In the good ol' days of '60s and '70s filmmaking, private detectives could still kick ass. It was a more innocent time, without the modern legal inconveniences such as "harassment" or "assault and battery" charges. These heroes of yesteryear were such one-man-crime-stopping-machines, entire films could be developed just around their names.
• Harper (1966)--Remember hearing your parents talk about how handsome Paul Newman was, but all you saw was his wrinkled grey face next to Tom Cruise in The Color of Money? Well, maybe that legend started with Harper. Newman plays a smooth-talking charmer who gets knocked around for most of the movie. Clever and interesting enough, it went on to spawn a sequel, The Drowning Pool, nine years later.
• Bullitt (1968)--The movie that canonized Steve McQueen as the patron saint of cool. One of the best and most famous car chase scenes in history inspired my favorite drinking game: taking a shot after every hubcap flies off of a car.
• Marlowe (1969)--James Garner always tried to act like he was cute and charming, but this is the only film where it's halfway convincing. Bruce Lee (yeah, that Bruce Lee) steals the show with a bit part, when he gets to kick a little ass for the side of evil.
• Klute (1971)--More drama than action, a young Donald Sutherland plays the title role next to Jane Fonda, who all-too-convincingly plays the "hooker with a heart of gold." Klute is sent to investigate the death of a friend who was seeing a call girl. A funky relationship develops between Sutherland and Fonda which propels the movie through to its tense ending.
• Serpico (1973)--Remember when Al Pacino was a good actor? Neither did I until I saw this. Pacino plays a cop who wants to do good, but all the crooked cops just won't let him! And then he gets shot in the face. MANU BERELLI