Harrison Ford turns 78 today. As an actor, writer, director and producer, his films have earned more than $9 billion worldwide.
To wish the film icon a happy birthday, we’ll share our 10 favorite films of his.
We’ll cover plenty of the hits you know and love, but also include some lesser celebrated titles that deserve the love. Read our picks (and honorable mentions) below:
Star Wars (1977)
Our introduction to Han Solo belongs on this list, and not just for the sake of it. We’d caught a glimpse of Ford’s roguish charm in George Lucas’ previous film “American Graffitti,” signaling real star power the director knew would translate in all of the actor’s space pirate glory. As the braggadocios smuggler and captain of the Millennium Falcon, Ford even had chemistry with a guy in a Wookie costume and quickly proved the galaxy had a new superstar on its hands.
The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
While the first “Star Wars” film introduced us to Han Solo, Ford does arguably career-best work in “Empire,” cementing the character as a classic leading man, mixing archetypal flourishes with his own personal style and humor that made the space pirate nearly everyone’s favorite character in the franchise, thanks in large part to the script by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan and his equally good co-star Carrie Fisher. The fact that they recast the role with another actor for the 2018 “Solo” spinoff still seems like a movie crime.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
We could combine the first three Indiana Jones movies in one pick, but we’ll start with the one that kickstarted Steven Spielberg’s adventure franchise that packs a punch as one of the best movie franchises ever that wouldn’t have worked with anyone other than Ford wearing the hat and carrying the whip. After the first two “Star Wars” movies, it only further established the actor as a mega-star whose future knew no end on the silver screen. Also does some lovely work with romantic counterpart Karen Allen who share terrific chemistry.
Blade Runner (1982)
Ridley Scott’s brilliant science fiction thriller depicts a dystopian Los Angeles in which genetically engineered replicants, which are visually indistinguishable from adult humans, are manufactured by a powerful corporation. Ford plays Rick Deckard, a special police operative known as a “Blade Runner” tasked with hunting down and killing the deadly replicants. This futuristic film noir features a steely but cool lead performance from Ford in what some consider his best-ever movie.
In Peter Weir’s gripping drama, Ford plays a detective protecting a young Amish boy who becomes a target after he witnesses a murder in Philadelphia. It earned Ford his only Oscar nomination, and deservedly so for bringing his typical heroism to a much more serious story that also demanded and got tremendous restraint from the actor.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
We love “Temple of Doom” just as much, but we’ll give the edge to “Last Crusade” thanks to Ford’s amazing chemistry with Sean Connery, who plays the archaeologist’s father on their quest to find the Holy Grail, with more Nazis on their tails. Firmly back into “Raiders” mode, the would-be “last” Jones adventure is a delight.
Patriot Games (1992)
The second Jack Ryan flick based on the Tom Clancy novels recasts the role with Ford as the CIA agent, who this time interferes with an IRA assassination, causing a renegade faction to target him and his family for revenge. Complex and exciting, a rare adult thriller perfectly buoyed by Ford’s steady and likable work.
The Fugitive (1993)
Other than the obvious big-daddies, probably Ford’s best and most iconic role to date. After being wrongfully convicted for the murder of his wife, Dr. Richard Kimble (Ford) escapes from custody and sets out to prove his innocence while pursued by a team of U.S. Marshals led by Deputy Samuel Gerard (an Oscar-winning Tommy Lee Jones). Frankly, Ford also deserved an Oscar nod for playing the desperate and determined Kimble in this thriller based on the 1960s television series of the same name.
Air Force One (1997)
How about this corny action flick in which Ford plays President James Marshall, who battles a group of Russian terrorists (led by Gary Oldman) that hijack Air Force One? Easily one of the “movie-est” movies ever made, it also stands as a great prototypical Ford vehicle, highlighting all of the star’s leading man appeal and action movie presence. Just have a little fun, OK?
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
Many thought Ford had stopped caring on screen, often coming across as grumpy and tired in his latter roles, but J.J. Abrams pulled another great performance from him in “The Force Awakens,” bringing back the Han Solo we knew and loved one last time and suggesting Ford just might do it again when he reprises Indiana Jones one more time the near future.
Honorable Mentions: American Graffiti (1973), Return of the Jedi (1983), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Frantic (1988), Working Girl (1988), The Mosquito Coast (1986), Regarding Henry (1991), Sabrina (1995), Six Days, Seven Nights (1998), 42 (2013), Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
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