems to be quite a large group of marine cephalopods that can imitate rational thought and express opinions as if they had real human intelligence. Phillip comes to mind… David

  10. Guesspert Greg

    Best young Harrison Ford movie where he plays an unforgettable supporting role: Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Conversation.” (1974)
    Best movie where Harrison Ford’s one scene was cut: He was supposed to be Elliott’s principal in “E.T.” (here’s the deleted scene):

    … and while I don’t think anyone’s going to vote “Crystal Skull” as hand’s down the greatest Indy flick of the four, it would never have worked with anyone but Harrison Ford wearing the hat.

  11. Brad Warthen

    Several points — David, we don’t do ad hominem attacks on this blog, especially not toward regulars who use their real names. In fact, didn’t I once specifically say, “No calling people a cephalopod on the blog?” If not, I should have. On this blog, Phillip is a made guy, and deserves respect.
    That said, I’m trying to think who would play the president in Phillip’s alternative scenario. Certainly not Harrison Ford. Ben Stiller, maybe? Or Sean Penn? Zach Braf?
    The main problem, though, would be pre-casting. It would be the pitch itself. Could this movie get made? Maybe, if you could get George Clooney or somebody behind it…

  12. Herb Brasher

    Well, maybe I am weird, but I think Regarding Henry should be on the list, if not at the top.

  13. Brad Warthen

    Well, if you notice, I did give it a mention… It was really good.
    And to go way back up in the comments, “A Clear and Present Danger” was pretty lame. So, in fact, were ALL the Clancy movies, especially “The Sum of All Fears.” And this is a shame, really, because I think “Hunt for Red October,” for instance, could have been really good. Not that it was BAD — Sean Connery was fun as Capt. Ramius (“One ping only, Vasily.”). But it had more potential. Maybe if THAT one had had Harrison Ford in it…

  14. David

    Brad, your chastisement acknowledged. I stand corrected, and am appropriately remorseful. I’ll endeavor not to do it again. I get “on a roll” and forget to be restrained and respectful. My bad.
    To Phillip: I apologize. Shouldn’t have called you names like a 12 year old. Bad form. Wrong-headed. Just wrong. I’m sorry.
    Won’t happen again. Davd

  15. David

    By the way Brad, Phillip has my undying respect (although it’s pretty clear he and I occupy different ends of the political spectrum). But, how does one become a “made guy” on this blog?
    By taking political positions that you happen to endorse?
    That seems to be about all it takes, because Phillip hasn’t graced us with any brilliant flashes of intelligence or political insight that I recollect (neither have I, I suppose…but then I’m not a made guy either). In fact, his first post above seems by implication to indicate that he’s pretty much just an average liberal who portrays our Presidents’ prosecution of a real war against a real enemy as just governance by use of fear. If Phillip was really concerned about government by fear, I’d suggest he look no further than the Democrat Party, which:
    -Routinely and aggressively uses tax policy to destroy freedom and illegally modify public behaviour
    -Fully endorses the seizure of of private property for no other reason that that a developer would bring more money their way
    -Threatens nationalization of private businesses whenever it suits them, a la petroleum companies and health care
    And on and on. This kind of thinking makes him a “made guy?” Or alternatively, maybe I have Phillip all wrong. But I don’t think so. I think I have him pretty well pegged, and that is why I tried to poke fun at him above, albeit in a wrong way. It is true that I shouldn’t have called him names.
    It is interesting however, that you have “made guys” on this blog that seem to me to have no particular personal recommendation going for them other than that you agree with them. But hey, it’s your blog. David

  16. Phillip

    David, Brad would be most surprised to be said to be endorsing my political positions. Just within the last few weeks alone, I’ve hassled Brad on this blog regarding Christopher Hitchens’ use of grammar, drilling in ANWR, Joe Lieberman, gay marriage, and of course America’s proper role in the world, where he and I are at constant loggerheads. We do agree on a few domestic issues, like a commitment to public education and health care reform.
    About my revised Air Force One speech, David…it’s way beyond a liberal-conservative thing, to include those who were there to witness the elevation of propaganda over truth.

  17. Brad Warthen

    Phillip, should I tell him how to get "made," or would that violate blog omerta? I wouldn’t want to go against "our thing" here.

    Hey, do you think I’ve given enough hints that I’ve been going through the entire "Sopranos" series via Netflix? Last night, I stayed up too late rewatching two episodes from the third season, which I’ve seen before, but I’m letting the wife catch up. To my surprise, she likes it — I think she identifies with Carmela — although she runs from the room whenever I give the warning: "he’s about to get whacked."

    Oh, and don’t anybody give away the sixth season — that’s the only one I haven’t seen yet.

  18. bill

    That Harrison Ford might play a “regular guy” in the movies,but last thing I seen him do was have his chest waxed as a symbolic protest against the destruction of the Rainforests.A PSA.
    Looked like one of Yoko Ono’s old performance art pieces.
    It was kinda sexy in an S&M sort of way.


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