When They Play Against Type

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1.
Airplane! (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A man afraid to fly must ensure that a plane lands safely after the pilots become sick. (88 mins.)
“ Before this classic, Leslie Nielsen, Lloyd Bridges, Robert Stack, and Peter Graves were well-known as serious dramatic actors. With a shocking few exceptions, Nielsen's entire career since then was a parody of his former repertoire. ” - jzappa
 
2.
The Boys from Brazil (1978)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A Nazi hunter in Paraguay discovers a sinister and bizarre plot to rekindle the Third Reich. (125 mins.)
“ Gregory Peck, known for playing honorable and righteous characters, played Dr. Josef Mengele in this under-seen 1978 thriller. One of many hypotheses given for the movie's undeserved commercial failure, despite its heavy starpower all around, was that people just refused to see Atticus Finch as a villain, let alone a Nazi. ” - jzappa
 
3.
The Brothers Grimm (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
Will and Jake Grimm are traveling con-artists who encounter a genuine fairy-tale curse which requires true courage instead of their usual bogus exorcisms. (118 mins.)
Director: Terry Gilliam
“ Damon and Ledger were, as it clearly appears therein, initially supposed to play each other's roles. It's patently obvious if you choose to watch. ” - jzappa
 
4.
The Dark Knight (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.0/10 X  
When the menace known as the Joker wreaks havoc and chaos on the people of Gotham, the Dark Knight must come to terms with one of the greatest psychological tests of his ability to fight injustice. (152 mins.)
“ When Ledger was cast as the Joker, he was known for virtually nothing more than playing hunky, dreamy characters in teen and romantic films. Even his dramatic breakout role as a hunky, closeted sodbuster didn't branch far at all from his status. We've forgotten since his posthumous phenomenon that we had no idea what to expect from him playing the epitome of the unhinged rampaging villain. ” - jzappa
 
5.
Death Becomes Her (1992)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
When a woman learns of an immortality treatment, she sees it as a way to outdo her long-time rival. (104 mins.)
Director: Robert Zemeckis
“ As he has aged, his type has broadened to include characters from a wide range of backgrounds, but at the time he was viewed as a bona fide action star, quite opposed to the weak-willed and neurotic doctor playing foil to two brutally aggressive women. ” - jzappa
 
6.
Double Indemnity (1944)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
An insurance representative lets himself be talked into a murder/insurance fraud scheme that arouses an insurance investigator's suspicions. (107 mins.)
Director: Billy Wilder
“ TRIPLE THREAT: Fred MacMurray, at the time best known as a family man on TV, plays a slick murderer. Edward G. Robinson, usually either a villain like the egomaniacal Rico or at least an anti-hero, plays a sagacious mentor. And Barbara Stanwyck, who ordinarily played the angelic but feisty heroine in romantic comedies, starts off seeming like she might be reprising that role here, which she is so not. ” - jzappa
 
7.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
When their relationship turns sour, a couple undergoes a procedure to have each other erased from their memories. But it is only through the process of loss that they discover what they had to begin with. (108 mins.)
Director: Michel Gondry
“ Kate Winslet played the manic, scatter-brained foil, which is what we would've normally expected from Carrey, who broke through as a megastar with such over-the-top characters. ” - jzappa
 
8.
A Face in the Crowd (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
An Arkansas drifter becomes an overnight media sensation. As he becomes drunk with fame and power, will he ever be exposed as the fraud he has become? (126 mins.)
Director: Elia Kazan
“ Andy Griffith, best known as a benign small-town sheriff or a direct defense attorney, got his first breakthroug as Lonesome Rhodes, a witching grifter intoxicated by newfound media influence. Griffith became so wrapped up in the part that he began integrating the character's idiosyncrasies into his personal life, and became so fed up with himself that he rejected what he saw as villain roles for decades. ” - jzappa
 
9.
The Far Country (1954)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A self-minded adventurer (Jeff Webster) locks horns with a crooked lawman (Mr. Gannon) while driving cattle to Dawson. (97 mins.)
Director: Anthony Mann
“ James Stewart was widely considered the most wholesome leading man in show business, but he subverted his type with a few obsessive Hitchcock roles, though this B film sees him as an unsentimental, hard-boiled lone wolf who refuses to help others in mortal danger. ” - jzappa
 
10.
The Good Girl (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
A discount store clerk strikes up an affair with a stock boy who considers himself the incarnation of Holden Caulfield. (93 mins.)
Director: Miguel Arteta
“ Aniston, soon after the shallow rent-control life of Friends, taking the lead role as a young woman trapped in a dreary, depressing life in a small Texas town. ” - jzappa
 
11.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
When Dr. Henry Jones Sr. suddenly goes missing while pursuing the Holy Grail, eminent archaeologist Indiana Jones must follow in his father's footsteps and stop the Nazis. (127 mins.)
“ Sean Connery was the most iconic player of enviably suave and hard-bitten badasses, even well into this film's era. And yet, he plays Indiana's father as a bungling, academic pacifist who lives on creative thinking as opposed to physical toughness or fighting/driving skills. ” - jzappa
 
