Total Recall: Harrison Ford's Best Movies

We count down the best-reviewed work of the 42 star.

Harrison Ford

He may not be quite the box office draw he once was, but don't cry for Harrison Ford: Over the last 35 years or so, he's amassed a lifetime gross in excess of $3.4 billion -- and more importantly, he's kicked bad-guy tail as some of the most memorable cinematic heroes in history, including Han Solo, Indiana Jones, and Jack Ryan. He's made a whole bunch of great movies along the way, too -- and with Ford making an appearance in the Jackie Robinson biopic 42, opening this Friday, we thought now would be the perfect time to take a look back at some of the critical highlights of his illustrious filmography.

You'll notice what might seem like some curious omissions from our list -- most notably, Ford's appearances in The Conversation, American Graffiti, and Apocalypse Now -- but those were fairly minor roles, no matter how well-reviewed the films might have been, and since it's Harrison Ford's name at the top of this column, we figured we'd better stick with the movies that gave him the most screen time. You'll probably also notice that some of your personal favorites are missing, but with a top 10 that bottoms out at 83 percent on the Tomatometer, you know some good stuff didn't make the cut. But enough prologue -- let's take a look at Harrison Ford's best-reviewed movies, shall we?


84%

10. Working Girl

We knew he could catch bad guys and save the universe, but before 1988's Working Girl, we didn't know whether Harrison Ford could just be, you know, normal -- if he could help carry, for instance, one of the smart romantic comedies that the studios used to make once or twice a year. As corporate executive Jack Trainer, Ford wasn't required to carry the film -- that fell to Melanie Griffith as Tess McGill, the secretary whose dissatisfaction with her life inspires the screwball ruse that powers the plot. And as it turned out, not only did his sharp comic timing survive the journey from a galaxy far, far away, Ford made a pretty good romantic leading man, too. The result was one of Mike Nichols' finer mid-period efforts, earning five Academy Award nominations, putting a Best Song Oscar on Carly Simon's mantel, and inspiring the Washington Post's Rita Kempley to write, "This scrumptious romantic comedy with its blithe cast is as easy to watch as swirling ball gowns and dancing feet. But oh me, oh my, how much more demanding it is to be a fairy tale heroine these days."

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84%

9. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Going into the second Indiana Jones movie, George Lucas said he wanted it to be darker than Raiders of the Lost Ark; what he didn't know, at least at first, was which direction the story would take. Abandoned suggestions included Indy finding a hidden valley of dinosaurs and an adventure involving the mythical Chinese Monkey King; eventually, of course, Lucas and Steven Spielberg settled on a Raiders prequel pitting Indy, his sidekick Short Round (Ke Huy Quan), and a feisty nightclub singer named Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw) against a murderous Thuggee cult. Temple of Doom suffered in comparison to Raiders, and its ramped-up violence (including an infamous scene featuring a still-beating heart) helped lead to the creation of the PG-13 rating. Despite catching a twinge of the sophomore jinx, Temple was one of the biggest hits of the year, and praised by critics like Colin Covert of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, who called it "sillier, darkly violent and a bit dumbed down, but still great fun."

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88%

8. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Five years after they sent Indiana Jones to India (and disappointed some fans) with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Lucas and Spielberg beat a conscious retreat to the lighthearted action of Raiders of the Lost Ark for the franchise's third, and at the time supposedly final, installment. In terms of tone -- and in its Raiders-esque use of the Nazis as villains -- Crusade was a definite, albeit enjoyable, step back; perhaps in order to compensate for this, Lucas and Spielberg made sure to stuff Crusade with all kinds of nifty twists, including a prologue starring River Phoenix as teenaged Indy and the addition of Sean Connery as his gruff, no-nonsense father. The new additions, coupled with the returns of Denholm Elliott as Marcus Brody and John Rhys-Davies as Sallah, helped Crusade roll to one of the highest grosses in a year that included Batman and Ghostbusters II. It is, as Josh Larsen of Sun Publications wrote, "a blueprint for how a blockbuster sequel should be done."

