Total Recall

Rank Goldie Hawn's 10 Best Movies

In this week's Total Recall, we count down the best-reviewed work of the Snatched star.

by | May 10, 2017 | Comments

When Goldie Hawn returns to theaters in this weekend’s Snatched alongside Amy Schumer, it’ll mark her first film release in 15 years — an unaccountably lengthy layoff, and one we’re happy to see come to an end. To demonstrate our affection for the long-lost star, we’ve decided to dedicate this feature to a look back at some of Ms. Hawn’s best-reviewed efforts, lining ’em up Tomatometer-style. It’s time for Total Recall!


10. Shampoo (1975) 60%

The year after The Sugarland Express, Hawn’s charmed ’70s streak continued with Shampoo, the Warren Beatty-led comedy about a shallow lothario who uses his job as a hairdresser as a springboard into bed with a succession of beautiful women. Ultimately a rather sober warning against the potential emotional hangovers looming during the sexual revolution, the film nevertheless offered a series of pointedly funny observations about the tenor of the times, racking up a healthy box office and a slew of awards and nominations along the way, and it’s come to be regarded as something of a comedy classic; as Lisa Schwarzbaum wrote for Entertainment Weekly, “There’s a self-awareness to Shampoo that gives the movie a cleansing sadness and, oddly, makes Beatty an affectingly amoral roue.”

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9. Butterflies Are Free (1972) 69%

It’s essentially pointing out the obvious to say that Hawn built a career out of playing to type — but it’s distinctly to her credit that she managed to carve out an award-winning niche by conforming to expectations, and as 1972’s Butterflies Are Free capably demonstrates, she had a great feel for kooky blonde comedy basically from the beginning. Adapted by Leonard Gershe from his own play, the story concerns a young couple who meet cute and fall in love — although the relationship is of course complicated by his mother, who’s overprotective due to her son’s blindness and convinced his new girlfriend will eventually break his heart. It’s all stock stuff, elevated by its performers; Eileen Heckart won an Oscar for her performance as the mother, and her younger co-stars earned their own fair share of praise. As Scott Weinberg later wrote for eFilmCritic, “Watch this one if you’ve ever wondered how Goldie Hawn became a star.”

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8. Seems Like Old Times (1980) 70%

(Photo by Columbia courtesy Everett Collection)

Two years after scoring a hit with Foul Play, Hawn and Chevy Chase reunited for Seems Like Old Times, a Neil Simon story about a man who goes running to his ex-wife after he’s forced to rob a bank by some ruffians and ends up on the lam. With its leads once again exploiting their comedic chemistry — abetted by Charles Grodin playing the straight man as Hawn’s second husband — Seems Like earned the duo another round of polite applause from critics like Janet Maslin of the New York Times, who singled Hawn out for particular praise in her review. “Miss Hawn is as sweetly zany as ever,” wrote Maslin. “She has clearly established herself as the most delightful comedienne now working in movies, with her sparkle, her adorable indignation, and her ability to proffer false reassurance under any and every kind of circumstance.”

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7. Foul Play (1978) 74%

(Photo by Paramount courtesy Everett Collection)

A veritable Who’s Who of ’70s comedy stardom, Foul Play unites Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase in a Hitchcock-with-laughs hybrid about a librarian who thinks she’s stumbled onto a plot to kill the Pope and her subsequent entanglement with a policeman who doesn’t take her claims seriously. Toss in Dudley Moore, Billy Barty, and Burgess Meredith, and you’ve got yourself some serious talent in front of the camera; if the results still ended up being somewhat less than the sum of their impressive parts, they were still entertaining enough for most critics. “Chevy when he was funny, Goldie when she was starting her heyday, and Dudley too,” wrote Widgett Walls. “What a deal.”

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6. Everyone Says I Love You (1996) 79%

(Photo by WestEnd Films)

A Woody Allen musical… starring actors not known for their singing voices? It could have been another misfire from Allen’s scattershot ‘90s filmography, but Everyone Says I Love You ended up going down as one of the director’s more satisfying — and surprising — critical triumphs. A winsome romantic comedy that boasts glamorous locations (New York, Venice, and Paris) to match its ensemble cast (Hawn, Julia Roberts, Ed Norton, and Natalie Portman, to name just a few), Everyone made the most of its stars’ often pedestrian vocal skills while wringing comedy from the romantic travails of the extended family spinning around a divorced couple (Hawn and Allen). It was all part of the charm for critics like the Boston Phoenix’s Gary Susman, who called the movie “an odd mix of old and new, realism and fantasy, craft and amateurism that shouldn’t work but is inventive and hilarious anyway.”

