When we saw the cast that Sylvester Stallone assembled for war machine throwback that is the upcoming “The Expendables,” well, we were just giddy. It didn’t matter that Stallone’s recent writing projects (“Rocky Balboa,” “Rambo”) were as predictable as a sunrise and safe as houses – he has put together the single biggest cast of ass-kicking movie stars we’ve seen in decades, possibly ever. Indeed, as we looked back at great action ensembles from the past, we discovered just how infrequently the big stars worked together for an action movie. It happens all the time for dramas (two words: Oscar bait), but one quick look at the ‘80s in particular will tell you that action movies, by and large, are a single man’s game.
However, there are times when movie stars have forsaken the lion’s share of the spotlight in order to deliver something special, and so we salute the great guy movie ensembles of years past. In the interest of full disclosure, once we discovered that the list was going to consist almost entirely of war movies, westerns and sequels, we decided to play around a little bit with the definition of “action movie.” To the point where it included Tim Burton and Steven Soderbergh. Don’t judge.
The Magnificent Seven (1960)
Cast: Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, James Coburn, Brad Dexter
The Plot: A village of farmers, frequently raided by a group of bandits, recruits a group of gunslingers to defend their town.
The Back Story: In the 1950s, it wasn’t exactly the easiest task to get the average American to go see a Japanese film, no matter how great it may have been. Fortunately, director John Sturges was up to the task of seeing Akira Kurosawa’s “The Seven Samurai,” and upon doing so, he saw elements in the story and characters which would translate well to the Western genre. Boy, was he right…and if his instinct for hot properties was good, then his gift for casting was downright remarkable, given that the only truly top-shelf actor in the cast at the time was Brynner, who was riding high on the Academy Award winning success of “The King and I.” Combining these upstanding gentlemen, the inspiration of the original source material, and the classic score by Elmer Bernstein, and you’ve got yourself one of the greatest Westerns of all time.
The Money Shot: There are a lot of great small moments leading up to the big showdown between the Magnificent Seven and the despicable Calvera (Wallach), including the classic knife-throwing sequence that introduces Coburn’s character, and, indeed, the grand finale offers several immortal death sequences. None, however, match the power of Calvera’s final seconds onscreen, specifically his stunned reaction to the fact that Chris (Brynner), despite his earlier retreat, has not only returned but, indeed, successfully taken him down.
The Great Escape (1963)
Cast: Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasance, James Coburn, James Donald
The Plot: A group of Allied prisoners plan a daring escape from a supposedly escape-proof German prison.
The Back Story: Remember what we said about Sturges’s gift for casting? It wasn’t a one-off, as this ensemble clearly demonstrates. Based on a true story, utilizing Paul Brickhill’s book of the same title as its inspiration, “The Great Escape” was adapted somewhat from its source material, pumping up the importance of the Americans in the story and adding a bit more motorcycle action. The latter was reportedly done at McQueen’s request, but whoever came up with the idea deserves a round of applause, as it makes for some of the film’s most exciting moments. Ironically, “The Great Escape” got more shrugs than kudos upon its original release, but it has since gone on to become recognized as a classic.
The Money Shot: When Hilts’s mad motorcycle ride through Germany ends abruptly when he attempts to jump the fence into Switzerland, only to get caught in the barbed wire. That’s got to hurt…
The Dirty Dozen (1967)
Cast: Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, John Cassavetes, George Kennedy, Telly Savalas, Donald Sutherland, Robert Ryan
The Plot: A group of military personnel and various thugs serving hard time or awaiting execution are recruited to do a covert ops assignment involving the assassination of German intelligence officers.
The Back Story: Despite Vietnam, the ’60s public still loved a good war picture. So, jovial movie nihilist Robert Aldrich (“Kiss Me, Deadly” “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?”) took on an inherently brutal and cynical premise and assembled a first-rate cast of rising actors and unknowns. Nevertheless, it turned out to be of a tough sell to established stars. Jack Palance often played heavies, he just didn’t want to be a racist sadistic psychopath like Archer Maggott. Non-veteran John Wayne disliked a bit of adulterous behavior, turning over the part of Major Reisman to Purple Heart recipient Lee Marvin. Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown however, was entirely on board. Faced with fines and an ultimatum from the Browns’ owner, who didn’t want him making a movie, the legendary athlete announced his retirement from football rather than give up the part. The rest is movie history.
