5 Movies to Watch if The American Left You Wanting More

After a summer of bloated action-comedies and comic-book adaptations, it's easy to forget that action movies used to be interesting. In the late '60s and early '70s mavericks like John Boorman and Jean Pierre-Melville made films that emphasized suspense and tension over set pieces. The protagonists were more emotionally complex, even though they barely spoke. And every punch, gunshot or car crash hurt.

Word is that this weekend's number-one movie The American captures the spirit of the golden age of genre movies with an understated performance from Clooney -- and rare restraint makes the bursts of violence hit even harder. If Anton Corbijn's film stoked your appetite for more, here are five earlier gems where questions of morality aren't always answered and the characters speak with glares.

Point Blank (1967)

Before he made men think twice about a backwoods canoe vacation with their buddies, Director John Boorman milked Lee Marvin's distinctive face for all it was worth in this psychedelic revenge tale. After Marvin escapes from prison, he methodically hunts down the men who set him up, shooting first and asking questions almost never.

Branded to Kill (1967)

A skilled professional killer finds himself hunted by other professional killers hoping to "climb the corporate ladder," so to speak. Director Seijun Suzuki's take on hitmen is funky, sexy and always cool even as it approaches Waiting For Godot levels of absurdity.

Two-Lane Blacktop (1971)

James Taylor and Dennis Wilson embark on a cross-country race against Warren Oates in this masterpiece from director Monte Hellman. Studios hired Hellman for straightforward genre work, and he gave them films like this: an artful meditation on the futility of the American Dream that's short on racing action and full of existential dread. After one subversion too many, Hellman stopped working for years, but he's back in Venice this year with a new film, Road to Nowhere. Fingers crossed that he hasn't lost it.

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  • David D says:

    This Summer has been a frustration for movie lovers with action movie rom coms, I like your list of 5 (though only seen 1 of them). Point Blank set the standard for revenge movies that followed.

  • Debbie says:

    That Point Blank trailer was awesome. I wish they still made action movies like that.