Whatever his limitations as an actor may be, Harrison Ford can do two things as well as anyone: Light comedy and action thrillers.
“Working Girl” demonstrated his talent for comedy. “Witness” proved that he could play a tough guy. And the three “Indiana Jones” films showed that he could make us laugh and gasp, often at the same time.
But it’s been in the last two of the three Tom Clancy techno-thrillers, “Patriot Games” and “Clear and Present Danger” (see capsule review below), that Ford has proven the ability to portray an intelligent, sensitive character who boasts steel in his soul.
In fact, as Dr. Jack Ryan, ace operative and eventual Deputy Director (Intelligence) of the CIA, he is good enough to cause us to forget that Alec Baldwin created the role (opposite Sean Connery in “The Hunt for Red October”).
Baldwin, whose career has had its ups and downs since he bagged “Patriot Games” to do a stage production of “Streetcar Named Desire,” was fine as Ryan. But Ford is his equal in every way, whether he is trying to save a royal couple from some IRA gunmen, grieving over the impending death of his mentor, Adm. Greer (James Earl Jones), or standing up to an arrogant president.
One report out of Hollywood says that Clancy, a stern critic of the movie adaptations of his books, has contracted with Paramount to film a fourth novel, “Cardinal of the Kremlin.” If so, let’s hope that Ford is again included as part of the package.
Jack Ryan may be a James Bond for the ‘90s, but he deserves better than to be played by a half-dozen or so different actors. Not when a healthy Ford is available.
Loused up in space
Quick, what was the name of the spacecraft in the classic ‘60s sciencefiction show “Lost in Space”?
Answer: Jupiter II.
Even those of you who recall the program, which ran on CBS for three seasons beginning in 1965, may not have remembered that bit of trivia. But if you want to catch up, you might want to do business with Columbia House Video. The mailorder video company is offering the series for subscription purchase.
The first volume even includes the rarely seen pilot episode, “No Place to Hide.”
Columbia House is charging $4.95, plus shipping and handling, for the first volume. From then on, two-episode volumes will arrive in the mail every four to six weeks with a $19.95, plus shipping and handling, price tag.
To order, call (800) 638-2922.
The black-bar syndrome
In the ongoing comparison between pan-and-scan and letterboxing formats, the edge until now has belonged to the latter. Those black bars on top and bottom of the screen may be ugly, but letterboxing at least seems to provide you with more picture.
That’s why a recent letter to the editor in Video Magazine is so surprising. It claims exactly the opposite.
“I have both VHS and laserdisc special editions of ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day,”’ writes Joe Redifer of Lakewood, Calif. “In comparing them, I discovered that the letterboxed laserdisc did not contain any more information than the panned-and-scanned VHS version. The top and bottom of the VHS picture had more detail, and these parts of the picture are absent on the letterboxed laserdisc. On VHS, you can see the bottom of the phone in the scene where Arnie smashes the pay phone. On the laserdisc, you can’t see the bottom until he smashes it. It seems panand-scan offers more picture while letterbox offers only black bars.”
What’s new to view
The week’s releases (dates are tentative):
Wednesday: “Clear and Present Danger” (Paramount), “It Could Happen to You” (Columbia TriStar).
Clear and Present Danger
The going is a bit slow at first,
though it’s hard to see how the intricate plot involving unscrupulous American politicians and covert operations against Colombian drug dealers could otherwise be set up. But when the action gets going - with a thrilling ambush sequence set on a Bogota side street - this third in a series of adapted Tom Clancy novels catches spark, if not complete fire. Harrison Ford puts in another solid performance as CIA official Jack Ryan and Willem Dafoe is fine as a CIA field operative. But as with all decent thrillers, it’s the bad guys who connect the dots. That includes Henry Czerny as a steely CIA flunky, Joaquim de Almeida as a duplicitous drug dealer and especially Donald Moffat as a pompously underhanded U.S. president. Rated PG-13.
It Could Happen to You
This is one of those small,
engaging romantic comedies that tends to get lost in the high-stakes shuffle of summer moviegoing. It should fare far better on the small screen with those fans who want something more than just another bing-bang-boom or two. Nicolas Cage portrays a married cop who wins the New York lottery, Bridget Fonda is the married waitress he promises to split his winnings with in lieu of giving her a tip. Both are just the sensitive souls that they need to be, especially Cage, who so often is cast (albeit effectively) as a crazy man. Rosie Perez is at her grating best as the cop’s wife who hates the whole deal. Based on a true story, it heads off pretty quickly into fantasyland - but the essential characters remain real enough. Rated PG.
“Killing Zoe” - This little neonoir never showed in Spokane theaters, which is not surprising since it was directed not by Quentin Tarantino but Tarantino’s former writing partner Roger Avary (Tarantino executive-produced). It involves an American petty hood (Eric Stoltz) traveling to Paris to help a friend (Jean-Hughes Anglade) rob a bank, getting into all kinds of trouble and falling in love with a hooker named Zoe (Julie Delpy).
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox
Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.