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Harrison Ford's Seven Best Films (Not Including 'Star Wars')

May 20th, 2008 9:26am EDT
Harrison FordHarrison Ford is, without question, one of the biggest box office stars of all time. With the release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull on Thursday it couldn't be a better time to take a look back on the seven best movies of Ford's career.

We purposely left the Star Wars trilogy off the list considering those are not really "Harrison Ford movies" and quite an entity unto themselves. Plus, we do not need every movie on this list being a "Star Wars" or "Indiana Jones" movie. At times we do like to be challenged.

Once a surefire box office success, lately it has been a little tough to be a Harrison Ford fan (Hollywood Homicide, anyone?). Paint-by-the-numbers action movies and behind-the-scene quarrels with co-stars have plagued recent Ford movies. (Though it was nice to see Harrison and Brad Pitt set aside their differences and agree to be in Jimmy Kimmel's "I'm F---ing Ben Affleck" together after so much discourse on the set of The Devil's Own.) Regardless, Indiana Jones is back and this brings us all back to a time when Harrison Ford was king.

Harrison Ford's Top Seven Films In No Particular Order:

Indiana Jones and the Temple of DoomIndiana Jones and the Temple of Doom - 1984

Most critics will sing the praises of 1989's Last Crusade as the superior follow-up to Raiders of the Lost Ark, but "Temple of Doom" shows a different side of Indy that most people do not even realize they are seeing. Many don't realize "Temple of Doom" is a prequel, taking place a full year before the events of "Raiders." In "Temple," Indiana Jones begins the adventure still brash and immature. Magic stones are stolen from a village in India, and missing along with them are the children of that village. Indy agrees to help, but he even admits to his sidekick Short Round that he is in it for the "fortune and glory."

Indiana Jones had to have this adventure, saving children from the slavery of the Thuggee cult, before he was mature enough to hunt down The Ark of the Covenant. "Temple of Doom" is dark, yet action packed from start to finish. Filmed while George Lucas was going through a bitter divorce, the mood of the movie was very much in tune with the mood of the executive producer. For those who still want to defend "The Last Crusade," let's just say that no movie with a scene showing Indiana Jones pretending to be a Scottish arts dealer relentlessly spitting the word "Tapestry" will ever appear on this list.

The Fugitive - 1993

Has it really been 15 years since "The Fugitive" was released? Ford's portrayal of Dr. Richard Kimble struck the perfect tone in contrast to the brash (and scene-stealing) Deputy United States Marshal Samuel Gerard played by Tommy Lee Jones, who won an Oscar for his role. Ford's character did not kill his wife, and Jones' character explained he did not care. But he did care and so did we. Was there any doubt Kimble would find the one-armed man? Probably not, but we were on the edge of our seats for the entire journey.

The Mosquito CoastThe Mosquito Coast - 1986

This is quite possibly the quirkiest of Harrison Ford's movie catalog (how often does Ford sport long hair in a movie?) and almost definitely the most underrated of his films. Ford plays an idealist inventor sick of corporate America who moves his family to the jungles of Honduras to live the way he believes life should be lived. He "invents" ice for the natives, who have never seen such a thing, and slowly loses his mind. It is impossible to watch this movie and not notice how well River Phoenix, playing Ford's son, commands the screen. Of course, Phoenix and Ford would team up one more time (though not on screen at the same time), both playing the title character in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" before Phoenix's drug-induced death in 1993.

Frantic - 1988

Roman Polanski's thriller has to be good because it is mentioned in a Barenaked Ladies song, right? Harrison strikes the perfect note in this film about a surgeon whose wife is kidnapped in Paris. The frustration of not speaking the language and the complete lack of progress would cause anyone to become...well...frantic. It's an intense thriller from start to finish. If anyone forgets the reasons why Harrison Ford can carry a movie all by himself, this should be a reminder.

Blade Runner - 1982

Is Rick Deckard a replicant? Well, in the original theatrical version he certainly was not, considering the voiceover from Ford the studio insisted be included in what was, for the time and still today, a very complicated plot. Without the voiceover that question becomes a bit murky to say the least (OK, spoiler alert, he is a replicant!!). "Blade Runner" may just be the greatest pure science fiction movie of all time. Not what would be described as an "action packed" film, "Blade Runner" moves along at a pace of its own, allowing the viewer to completely take in the sights and sounds of what a 2019 Los Angeles may look like. We can only hope Harrison remembers the days when he would take chances on scripts like he did for this Phillip K. Dick-inspired, Ridley Scott-directed masterpiece.

Raiders of the Lost Ark - 1980

Just like his role of Han Solo in "Star Wars," this was a part that was not originally intended for Ford. It is interesting to ponder if we would all be anticipating Thursday's release of "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" if Tom Selleck had gotten out of that pesky Magnum P.I. contract. Ford brought the necessary man's man aspect to the character but also let his natural charm and humor allow Indy to become "human." Case in point, if a brutish sword-wielding villain confronted us on the streets of Cairo, instead of engaging in a duel we would have just shot the guy as well. After an exhaustive day of shooting, this was supposed to be an elaborate choreographed scene. But an exhausted and ill Harrison asked director Steven Spielberg if he couldn't just shoot the guy. This led to one of the most memorable scenes in a movie people forget was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Witness - 1985

Harrison Ford has a tendency to play himself in his film roles. This is not necessarily a bad thing because we like Harrison, and his charm and wit often drive the story he is involved with. In "Witness," Harrison Ford "acts." In the process he proves without a doubt that when he wants to act he can be great. Ford received his only Oscar Nomination in his portrayal of Philadelphia Police Captain John Book. After a young Amish boy (Lukas Haas) witnesses a brutal murder, an injured Book hides in Pennsylvania Amish country after learning the murder was ordered from within the police department and the boy is in immediate danger. This is such a different Harrison Ford than we are used to seeing. Yes, he still has a hero quality but he shows his affection toward the boy and his growing love for the boy's widowed mother (Kelly McGillis). This is a rare but intensely satisfying treat for a Harrison Ford film in which the emotions drive the story, not the action, leading to a well-deserved Best Picture Oscar Nomination for "Witness."

-Photo gallery and more from "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull"
-Review of "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull"
-Harrison Ford biography, filmography, photos and more

Mike Ryan
Story by Mike Ryan
Starpulse contributing writer


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