12.
JFK (1991)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A New Orleans DA discovers there's more to the Kennedy assassination than the official story. (189 mins.)
Director: Oliver Stone
“ John Candy as sleazy lawyer Dean Andrews. ” - jzappa
 
13.
Natural Born Killers (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Two victims of traumatized childhoods become lovers and psychopathic serial murderers irresponsibly glorified by the mass media. (118 mins.)
Director: Oliver Stone
“ Rodney Dangerfield, best known as a oafish underdog who famously gets no respect, played a sexually abusive father terrorizing his household. Even though he keeps the familiar gist of his signature schtick, it's one of the most jarring scenes of any American film from the 1990s. ” - jzappa
 
14.
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
A mysterious stranger with a harmonica joins forces with a notorious desperado to protect a beautiful widow from a ruthless assassin working for the railroad. (175 mins.)
Director: Sergio Leone
“ Juror #11 caused waves of shock when his appearance as a child-murdering psychopath came to the States. ” - jzappa
 
15.
One Hour Photo (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A mentally unstable photo developer begins to attack a middle-class family after his obsession with them becomes more sick and disturbing than any of them could imagine. (96 mins.)
Director: Mark Romanek
“ Robin Williams branched out from his straight slapstick routine to regularly appear in serious, tear-jerker roles, but he was really still being pigeonholed into a certain kind of free-associative, zanily contradictory life-changing inspiration character. This criminally underappreciated character study is arguably the first in a truly dark turn where there are absolutely no scenes with people standing around laughing at how funny he is or smiling at how good he is with kids. ” - jzappa
 
16.
Ordinary People (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
The accidental death of the older son of an affluent family deeply strains the relationships among the bitter mother, the good-natured father, and the guilt-ridden younger son. (124 mins.)
Director: Robert Redford
“ Things might've been easier for wounded young Timothy Hutton to deal with were his mother Mary Tyler Moore even remotely similar to the persona she'd established with TV audiences. ” - jzappa
 
17.
Psycho (1960)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
A Phoenix secretary embezzles $40,000 from her employer's client, goes on the run, and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother. (109 mins.)
“ Before this total game-changing classic, Anthony Perkins was famed for playing sweet young men and was an almost teen heartthrob. After Norman Bates, him not playing an alarming sociopath was seen as him playing against type. ” - jzappa
 
18.
Psycho (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.6/10 X  
A young female embezzler arrives at the Bates Motel, which has terrible secrets of its own. (105 mins.)
Director: Gus Van Sant
“ Between the career-making Swingers and the career-saving Made, wedding-crashing, ball-dodging, four Christmas-having, wild west show-programming Vince Vaughn dabbled in dark, nefarious psychological thrillers, beginning with the role of Norman Bates in Gus Van Sant's remake. ” - jzappa
 
19.
Reign Over Me (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A man who lost his family in the September 11 attack on New York City runs into his old college roommate. Rekindling the friendship is the one thing that appears able to help the man recover from his grief. (124 mins.)
Director: Mike Binder
“ Actually, his character in Punch Drunk Love wasn't so far removed from his money-making neanderthal comic roles: Adult child with social problems who is clumsy with women and has a violent streak. It was just that it was no longer played for laughs, or at least the same broad kind. It was in this film, which has had much less cumulative recognition reverb than Punch Drunk, that he truly detached himself from those themes, though repression and rage are still key. ” - jzappa
 
20.
Southland Tales (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  
During a three day heat wave just before a huge 4th of July celebration, an action star stricken with amnesia meets up with a porn star who is developing her own reality TV project, and a policeman who holds the key to a vast conspiracy. (145 mins.)
Director: Richard Kelly
“ SNL funny-faces Jon Lovitz and Cheri Oteri play a murderous corrupt cop and a tough anarchist, respectively. ” - jzappa
 
21.
Star Trek (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
The brash James T. Kirk tries to live up to his father's legacy with Mr. Spock keeping him in check as a vengeful Romulan from the future creates black holes to destroy the Federation one planet at a time. (127 mins.)
Director: J.J. Abrams
“ Eric Bana, who got his start as a comedian and went on to play hunky hero types, plays the head Romulan; Kumar plays Sulu; and Sylar plays Spock. ” - jzappa
 
22.
Syriana (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A politically charged epic about the state of the oil industry in the hands of those personally involved and affected by it. (128 mins.)
Director: Stephen Gaghan
“ Clooney has led a very smart career of constant familiarization and reinvention. From Dusk Till Dawn was the early about-face from charming, morality-play doctor to tattooed career scumbag. But once that sort of suave rogue became his standard with successes as Jack Foley and Danny Ocean, a heavily bearded, overweight, and tired compromised government agent became yet another ambitious hairpin turn for the highly tasteful actor. Again, recently, he produced tears for arguably the first time in Alexander Payne's The Descendants. ” - jzappa
 
23.
Wait Until Dark (1967)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A recently blinded woman is terrorized by a trio of thugs while they search for a heroin-stuffed doll they believe is in her apartment. (108 mins.)
Director: Terence Young
“ Alan Arkin generally either plays an everyman or the only sane man, but boy is he absolutely terrifying as the psychotic Harry Roat. He doesn't even sound like himself at all. ” - jzappa