Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Every John Hurt Movie Ranked Worst To Best

Whether you know him as Garrick Ollivander, The War Doctor, or the first victim of the Xenomorph, John Hurt was no doubt one of the most widely respected English actors. Though he passed away in 2017, his legend lives on in a number of critically acclaimed films, some of which have become pop culture classics. Starring in comedies, dramas, science fiction sagas, and psychological thrillers, Hurt never gave anything less than a top flight performance. No matter how good or bad a movie was, if John Hurt starred, you knew he'd always give his very best.

Known for his gravelly voice and kind soul, John Hurt was at his best playing men of gentle pathos, who made it easy for the audience to root for them. But he could also play a sinister villain, with a brooding darkness belied by his heavy eyes and steely gaze. During his early career in the 1960s, he appeared in a handful of light-hearted romps, and towards the end of his career in the 2010s he was known for playing wise mentors and aging father figures. From "Harry Potter" to "Hellboy," from "1984" to "V for Vendetta," we've ranked John Hurt's catalog worst to best.

66. The Monolith

At the bottom of John Hurt's filmography is a dismal 1993 sci-fi actioner, "Monolith," starring Bill Paxton, Lindsay Frost, and Louis Gossett, Jr. One in a long line of '90s films about aliens living among humans with sinister agendas — a crop with "Men in Black" at the top and "Monolith" all the way at the bottom — it centers on a pair of cops (Paxton and Frost) who are investigating the death of a little boy.

In their investigations, the pair stumble onto evidence of an alien killer who can change shape ... but that's not the only danger that they face. Before long, the detectives find themselves in the crosshairs of a shadowy man in black (Hurt), who warns them off of their investigation, and it turns out that he is far more than he appears.

Though it's a mildly interesting premise, the result feels overdone, played out, and tacky, and offers absolutely nothing new. Its characters are one note, its story makes little sense, and it barely rises above direct-to-video B-movie fare. While Hurt could have been a good choice for such a villainous role, he's completely wasted in this mess of a sci-fi flop.

65. After Darkness

In 1985, Hurt starred in "After Darkness," a so-called thriller in which he played Peter Huninger, a man who becomes obsessed with finding salvation for his mentally unstable brother Laurence. Freeing his brother from the care of doctors who seem helpless to save him, Peter struggles to get Laurence out of his desperate state, and is haunted by a dark secret they both hold: the death of their sibling, Laurence's twin, in a drowning accident. But as Peter works to bring his brother back to sanity, a nosy young colleague (Victoria Abril) follows Peter home and becomes romantically involved with his troubled brother, throwing their lives into chaos.

Co-starring one-time star Julian Sands ("Warlock") as Hurt's brother Laurence, the film is an incoherent disaster that is neither suspenseful nor intriguing. Full of mystifying dialogue and visuals that seem intent on opening up a wider mystery, the film throws itself in the trash with meaningless plot points that only serve to confuse. Billed as an atmospheric thriller, "After Darkness" is messy and boring, and ultimately a major misfire.

64. Jake Speed

Following the success of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" in 1981, everyone wanted a piece of the pulp action pie. A series of ridiculous Indiana Jones rip-offs followed. Sadly, Academy Award-nominee John Hurt starred in one of them, the 1986 action adventure "Jake Speed." A film with a hero nobody would ever confuse for Harrison Ford's whip-wielding relic hunter, Speed was played by little-known actor Wayne Crawford, while Hurt played the slave trading villain Sidney Widgeway.

In the film, a young girl goes missing, and her grandfather suggests getting the help of the fictional adventurer Jake Speed, the somewhat silly, comic book-like hero from the pages of his favorite old pulp novel series. But while his family dismisses the notion of calling on a character from a novel, Jake Speed turns out to be very real and turns up to offer an assist. Now the gung-ho action hero and the girl's sister Margaret team up to go to Africa to rescue her from the clutches of the vile Widgeway.

Hurt gives an appropriately hammy performance, but the film lacks all the charm of the "Indiana Jones" series, and in the end is simply just another in a long line of wannabe '80s adventures. But don't fret for John Hurt — he'd have his chance decades later in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull."

63. New Blood

The same year that Carrie-Anne Moss and Joe Pantoliano would star in the legendary sci-fi mind-bender "The Matrix," they'd also appear together with John Hurt and Shawn Wayans in a different movie that nobody would remember. Written and directed by "Pumpkinhead 4" helmer Michael Hurst, "New Blood" saw Hurt in the role of a wealthy tycoon who sits at the heart of an overly-complicated plot.

Nick Moran ("Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels") stars as Danny, a young gangster who comes to his estranged father Alan (Hurt) with a dark deal to save the life of his dying sister, who is in desperate need of a heart transplant. All his father has to do is help Danny by serving himself up as a patsy to a mob boss he's indebted to, which will likely end in his death. In exchange, Danny agrees to sacrifice his own life and donate his heart to his sister.