The Money Shot: Though hugely entertaining throughout, the lengthy and controversially violent final attack on the chateau remains one of the most gripping and disturbing prolonged action sequences ever. If we have to isolate a particular moment, it would be Jim Brown’s famed desperately heroic and cruel final run, throwing grenades into ventilators to incinerate gasoline drenched Nazi generals as well as a number of unfortunate civilian sex workers.
The Wild Bunch (1969)
Cast: William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, Edmond O’Brien, Warren Oates, Ben Johnson, Jaime Sanchez, Emilio Fernandez
The Plot: A pack of aging outlaws looking for one last big score make a deal with a corrupt Mexican general while dodging a recently deputized former partner.
The Back Story: Before embarking on his best known film, half-insane maverick director Sam Peckinpah’s career was thought nearly over — and he hadn’t even really become “Peckinpah” yet. Indeed, there are few logical reasons the movie was even made, but somehow one of the greatest casts of any western ever made was assembled for this ultra-masculine phantasmagoria of early 20th century corruption, violence, and twisted honor. It was strange time in movie history, also a great time.
The Money Shot: Peckinpah’s ground-breaking masterpiece introduced audiences to the concept of “ultraviolence.” It was so intense, bloody, and beautiful many simply couldn’t take it its magnificent, terrifying opening. However, while we could argue for the ultimately pointless final gun battle as its greatest sequence, we’ll take its lyrical prelude, known as “the Walk,” in which four of the baddest dudes (and four of the best western actors) to ever be portrayed on celluloid decide that, really, death in battle is just as good as life for guys like them. There’s not much rationality in their thinking, but it is kind of beautiful. Not that it should be.
Kelly’s Heroes (1970)
Cast: Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Don Rickles, Carroll O’Connor, Donald Sutherland, Gavin MacLeod, Stuart Margolin, Harry Dean Stanton
The Plot: An wrongly disgraced World War II llieutenant recruits a group of oddballs – one of whom is literally nicknamed “Oddball” – to go AWOL and steal $16 million in gold bars from a nearby French bank.
The Back Story: Notable for being Eastwood’s last film done with an outside production company (everything he’s done since has been through his own Malpaso Productions), the majority of “Kelly’s Heroes” was filmed in Yugoslavia. Part of the reason for the location was due to the financial benefits, but it probably didn’t hurt that the Yugoslav army happened to be in possession of some Sherman tanks which could be used in the film. Helmed by Brian G. Hutton, who also directed Eastwood in his previous WWII film, “Where Eagles Dare,” you can tell by the soldiers’ consistent anti-war stance that this was made during the height of the Vietnam War, but the mixture of action and humor makes for a highly enjoyable romp…one where the odd guys win.
The Money Shot: Eastwood, Savalas, and Sutherland, armed and ready, stroll into their confrontation with the Tiger tank, as Lalo Schifrin’s score offers an unabashed wink at the theme to “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.”
The Towering Inferno (1974)
Cast: Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire, Richard Chamberlain, Robert Vaughn, Robert Wagner, O.J. Simpson, Jennifer Jones
The Plot: The dedication for a 138-story skyscraper in San Francisco goes horribly awry when faulty wiring ignites a fire that threatens to burn the entire building to the ground.
The Back Story: With all due respect to “Airport” and “The Poseidon Adventure,” it wasn’t until “Inferno” that a disaster movie supplied an equal amount of box office clout to go with the spectacle, landing alpha dogs Newman and McQueen for the lead roles as the architect and fire chief, respectively. And alpha dogs they were, with each negotiating heavily over which actor received top billing while McQueen complained that his role should be beefed up once he discovered that Newman had more speaking lines than he did.
The Money Shot: Fire may have been the movie’s hook, but the exploding of the water tanks in the film’s finale is the scene that brought the goods. Actors, schmactors.
Apocalypse Now (1979)
Cast: Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall, Frederic Forrest, Laurence Fishburne, Harrison Ford, Dennis Hopper, Scott Glenn
The Plot: A highly decorated officer in the Vietnam War (Sheen) is assigned to find and kill another decorarted soldier (Brando) who has gone rogue.
