Total Recall: Christopher Walken's Best Movies

We count down the best-reviewed work of the Seven Psychopaths star.

Christopher Walken

From junior soap star to Oscar-winning film actor, Saturday Night Live mainstay, and music video legend, Christopher Walken has carved out one of the most cheerfully inimitable career paths in Hollywood since making his screen debut nearly 60 years ago. This weekend, the amazingly prolific actor -- who's acted in nearly 30 films over the last 10 years alone -- pops up in Seven Psychopaths, so we decided to take the opportunity to take a fond look back at some of his most critically beloved performances. Break out your cowbells, it's time for Total Recall!


81%

10. Biloxi Blues

Ever wondered what the word "latrine" means? Look no further than Biloxi Blues. In one of the most colorfully memorable scenes from Mike Nichols' adaptation of the Neil Simon play, Walken's marvelously named Sergeant First Class Merwin J. Toomey provides a rather in-depth definition for his latest batch of U.S. Army recruits. This being a family site, we can't reprint the whole thing; suffice it to say that it's pronounced, as Toomey puts it, "La-trine, from the French." The interplay between Walken and Biloxi's star, Matthew Broderick, was what set the movie apart for the New York Times' Vincent Canby, who chortled, "With superb performances by Mr. Broderick and Christopher Walken, who plays Mr. Simon's nearly unhinged, very funny variation on the drill sergeant of movie myth, Biloxi Blues has a fully satisfying life of its own."

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84%

9. At Close Range

Adding a cop mustache, co-starring support from Sean Penn, and a Madonna hit on the soundtrack to Walken's arsenal, 1986's At Close Range dramatized the tragic real-life story of a Pennsylvania crime family whose patriarch (played by Walken) returns from exile to darken the lives of his grown sons (Sean and Chris Penn). In spite of its compelling story and excellent cast -- which included Mary Stuart Masterson, Kiefer Sutherland, and Crispin Glover -- the movie didn't make much of an impact at the box office, but it resonated with critics like Roger Ebert, who wrote that "Penn and Walken [are] at the top of their forms in roles that give them a lot to work with."

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84%

8. Pennies From Heaven

If you're filming a musical and you need someone to play a singing, dancing pimp, there's really only one person to call. Walken added a little bit of off-kilter genius to 1981's Pennies from Heaven, screenwriter Dennis Potter's adaptation of his hit BBC miniseries about an unhappy married couple during trying economic times; here, directed by Herbert Ross and starring Steve Martin as a Depression-era sheet music salesman, it went down as one of the decade's more ignominious flops at the box office, although it's gained something of a cult following over the years -- and it's always been a favorite among critics like Mark Athitakis of Flimcritic.com, who called it "Dark as night but perfectly lit, a little sad but with a song in its heart."


90%

7. The Dead Zone

Walken earned a Saturn Award nomination for his role in David Cronenberg's The Dead Zone, an adaptation of the Stephen King novel about a psychic (played by Walken) who discovers that a Presidential candidate (Martin Sheen) will trigger nuclear war if elected -- and sets about planning a one-man assassination attempt. Unlike a number of 1980s King adaptations, The Dead Zone proved successful with audiences as well as critics; Luke Y. Thompson of New Times called this "The classic Walken role, by which all subsequent ones are measured" and argued that it's "Possibly the best Stephen King adaptation too."

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92%

6. True Romance

We don't normally include single-scene roles in Total Recall, but Christopher Walken's appearance in True Romance is something special -- in fact, the character he plays in the movie, Vincenzo Coccotti, boasts his own Wikipedia entry, thanks to the memorably racist monologue delivered by Dennis Hopper during their few moments of shared screentime. And as for the rest of the movie, which stars Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette as a couple on the run from bloodthirsty mobsters? It isn't bad either. As TIME's Richard Corliss observed at the time, "If shoot-'em-up, gobble-'em-down movies like The Fugitive and Jurassic Park are rated PG-13 these days, what does an R-rated action adventure look like? Like True Romance: violent to a fault, glam to the max."

