When legendary Cleveland Browns fullback Jim Brown walked away from his prime NFL career, it was anything but early retirement. The versatile Brown, who He died Thursday in Los Angeles at age 87.he turned his attention instead to civil rights activism and a highly successful career in film and television.

Starting with his first major film, “The Dirty Dozen” (1967), Brown had a knack for choosing roles he was well suited for, including his 2014 film “Draft Day,” in which he played himself. He also made appearances on beloved TV series like “CHiPs”, “TJ Hooker” and “The A-Team”, served as a commentator for boxing and Ultimate Fighting Championship and much more. Not all of Brown’s onscreen highlights are available to stream, like “Three the Hard Way,” but here are six key titles to help you get to know Brown the entertainer and where to find them.

‘The Dirty Dozen’

black and white photo of man in uniform and helmet

Jim Brown in the 1967 war film “The Dirty Dozen.”

(Metro Goldwyn Mayer)

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1967 | 2 hours 29 minutes

It’s doubtful that Tom Brokaw had soldiers like Victor Franko, Archer Maggott and Vernon Pinkley in mind when he wrote “The Greatest Generation,” his salute to America’s brave and self-sacrificing World War II veterans. They were convicts whose sentences for brutal crimes ranged from hard labor to death by hanging. But they also stood out in battle, at least on screen, as members of “The Dirty Dozen,” one of the most unconventional war movies ever made.

Never before have audiences been asked to cheer for such a disreputable platoon of misfits or, as a psychiatrist in the film calls them, “the most twisted, antisocial group of psychopathic deformities I’ve ever come across. You’ve got a religious maniac, an evil dwarf, two near-idiots, and the rest I don’t even want to think about.

Can you name all 12? Roll Call: Charles Bronson as Joseph Wladislaw; Jim Brown as Robert Jefferson; Tom Busby as Milo Vladek; John Cassavetes as Victor Franko; Ben Carruthers as Glenn Gilpin; Stuart Cooper as Roscoe Lever; Trini Lopez as Pedro Jimenez; Colin Maitland as Seth Sawyer; Al Mancini as Tassos Bravos; Telly Savalas as Archer Maggott; Donald Sutherland as Vernon Pinkley; and Clint Walker as Samson Posey.

They are led by the “rude and undisciplined” Major John Reisman played by Lee Marvin, who, one character notes, appears to be headed for a court martial. (Read more about Donald Liebenson’s 2000 feature)

‘Zebra Ice Station’

three men in a boat

Rock Hudson, left, Patrick McGoohan and Ernest Borgnine in the 1968 cold war-era thriller “Ice Station Zebra.”


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1968 | 2 hours 29 minutes | G-Rated

John Sturges directed this overly long but intermittently entertaining action thriller. It is based on Alistair MacLean’s novel about a US submarine sent to the North Pole to recover a downed satellite containing a roll of film of US and Russian missile sites. Of course, the Russians are eager to get their hands on the film as well. Rock Hudson is the deputy commander and Ernest Borgnine is a Russian defector who helps them get the film back. The scene-stealer, however, is Patrick McGoohan as a scathing secret agent. (susan king)

‘100 rifles’

three men and a woman hide behind a wall

Jim Brown, left, Burt Reynolds and Raquel Welch in the 1969 western “100 Rifles.”

(Sunset Boulevard/Corbis/Getty Images)

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1969 | 1 hour 49 minutes | Rated HP

“100 Rifles” was known for the passionate love scenes between Jim Brown and Raquel Welch. In those days, interracial love scenes were a novelty. But that’s not the reason this big-budget film about a Mexican-Indian war is a favorite among western fans. What they enjoy are the extensive action-packed battle scenes. Brown plays an American lawman who teams up with a renegade Indian (Burt Reynolds) and a gorgeous revolutionary (Welch) to fight evil Mexican troops. (dennis hunt)

“Mars Attacks!”

three men and two women dressed up

Janice Rivera, Tom Jones, director Tim Burton, Annette Bening and Jim Brown on the set of Burton’s 1996 sci-fi comedy “Mars Attacks!” (nineteen ninety six).

(Warner Brothers)

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nineteen ninety six | 1 hour 45 minutes | Rated PG-13

Some directors envy Alfred Hitchcock’s sense of suspense, John Ford’s way with westerns, or perhaps Ernst Lubitsch’s sly romantic touch. Not Tim Burton. He wants to be Edward D. Wood Jr.

Best known as the director of the first two “Batman” movies, Burton made “Ed Wood” a few years back, a loving homage to the 1950s filmmaker considered a colossus of ineptitude for making his own quirky movies in his own quirky way. . Now, with “Mars Attacks!”, Burton has in effect remade Wood’s signature work “Plan 9 From Outer Space” on a tight budget. A very big budget.

Probably the most expensive movie ever to be inspired by a gum card game, “Mars Attacks!” it’s also Tim Burton at his Tim Burton-est, which means it’s something of a hipster gimmick, with bursts of suave humor outnumbered by a retro taste for the weird and weird. Why it was thought wise to invest $100 million in such a strange and particular sensibility is a question even Martians might ponder.

