Witness 1985 Directed by Peter Weir. Pennsylvania Amish widow Rachel (Kelly McGillis) and her young son Samuel (Lukas Haas) are in transit to her brother when, changing trains in New York, Samuel witnesses a murder of what turns out to be an undercover cop in the men’s room. Detective John Book (Harrison Ford) leads an investigation which necessitates keeping the pair in town in hopes that Samuel can identify the killer…who turns out to be narcotics officer Lt. James McFee (Danny Glover). Book tells only police chief Paul Schaeffer (Josef Sommer).
Wounded in an assassination attempt, the detective realizes Sommer is also a dirty cop. He drives Rachel and Samuel home where her Amish family nurses him back to health. Book communicates with his police partner realizing he must hide out until proof can be secured.
The community is unsettled by the presence of an “English,” but Book proves himself a good man and is largely accepted. Both Samuel and Rachel are drawn to him as he is to them. Eventually, he’s tracked down. Schaeffer, McFee, and a third corrupt cop show up on the farm with guns. Relationships are credible, its thriller aspect is effective. Best Original Screenplay and Best Editing Academy Awards. Free with Amazon Prime.
The Mosquito Coast 1986 Based on the novel by Paul Theroux. Directed by Peter Weir. A helluva tale. Inventor Allie Ford (Harrison Ford), disgusted with the so-called American Dream, packs his family off to the jungle of Belize, Panama where he builds from the ground up. Wife (Helen Mirren) and sons Charlie (River Phoenix) and Jerry (Jadrien Steel) work almost as hard as he does creating not only their own home, but improvements for the natives he hopes will develop a utopian civilization. Natural challenges are many and sometimes insurmountable, but Allie sees religious zealot Reverend Spellgood (Andre Gregory), as the biggest impediment to his vision.
Successively terrible things happen. The family is forced to move several times. Allie never gives up his dream, but the family… Jack Nicholson was originally offered the lead, but backed out partly because he couldn’t watch Los Angeles Lakers games in Belize. “Sooner or later a man of invention will pollute paradise, a grand contradiction that gives Mosquito its bite and Ford inspiration for his most complex portrayal to date.” (Rita Kempley, The Washington Post). Rent on Amazon Prime.
Working Girl 1988 Directed by Mike Nichols. Fun. Staten Island native Tess McGill (Melanie Griffith) works as a secretary to imperious stockbroker Katharine Parker (Sigourney Weaver). Having earned a business degree at night, the ambitious young woman naively shares an idea with her boss who then presents it as her own. Katherine breaks a leg skiing and must remain in hospital. While she’s away, Tess decides to promote what turns out to be an inspired idea for a merger by pretending to be a stockbroker.
The heroine restyles herself, dons one of Katherine’s expensive dresses and attends an industry event hoping to run into business mogul Oren Trask (Philip Bosco) and interest him in her project. Instead she gets drunk and goes home with broker Jack Trainer (Harrison Ford) who pursues her personally and professionally. Tess doesn’t know he’s Katherine’s boyfriend. With the help of buddy Cynthia (Joan Cusack), she occupies Katherine’s office when Jack arrives. He believes in the concept and agrees to help.
The unorthodox way they go about it, especially in the face of Katherine’s return and revenge is the crux of the Cinderella film. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Regarding Henry 1991 Directed by Mike Nichols. I’d forgotten how affecting Ford’s performance is here. Selfish, amoral and highly successful lawyer Henry Turner (Harrison Ford) is repeatedly shot one evening buying cigarettes. He comes out of a coma having to relearn everything from speech to movement from the ground up, with no memory of his prior life or of people. After a long stay in rehab where upbeat, compassionate physical therapist Bradley (Bill Nunn) is instrumental, Henry warily returns to his wife Sarah (Annette Bening) and child Rachel (Mikki Allen).
The new Henry relates to his family as he never did before, especially bonding with Rachel who now teaches him things like tying shoelaces and reading. (Evolution is well played.) He’s physically affectionate, sweetly naïve, and honest to a fault. The latter prevents resuming his professional life. Revelations about secrets held by both the former Henry and Sarah challenge what has auspiciously begun. Free with Amazon Prime.
The Fugitive 1993 Based on the 1960s television series. Directed by Andrew Davis. A high impact thriller. Framed for the murder of his wife and sentenced to death, Chicago surgeon Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford) escapes during a bus crash and goes on the run determined to circle back and prove his innocence. He’s doggedly pursued by Deputy U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones). Layers of corruption are revealed as Kimble digs into reasons for the murder with Gerard hot on his tail. Perhaps formulaic in some ways, the story is redeemed by the two men’s increasing respect for one another. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Random Hearts 1999 Directed by Sydney Pollack. Two victims of a plane crash unwittingly bring their spouses together. Police Sergeant William “Dutch” Van Den Broeck (Harrison Ford) loses his fashion editor wife and Kay Chandler (Kristin Scott Thomas), a Congresswoman running for re-election, her lawyer husband on the same Miami plane crash. Oddly Mrs. Van Den Broek wasn’t registered under her own name. (It could be done then.) As she was sitting next to Kay’s husband, the sergeant makes assumptions and asks to meet Kay.
Despite her reservations, they meet at the Florida hotel where Dutch’s wife had been registered…and are drawn to one another. The burgeoning relationship is fraught and awkward affecting both lives negatively. Things eventually iron out, but not without toll. With Bonnie Hunt. Sydney Pollack, Richard Jenkins, Peter Cayote, Kate Mara. Rent on Amazon Prime.
The Call of The Wild 2020 Based on the Jack London novel. Directed by Chris Sanders. The CGI dog is terrific, try to suspend disbelief. During the 1890’s Klondike Gold Rush, an unnaturally large and smart dog named Buck is stolen, resold, and eventually attaches himself to John Thornton (Harrison Ford), an experienced frontiersman who has given up “civilization” after the death of his wife.
Buck proves himself to peers (literally) and doubters, saving lives and becoming Thornton’s companion in otherwise solitary, uncharted territory. Both their lives change radically, growing accustomed to the wild and one another. Towards the end, an unexpected act of revenge upends everything. Rent on Amazon Prime.
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