Between the Godfathers, Francis Ford Coppola crafted The Conversation, a nerve-racking essay on privacy and surveillance; Gene Hackman is a bugging expert who’s so good at his job that he’s emptied his life rather than be bugged himself. Murder might result from one assignment, sending him on a guilty, destabilized tear—which in turn makes him the subject of the surveillance he’s always dreaded. Indelible. With Harrison Ford.
The story of Jackie Robinson, the first black player to be brought up into the Major League show in 1947, has a particularly heroic, folkloric glow, and the impulse to cinematize it into an all-American chest-sweller was so strong that Robinson was egged into starring as himself in 1950’s ill-advised The Jackie Robinson Story. That didn’t work out, but although this Spielbergian version isn’t the film Spike Lee had wanted to make for years, 42 tells a necessary story, and reconstitutes a a slew of baseball legends and gives them props, from Chadwick Boseman‘s long-suffering Jackie to Lucas Black‘s egalitarian Pee Wee Reese to Harrison Ford‘s avuncular character turn as Dodgers executive Branch Rickey. The telegraphed nobility, dumb as it is, can warm your baser nerve endings if you let it, which shouldn’t be hard for a fan.
Well, this’ll take the cake: if your dad is Harrison Ford, and he strands you and your family on a Central American jungle coastline so you can create paradise away from the evils of society, then you’ve won the Worst Vacation Ever sweepstakes handily. In The Mosquito Coast, Ford is fascinatingly out of character as a deluded utopian, and director Peter Weir knows how to turn the screws.
One of the handful of times that Steven Spielberg’s patented overmanipulations and blue-tinted “sense of wonder” doesn’t curdle in our bellies, this George Lucas–inspired yarn is blessedly free of UFOs and dinosaurs, and is set, rather rowdily, in a 1930s pulp-serial world in which the instantly iconic adventurer/archaeologist Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) fights Nazis for the sake of Biblical artifacts. Good-natured and distracting without being patronizing.
Dating movies don’t often come this well stocked: for the guys, there’s Harrison Ford as a cop in a suspense-rigged thriller; for the gals, there’s Harrison Ford, as a fish out of water in an amorous tango (in Amish country, no less). Sexual tension is high, but it’s consummated only with gunfire.