Tommy Boy
(Photo by Paramount Pictures/ courtesy Everett Collection)

All Brian Dennehy Movies Ranked

Brian Dennehy’s film debut was in the Burt Reynolds sports comedy Semi-Tough, a fitting start for a former university football player. His imposing size fit him well in bruising, enforcer-type roles, like in Sylvester Stallone’s F.I.S.T., with character names like Big Tom (Tommy Boy) and Big Dave (The Stars Fell on Henrietta). It was Dennehy’s second collaboration with Stallone that put him on the national stage: First Blood, playing relentless Sheriff Will Teasle, who torments John Rambo to the breaking point.

And he would memorably play another sheriff in the western Silverado. Dennehy would frequently be on the side of the law, with police roles in Gorky Park, F/X, and the Assault on Precinct 13 remake. But Dennehy’s enormous range and distinct everyman quality kept him from being typecast, along with strong theater work to rely on and hone his craft. (He won two Tony awards, including one for his Broadway performance as Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman in the late ’90s.) You can see his lighter side in Ron Howard’s sci-fi dramedy Cocoon, and when playing Chris Farley’s dad in Tommy Boy.

More career highlights include playing the shifty DA opposite Harrison Ford in Presumed Innocent, performing live in the network broadcast of Fail Safe with George Clooney and a whole slew of other caliber actors, and voicing Remy’s father in Pixar’s Ratatouille. In his final decade of work, Dennehy collaborated with Terence Malick on Knight of Cups, appeared in the pleasing Chekhov adaptation The Seagull, and bridged the generation gap in Andrew Ahn’s second feature, the tender Driveways.

#1

Never Cry Wolf (1983)
100%

#1
Adjusted Score: 100.959%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Based on the autobiographical novel by Farley Mowat, Carroll Ballard's film chronicles the work of Tyler (Charles Martin Smith), a... [More]
Directed By: Carroll Ballard

#2

Driveways (2020)
100%

#2
Adjusted Score: 102.464%
Critics Consensus: Understated yet powerful, Driveways is a character study anchored in fundamental decency -- and a poignant farewell to Brian Dennehy.
Synopsis: Director Andrew Ahn's intimate drama revolves around the unlikely friendship formed between a lonely young boy (Lucas Jaye) and his... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Ahn

#3

Fail Safe (2000)
100%

#3
Adjusted Score: 20.913%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A seemingly-minor electronic error sets the world on the verge of nuclear annihilation in this made-for-TV adaptation of the novel... [More]

#4

Ratatouille (2007)
96%

#4
Adjusted Score: 104.554%
Critics Consensus: Fast-paced and stunningly animated, Ratatouille adds another delightfully entertaining entry -- and a rather unlikely hero -- to the Pixar canon.
Synopsis: In the hilarious new animated-adventure, Ratatouille, a rat named Remy dreams of becoming a great chef despite his family's wishes... [More]
Directed By: Jan Pinkava, Brad Bird

#5

Semi-Tough (1977)
89%

#5
Adjusted Score: 89.01%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Burt Reynolds and Kris Kristofferson star as two pro-football pals who both fall for the team-owner's very rich daughter. Kind... [More]
Directed By: Michael Ritchie

#6

F/X (1986)
88%

#6
Adjusted Score: 89.675%
Critics Consensus: Smart, twisty, and perfectly cast, the effects-assisted neo-noir F/X reminds viewers that a well-told story is the most special effect of all.
Synopsis: A man who simulates death for a living finds himself unwittingly tied into the real thing in this New York-based... [More]
Directed By: Robert Mandel

#7

First Blood (1982)
85%

#7
Adjusted Score: 88.957%
Critics Consensus: Much darker and more sensitive than the sequels it spawned, First Blood is a thrilling survival adventure that takes full advantage of Sylvester Stallone's acting skills.
Synopsis: A former Green Beret must use all of the guerrilla tactics he learned in Vietnam to save himself after he... [More]
Directed By: Ted Kotcheff

#8
#8
Adjusted Score: 90.607%
Critics Consensus: Thanks to an outstanding script, focused direction by Alan Pakula, and a riveting performance from Harrison Ford, Presumed Innocent is the kind of effective courtroom thriller most others aspire to be.
Synopsis: Rusty Sabich (Harrison Ford) is a bland, oppressed man who burns with a quiet, corrosive intensity that can flare uncontrollably.... [More]
Directed By: Alan J. Pakula

#9
#9
Adjusted Score: 43.862%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: On the occasion of his 50th birthday, blue-collar family man Gene Hackman is possessed by our old friend, The Mid-Life... [More]
Directed By: Bud Yorkin

#10
#10
Adjusted Score: 85.223%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: American architect Stourley Kracklite (Brian Dennehy) comes with his young wife Louisa (Chloe Webb) to Rome to supervise an exhibition... [More]
Directed By: Peter Greenaway