A run-of-the-mill wannabe crime thriller that's not nearly as clever or interesting as it thinks it is, "New Blood" packs a punch with plenty of the requisite violence, but not much else.

62. Partners

You might not think of John Hurt as an '80s headliner comparable to the likes of Eddie Murphy or Mel Gibson, but he did star in a buddy cop movie in 1982, years before "Beverly Hills Cop" and "Lethal Weapon" firmly established the formula. The film was "Partners," a goofy caper film starring John Hurt and Ryan O'Neal as LAPD do-gooders put together for an undercover assignment after a series of murders rocks the city's gay community. To put it mildly, though, there's a good reason this movie hasn't gone down as a trail-blazing buddy comedy.

Hurt stars as Kerwin, a clerk with the police department who doesn't realize that everyone knows he's gay. For the sting operation, he's paired up with O'Neal as Sgt. Benson, the macho alpha male, leading to plenty of bad, tired stereotypical jokes between them. Eventually, Benson falls for the editor of a local magazine named Jill (Robyn Douglass), and when Kerwin begins to suspect she may be the killer, everyone of course thinks he's just jealous that she's making time with the hot-bodied Benson. Awkward even in its day, "Partners" doesn't look any better now, with cringeworthy jokes that barely passed muster even in the early '80s.

61. The Ghoul

Though it's definitely not John Hurt's only horror film, the 1975 flick "The Ghoul" is definitely his worst. But coming just a few years before his key role in Ridley Scott's "Alien" and starring alongside Hammer Horror legend Peter Cushing, it's also something of a surprise. Because while the film's low budget may be par for the course with this kind of movie, the reality is that it simply lacks the requisite blood, gore, and shocking thrills it needs to entertain.

The movie stars vampire icon Cushing as Dr. Lawrence, a world-weary man of god. But the former clergyman hides something shocking from the world, something that easily explains his loss of faith: his sadistic, cannibal son who he keeps locked away in the attic of his remote estate. But when he has his assistant (Hurt) abduct a pair of young women to feed the boy's hunger, it threatens to expose their dark secret.

We don't mind spoiling the surprise reveal of the titular ghoul because the film is an absolute bore, made only vaguely entertaining by the one-time pairing of Hurt and Cushing.

60. In Search of Gregory

A strange but fascinating film, the 1970 drama "In Search of Gregory" was designed to show off the talents Julie Christie, who'd won an Oscar just a few years before. The actress, known for such films as "Darling," "Doctor Zhivago," and "Fahrenheit 451," took the role of Catherine Morelli, a wealthy heiress who heads to Rome to attend her father's wedding and becomes infatuated with a dashing mystery man.

A young John Hurt co-stars as Catherine's aloof brother Daniel, who entices his lovelorn sister with amusing stories of his wild antics with the enigmatic man named Gregory (Michael Sarrazin). As she seeks out the stranger, tempted by his reputation, she always seems to be one step behind him. But the closer she gets to finally meeting him, the more obsessed she becomes. 

Though a finely shot film with good performances, "In Search of Gregory" was lambasted by critics for lacking the needed charm that a good romance needs. Visually striking but narratively empty, the film's release was delayed for over a year while the studio tried to figure out what to do with it (per Turner Classic Movies). In the end, it's gone down as one of Hurt's worst, but it's also thankfully been mostly forgotten.

59. Tabloid

With a career that spanned six decades, John Hurt appeared in films in just about every genre imaginable, and in 2001 he added an erotic thriller to his repertoire. The film "Tabloid" sees Hurt playing Vince, a conniving man who plays advisor to a slimy muckraking talk show host named Darren Daniels, played by Matthew Rhys ("Perry Mason").  

A host with no moral compunctions, Daniels gets big ratings by revealing the darkest secrets of the world's hottest celebrities. But when he meets the twisted Vince, he's led down a path of debauchery that puts him in a sticky situation and threatens to reveal his own hidden truths to the world.

Trying to be a sexy and stylish thriller, "Tabloid" suffers from a paper thin story meant merely to titillate. In the end, the film is as sleazy as the characters in it, and has little to offer beyond some sensationalist fodder.

58. Miranda

In this 2002 film, director Marc Munden ("National Treasure") goes for an odd mix of romance, comedy, and thriller, and it only marginally works. Christina Ricci stars as the eponymous Miranda, an alluring but mysterious dancer who becomes the object of the affection of a shy, unassuming librarian named Frank (John Simm, of "Doctor Who" fame). 

After a love-at-first-sight encounter, Frank and Miranda have a passionate whirlwind affair. But when she disappears without warning, Frank sets out to find her again. His search through London leads him to the discovery that the dancer Miranda is just one of three dueling identities held by the woman he thought he knew. She's also somehow involved with the shadowy Christian (Hurt), who has sinister plans for Frank's library.