The Back Story: The making of this immensely ambitious, flawed masterpiece fueled George Hickenlooper’s great documentary, “Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse,” and could easily fill an epic-length novel. Long story short: director Francis Coppola nearly lost his sanity and star Martin Sheen nearly his lost his life. On the other hand, the movie also managed to revitalize the sagging fortunes of Dennis Hopper, gave a boost to then-rising stars Frederic Forrest and Sam Bottoms, and introduced millions to teenager “Larry” Fishburne and an almost unknown Harrison Ford. It also provided Robert Duvall with his most quoted lines of dialogue and, much to the shock of poor Mr. Coppola, introduced the world for the first time to the idea of a very overweight Marlon Brando.
The Money Shot: We’d argue that devastating attack on a civilian sampan is one of the most honestly cruel cinematic depictions of the insanity of war, but since this is called the money shot, we have to go with a scene that is, for lack of a better word, a lot more fun. We speak, of course, of the ironic and indescribable “Ride of the Valkyries” sequence in which Duvall’s half-crazed Colonel Kilgore treats Sheen’s Captain Willard and crew to a view of a large battle intended to clear a beach of Vietcong. Why risk your men’s lives and probably kill several civilians for that? Simple: “Charlie don’t surf!”
Cast: Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn, Kevin Costner, Danny Glover, John Cleese, Jeff Goldblum, Brian Dennehy, Rosanna Arquette, Jeff Fahey
The Plot: Four men with something to prove find their redemption in Silverado, where a crooked rancher has the sheriff on his payroll.
The Back Story: Having written some of the biggest movies of the early ’80s (“Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “The Empire Strikes Back”) and just coming off the well-received ensemble dramedy “The Big Chill,” writer/director Lawrence Kasdan traded in all his favors around Hollywood to attempt a revival of the western. The film marked the reunion of some of his “Big Chill” cast, including Kevin Kline, Jeff Goldblum, and Kevin Costner, who was offered the role of Jake to make up for the fact that his scenes were cut from the last movie.
The Money Shot: Though you’d expect there would be at least one memorable action sequence containing all four leads (the only thing that comes close is a subplot involving the posse helping a caravan of travelers get their money back from a gang of robbers), the film’s best moment takes place during Kline’s introduction to Linda Hunt’s charming bartender. But just as the pair are starting to hit it off, her boss (and his former riding partner, played by Dennehy) strolls into the saloon to interrupt their little meet-and-greet. His arrival also sets the stage for the movie’s big reveal: that Dennehy’s cheerful outlaw is now the town sheriff – a moment that is only enriched by his giddy delivery and Kline’s worried reaction.
True Romance (1993)
Cast: Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Michael Rapaport, Gary Oldman, Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walken, Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini, Samuel L. Jackson, Val Kilmer, Chris Penn, Tom Sizemore, Bronson Pinchot
The Plot: Comic book store employee (Slater) and newbie call girl (Arquette) meet and fall in love. When he goes to get her belongings from her pimp, he accidentally takes a suitcase full of uncut coke instead, prompting a chase by both police and thieves.
The Back Story: After wowing all walks of Hollywood life with his 1992 indie “Reservoir Dogs,” everyone wanted in when Quentin Tarantino’s latest script was scooped up by Warner Bros. the following year, even if it meant taking a part with a handful of lines (Jackson’s two-bit pusher) or, in the case of Kilmer, never actually appearing directly on screen.
The Money Shot: For a movie stuffed with young – or at least relatively unknown – talent, it’s the old timers who steal the show. Christopher Walken grills Dennis Hopper over the whereabouts of Slater and the coke, and once Hopper realizes that he’s not leaving the room alive, he goes down determined to protect his son while insulting Walken in the worst way he can think of – by exposing his racist nature. The only time in movie history a character has responded to an insult with, “You’re a cantaloupe.”
Cast: Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton, Powers Poothe, Michael Biehn, Dana Delany, Charlton Heston, Thomas Haden Church
The Plot: Wyatt Earp (Russell) and his brothers attempt to live a quiet life in Tombstone, Arizona, only to be brought back into the ring by a gang of ruthless thugs called the Cowboys.
