Happy 75th Birthday Harrison Ford! 13th July 2017

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Harrison Ford is 75 years old. How bizarre is that? He’s still Han Solo (well…). He’s still Indiana Jones (next feature upcoming, in a couple of years, maybe). He says he feels Irish but acts Jewish (it’s a thing.) He acts like acting doesn’t matter (it’s ‘let’s pretend’, he claims) but he’s always been interested in it and signed to Columbia in his earliest days in Hollywood after doing an acting class and sportscasting and summer stock and hoping to work in radio. In between TV and film spots he worked as a carpenter and even built a recording studio for Sergio Mendez. Meeting up with George Lucas and Francis Coppola meant a major turnaround in his fortunes and he became a reliable supporting player in American Graffiti and The Conversation and then … you know the rest. He went from a decade of relative struggle to a decade of incomparable superstardom. Christopher Walken was the first choice for Star Wars;  Tom Selleck for Raiders of the Lost Ark: Ford was now the actor in the (most unexpectedly) biggest grossing films. He made a really great romantic detective film (Witness) and moved into another franchise with the Tom Clancy films. He proved in Working Girl he could do more conventional funny.  He made Presumed Innocent work. Just what is it about this laconic, cynical and economic persona that makes him a star with such huge appeal? He doesn’t reach out to the audience. He doesn’t care about being liked. He’s not begging for it. That distance ironically (in every sense!) makes us appreciate him more. He has come up short in some of the missteps in the late 70s, the mid-90s and a lot of his Noughties output. But when he strikes a film that has the right tone for his particular brand of nonchalance and epic cool, the world feels like it’s on its axis again. Personally I fell in love with him in Raiders – the first film I went to see over and over and over … And I think Blade Runner is a masterpiece (he didn’t, not at the time.) And the sequel 2049 is the only film I’m anticipating this year with anything resembling interest. And 2020? You know there’s only one film I want to see. Archaeology never mattered more, not to anyone! Happy Birthday Mr Ford. Hearts, flowers and safe flying …

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Presumed Innocent (1990)

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Legal thrillers had a moment in the 90s. In fact, they had a whole decade, mainly courtesy of John Grisham’s novels. But this was the sensation that kicked off the whole thing – a spellbinding bestseller by Scott Turow. This adaptation became quite the water cooler film of its year.  Harrison Ford is the prosecuting attorney charged with investigating a beautiful colleague’s murder – but he’s her former lover and he winds up being the prime suspect.  Carefully adapted by Frank Pierson with input from paranoia specialist director Alan J. Pakula (whose own bizarre death could have come from one of his extraordinary films) this is a little overlong but no less enjoyable for that. And what a great ending! In retrospect, perhaps its most shocking element is Ford’s Caesar haircut. And wasn’t Greta Scacchi beautiful. Sydney Pollack produced and he took the director’s chair for The Firm a few years later, bringing Turow’s competitor John Grisham to even more billions of people.