#11

Cocoon (1985)
79%

#11
Adjusted Score: 80.554%
Critics Consensus: Though it may be too sentimental for some, Ron Howard's supernatural tale of eternal youth is gentle and heartwarming, touching on poignant issues of age in the process.
Synopsis: This comic fantasy is the story of some elderly folks who encounter aliens when they find a swimming pool filled... [More]
Directed By: Ron Howard

#12

Silverado (1985)
76%

#12
Adjusted Score: 77.995%
Critics Consensus: Boasting rich detail and well-told story, Silverado is a rare example of an '80s Hollywood Western done right.
Synopsis: Lawrence Kasdan's Silverado is a fond hark back to the all-star, big-budget westerns of the 1950s and 1960s. The various... [More]
Directed By: Lawrence Kasdan

#13

Gorky Park (1983)
75%

#13
Adjusted Score: 76.474%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In the dead of a Moscow winter, three bodies are found in Gorky Park. Police Inspector Renko (William Hurt) is... [More]
Directed By: Michael Apted

#14

F.I.S.T. (1978)
73%

#14
Adjusted Score: 73.334%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Johnny Kovak (Sylvester Stallone) is a trucker for a large and abusive company in the 1930s. He gets involved in... [More]
Directed By: Norman Jewison

#15

Foul Play (1978)
73%

#15
Adjusted Score: 75.154%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: As he did in his screenplay for Silver Streak (1974), writer/director Colin Higgins mixes life-and-death melodrama with broad slapstick in... [More]
Directed By: Colin Higgins

#16

Best Seller (1987)
73%

#16
Adjusted Score: 73.411%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Brian Dennehy plays a Wambaugh-type cop who has flourished as a novelist. At the moment, however, Dennehy is suffering from... [More]
Directed By: John J. Flynn Jr.

#17

Romeo + Juliet (1996)
72%

#17
Adjusted Score: 75.378%
Critics Consensus: Baz Luhrmann's visual aesthetic is as divisive as it is fresh and inventive.
Synopsis: The classic Shakespearean romantic tragedy is updated by director Baz Luhrmann to a post-modern Verona Beach where swords are merely... [More]
Directed By: Baz Luhrmann

#18

The Seagull (2018)
67%

#18
Adjusted Score: 71.805%
Critics Consensus: The latest iteration of The Seagull does little to distinguish itself from other Chekhov adaptations but provides a pleasing showcase for its sterling cast.
Synopsis: One summer at a lakeside Russian estate, friends and family gather for a weekend in the countryside. While everyone is... [More]
Directed By: Michael Mayer (VI)

#19

10 (1979)
67%

#19
Adjusted Score: 68.454%
Critics Consensus: Blake Edwards' bawdy comedy may not score a perfect 10, but Dudley Moore's self-deprecating performance makes this midlife crisis persistently funny.
Synopsis: Blake Edwards' 10 stars Dudley Moore as George, a Mancini-type songwriter. Approaching middle age, George feels as if life is... [More]
Directed By: Blake Edwards

#20
Adjusted Score: 38.156%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The last thing Eddie Mills wants to do is go home to deal with his dying Dad. But the Catholic... [More]
Directed By: Larry Clarke

#21

Miles from Home (1988)
60%

#21
Adjusted Score: 26.341%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Two brothers (Richard Gere, Kevin Anderson) have inherited a large farm (once voted "Farm of the Year") from their father,... [More]
Directed By: Gary Sinise

#22
#22
Adjusted Score: 64.343%
Critics Consensus: This remake has been praised by some as an expertly made B-movie, and dismissed by others as formulaic.
Synopsis: This action-packed remake of the John Carpenter classic tells the tale of an under-manned Detroit police precinct on its last... [More]

#23
#23
Adjusted Score: 54.753%
Critics Consensus: Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks give it their all, but their solid performances aren't quite enough to compensate for The Next Three Days' uneven pace and implausible plot.
Synopsis: His wife convicted of a murder she swears she did not commit, a college professor plots to break her out... [More]
Directed By: Paul Haggis

#24
Adjusted Score: 38.325%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: This character drama follows the exploits of an aged oil seeker, known only as Mr. Cox, as he roams across... [More]
Directed By: James Keach

#25
#25
Adjusted Score: 48.032%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this irreverent comedy, awkward teenager Tobe (Dustin Ingram) sets off on a road trip to meet Monica Velour (Kim... [More]
Directed By: Keith Bearden

#26

Knight of Cups (2016)
47%

#26
Adjusted Score: 53.632%
Critics Consensus: Knight of Cups finds Terrence Malick delving deeper into the painterly visual milieu he's explored in recent efforts, but even hardcore fans may struggle with the diminishing narrative returns.
Synopsis: Knight of Cups follows writer Rick (Christian Bale, The Fighter, American Hustle) on an odyssey through the playgrounds of Los... [More]
Directed By: Terrence Malick