The Back Story: The timing of “Tombstone’s” release may look curious coming hot on the heels of the Oscar-winning “Unforgiven,” but Kevin Jarre’s script had been banging around for a while, and at one point even had Kevin Costner slated to play Earp before disagreements about the direction of the story led Costner to leave the project in favor of his own Wyatt Earp movie with Lawrence Kasdan at the helm. “Tombstone” would go on to make $56 million, while Costner’s 1994 “Wyatt Earp,” well, didn’t – it fizzled out at $25 million.
The Money Shot: When a very ill Doc Holliday (Kilmer at his best) utters the immortal line “I’m your huckleberry” and takes down the nut case Johnny Ringo (Biehn) in a duel, after which Wyatt and the remainder of his gang go on a county-wide ass-kicking spree, killing every last remaining Cowboy. Well, except for the one who tore off his red sash so he wouldn’t have to take a dirt nap.
The Quick and the Dead (1995)
Cast: Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe, Gary Sinise, Tobin Bell, Lance Henriksen, Keith David
The Plot: A female gunslinger (Stone) enters a quick-draw contest run by the corrupt Marshal (Hackman) who was responsible for the death of her father.
The Back Story: After making three “Evil Dead” movies, Sam Raimi was eager to try something else, and in the early ’90s, no one said no to Sharon Stone. In casting the two biggest stars of the next decade in supporting roles (Stone paid DiCaprio’s salary after the studio balked), Raimi had an embarrassment of riches in terms of talent…but perhaps just a bit too soon; “Quick” made only $18 million at the box office, though that was through no fault of the on-screen talent. Crowe, in particular, was electric.
The Money Shot: The view of Hackman through the hole in Keith David’s head, and Crowe’s quick disassembling of Hackman’s henchmen.
Cast: Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Val Kilmer, Jon Voight, Tom Sizemore, Danny Trejo, Ashley Judd, Natalie Portman, William Fichtner, Dennis Haysbert, Jeremy Piven
The Plot: A career criminal (De Niro) lands on the radar of a veteran detective (Pacino) as the thief plots the Big Retirement Score. Cop and thief have odd mutual respect, though neither would hesitate to kill the other if necessary.
The Back Story: De Niro and Pacino had never been in a scene together – the only time they had appeared in the same movie before this was “The Godfather Part II,” when De Niro played Pacino’s father in flashback – so the scene in the diner between the two was a pretty big deal. (It surely caused problems for Italian audiences though, considering that both actors are dubbed by the same man.) Even with the long-awaited screen duel out of the way, it would be another 13 years before they worked together again, and considering the results (ahem, “Righteous Kill”), perhaps they should have waited a little longer.
The Money Shot: Please – the shootout at the bank, which more than one group of degenerates used as a playbook to launch near-identical robberies after the movie’s release.
Mars Attacks! (1996)
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Pierce Brosnan, Annette Bening, Michael J. Fox, Sarah Jessica Parker, Glenn Close, Martin Short, Natalie Portman, Jim Brown, Pam Grier, Lukas Haas, Jack Black, Joe Don Baker, Paul Winfield, Christina Applegate, Tom Jones
The Plot: Um, Martians attack.
The Back Story: Burton had just finished “Ed Wood,” and decided that making a movie about Ed Wood is nice, but making an Ed Wood-style movie is better, using the trading card series as his source material. The movie began behind the 8-ball however, as shooting began roughly a month after the Super Bowl, where 20th Century Fox had just unveiled a teaser trailer for the similarly themed “Independence Day.” Released in December, critics were mixed – and to be honest, we can’t say we blame them – but we have a soft spot for both this ridiculously large cast its unabashed love of bad ‘50s sci-fi. Plus, it has Tom Jones flying an airplane. Is there anything that man can’t do?
The Money Shot: Hippie releases dove. Martian vaporizes dove.
Con Air (1997)
Cast: Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, John Malkovich, Ving Rhames, Steve Buscemi, Dave Chappelle, Danny Trejo, Mykelti Williamson, Rachel Ticotin, Monica Potter
The Plot: An Army Ranger (Cage), serving an unreasonably stiff sentence, is paroled and placed on a freighter plane with a group of vicious career criminals who are on their way to a new “Supermax” prison. The cons commandeer the plane and plan a getaway. Army Ranger works with a U.S. Marshal (Cusack) to bring the plane down.