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Comments

Eric Murga

Eric Murga

what about Annie Hall?

Oct 10 - 04:37 PM

Cal Simmonds

Cal Simmonds

He was a supporting roll in Annie Hall. These are the films he was a main character in. Even though he only had around three minutes of screen time in Pulp Fiction.

Oct 10 - 09:56 PM

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Hugo Emanuel Melo

In another words he was just a supporting role in Pulp Fiction as well. If Annie Hall is not here neither should Pulp Fiction. Altough his character is obviously mor memorable in Pulp Fiction.

Oct 11 - 03:20 AM

King  S.

King Simba

They mentioned in the aritcle that they included his Pulp Fiction role because of how memorable it was even if it was very short. I mean, personally, I'm much more liable to remember that he was in Pulp Fiction than that he did a voice in Antz.

Oct 11 - 10:37 PM

Dave J

Dave J

I liked Christopher Walken in almost everything he's does but "The Dead Zone" and "The Dogs Of War" are the only two I liked him in so far since most other films he's done are only supporting roles!

Oct 10 - 04:49 PM

Dave J

Dave J

How dissappointing- Walken's acting calibur as first starring roles only occcurs like on one and a half times on the RT list, and one and a half times on the users list!

Oct 10 - 05:39 PM

Jacob

Jacob Grimm

Hard to believe Antz has a higher fresh rating than The Deer Hunter.

Oct 10 - 05:25 PM

Gage Kent

Gage Kent

Keep in mind that you can't compare two movies of different genres, especially with an arbitrary % score. Antz is an animated movie for kids; The Deer Hunter is a Vietnam War Drama. Very different films... so I don't think it is fair to compare them at all.

Oct 10 - 07:34 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I think it's totally fair to give the film that actually won Walken his only Oscar as his better film.

Oct 11 - 11:10 AM

Eric Rentz

Eric Rentz

Antz was for kids?!? I was not aware of that

Oct 13 - 10:04 AM

mikegskelly

mike kelly

The Prophecy - more than you expect

Oct 10 - 05:29 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

It wasn't warmly received when it came out, but I think The Prophecy is very underrated. Look at the quality of the cast alone. Walken, Elias Koteas, Virginia Madsen, Eric Stoltz and Viggo Mortenson as Lucifer. If that movie had been made a decade later the cost of that cast would have equalled the budget for the entire film probably.

Oct 11 - 03:16 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

"Someone's gonna die. Soon."

Oct 11 - 11:13 AM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

"Way back, before you were born, I toId you a secret, then I put my finger there and I said "Shhhhh""

Oct 12 - 02:18 AM

Dave J

Dave J

How dissappointing- Walken's acting calibur as first starring roles only occcurs like on one and a half times on the RT list, and one and a half times on the users list!

Oct 10 - 05:39 PM

Gary O'Neill

Gary O'Neill

Dead Zone, The deer hunter and Blast from the Past

Oct 10 - 07:19 PM

Gage Kent

Gage Kent

Keep in mind that you can't compare two movies of different genres, especially with an arbitrary % score. Antz is an animated movie for kids; The Deer Hunter is a Vietnam War Drama. Very different films... so I don't think it is fair to compare them at all.

Oct 10 - 07:34 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I think it's totally fair to give the film that actually won Walken his only Oscar as his better film.

Oct 11 - 11:10 AM

Eric Rentz

Eric Rentz

Antz was for kids?!? I was not aware of that

Oct 13 - 10:04 AM

Robert Wilkinson

Robert Wilkinson

How is King of New York not on this list?

Oct 10 - 07:56 PM

Reginald Wells

Reginald Wells

Wheres "A View to a Kill"

Oct 10 - 08:28 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

On the list of crappiest Bond movies ever made.

Oct 11 - 03:14 AM

Adam Guillette

Adam Guillette

Well played, sir.

Oct 11 - 06:33 AM

Terence Bowman

Terence Bowman

It was, IMO, the single worst Bond movie of them all. And that is what makes Walken's performance all the more remarkable. It's hard to look that good in a movie that bad.

