Chattanooga Now Mind Coffee: Reflecting on action flicks from days gone by

Chattanooga Now Mind Coffee: Reflecting on action flicks from days gone by

February 14th, 2018 by Staff Report in Chattnow Movies

Shawn Ryan

Shawn Ryan

Photo by Staff File Photo /Times Free Press.

On the wall of my office is a poster for the movie "The Professionals," the 1966 western starring Lee Marvin and Burt Lancaster. It's a terrific action film with some of the sharpest, snappiest dialogue around.

When we think about action films, there are a few that jump right out. "Die Hard," naturally, is often at the top of the list; there may not be a better combination of the excitement, thrills and humor that are key elements in a good action film. "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" is right up there, too, along with "The Matrix," "Speed," "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "Lethal Weapon" and "Aliens."

But let's go back in time, say pre-1980, to discuss action movies. We'll leave the James Bond films out of it — even though "From Russia with Love" and "Goldfinger" are top-notch. Let's talk about films that a lot of people might not have seen, or even heard their names.

» "Bullitt." Right up there with "Die Hard" when it comes to the best. Steve McQueen would be cool just standing on his front porch holding a kitten, but in 1968's "Bullitt" he sets the tone for every other anti-establishment cop film since. And every single car chase you've ever seen in any movie is inspired by the one in "Bullitt."

» "Where Eagles Dare." In 1968, Richard Burton was not the first person you'd think of when it came to action movies, but he held his own alongside Clint Eastwood in this World War II thriller. The fight on the cable cars is nerve-wracking even if you're not scared of heights.

» "The Guns of Navarone." Nominated for a Best Picture Oscar in 1961, it had the efforts of three previous Oscar winners: actors Gregory Peck, David Niven and Anthony Quinn. The vertical climb up the cliff of Navarone remains a stellar piece of filmmaking.

» "North by Northwest." Watch Alfred Hitchcock's 1959 classic for the first time and it hits you: This is the template for the James Bond films. The action sequences (the crop-duster scene is required for anyone wanting to be a director); big, huge sets (the United Nations and Mt. Rushmore); the humor (it's Cary Grant, after all); the twisting plot (it's Hitchcock, after all).

» "The Wild Bunch." Both reviled and hailed when it was released in 1969 for its slo-mo, bloody violence, it's tame compared to an episode of "Game of Thrones," but still gritty and grubby. The film remains fascinating for its underlying theme of men who are out-of-date in an ever-changing world. That was hammered home by stars William Holden, Ernest Borgnine and Ben Johnson, aging actors facing the same thing in their real lives.

» "Hombre." No one in the history of westerns was ever as tough as Paul Newman in this 1967 film. If he speaks more than 100 words in the whole film, I'd be surprised. As bad guy Richard Boone tells him, "Mister, you have got a lot of hard bark on you."

Contact Shawn Ryan at mshawnryan@gmail.com.

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Chattanooga Times Free Press Comments Policy

The Chattanooga Times Free Press web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Times Free Press web sites and any content on the Times Free Press web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Times Free Press, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Times Free Press websites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Chattanooga Times Free Press
400 East 11th Street
Chattanooga, TN 37403
Phone: 423-757-6315
Email: webeditor@timesfreepress.com