The Best Hal Holbrook Movies You’ve Never Seen

(Welcome to The Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, a series that takes a look at slightly more obscure, under-the-radar, or simply under-appreciated movies. This week, we look at some lesser-known gems from a recently passed star.)

It’s been a while since the great Hal Holbrook graced the big screen. He showed up on television here and there, and he starred in a handful of indies over the past few years, but it was Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln (2012) that last saw the graceful, gravelly voiced actor reach millions with his charm and eloquence. Holbrook passed recently at the age of ninety-five and leaves behind a filmography filled with memorable turns in fantastic movies.

Some of his best-known films/performances include All the President’s Men (1976), The Fog (1980), Creepshow (1982), The Firm (1993), and Into the Wild (2007), but while they’re being rightfully celebrated there are plenty more to enjoy despite their far lower profile. They’re not all easily accessible and are instead criminally unavailable, but sometimes good and great things require effort. Or a YouTube search… anyway, keep reading for a look at six underseen films worth watching starring the late, great Hal Holbrook.

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Buy It

Not everyone is going to appreciate MacGruber’s unabashed clever-stupid comedic sensibilities, and those that do will likely be accused of being idiots by those that don’t. It’s a crude, silly movie that works because it knows exactly what it is and embraces it, finding just the right rhythm to deliver its absurdist, knowing slant on ’80s action flicks. All of the characters have their goofy charm, but they’re restrained enough to make the film feel like it could just be a straight action movie, were the outright cartoonish MacGruber not there to fuck everything up. For the first time ever, Will Forte has finally found a role for which his over-the-top demeanor is perfectly suited, and his delivery and timing in just about every scene is riotously funny. Director Jorma Taccone deserves much of that credit, as he effortlessly maintains the pace of the film’s non-stop gags, one-liners and saxophone-enhanced musical beats. MacGruber isn’t a great movie—it’s nowhere near the caliber of, say, Hot Fuzz—but it’s far funnier than it should’ve been, and easily one of the funniest movies of the year so far.
Available on Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD & Blu-ray – Unrated & theatrical versions, commentary with director/co-writer Jorma Taccone, co-writer/actor Will Forte and co-writer John Solomon, a deleted scene, and a gag reel.

Target Best Buy Fry’s
N/A $19.99 N/A
Amazon – $17.99
Target Best Buy Fry’s
N/A $26.99 N/A
Amazon – $26.99

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One of my favorite low-key films this year has been That Evening Sun, a sort of deep Southern gothic drama that pits two men against one another in a battle of wills. Written and directed by Scott Teems, the film stars Hal Holbrook and Ray McKinnon as the two men. Holbrook’s performance is deep, nuanced and determined. The film is part of a trio of recent films about old men and their willpower, alongside Gran Torino and Get Low. It’s refreshing in this day of awful young male model ‘leading men’ to see old guys lighting up the screen. Now That Evening Sun has a distributor and a new trailer, which you can check out after the break. Read More »