Oct 11 - 01:29 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Agreed

Oct 12 - 02:20 AM

Ryan Ruiz

Ryan Ruiz

also agree

Oct 12 - 01:31 PM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

At Close Range is a fantastic film. That movie sat with me for awhile. And his only scene in TR, opposite Hopper, is a classic. Moors!

Oct 10 - 08:43 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Moops!

Oct 11 - 04:52 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Moops!

Oct 11 - 04:53 PM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

Its what the card said so whys the bubble boy gotta hate?

Oct 11 - 08:31 PM

Cal Simmonds

Cal Simmonds

He was a supporting roll in Annie Hall. These are the films he was a main character in. Even though he only had around three minutes of screen time in Pulp Fiction.

Oct 10 - 09:56 PM

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Hugo Emanuel Melo

In another words he was just a supporting role in Pulp Fiction as well. If Annie Hall is not here neither should Pulp Fiction. Altough his character is obviously mor memorable in Pulp Fiction.

Oct 11 - 03:20 AM

King  S.

King Simba

They mentioned in the aritcle that they included his Pulp Fiction role because of how memorable it was even if it was very short. I mean, personally, I'm much more liable to remember that he was in Pulp Fiction than that he did a voice in Antz.

Oct 11 - 10:37 PM

Pete Howell

Pete Howell

You're not basing this on his performances,but rather on the reviews of films that he was in. I think his best performance was in At Close Range.

Oct 11 - 01:04 AM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

I know I commented earlier on ACR, but I have to say again how that movie was a very powerful movie to me. I watched it when I was about 8 and man did it grow me up quick. I still remember thinking about how awful Walken's character was. Then my Mom told me it was a true story and I quickly realized how fucked up this world can be and how lucky I was to have a good family. Like I said, that movie was a milestone in my movie watching experiences.

Oct 11 - 10:39 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

On the list of crappiest Bond movies ever made.

Oct 11 - 03:14 AM

Adam Guillette

Adam Guillette

Well played, sir.

Oct 11 - 06:33 AM

Terence Bowman

Terence Bowman

It was, IMO, the single worst Bond movie of them all. And that is what makes Walken's performance all the more remarkable. It's hard to look that good in a movie that bad.

Oct 11 - 01:29 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Agreed

Oct 12 - 02:20 AM

Ryan Ruiz

Ryan Ruiz

also agree

Oct 12 - 01:31 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

It wasn't warmly received when it came out, but I think The Prophecy is very underrated. Look at the quality of the cast alone. Walken, Elias Koteas, Virginia Madsen, Eric Stoltz and Viggo Mortenson as Lucifer. If that movie had been made a decade later the cost of that cast would have equalled the budget for the entire film probably.

Oct 11 - 03:16 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

"Someone's gonna die. Soon."

Oct 11 - 11:13 AM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

"Way back, before you were born, I toId you a secret, then I put my finger there and I said "Shhhhh""

Oct 12 - 02:18 AM

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Hugo Emanuel Melo

In another words he was just a supporting role in Pulp Fiction as well. If Annie Hall is not here neither should Pulp Fiction. Altough his character is obviously mor memorable in Pulp Fiction.

Oct 11 - 03:20 AM

King  S.

King Simba

They mentioned in the aritcle that they included his Pulp Fiction role because of how memorable it was even if it was very short. I mean, personally, I'm much more liable to remember that he was in Pulp Fiction than that he did a voice in Antz.

Oct 11 - 10:37 PM

detroit666

Dawn HAvard

In every movie he's in, he always manages to drag the movie up a notch, even the bad ones. In his scenes he disappears into the character and you cannot take you eyes off him.

My personal favorite is Sleepy Hollow. He OWNS all the scenes he's in and drags it up from soso to scary sh!t!

Oct 11 - 05:41 AM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

"Click" in the top 10? Really, RT users?

Oct 11 - 05:47 AM

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