Film discussion

Innerspace’s Dennis Quaid – top 5 performances

With an acting career spanning over four decades, Dennis Quaid has established himself as one of the most charming actors working in Hollywood. Recognised for his rugged good looks and devilish smile, Quaid has proven his dramatic versatility with sixty seven film credits to his name.

If you don’t have time to watch all sixty seven performances, let us here at Set The Tape whittle down for you the top five Dennis Quaid movies to watch. Just don’t expect Jaws 3D (1983) to be on this list.

Breaking Away (1979)

Quaid turns in an early performance in Peter Yates’ Breaking Away (1979), playing Mike, a former high school quarterback trapped in small town mundanity with no career opportunities. Stirring and wistful, Quaid proves himself melancholic as Mike spending his time lamenting his missed American football career as “something else I never got to be.”

Breaking Away is a touching exploration of early adulthood from the perspectives of four wildly different Indiana teenagers unsure with their lives after graduating high school. Acting alongside talents Daniel Stern, Jackie Earle Haley and Dennis Christopher, Quaid channels dramatic weight and deft introspection in one of the finest movies of the 1970’s.

The Right Stuff (1983)

Who’s the best pilot you ever saw? You’re looking at him baby” boasts Quaid as Gordon Cooper in The Right Stuff (1983), one of the Mercury Seven astronauts hired by the American Space Program to boldly cross the threshold between Earth and space in this classic drama from esteemed director Philip Kaufman.

Joyous and inspiring, Quaid’s everyman performance in The Right Stuff is enough to make you cheer and commemorate for those men who faced death every day to become the first American astronauts in space.

Epic in scope and in heart, The Right Stuff is a wild ride into the arduous true story of the gung-ho US air force pilots who challenged and pushed the scientific and technological developments of space travel. Fifteen years of high speed crashing aircraft and exploding rockets aren’t enough to deter Cooper and his colleagues (including a young Ed Harris) from creating space history.

Dragonheart (1996)

Fantasy adventure Dragonheart (1996) has the last dragon in existence Draco (the voice of Sean Connery) convince dragonslayer Bowen (Quaid, again) to team up and con local villagers with staged slayings to keep Draco alive and Bowen in a job.

Charming hijinks between Draco and Bowen eventually turns into a battle to defeat the evil King Einon (David Thewlis) who shares half of Draco’s heart. Dragonheart will never be remembered as a classic movie, but relentless sword battles crossed with a fast talking dragon and a questionable English accent from Dennis Quaid guarantees superb family viewing.

Far From Heaven (2002)

Far from Heaven (2002), a soothing love letter to the films of Douglas Sirk contains Quaid’s most dramatic (and perhaps best) performance as Frank Whitaker, a 1950’s American husband and family man who finally begins to act on his repressed homosexual desires.

After several sexual encounters Frank breaks down and confesses to his wife Cathy (Julianne Moore) that he has fallen in love with another man and wants to be with him. Not once does Quaid fall into the cliche of homosexuality being tragic, portraying his character as someone who has finally found love and peace within himself.

Far From Heaven is a poignant deconstruction of American idealism revealing underneath the cliches of Frank and Cathy are deeper, more complex individuals who have a need and desire to be understood.

Flight of the Phoenix (2004)

Flight of the Phoenix (2004), an action drama depicts the survivors of a Gobi desert plane crash overwhelmed by searing hot temperatures and a limited supply of water. Conceding slim chance of rescue, the bookish Elliot (Giovanni Ribisi) convinces the morally upright Captain Towns (Mr Quaid) the only chance of survival is to reengineer the wreckage of the C-119 Boxcar into a small flying aircraft to escape. But with group divisions widening and desert bandits on the horizon, Captain Towns must band his ragtag group of survivors to build the aircraft dubbed ‘The Phoenix’ and ensure their return to civilisation.

Quaid gives one of his most assured performances alongside a fine ensemble cast including Miranda Otto, Hugh Laurie and Tyrese Gibson. Flight of the Phoenix (2004) is perhaps the most underrated adventure film from the last fifteen years, perfect for a Sunday afternoon with a cup of tea and a tub of biscuits. What more could you want from a Dennis Quaid movie?

What is your favourite Dennis Quaid movie? Let us know.

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