#27

Legal Eagles (1986)
44%

#27
Adjusted Score: 44.712%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Ivan Reitman's comedy/mystery stars Robert Redford as an assistant D.A. who forges an uneasy alliance with a public defender (Debra... [More]
Directed By: Ivan Reitman

#28

Tommy Boy (1995)
42%

#28
Adjusted Score: 44.296%
Critics Consensus: Though it benefits from the comic charms of its two leads, Tommy Boy too often feels like a familiar sketch stretched thin.
Synopsis: Saturday Night Live star Chris Farley had his first starring role in this frankly lowbrow comedy, which teamed him with... [More]
Directed By: Peter Segal

#29

Everyone's Hero (2006)
42%

#29
Adjusted Score: 43.693%
Critics Consensus: Everyone's Hero is such a predictable and bland tale that it'll appeal mostly to little kids; others seeking something in Pixar's league are looking in the wrong ballpark.
Synopsis: A young boy finds himself at an extraordinary crossroads: He has a chance to be a hero--and make a difference... [More]

#30
#30
Adjusted Score: 42.533%
Critics Consensus: The Song of Sway Lake benefits from alluring, evocative atmosphere, although it isn't always enough to compensate for a shaggy narrative and overall lack of focus.
Synopsis: A young man's plot to steal a valuable jazz record from his grandmother's lake house is derailed when his accomplice... [More]
Directed By: Ari Gold

#31

The Big Year (2011)
42%

#31
Adjusted Score: 44.666%
Critics Consensus: Though made with care and affection for its characters, The Big Year plods along, rarely reaching any comedic heights.
Synopsis: Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson are at a crossroads -- one is experiencing a mid-life crisis, another a... [More]
Directed By: David Frankel

#32
Adjusted Score: 20.449%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this "prequel" to "Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid," the outlaw duo meet and team up for a life... [More]
Directed By: Richard Lester

#33
Adjusted Score: 38.404%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A special effects expert agrees to help the police catch a serial killer, but becomes a patsy for corrupt cops.... [More]
Directed By: Richard Franklin

#34

Stolen Summer (2002)
36%

#34
Adjusted Score: 36.93%
Critics Consensus: Stolen Summer feels like a sugary after-school special stretched out to feature length.
Synopsis: Pete (Adi Stein) is an eight-year-old Catholic boy growing up in the suburbs of Chicago in the mid-'70s. Pete attends... [More]
Directed By: Pete Jones

#35

Every Day (2011)
34%

#35
Adjusted Score: 34.139%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Helen Hunt, Liev Schreiber, Brian Dennehy, Eddie Izzard and Carla Gugino star in EVERY DAY, a story about a family's... [More]
Directed By: Richard Levine

#36
#36
Adjusted Score: 33.054%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Cocoon 2: The Return, like most sequels, relies a bit too heavily on one's familiarity with the first film. Without... [More]
Directed By: Daniel Petrie Sr.

#37
#37
Adjusted Score: 33.303%
Critics Consensus: Though The Ultimate Gift avoids religious speechifying like other Fox Faith films, it's dramatically inert with flat direction.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Michael O. Sajbel explores the relationship between wealth and happiness with this spiritual-minded tale about a privileged young man... [More]
Directed By: Michael O. Sajbel

#38

Gladiator (1992)
31%

#38
Adjusted Score: 31.125%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Gladiator is the kind of boxing movie that goes that extra mile -- a self-loathing boxing saga that relishes in... [More]
Directed By: Rowdy Herrington

#39

She Hate Me (2004)
19%

#39
Adjusted Score: 21.399%
Critics Consensus: She Hate Me can't decide if it wants to be a commentary on corporate greed or a sex farce.
Synopsis: Harvard-educated biotech executive John Henry "Jack" Armstrong gets fired when he informs on his bosses, launching an investigation into their... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#40

10th & Wolf (2006)
19%

#40
Adjusted Score: 19.054%
Critics Consensus: A scattered mob movie that employs every mafia cliche and fails to establish an identity of its own.
Synopsis: A man is forced to go against his family and his principles in the name of serving his country in... [More]
Directed By: Bobby Moresco

#41

Righteous Kill (2008)
18%

#41
Adjusted Score: 23.194%
Critics Consensus: Al Pacino and Robert De Niro do their best to elevate this dowdy genre exercise, but even these two greats can't resuscitate the film's hackneyed script.
Synopsis: After 30 years as partners in the pressure cooker environment of the NYPD, highly decorated detectives David Fisk and Thomas... [More]
Directed By: Jon Avnet

#42

Summer Catch (2001)
8%

#42
Adjusted Score: 10.507%
Critics Consensus: A cliched and predictable sports comedy that's mostly devoid of excitement or laughs, Summer Catch is strictly bush-league.
Synopsis: This blend of sports and youthful romantic comedy is from director Michael Tollin, who previously produced the sports drama Varsity... [More]

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