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5. Private Benjamin (1980) 82%

(Photo by Warner Brothers courtesy Everett Collection)

Hawn picked up her second Oscar nomination for this runaway hit, which finds laughs in the travails faced by a young woman who finds herself widowed after her husband passes away on their wedding night — and, understandably distraught, she’s conned into joining the army by an unscrupulous recruiter. It’s the kind of story that could have taken some awfully dark turns, but with Howard Zieff behind the camera (directing a script co-written by Nancy Meyer) and Hawn at her effervescent best, Private Benjamin was one of the bigger box-office successes of the year. Calling her “totally charming,” Vincent Canby of the New York Times wrote of Hawn’s performance, “She’s an enthusiastic farceur, but her characterization is so firmly based that she can slip from slapstick to romantic comedy and back without losing a beat.”

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4. $ (Dollars) (The Heist) (1971) 86%

Cast young Goldie Hawn and Warren Beatty in a heist caper with fabulous European locations, and you’ve won half the battle already. Put writer-director Richard Brooks (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Elmer Gantry) at the creative reins, and you’ve got yourself a pretty good picture — as attested by 1971’s Dollars, in which Hawn and Beatty co-star as two of the conspirators involved in a plot to make off with more than $1.5 million in loot from safe deposit boxes at a West German bank. Certain elements haven’t aged well — the “hooker with a heart of gold” stock character Hawn plays would certainly require a rewrite today — but the chemistry between Brooks’ stars is inarguable, and he keeps the action coming fast enough to drag viewers painlessly past any rough spots in the narrative. The whole thing got a thumbs up from Roger Ebert, who observed, “Warren Beatty and Goldie Hawn are weirdly interesting together.”

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3. Cactus Flower (1969) 88%

Plenty of viewers saw Goldie Hawn as little more than a pretty face during her breakout stint on Laugh-In, but she quickly parlayed that fame into a fast-rising career as a leading lady on the big screen. Her first film role of any real substance, as Walter Matthau’s suicidal ex-girlfriend in 1969’s Cactus Flower, earned Hawn a Best Supporting Actress Oscar — and demonstrated how easy it was for the young star to steal screen time from seasoned pros like Matthau and Ingrid Bergman. “It comes as a pleasing jolt to find the youngster, Goldie Hawn, at the apex of the triangle,” wrote Howard Thompson for the New York Times. “Not only beautifully holding her own with the two veteran stars but also enhancing the content and flavor of the movie.”

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2. The Sugarland Express (1974) 85%

Steven Spielberg was still a young college dropout with a few years of TV work under his belt when he cut his feature-film teeth on The Sugarland Express, a 1974 crime drama about a husband and wife (Goldie Hawn and William Atherton) bound and determined to prevent their young son from being put in a foster home — even if it means they have to hold a cop hostage and lead police on a chase across Texas in order to do it. Inspired by real-life events and topped off by a typically charming performance from Hawn, Express demonstrated Spielberg’s youthful command of his medium, particularly with its action sequences; although audiences largely ignored it at the time, it’s come to be recognized as an entertaining early entry in a filmography chock-full of them. “The Sugarland Express is not terribly original — Bonnie and Clyde, Badlands, and The Getaway are indelibly marked in its DNA,” wrote Christopher Lloyd for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. “But it shows an already dazzling young filmmaker honing his skills and vision.”

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1. Swing Shift (1984) 87%

It endured an infamously bumpy production period — during which stars Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell went over Jonathan Demme’s head to arrange edits and reshoots with a different director — but even if Swing Shift didn’t end up fulfilling Demme’s original vision, critics still felt it effectively told the story of a war bride (Hawn) who enters the workforce and starts an affair with a musician (Russell) during WWII while her husband (Harris) is overseas. Although more than a few viewers have taken issue with its soft-focused treatment of adultery, the picture’s rich detail and well-written script impressed writers like Filmcritic’s Pete Croatto, who observed, “Sofia Coppola and Wes Anderson could learn a few things watching this. Or maybe they already have.”

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