Walter Hill has had a long and fruitful career directing some of everyone’s favorite films. He recently released his western, Death for a dollar (read our review) and did press rounds (check out our interview here) leads to a reassessment of his work somewhat. His filmography contains a lot of classics and many genres as a writer and director. His work as Producer covers even more ground. Here we will take a look at his directing work, which started in 1975 with Hard times, and is still going today, The man has had a good career with a rare few minor films. To choose which movies should be on this list, the weaker ones were crossed out and we just had to go with our favorites as they are all part of the best of what is out there for movie fans.
The Warriors (1979)
A classic in itself and Hill’s third feature, this one is a little more on the cult classic side of cinematic life, and that’s part of what draws new fans to it every year. The film is about a gang that must cross NYC from the Bronx to Coney Island alive after being accused of murder at a gang meeting. This is a dark film with some truly great moments of acting, especially from James Remar, who really steals the show in what was only his second part. Overall, this movie feels very 1970s, which adds a lot to its charm. The writing and direction are top notch, giving this a timeless classic aspect to it, even if it’s more of a cult classic at the moment.
48 Hours (1982)
A film about a criminal temporarily released under the charge of a cop to catch a murderer, this classic stars Nick Nolte as a cop and Eddie Murphy as a criminal, making for a pretty well-balanced buddy action flick. Their performances feed off each other. In the antagonist’s part, James Remar is excellent and it has been said that he went without sleep before his shooting days so that his character could have a particularly psychotic appearance. This one is a definite classic and one that is still in rotation on cable stations across the US and around the world. It has real staying power and is a movie that almost everyone who watches movies has seen. This outstanding entry on Hill’s instructional resume is one not to be missed. And of course that made Eddie Murphy almost the biggest star of the eighties…
Streets of Fire (1984)
Another cult classic from Walter Hill, this one has a great soundtrack and great performances. It is much the eighties, but we mean that in the best way. The film has one of the great casts that cannot be ignored with Michael Paré and Diane Lane in the lead roles and Rick Moranis (can’t go wrong with Rick Moranis), Willem Dafoe, Bill Paxton, Lee Ving, Robert Townsend, Elizabeth Daily, and Ed Begley Jr. among an incredible cast. The film itself is about a singer who is kidnapped and her mercenary ex is hired to rescue her. The story seems simple, but this is the mid-1980s, so there’s plenty here to keep the film quite entertaining, and it’s all a nostalgic blast. The costumes, the settings, the music, it all comes together to create a magically colorful, sometimes dark piece of American cinema that is forever relatable.
Extreme Prejudice (1987)
Another entry from the 1980s, this one has a cast to remember as well, including Nick Nolte, Powers Boothe, Michael Ironside, Maria Conchita Alonso, Rip Torn, Clancy Brown, William Forsythe and a host of others. This is a dream cast for that era and even now in reality. It’s one of those movies where if you don’t recognize at least one of the faces here, you really need to see more movies (it’s also especially loved here at JoBlo). On top of this case, this western thriller is one that is on point in terms of story, direction and acting, of course following the story of a Texas Ranger (Nick Nolte) and his nemesis – a drug kingpin (Powers Boothe). The two used to be close friends growing up, but now they are facing each other. It is, in some ways, a near remake of Hill’s mentor, Sam Peckinpah’s The wild herd. This is especially true when a crew of off-the-books Special Forces assassins (led by Ironside) show up to wreak havoc. It also has a great score by Jerry Goldsmith.
Bullet to the Head (2012)
Hear us! This is a favorite and one that grows on the viewer with a few watches. At first it feels like an oddity, a strange decision from everyone involved, but once attention is paid to it, the viewer is rewarded with an entertaining film. This adaptation of the French “Du plomb dans la tête” comic is led by Sylvester Stallone with a lot of tattoos, beardless Jason Momoa as a villain, with Sung Kang and Christian Slater in supporting roles. There is tons of action in it and the fight sequence between Stallone and Momoa is something else (especially considering there is almost a full foot height difference between them) with axes brought into it and a brutal style applied to the choreography. And let’s not forget the story here, where Stallone plays an assassin who teams up with a DC detective after both of their partners are murdered so they can find the culprit and make them pay.
In fact, Walter Hill’s career as a director is quite varied, and his career as a producer even more so. In one way or another, the man has been involved in every genre under the sun, as a producer on Alien and Foreignersas director of Tales from Crypt series, as a director of westerns, thrillers, action films, dramas, comedies, etc. The man has done a little bit of everything and his talent is undeniable. The man has been making films since 1975 and is still active to this day, giving the public some of the best movies out there and very few lacking in quality. He’s a filmmaker that if you think you don’t know him, just look up his filmography and you’ll see that you’ve seen at least one of his movies.
These are our favourites, which were quite difficult to narrow down to just five, so which are your favourites?