In what would barely have been passable as a TV movie, "Miranda" had some serious star power with Ricci, Hurt, and "Twin Peaks" star Kyle MacLachlan. Unfortunately, its attempt to be a mix of wry satire, mysterious thriller, and romantic comedy doesn't add up. Instead, the film falls down the same dark memory hole of many failed erotic thrillers before it.

57. Frankenstein Unbound

In the 1990s and early 2000s there was a rather curious trend sweeping the horror genre that saw established icons mixed with science fiction, with "Hellraiser," "Leprechaun," and "Friday the 13th" all getting in on the action. But it was a literary gothic classic that was arguably the first to get in on this fad, with the 1990 film "Frankenstein Unbound." Starring John Hurt, Raul Julia, Bridget Fonda, and Jason Patric, the film was helmed by schlock icon Roger Corman, and remains the last film he directed to this day.

Based on a book by author Brian Aldiss (whose novel "Supertoys Last All Summer Long" eventually became the 2001 Spielberg hit "A.I."), "Frankenstein Unbound" begins in the year 2031, where genius scientist John Buchanan (Hurt) is inadvertently sent back in time to 1817. There he encounters fellow inventor Dr. Victor Frankenstein (Julia), whose brother has been killed, with his nanny going on trial for the murder. But as Buchanan watches the events play out, he meets a young woman who is chronicling the trial named Mary Shelley (Fonda). When the nanny is sentenced to death, Buchanan takes it upon himself to prove that Frankenstein's monster is the real killer.

A colossal flop that couldn't even crack a half million dollars at the box office, author Aldiss once wrote on his website about attending a screening with just six other people in the theater. 

56. King Ralph

It's not often that John Hurt starred in a high profile American comedy, but in 1991 he did, and the results were modestly awful at best. The screwball laugher "King Ralph" was crafted around newly minted TV star John Goodman, who was then starring on one of the small screen's biggest sitcoms, "Roseanne." A goofball comedy with an impossibly silly premise, "King Ralph" starts out with the entire English royal family dying in a bizarre electrocution accident. The British government scrambles to find the next heir to the throne, and the line of succession leads them all the way across the pond to America.

There they find the loud-mouthed, oafish Las Vegas lounge singer Ralph Jones, an eccentric slob who is unexpectedly elevated to the King of England, much to his — and everyone else's — dismay. Royal assistant Sir Cedric (played by Hollywood legend Peter O'Toole) must quickly get Ralph up to speed on how to handle his new royal duties. All the while, Lord Percival Graves (Hurt) conspires to have his house declared the true rulers, incensed that an American could become the next King of England.

A deeply flawed film carried solely on its big name cast, "King Ralph" is a mostly forgotten film appreciated only by diehard '90s comedy cinephiles.

55. Deadline

Despite being an Oscar-nominated big screen star, John Hurt also appeared in his share of TV movies. In 1988, he starred in "Deadline," a sweeping romance set against the backdrop of conflict in the Persian Gulf. Starring opposite Imogen Stubbs, Hurt brought the heavyweight talent to the production, which serves as something of a throwback to epics like "Laurence of Arabia." 

In the film, Hurt stars as London reporter Granville Jones, a disillusioned journalist who is stationed in the Persian Gulf after losing the love of his life (Stubbs). But while there, the Emir — the son of the king — betrays his father and attempts a coup that leads to all-out war, and Jones is caught up in the mayhem as a close friend of the royal family. In flashbacks we see Jones in happier days as he romances the Lady Romy Burton and befriends the Emir as a younger man.

Though there's an admirable attempt to explore the political upheaval in the Middle East, "Deadline" is simply bland and trite, though Hurt gives his usual strong performance.

54. East of Elephant Rock

In the 1970s, Hurt was mostly acting in films in his native U.K., many of them little-known affairs playing to small audiences. In 1977, he'd star in the indie drama "East of Elephant Rock," a controversial film that delved into politics and criticism of British Colonialism, and it received some heat from critics for doing so.

The story is set in 1948, in a fictional British colony where a plantation owner's wife Eve (Judi Bowker) has an affair with a British Embassy secretary named Nash (Hurt). But Eve is not the only woman Nash is parlaying with, and when she discovers his romance with an indigenous woman, she murders him in a crime of passion.

A film with a complicated development (per The Sunday Times), it became controversial for more than its politics, as some even accused it of stealing its story from the Hollywood production of "The Letter," by William Wyler (via VHS Collector). Though director Don Boyd denied any such suggestions, it's mostly irrelevant, as it can't compete with Wyler's 1940 Bette Davis classic.

