No whips, witnesses, or Wookies here

As most of the world knows by now, Harrison Ford was in a plane crash late last week. He’s “on the mend” according to recent reports, which is great to hear. … Not that I know him personally, but I am a decently unoblivious fan of his movies. With that in mind, here’s an article I wrote for Geek Force Network (originally posted on May 17, 2013) about a few of my favorite Harrison Ford movies that didn’t involve the things he’s best known for — treasure hunting, space battles, futuristic crime-fighting, Amish drama, or dealing with one-armed men. 


What Lies Beneath still
© DreamWorks Pictures (2000)

I’m not just a Harrison Ford fan; I’m a Harrison Ford apologist.

K-19?
He was a pretty decent as Russian guy, da? I mean, he was stuck in a sub, after all. It’s not like you can make a great movie in a submar–…huh? The what about Red October?  Oh.

Sabrina?
He wasn’t so bad. Anybody looks good opposite Greg Kinnear.

Crystal Skull??
Yeah, it was awful, but it was totally fun seeing Ford and Allen back together. And yes, I have the movie on Blu-Ray. You wanna fight about it?

While the list of Ford’s questionable movie choices goes one, “questionable” is really in the eye of the beholder. What’s great is that it looks like he might make it back onto the map in Ender’s Game and the Anchorman sequel, and this after a long stretch of, let’s be honest, cinematic duds. I mean, I love watching the man act, but what was his last really great film? The Fugitive if you ask me. (However, I’ve yet to see 42 and I’ve heard he was pretty good in that.)

Other than Dr. Richard Kimble, most of us know Ford as Han Solo, Richard Decker, Jack Ryan, Indiana Jones, the detective who helped little Lukas Haas and his Amish family, and that guy who drove the yellow truck in American Graffiti. But he’s done some really great work outside of those famous and award-winning roles; so here are my top three favorite less-iconic Harrison Ford films.

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3. Regarding Henry

Regarding Henry still
© Paramount Pictures (1991)

I’m kind of a sucker for movie transformations. In most cases where a bad guy sees the errors of his ways and turns good, I’m usually on board. Whip up this story with Harrison Ford and Annette Bening and…yeah, it’s a little bit too sweet but still fairly tasty. Ford stars as an evil lawyer. Bening is his stolid, independent wife; and together they have a daughter who’s about to be shipped off to bording school by Ford because he “cares” but could really care less. One evening, Ford goes out to late to a store, which gets held up. The frantic robber shoots Ford in the head, and into a coma he goes. From there, the movie follows his recuperation and recovery; and the gunshot gives him more than just a scar. It severely alters his personality for the good of himself and his family.

Thanks to Tropic Thunder, I can’t quite watch this movie with the same, innocent eyes that I had years ago. Yes, it’s trite in parts and plain silly in others, but I still find Ford’s performance very charming and endearing. And those are not words usually associated with Harrison Ford.

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2. Presumed Innocent

Presumed Innocent still
© Warner Bros. (1990)

I’m not one to snuggle up on a Saturday night with a courtroom drama, but this adaptation of Scott Turow’s novel of the same name is simply riveting. Even though I know how the story turns out, I still find something new and captivating about the movie each time I watch it. It has a fantastic story, great characters, and plenty of twists to keep things interesting.

Here Ford masterfully plays D. A. Rusty Sabich who’s asked to investigate the murder of his former mistress and colleague. During the investigation, Ford ends up becoming a suspect himself. The way the plot slithers around moments of calm and thrill is something to behold. And once the story ramps up, you think it’s all an easy downhill coast, but you definitely want to keep your seat belt on for the whole ride. And as Ford digs deeper into his investigation, he gets caught up in some unpleasant dealings – b-plot stuff that serves the bulk of the story pretty well. There are lots of familiar faces in the movie, and Bonny Bedilia makes a great turn as Ford’s ignored wife. And Ford ranges well throughout from emotional to uptight to almost sexy as only he can.

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1. Working Girl

Working Girl still
© 20th Century Fox (1988)

This is the only (mostly) romantic (mostly) comedy among my “top 5 desert island movies,” and I count it among my most favorite movies ever. I don’t care if you hate romantic comedies, Harrison Ford, Melanie Griffith, Sigourney Weaver, Joan Cusak (who you can’t hate cause she’s awesome), or the 1980s, this movie is a must-see.

I think everyone except Harrison Ford thinks he’s good at comedy. He’s tried his hand at it several times, and he’s funny, but sometimes the source material isn’t. Also I’m pretty sure that Six Day Seven Nights is all Anne Heche’s fault. Anyway, Working Girl got it right and Melanie Griffith and Ford display fantastic chemistry as a couple in love and in schemes. The comedy is more adult and less sitcom, and Ford is perfectly debonair and wry. Okay, maybe most of the credit goes to Griffith for carrying this rags to riches story of a woman making her way up the corporate ladder, if through devious means (i.e. the ways of the 80s), but you can’t argue with Ford’s presence. I mean, just look at him there being all handsome! [sigh heart flutter sigh]

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See? There’s more to Harrison Ford than blasters and aliens. I’ll end here with a quick honorable mention to What Lies Beneath (the image shown at the beginning of this post). This quirky paranormal-thriller is not Ford’s standard fare, but it’s a creepy movie that stands out, er, in and around your standard ghost stories. I can’t say much for Ford’s performance opposite Michelle Pfieffer – not a believable couple though they both carry well what’s there of the film. But Ford does dish out some genuine moments of fear, whether he’s just being a little weird or downright scary. If you happen to pass by it on basic cable one day and have nothing better to do, it’s worth the watch.

2 thoughts on “No whips, witnesses, or Wookies here”

  1. Haha! Harrison Ford as you’ve never seen him before. Or as you’ve seen him before, but you’ve just forgotten. Definitely going to have to give Working Girl a re-watch now. 😀

    Great post.

    Like

    1. Thanks! When actors end up in big, iconic roles, it’s easy to forget that some of them can be more subtle in smaller movies. Working Girl is such a classic! Though Ford’s not a comedian, he manages his part with plenty of wit and dry humor.

      Like

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