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91%

7. Witness

In retrospect, it helped signal his shift toward more adult drama roles, but in 1985, Witness was something new for Harrison Ford -- namely, a quiet thriller that forsook set pieces and relied on a taut script and solid acting to get its point across. Needless to say, the Peter Weir-directed film wasn't a Star Wars-sized smash, but plenty of people still showed up for Witness -- and it was a critical winner, too, netting eight Academy Award nominations (and two wins) as well as a pile of other awards. At bottom, the role of John Book wasn't terribly different from the other tough, morally upstanding heroes Ford had played, but the circumstances of the story -- which traces the aftermath of a Philadelphia murder witnessed (get it?) by a young Amish boy -- let audiences focus more on Ford's natural talent than special effects or a pulse-pounding John Williams score. And he was up to the challenge: As Roger Ebert succinctly put it, "Harrison Ford has never given a better performance in a movie."

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91%

6. Blade Runner

By 1982, Harrison Ford was one of the most bankable stars in the business, but not even the level of marquee mojo that goes with the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises was enough to keep Blade Runner from whiffing at the box office when it was originally released. All's well that ends well, though -- more than a quarter century and a handful of expanded cuts later, Runner is regarded as one of the smartest, most enduring sci-fi films ever made. Still, looking back, it isn't hard to understand filmgoers' initial confusion; at the time, Ford was mostly known for playing wisecracking, reluctant heroes, and his role here -- the burned-out cop Rick Deckard -- was a far cry from Han Solo or Indiana Jones. Though it was slow to find its audience, critics were quick to applaud Blade Runner; the Chicago Reader's Jonathan Rosenbaum, for instance, called it "The most remarkably and densely imagined and visualized SF film since 2001: A Space Odyssey" and "a hauntingly erotic meditation on the difference between the human and the nonhuman."

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Comments

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Sounds about right. "Empire" and "Raiders" are his very best.

Apr 10 - 05:03 PM

John Tyler

John Tyler McClane

Blade Runner is my absolute favorite movie of all time.

Apr 10 - 06:03 PM

ram b.

ram bond

blade runner is scifi sex to the eyes and vangelis music sex to the ears!!!

Apr 12 - 08:58 AM

Mike Quach

Mike Quach

it created a genre but it wasn't as entertaining as say...minority report

Apr 12 - 03:59 PM

Bobby  B.

Bobby Bermea

Not my favorite, but definitely one of 'em.

Apr 12 - 04:12 PM

Frisby2007

Frisby 2007

Haven't sen any shitty films with him. Favorites are definitely Blade Runner, & ALL of the Indiana Jones movies.

Apr 10 - 06:19 PM

Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams

Every actor or actress has a few stinkers, including Ford... though there's a reason why he's probably sold more movie tickets for Hollywood than anyone else alive.

Apr 11 - 03:34 AM

Frisby2007

Frisby 2007

Like I said, I haven't seen any shitty films with him. And whatever he has been in that sucks, I sure don't want to watch it.

Apr 11 - 12:18 PM

Patrick Mullen

Patrick Mullen

Then by all means avoid Firewall

Apr 12 - 01:06 PM

Valmordas

Val Mordas

Cowboys and Aliens was almost a stinker. He's been in quite a few 'Meh' films but managed to keep his dignity.

Apr 11 - 05:50 AM

Frisby2007

Frisby 2007

I only watched about 20 minutes of that movie, & I recall it being uninteresting.

Apr 11 - 12:17 PM

Krur Singh

Krur Singh

yupe i cudnt finish that movie either

Apr 11 - 05:40 PM

Timothy Figueroa

Timothy Figueroa

I love how almost every single one of these is not just a good movie but a classic.

Apr 10 - 06:48 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Raiders of the Lost Ark still my favorite movie of all time, impressive that Air Force One and none of the Jack Ryan films cracked the top ten, quality movie's all. Probably the biggest movie star of our generation.

Apr 10 - 07:23 PM

David Riley

David Riley

truth

Apr 10 - 09:12 PM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

Sam L. Jackson. (Box office at least...) Also Bill Paxton was up there but I'm not sure where he stands now.