The Back Story: It’s amusing to think that the three movies responsible for Jerry Bruckheimer’s mid-‘90s resurrection were “Bad Boys,” “The Rock,” and “Con Air.” “Bad Boys” rested on the shoulders of a then-untested Will Smith and Martin Lawrence (!), while “The Rock” asked quirky romantic lead Nicolas Cage to be an action hero and Ed Harris the bad guy. This time, Cage is back in “Raising Arizona” mode (!!) with ‘80s icon Cusack and indie superstars Malkovich, Buscemi, and Robert Rodriguez regular Danny Trejo. And while it mostly worked (the chase in Vegas is a silly mess), that is one strange group, even by post-Tarantino action movie standards. Still, it contained a nice in-joke when Malkovich’s Cyrus Grissom says to Buscemi’s Hannibal-esque Garland Green, “Love your work.”
The Money Shot: A dead Pinball (Dave Chappelle) hurtling through the sky at terminal velocity towards downtown Carson City, though we’re equally fond of Cage, having just killed Billy Bedlam, asking him, “Why couldn’t you put the bunny back in the box?”
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Cast: Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Ed Burns, Tom Sizemore, Vin Diesel, Barry Pepper, Adam Goldberg, Giovanni Ribisi, Jeremy Davies, Ted Danson, Paul Giamatti, Dennis Farina, Bryan Cranston
The Plot: When a paratrooper’s brothers are killed in World War II, the Army commissions a group of soldiers to find their surviving brother (Damon) and bring him home safely.
The Back Story: While Spielberg was no stranger to World War II, “Ryan” was the first time he had tackled the subject from American front lines, and he had no shortage of actors ready to sign up for duty. Curiously, Terrence Malick decided to come out of hiding at the same time with a World War II story of his own, “The Thin Red Line,” and between them the two movies employed every name actor and It Boy in Hollywood.
The Money Shot: The spectacular opening at Omaha Beach is still the big moment, but the most harrowing has to be when interpreter Upham (Davies) lets a German soldier slip past him and kill an American sniper one floor up. The German then casually walks by Upham as he cowers in shame.
Mystery Men (1999)
Cast: Ben Stiller, William H. Macy, Hank Azaria, Greg Kinnear, Geoffrey Rush, Janeane Garafalo, Paul Reubens, Eddie Izzard, Wed Studi, Lena Olin, Tom Waits
The Plot: A group of fourth-tier crime fighters with questionable talents try to spring Champion City’s real crime fighter Captain Amazing (Kinnear) after he’s captured by longtime nemesis Casanova Frankenstein (Rush).
The Back Story: We never miss a chance to profess our love for this delightfully silly superhero movie, and one of the most bone-dry comedic emsembles ever assembled. Ben Stiller readily admits on the DVD that there was no script, so much of what you see on the screen was ad-libbed by the actors themselves. The movie also has a couple blink-and-you’ll-miss-’em moments, namely Michael Bay asking Casanova if they can bring brewskis, and Dane Cook auditioning for the Mystery Men as the Waffler.
The Money Shot: Any time Waits’ non-lethal weapons are deployed, particularly the Blamethrower. That, and the accidental death of Captain Amazing.
Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
Cast: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Elliott Gould, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Scott Caan, Casey Affleck, Topher Grace, Joshua Jackson
The Plot: A recently sprung thief (Clooney) rounds up a group of specialists to rob three Vegas casinos at once, which are run by the current beau of his ex-wife (Roberts).
The Back Story: There were cries of ‘Blasphemy’ when Soderbergh and Clooney proposed the idea of remaking the ultimate Rat Pack movie, even though the general consensus is that the 1960 original wasn’t that great of a movie. (It currently boasts a 6.4 rating on IMDb.) But with Soderbergh coming off the one-two punch of “Erin Brockovich” and “Traffic,” and having the bulletproof Clooney as Danny Ocean, it was no longer a question of ‘Why?,’ but ‘Why not make the movie with us?’ Admittedly not an action movie, but too good of a group to overlook.
The Money Shot: This might be cheating, but every scene with Clooney and Pitt together. Their chemistry is as good as it gets in the movies.
X2: X-Men United (2003)
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Anna Paquin, Rebecca Romijn, Alan Cumming, Brian Cox
The Plot: A colonel and military scientist has thoughts of exterminating all mutants, so Professor X (Stewart) and Magneto (McKellen) must join forces in a fight to survive.
