Tuesday, 21 May 2013

FILMS

The best of Ed Harris

It’s Tuesday and time for another dose of Overlooked Films, Audio and Video at Todd Mason’s blog Sweet Freedom.

There are actors you like and then there are actors you like more. Ed Harris falls in the second category. He is one of those actors whose action, or the lack of it, speaks louder than words. He brings to the screen a quiet intensity, a formidable presence, and a penetrating look that says it all. 

Enemy at the Gates
 
I have seen many films of Ed Harris whose film and television career spans more than three decades. I didn't know he was around that long. Last evening, I saw a part of Enemy at the Gates (2001), a film I’d already seen twice before, particularly for the intense sniper duel between him, a German officer, and Jude Law, a Russian soldier, during World War II. Don’t miss the background music.

I thought about his other films and had no hesitation in picking out three of his performances that I liked best. The other two are The Abyss (1989) and The Rock (1996), the latter in spite of Harris being overshadowed by Sean Connery and Nicholas Cage. He plays a villain, a rogue general who sets out to bomb San Francisco with chemical weapons, and comes out a hero.
 

The Abyss

James Cameron’s The Abyss (1989) is a cult film like Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979). The best part of this film is when Ed Harris, playing Virgil ‘Bud’ Brigman, dives into the oceanic depths to look for a missing nuclear submarine and almost to his death and, instead, meets up with aliens who give him an audio-video lesson in man’s destructive nature.

If I were to vote for any one of these films, it would be Enemy at the Gates. The duel between Harris and Law played out amidst the ruins of Stalingrad has enough suspense to whet your appetite for a long time.

The Rock

14 comments:

  1. Try POLLOCK, if you haven't yet.

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    1. Todd, I haven't seen POLLOCK yet but I'll soon. I picked up the three films from the ones I have seen which makes it subjective nonetheless.

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  2. Well, of course Mr. Mason beat me to it. I think POLLOCK is his best role. GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS and PARIS TROUT show him off very well, too.

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    1. John, I haven't seen any of these films, so obviously I still have to see Ed Harris at his best.

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  3. Good choice. Ed Harris emerged as part of the Pittsburgh movie scene circa 1980 around director George Romero (NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, 1968). I remember seeing him in a Romero film in 1981, and then suddenly he was John Glenn in THE RIGHT STUFF (1983). I'd pick his western, APPALOOSA (2008) with Viggo Mortensen.

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    1. Thank you, Ron. I have heard about APPALOOSA though I never got around to seeing it. Ed Harris goes back a long way and I seem to have discovered some of his films only in the past two decades or so.

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  4. Harris is a terrific actor (and a good director too - he was very convincing in his own film about Jackson Pollock) - I love THE ABYSS and regularly re-watch it and think he is really superb in what could have been a fairly traditional action hero role but instead brings enormous subtlety to his playing of a conflicted but decent man. I wish he were able to be the leading man more often rather than be relegated to supporting parts, but he excels at those too such as in APOLLO 13 for instance or GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS- great choice Prashant, he's a really classy actor.

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    1. Thank you, Sergio. I have liked Ed Harris' acting from the time I saw him for the first time in THE ABYSS, I think. Since then I have seen it a number of times. I thought the Harris-Mastrantonio on-screen chemistry worked well. Your description of his acting in THE ABYSS is spot on. I never considered Harris as a leading man because he seems to be comfortable in any role that comes his way.

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  5. I've liked Harris in everything I've seen him in but I don't consider any of his movies to be my favorites. he is a talented actor, though.

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    1. Charles, he is, indeed, a talented actor. I wish he came in more films. I'm looking forward to watching the ones that I haven't seen yet.

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  6. I do like Ed Harris. I think I have seen all of these films (in your post, not the ones in the comments), although it has been awhile, and enjoyed them all.

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    1. Tracy, I haven't seen any of the films mentioned by our fellow-bloggers. His films are not shown on cable as regularly as those of many of his contemporaries. I'll have to check out his list of films and try and see them one by one.

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  7. Alongside the equally wonderful Alan Arkin in Glegarry Glenn Ross. I can watch that scene forever. I was fortunate enough to meet Mr. Harris before I knew who he was. As a teen I worked on the set of Jacknife, shot in Montreal. Everyone there was interested in speaking to Robert De Niro, and the AD working with us extras was touting the talents of Ed Harris. Watching the two play out that climax in front of our eyes was chilling.

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    1. Zybahn, thank you for visiting and commenting. GLENGARRY GLENN ROSS appears to be the favourite here. It's one film that I'm definitely going to watch. It's wonderful that you could meet Harris in person and watch both him and De Niro on the sets of JACKNIFE. Must have been a memorable experience.

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