Apr 10 - 10:19 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

True, but how many more movie's did Sam Jackson have to be in to make that happen, they probably also include Jurassic Park in that equation which I really don't think of as a Sam Jackson movie. Fords got Star Wars, Indy, Jack Ryan series' and Air Force One, The Fugitive, Witness, Blade Runner, Working Girl, Presumed Innocent, etc. All movies where he was THE or at least A major selling point.

Apr 11 - 04:10 PM

Caroline Corman

Caroline Corman

Not only that, but I believe it was the best movie of that era. We have the Raiders set, and still watch it several times a year.

Apr 14 - 09:52 AM

Sean James

Sean James

Shouldn't Apocalypse Now! be on there

Apr 10 - 07:47 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Not really, since he was only in the film for like 20 seconds and his performance wasn't exactly pivotal or earth shattering. Glad they left it out.

Apr 10 - 08:08 PM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

They explain why its not listed along his other classic movie appearances. It required reading like 150 words before they got to it.

Apr 10 - 08:22 PM

Frisby2007

Frisby 2007

Funny, it's not listed here, but on the front page it says it's his highest rated.

Apr 10 - 11:11 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Not really, since he was only in the film for like 20 seconds and his performance wasn't exactly pivotal or earth shattering. Glad they left it out.

Apr 10 - 08:08 PM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

Temple of Doom for me. It's the best Indy and Indy is the best Ford, IMO.

But the rest are certainly classics. I also loves me some Air Force One and Patriot Games.

Apr 10 - 08:20 PM

dyun1dyun1

Dong Yun

Temple of Doom was my favorite also.

Apr 11 - 09:43 AM

Mike Quach

Mike Quach

thought temple of doom was 2nd best to ARK. but definitely better than 3 and 4...which were both kind of weak imo

Apr 12 - 04:01 PM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

They explain why its not listed along his other classic movie appearances. It required reading like 150 words before they got to it.

Apr 10 - 08:22 PM

Typhon

Typhon Q

I don't know why everyone says that Temple of Doom wasn't as good as the others. In my opinion, it was better than Last Crusade.

I personally think that Raiders is better than Empire

Apr 10 - 08:47 PM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

Yup. ToD was dark before dark was "cool".

Apr 10 - 10:22 PM

Mohd Syafiq Bin Jabaruddin

Mohd Syafiq Bin Jabaruddin

It was one reason that the PG13 rating was invented.

Apr 11 - 01:27 AM

Mike Quach

Mike Quach

crusades was boring compare to ToD

Apr 12 - 04:02 PM

Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams

Last Crusade > Doom > Raiders > that goofy one with golfers and fridge nuking.

Apr 11 - 03:36 AM

Mike Quach

Mike Quach

raiders>doom>crystal skull>crusades

Apr 12 - 04:03 PM

Valmordas

Val Mordas

I actually liked Temple best, although I know I'm in the minority. Aside from the first, it was the most 'fun' movie in the series.

Apr 11 - 05:52 AM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

I love Temple, I'd even make the argument that it's the most iconic of the Indy movies, but for me Raiders is almost perfect as a self contained movie. Love them both, and it's a testament to how good Raiders was that I mark it above Temple or even Crusade for that matter. Crystal Skull...not so much.

Apr 11 - 04:13 PM

Gimhana Fernando

Gimhana Fernando

Temple of Doom is,in my opinion,the best and actually Val if you look at the comments here,you're not in the minority.

Apr 14 - 08:00 AM

Steven Jukes

Steven Jukes

temple of doom underrated,better than crusade by far, raiders though fords best ,that opening shot of him near in river is unmatched brilliance !!

Apr 12 - 05:59 AM

Ronald Domholdt

Ronald Domholdt

I don't think ToD was as good as the others, in fact I thought it was crap. Perhaps I should rewatch it, based on a lot of support for it. I loved the bookends of the original trilogy and disliked the 4th film.

Apr 12 - 03:53 PM

David Riley

David Riley

truth

Apr 10 - 09:12 PM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

Sam L. Jackson. (Box office at least...) Also Bill Paxton was up there but I'm not sure where he stands now.

