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:
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."