World of Westfahl | Encyclopedia Introduction | All Entries | Acknowledgements
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

F Entries
  Federico Fellini
  Richard Fleischer
  Louise Fletcher
  D.C. Fontana
  Harrison Ford
  Anne Francis
  Joanna Frank
  John Frankenheimer
  Brendan Fraser
  Jonathan Frid
 
FORD, HARRISON
(1942– ). American actor.

IMDB credits It's hard to believe that this encyclopedia overlooked Harrison Ford for so long—after all, he starred in two of the genre's most prominent and popular franchises—but perhaps it was because I had nothing to say about the actor that hasn't already been said. He brings to the screen several qualities observed in other iconic performers: he is handsome, seems comfortable on the set, and projects a likable persona. One might regard him as Jack NICHOLSON's kid brother, an overgrown adolescent with his heart in the right place but, like his older sibling, not a person that one can always rely on to do the right thing. Still, when prodded, he can transcend his default persona to engage in some serious acting, though the results may not be entirely satisfactory.

After a decade of overlooked cameos in film and television, Ford first displayed his appeal with a standout performance in George LUCAS's American Graffiti (1973), yet for some reason, his career did not take off until he delighted audiences as Han Solo in the original Star Wars (1977) and its first sequels. But two films in the early 1980s made him a superstar: taking on the role of Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) when Tom Selleck proved unavailable, he demonstrated that he had the energy and charisma to carry a film entirely by himself; and his Rick Deckard in Blade Runner (1982), though not appreciated at the time, displayed his capacity to be both heroic and sympathetically vulnerable.

During the next two decades, Ford alternated between extravagant action roles—reprising Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, (1989), two performances as CIA agent Jack Ryan in Patriot Games (1992) and Clear and Present Danger (1994), his generation's The Fugitive (1993), a two-fisted President of the United States in Air Force One (1997)—and sometimes ineffectual efforts in quiet dramas and comedies like Witness (1985), The Mosquito Coast (1986), Working Girl (1988), and Sabrina (1995). By the time he appeared in the subdued horror film What Lies Beneath (2000), he seemed poised for an inevitable transition to playing grandfathers and cantankerous elderly scientists.

Instead, after a few years of relative inactivity, he stormed back into the arena of action films with a persuasive fourth performance as Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) that was as stirring as ever—even if the film wasn't. He was also credible as an old cowboy hero in Cowboys and Aliens (2011), and downright magnificent playing Han Solo again in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) as if he was still in his thirties. Director J. J. ABRAMS's decision to kill him off, instead of featuring him in the final two Star Wars films, will long be recognized as one of the biggest blunders in the history of cinema. But Ford was inconsistent as ever in less colorful roles: while perfectly calibrated as the immortal woman's sensitive ex-lover in The Age of Adaline (2015), he never quite got a handle on his Colonel Graff in Ender's Game (2013) and seemed annoyed that he wasn't the center of attention. Still, one has to look forward to his upcoming returns to Rick Deckard and Indiana Jones, and we can always hope, through the magic of science fiction (where death is not always irreversible), for another Ford performance as Han Solo.

To contact us about encyclopedia matters, send an email to Gary Westfahl.
If you find any Web site errors, typos or other stuff worth mentioning, please send it to our Webmaster.
Copyright © 1999–2018 Gary Westfahl All Rights Reserved Worldwide

Hosted & Designed By:
SF Site spot art