The Back Story: We’re breaking our ‘no sequels’ rule here because “X2” stands so far above and beyond the other two “X-Men” movies that it deserves the nod. After proving himself as a bankable Event Movie director with the first “X-Men,” Bryan Singer finally gets his big-budget swerve on here using, of all things, two separate scripts mashed into one. Unfortunately, Singer has yet to make another movie like it, though we must admit that we’re intrugued by the IMDb entry claiming that he’s directing a remake of “Excalibur,” a movie that very nearly made this list. Seriously, look at that before-they-were-stars cast. Gabriel Byrne, Llam Neeson, Patrick Stewart, and a 35-year-old Helen Mirren? Wowzers.
The Money Shot: Nightcrawler bamfing (that is the technical term for what he does, right?) out of, and back in, the damaged jet to save a falling Rogue. That, and Magneto’s escape from his plastic prison using the iron in a security guard’s blood. Pulling the grenade pins later was a nice touch, too.
Sin City (2005)
Cast: Bruce Willis, Clive Owen, Benicio Del Toro, Mickey Rourke, Powers Boothe, Jessica Alba, Brittany Murphy, Nick Stahl, Michael Madsen, Josh Hartnett, Michael Clarke Duncan, Elijah Wood, Rosario Dawson, Carla Gugino
The Plot: A multi-angle view of Basin City, a former mining town that has more dirty cops, killers and hookers than actual honest citizens.
The Back Story: Robert Rodriguez enjoyed the kind of relationship with Dimension that directors can only dream about these days. They pretty much let him do whatever he wanted, so when he wanted to make a nearly all-digital translation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel series, they said yes, despite the fact that only two of his movies at the time have grossed more than $100 million…and they were both “Spy Kids” movies. Smart move: “Sin City” nearly doubled its money at the box office (triple if you count the overseas gross), while setting the new standard for neo-noir.
The Money Shot: We’d like to highlight one of the flashy black & white set pieces Rodriguez assembled, but who are we kidding: it’s Jessica Alba dancing.
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Cillian Murphy, Ken Watanabe, Michael Caine, Marion Cotillard, Tom Berenger, Tom Hardy
The Plot: A group of high-tech corporate thieves need to pull the impossible and plant an idea into a subject’s head.
The Back Story: Director Christopher Nolan first, um, dreamt up the idea of “Inception” when he was working on “Memento,” but studios were naturally reluctant to pony up that kind of dough for such a high-concept idea. But after “The Dark Knight” racked up over $1 billion worldwide, Warner Bros. decided that it was in their best interest to keep Nolan happy, and to return the favor, Nolan is already at work on another Batman script while assisting in the relaunch of the Superman series as well. All of Nolan’s movies have had boatloads of all-star talent (“Insomnia” had three Oscar winners), but the cast for “Inception” is just ridiculous.
The Money Shot: Too many to count, but if forced to name two, we’ll go with the zero gravity hallway fight, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt wrapping everyone up and getting them into the elevator to prepare to the kick.
Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
Cast: Jack Lemmon, Al Pacino, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey, Ed Harris, Alec Baldwin, Jonathan Pryce
Plot: A brutally honest look at the high-pressure life of selling real estate, and the things that people will do for the sake of self-preservation.
The Back Story: David Mamet had been an It Boy screenwriter since his adaptation of “The Postman Always Rings Twice” in 1981, but he was wise to mix studio jobs with passion projects along the way, notably his directorial debut “House of Games.” In retrospect, it seems almost cosmic that “Glengarry” would come out the same year as “Reservoir Dogs,” another indie film about an altogether different group of rogues trying to do a job without getting stabbed in the back.
The Money Shot: Alec Baldwin’s monologue. His finest performance to date, though we still love when he hosts “Saturday Night Live.”
Tags: Apocalypse Now, best action movie ensemble casts, Best Ensemble Casts, Con Air, Glengarry Glen Ross, great action movie ensembles, Heat, Inception, Kelly's Heroes, Mars Attacks!, Mystery Men, Ocean's Eleven, Saving Private Ryan, Silverado, Sin City, The Dirty Dozen, The Expendables, The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven, The Towering Inferno, The Wild Bunch, Tombstone, True Romance, X2: X-Men United