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‘The Fugitive’ or ‘The Sixth Sense’? Twenty-four movies compete in this week’s Showdown

Harrison Ford in "The Fugitive."
(Warner Bros. Pictures)

Welcome to Week 14 of the L.A. Times Ultimate Summer Movie Showdown, our 16-week contest to program the greatest summer movie season ever. Or at least since 1975, the year that “Jaws” forever changed the landscape of moviemaking, gross tallying and beach bumming forever.

To recap the rules: Each week, I present you with a list of 16 movies from 1975 to 2019, all of which were released during a particular summer time frame. You may vote for your favorites on my Twitter account, @JustinCChang; each week’s polls are posted at 5 p.m. PT Tuesday.

For the record:

4:50 PM, Aug. 03, 2020

An earlier version of this article included “The Parent Trap” (1998), which, due to its release date, did not meet the eligibility criteria for the Showdown competition. It was replaced with “The Princess Diaries” (2001).

During exceptionally strong weeks, we will expand the field from 16 to 24, and this is one of those weeks. We’ll start by pitting the 24 films against each other in 12 head-to-head match-ups. Twelve films will compete in the quarterfinal round, then six in the semifinals, followed by a final showdown among the last three movies standing.

Our first 13 winners are “The Avengers” (Week 1, May 1-7), “Bridesmaids” (Week 2, May 8-14), “Mad Max: Fury Road” (Week 3, May 15-21), “Alien” (Week 4, May 22-28), “Finding Nemo” (Week 5, May 29-June 4), “Jurassic Park” (Week 6, June 5-11), “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (Week 7, June 12-18), “Jaws” (Week 8, June 19-25), “Do the Right Thing” (Week 9, June 26-July 2), “Back to the Future” (Week 10, July 3-9), “Die Hard” (Week 11, July 10-16), “Clueless” (Week 12, July 17-23) and “Mission: Impossible — Fallout” (Week 13, July 24-30).

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This Thursday, I will be hosting a live chat with Christopher McQuarrie, the writer and director of “Mission: Impossible — Fallout,” that will be streamed on the Los Angeles Times Classic Hollywood Facebook Page and YouTube, as well as Twitter.

Haley Joel Osment, left, and Bruce Willis in the movie "The Sixth Sense."
(Ron Phillips/Spyglass Entertainment Group)

One way to look at this week’s rich and varied 24-film lineup is as a tribute to Tom Pollock, the veteran producer and studio executive who died Sunday at age 77. During his 10-year run as chairman of Universal Pictures (from 1986-96), Pollock oversaw the releases of movies including “Babe,” “Death Becomes Her” and “Parenthood,” all of which are in contention this week. (He also oversaw “Back to the Future,” “Do the Right Thing” and “Jurassic Park,” three movies that won the Showdown in past weeks.)

There are other trends too. You could call it remake week, what with successful updates of “The Thomas Crown Affair” and “Freaky Friday” in the mix (along with one top-notch reboot, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”). This is also clearly M. Night Shyamalan’s week, since it features both “The Sixth Sense,” the ingeniously plotted ghost story that turned him into a blockbuster auteur, and “Signs,” the less ingeniously plotted alien story that for some of us spelled the beginning of the end of his meteoric rise.

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What else? There are three Tom Cruise movies (“Risky Business,” “Collateral” and “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation”) and two Bruce Willis movies (the aforementioned “Sixth Sense” and “Death Becomes Her”). There are also two Harrison Ford movies: “Clear and Present Danger” and, of course, “The Fugitive,” which I’d peg as this week’s most formidable contender. Reviewing the film 27 years ago, The Times’ Kenneth Turan wrote that it “wrings you out like a damp cloth and mercilessly hangs you out to dry” — just what we like when we go to a movie in the heat of summer.

Goldie Hawn, left, and Meryl Streep in "Death Becomes Her."
(Deana Newcomb/Universal Studios)

Here are our 12 opening match-ups:

“Risky Business” (1983) versus “Collateral” (2004)
Tom Cruise, two ways — dancing in his underwear and slaying in his gray suit.

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“Fright Night” (1985) versus “Weird Science” (1985)
Released the same weekend: a cult-beloved vampire tale and a John Hughes riff on “Frankenstein.”

“Parenthood” (1989) versus “Signs” (2002)
Two movies about the travails of family life, both starring Joaquin Phoenix.

“Doc Hollywood” (1991) versus “Hot Shots!” (1991)
Summer 1991 was quite a season for comedies: “What About Bob?,” “Soapdish,” “City Slickers,” “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead,” “The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear.” And then there were these two: a Capra-esque charmer starring Michael J. Fox and a zany “Top Gun” spoof starring Charlie Sheen.

Tom Cruise, left, and Jamie Foxx in the movie "Collateral."
(DreamWorks/Paramount)
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“Death Becomes Her” (1992) versus “The Descent” (2006)
Two brilliant movies about women in conflict who push their bodies to the limits and beyond.

“The Fugitive” (1993) versus “Clear and Present Danger” (1994)
Between these two Harrison Ford thrillers, the edge has to go to the movie that’s just been reinvented as a Quibi series.

“Babe” (1995) versus “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” (2011)
Two movies about highly intelligent animals taking over.

“The Iron Giant” (1999) versus “The Sixth Sense” (1999)
Released the same weekend: two thrilling movies about a boy, his mom and the unexpected friend who changes their lives.

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Lindsay Lohan in "The Parent Trap"
Lindsay Lohan played twins in the 1998 movie “The Parent Trap.”
(Timothy White/Disney Enterprises)

“Mystery Men” (1999) versus “Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014)
Two affectionate comedies about misfit second-tier superheroes banding together to save the day.

“The Thomas Crown Affair” (1999) versus “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” (2006)
Two glorious entertainments, each sporting their protagonist’s full name.

“The Princess Diaries” (2001) versus “Freaky Friday” (2003)
Two Disney family films with inspired pairings: Julie Andrews and Anne Hathaway in one, Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan in the other.

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“The Bourne Ultimatum” (2007) versus “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation” (2015)
“Fallout’s” recent victory might take the excellent “Rogue Nation” out of serious contention this week — especially up against a spy thriller as intensely visceral as “The Bourne Ultimatum.”

The Iron Giant and Hogart in "The Iron Giant."
The Iron Giant and Hogart (voiced by Eli Marienthall) in “The Iron Giant.”
(Warner Bros. )

How to vote: If you have a Twitter account (and if you don’t, you can sign up for one for free), you may vote in the polls I will post this week. Here’s the schedule:

Monday, Aug. 3
5 p.m.: Polls open for knockout round; voting ends at 1 a.m. Tuesday.

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Tuesday, Aug. 4
8 a.m.: Polls open for quarterfinals; voting ends at 4 p.m.
5 p.m.: Polls open for semifinals; voting ends at 1 a.m. Wednesday.

Wednesday, Aug. 5
8 a.m.: Polls open for final vote.
4 p.m.: Final polls close; winner announced.

Happy voting — and stay tuned for Week 15.


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