Friday, January 4, 2008

Indiana Jones or Indiana's Pride?

While re-watching The Fugitive several weeks ago—an excellent film and a real testament to amputees with a can-do attitude—it occurred to me that although Harrison Ford gave a strong performance, his role would have been better played by David Letterman. Sure, this taut thriller called for moments of deadpan dramatics, but Ford played it a little too straight. Starring opposite the equally intense Tommy Lee Jones, the film ached desperately for levity—a facet the serious-minded Ford lacks. There was no give-and-take between Richard Kimble and Deputy Gerard, no mocking, no cynical wisecracks—a commodity Letterman could have delivered in droves. One of the Late Show host’s trademark quips through his goofy, gap-toothed smile while standing at gunpoint in the dam’s tunnel would have elevated The Fugitive from merely excellent to the realm of Citizen Kane, Casablanca, and Gone With the Wind.

After a two-month hiatus, Letterman returned to the air Wednesday—sporting a decidedly Richard Kimble–esque beard…fully validating my theory.

Therefore, I offer my Top 10 reasons why David Letterman is a better actor than Harrison Ford.

Drum roll, please...

10. While being prepped for quintuple bypass, Letterman kept surgical team in stitches; surgeons find Ford a colossal bore concerned only with improving his medical condition.

9. Ford cannot enunciate with a cigar in his mouth.

8. Ford's portrayal of "Alexei Vostrikov" in K-19: The Widowmaker clearly derived from Letterman's "Old Salt" in Cabin Boy.

7. When Letterman comes home at 2 AM, girlfriend buys "flat tire" story; when Ford comes home at 2 AM, Calista Flockhart remains suspicious.

6. Letterman spent several years as an innovative television weatherman; Ford doesn't even know what a "dewpoint" is.

5. While Ford was starring in one of the biggest bombs of 1979 (Hanover Street), Letterman electrified nation as "Ellsworth," a shady group therapist, in Episode 17 of Mork and Mindy. (I recall watching the episode as a youngster and thinking, "America's finally found its new Brando.")

4. Harrison Ford has several false teeth; all of David Letterman's teeth are false.

3. Ford made a career playing the same characters (Han Solo, Indiana Jones, Jack Ryan); Letterman versatile enough to host "Stupid Pet Tricks" and "Stupid Human Tricks."

2. Harrison Ford had zero on-screen chemistry with Larry "Bud" Melman.

And the No. 1 reason why David Letterman is a better actor than Harrison Ford:

1. Letterman turned down the role of the T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day; Ford was never offered the role.

(Photo of Harrison Ford and The Fugitive copyright Warner Brothers. Photos of David Letterman copyright CBS. Outstanding graphic enhancements courtesy of Mount Drinkmore’s Dave.)

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