No whips, witnesses, or Wookies here

http://www.absoluteharrisonford.com/gallery/displayimage.php?album=371&pos=7
If we just stare at nothing long enough, it’ll all be okay, right? © Dreamworks

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

K-19?
He was pretty okay as a 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?
It wasn’t so bad. Anybody looks good opposite Greg Kinnear.

Crystal Skull??
Yeah, aliens…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 on, “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 the last movie I really, truly enjoyed him in was The Fugitive. (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 hung out with the Amish in Witness, and the guy who got his big start in American Graffiti. But he’s done some really great work outside of those famous and award-winning roles. With that in mind, here are my top three favorite less-iconic Harrison Ford films.

3. Regarding Henry

http://www.chud.com/community/g/i/18208/regarding-henry-movie-stills/sort/display_order/
Hard to put this one in context, but trust me, it’s a very sweet scene. © Paramount

I’m kind of a sucker for transformations on film. In most cases where a bad guy somehow sees the errors of his ways and turns good, I’m usually on board. Whip up this trope with Harrison Ford, Annette Bening, and amnesia and…yeah, it’s a little bit worn but still fairly comfortable. Ford stars as an evil, heartless defense attorney with little but fame and money on his mind. Bening is his stolid, independent, and neglected wife; and together they have a daughter who’s about to be shipped off to boarding 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 wound 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 aren’t words usually associated with Harrison Ford.

2. Presumed Innocent

http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/bonnie-bedelia/images/32725584/title/presumed-innocent-photo
Duck, duck, duck…asleep? © Warner Bros.

I’m not one to snuggle up with courtroom dramas, but this adaptation of a Scott Turow novel is simply riveting. Even though I’ve seen it dozens of times, 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 and between moments of calm and tension is something to behold. And once the story reaches its peak, you think it’s all an easy downhill coast from there, but you definitely want to keep your seat belt on for the whole ride. 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.

1. Working Girl

http://cinema-fanatic.com/2010/10/11/oscar-vault-monday-working-girl-1988-dir-mike-nichols/
Handsome and a multitasker…what more could a girl want! © 20th Century Fox

This is the only (mostly) romantic (mostly) comedy that I count among my most favorite movies ever. I don’t care if you hate romance, comedy, 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.

It seems 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. However, Working Girl got it so right. 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 loose rags to riches story of a woman making her way up the corporate ladder, if through somewhat 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 cute with those frou-frou drinks! [sigh heart flutter sigh] Seriously though. Watch. This. Movie.

******

See? There’s more to Harrison Ford than blasters and aliens — he can be cute and cuddly as well as serious and somber. And there are other great films I could have added, but I’m  not up for writing a dissertation. However, I’ll end here with a quick honorable mention to What Lies Beneath (first image above). This quirky paranormal-esque thriller is not Ford’s standard fare, but it’s a creepy movie that fits well in and around your standard ghost stories. Both Ford and Michelle Pfieffer give decent performances – not a believable couple in my eyes 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, one day, you happen to pass by this movie on basic cable and have nothing better to do, it’s worth the watch.

————

Like what you’ve just read? Cary posts to Geek Force Network every Friday; and you can also find more words that she put together in paragraphs at Recollections of Play and United We Game.

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