Many recognizable names make little more than cameo appearances in “Mars Attacks!”, including Glenn Close and Natalie Portman as the president’s family, Martin Short as his press secretary, Danny DeVito as an angry Las Vegas gambler, and Sarah Jessica Parker and Michael J. Fox as a pair of rival television journalists who help break the story of the invasion.

And, like Ed Wood, Burton likes to bring together unexpected actors for whom, for one reason or another, he has developed a fondness. So singer Tom Jones and his hit “It’s Not Unusual” figure prominently, as do blaxploitation veterans Jim Brown and Pam Grier. Even directors Barbet Schroeder and Jerzy Skolimowski appear in brief snippets. (Read more of Kenneth Turan’s 1996 review)

‘Any Sunday’

coach pep talking about a soccer player

Al Pacino, left, and Jamie Foxx star in director Oliver Stone’s 1999 drama “Any Given Sunday.”

(Robert Zuckerman/Warner Bros.)

1999 | 2 hours 37 minutes | Rated R
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Think of “Any Given Sunday” directed by Oliver Stone as a fan’s notes. This energetic and entertaining sports soap opera throws a few fakes in the direction of an iconoclastic examination of the dark side of professional soccer, but at the end of the day it comes right out, hold on, the rewards of teamwork and selfless behavior.

The NFL, afraid of its own shadow when it comes to the possibility of less than adoring treatment, didn’t cooperate with “Any Given Sunday,” so the movie had to come up with its own league (Associated Football Franchises of America), their own Super Bowl (the Pantheon Cup), even their own teams, complete with fancy uniforms and names like the Rhinos, Crusaders, and Sharks.

Those fearless Miami Sharks, whose black uniforms and “Whatever It Takes” motto are reminiscent of the Oakland Raiders, are the focus of the film. The eye of the storm is Tony D’Amato (Al Pacino), the veteran coach of the Sharks who is under pressure on and off the field.

It doesn’t matter that the coach has sacrificed family and friends for football, it doesn’t matter that he truly believes that “this game has to be about more than just winning.” Christina Pagniacci (Cameron Diaz), who owns the team along with her alcoholic mother, Margaret (Ann-Margret), thinks she’s lost a step. And their veteran quarterback, Jack “Cap” Rooney (Dennis Quaid), is sidelined with a serious injury. Rounding out the picture are many terrifyingly familiar roles, including the dastardly sportswriter (John C. McGinley), the long-suffering girlfriend (Lela Rochon), the conniving wife (Lauren Holly), the runner in love with his own statistics (LL Cool J), the the team’s ruthless orthopedist (James Woods) and the most idealistic internist (Matthew Modine). NFL veterans like Jim Brown as defensive coordinator Montezuma Monroe and Lawrence Taylor as defensive captain Luther “Shark” Lavay are also cast, and Stone has even made a cameo appearance as a color TV commentator.

His only replacement is an inexperienced boy named Willie Beamen (Jamie Foxx), who turns out to have a gift for the game, but also a self-serving arrogance and a soft spot for the flattery of fame. Can a coach from a different generation teach a youngster who “nobody gives a fuck” what football is all about in time for the big deciding game? Yes, it’s that kind of movie, and if you know what you’re getting into, you’re unlikely to get bored. (Read more of Kenneth Turan’s 1999 review)

‘Draft Day’

the man holds a soccer ball while two other men talk to him

Kevin Costner, center, on the set of the movie “Draft Day,” with writers Rajiv Joseph, left, and Scott Rothman.

(Summit Entertainment)

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2014 | 1 hour 50 minutes | Rated PG-13

For those unaware that the NFL is America’s secular religion, the wow tone of the pro football-themed “Draft Day” starring Kevin Costner can’t help but clue you in.

Made with the full cooperation of the league, not to mention its spiritual blessing, this is a serious, well-crafted effort that manages, due in no small part to Costner’s efforts, to be brilliantly funny in a brilliant way.

Unless you’re a committed pro football fan, the idea of ​​building a great movie around the behind-the-scenes shenanigans surrounding the league’s annual college draft may not seem like safe material.

That may be why “Draft Day,” directed by veteran Ivan Reitman and written by Rajiv Joseph and Scott Rothman, opens with a raucous chatter from ESPN’s Chris Berman that wouldn’t be out of place in a Super Bowl locker room. , or even the funeral of a Roman emperor.

Berman isn’t the only real-life figure playing himself: The “Draft Day” cast includes more than two dozen such people, including legendary players like Jim Brown and even Commissioner Roger Goodell himself. And the film features enough lovingly polished in-flight photography of NFL stadiums to occupy a six-person air unit, including four pilots.

The names of the teams and stadiums may be real on “Draft Day,” but the characters working for them are all fictional, starting with Costner in his most successful big-screen role since his portrayal of “Devil” Anse Hatfield in the feud-focused television series. “Hatfields and McCoys” revived his career.

Although “Draft Day” feels a lot less authentic than the baseball-themed “Moneyball,” it can be fun to see all of this inside of football if you’re a fan of the NFL. The dialogue can be of the type “How’s my favorite strength coach?” variety, but no league was harmed during the making of this film, and audiences will likely survive as well. (Read more about Kenneth Turan’s 2014 review)


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