Apr 10 - 10:19 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

True, but how many more movie's did Sam Jackson have to be in to make that happen, they probably also include Jurassic Park in that equation which I really don't think of as a Sam Jackson movie. Fords got Star Wars, Indy, Jack Ryan series' and Air Force One, The Fugitive, Witness, Blade Runner, Working Girl, Presumed Innocent, etc. All movies where he was THE or at least A major selling point.

Apr 11 - 04:10 PM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

Yup. ToD was dark before dark was "cool".

Apr 10 - 10:22 PM

Mohd Syafiq Bin Jabaruddin

Mohd Syafiq Bin Jabaruddin

It was one reason that the PG13 rating was invented.

Apr 11 - 01:27 AM

Mike Quach

Mike Quach

crusades was boring compare to ToD

Apr 12 - 04:02 PM

Jason H.

Jason Huang

blade runner is definitely his best. loved that one.

Apr 10 - 10:38 PM

dyun1dyun1

Dong Yun

I felt that movie changed me and how I thought.

Apr 11 - 09:42 AM

Frisby2007

Frisby 2007

Funny, it's not listed here, but on the front page it says it's his highest rated.

Apr 10 - 11:11 PM

Sarmad Qayyum

Sarmad Qayyum

Am I the only one around here who thought the Last Crusade was better than Raiders of the Lost Arc?

Apr 11 - 12:29 AM

Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams

Honestly, Raiders of the Lost Arc doesn't age well for me. I think most people who put it as the best of Indie do so because it was the first, and probably the one they first saw as a kid. Both Last Crusade and Doom is better than Raiders, benefiting from much better effects and better stories, IMO. Particularly, Doom really works for me because of the darkness, whereas Crusade works because of its swashbuckling light. Raiders had a little bit of both and therefore can't quite reach the heights of either.

Apr 11 - 03:40 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Your impressions of "darkness" and "light" don't make for very compelling criticisms. "Raiders" was dark, in that Jones was a "raider", and fairly immoral through most of the film in his quest to complete his task. None of the sequels have set pieces that can match the skill or exhilaration of "Raiders" opening (about as tense and "dark" as the series ever got) or the Well of Souls. And the fact of it being "first" is not something to dismiss - it set the standard and the formula, and so narratively it still remains the freshest. It isn't just the best Indiana Jones, it's some of Spielberg's greatest filmmaking, as he's even acknowledged.

Apr 11 - 03:16 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Also the car chase scene is about as close to action perfection as you can get. Temple was maybe as good in it's action sequences and had the benefit of Short Round, one of the great comedic relief characters in cinema, but it also had a campiness which brought it down for me and Crusade was as good with it's adventure elements and by far the hottest chick in it, but it's action elements weren't up to par compared to the other two. Where was the Boulder scene, Car Chase, Plane Crash or Mine Shaft scenes in Crusade? Closest it got was Sean Connery with his umbrella and the trials...just not quite on the same level. As JJ said Raiders established the formula which the other two emulated, never quite attaining the same completeness of the original.

Apr 11 - 04:24 PM

King  S.

King Simba

You just echoed my exact thoughts on the franchise. I love Raiders of the Lost Ark and I think it's one of the greatest adventure films of all time, but for me it didn't quite reach the pulse pounding thrills of Temple of Doom (seriously I still can't believe that movie is 2 and a half hours long. It sure doesn't feel like it), or the blast of fun of Last Crusade (the chemistry between Connery and Ford is fantastic). Then again, I think Roger Ebert had a point when he compared Indiana Jones to sausages. The first one you try always tastes the best, and Raiders was the third one I saw (the same can arguably be applied to James Bond, which is probably the reason why I never liked Dr. No as much as most people. Again, this is not to say it's a bad film, just that I can think of at least 5 other Bond films I preffered to it). Plus seeing the other two before Raiders sort of killed the mystery as to whether or not the ark really did have powers. Had I been introduced to the series the way one was supposed to I might have thought differently.

Apr 11 - 11:30 PM

Gimhana Fernando

Gimhana Fernando

He compared Indy to sausages?For me the second one always tastes better,no idea why.
A fourth sausage always tastes horrible.

Apr 14 - 08:05 AM

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