53. You're Dead

The late '90s were awash in quirky black comedy crime caper films all trying to ape the success of Quentin Tarantino's watershed classic "Pulp Fiction." Most of them failed miserably, unable to recapture Tarantino's snappy dialogue and intriguing stories, with most filmmakers failing to grasp just what made the 1994 film so groundbreaking. In 1999, John Hurt starred in one such failure, the simply titled "You're Dead," whose uniquely British flavor may also bring to mind the much better "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels."

A dark comedy heist film, Hurt stars as Michael Maitland, an aging bank robber. A young Rhys Ifans co-stars as Eddie, one of a pair of bank robbers recruited by the criminal veteran to stage a daring robbery. Though each of them has their own motives — with the two younger brash men inspired by dreams of fame and fortune — they're all together in a carefully planned scheme that goes terribly wrong.

52. Crime and Punishment

In the 1970s, a young John Hurt starred in a TV miniseries that adapted the Russian classic "Crime and Punishment" by Fyodor Dostoevsky. In that BBC production he'd played the tortured Raskolnikov, a young man with a promising future who commits a terrible murder and forever lives with the burden of his own conscience. A celebrated adaptation, it's been forever hard to top, but in 2002 there came another, this one a film version. Hurt was brought back this time to play Porfiry, the veteran investigator who is after Raskolnikov himself.

In this version, directed by low-budget filmmaker Menahem Golan ("Delta Force"), Raskolnikov is played by "Back to the Future" alum Crispin Glover, and the setting is moved from the 19th century to the modern day. Vanessa Redgrave, Margot Kidder, and a young Ron Perlman also appear. The problem is, while it's a decently made adaptation, it tries a little too hard to be different, and misses the mark. Produced by Cannon Films and helmed by the notorious Golan, it should come as no surprise that it's a D-grade film of poor quality, elevated only by its fine cast. Filmed in 1993, the movie was shelved for nearly a decade (per TCM), finally landing the same year the BBC re-adapted the book as a TV movie starring John Simm. Coincidence or not, this version was quickly forgotten.

51. Brighton Rock

Throughout his long career, John Hurt performed in a handful of biopics and true stories, but the 1986 drama "Rocinante" is something a bit in between. The film is set during the 1984-1985 British miner's strike that saw widespread protests by workers who feared mass closures of mines as the industry faced a steep decline. But the film isn't really about the strike itself, nor does Hurt star as a real life figure involved in the event. 

Rather than dramatize the miner's strike, which was still just a year in the rear view mirror, the film follows a local drifter named Bill (Hurt) who calls an abandoned movie theater home. There he lives a listless existence until the day the building is scheduled for demolition and he sets out on the road. While going nowhere Bill encounters Jess, an intriguing young woman and social activist who has been impacted by the strike, and is intent on an act of industrial sabotage.

A movie that's more of work of visual art than anything narrative, the story is as aimless as Bill himself. Like many films at the bottom of this list, its only appeal is Hurt, who delivers another strong performance.

50. The Disappearance

In the 1977 film "The Disappearance," John Hurt played a supporting role to Donald Sutherland, just a year before the Hollywood star would appear in the sci-fi classic "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." Though there are no alien invaders here, the film does have the same tense '70s political thriller vibe, with Sutherland playing Jay Mallory, a deadly assassin working for a clandestine agency known only as "The Organization."

As the film begins, Mallory returns home from a job to find that his wife Celandine has disappeared without a trace. While there are questions as to whether she may have simply been unhappy, evidence begins to pile up that her disappearance may be related to his work as a contract killer. His suspicions are confirmed when his next target turns out to be the head of The Organization, who has apparently been engaged in a long-term affair with his wife.

Though a stylish production, "The Disappearance" is a middling action movie at best. Still, it boasts a wonderful roster of stars that includes Hurt, David Warner, and Christopher Plummer.

49. Sinful Davey

John Hurt worked with some of the best directors of their day, from Ridley Scott in 1979 to Guillermo del Toro in the early 2000s. But early in his career, all the way back in 1969, the British actor starred in a film from John Huston, one of old Hollywood's finest directors who was in the latter stage of his long and illustrious career. The director of the greatest mystery movie ever made, Huston teamed with "How the West Was Won" scribe James Webb and a cast featuring John Hurt, Pamela Franklin, Nigel Davenport, and a young Anjelica Huston, the director's daughter.

The film tells the story of Davey Haggart (Hurt), a British army deserter and infamous scoundrel in the 1820s who's determined to out-do his father's life of crime. Pined for by the beautiful Annie (Franklin), and doggedly pursued by the persistent Constable Richardson (Davenport), the roguish Davey stays one step ahead of the authorities ... for a while. When he's sentenced to hang, it's up to his old pickpocket partner MacNab (Ronald Fraser) to save him.

A lighthearted romp, "Sinful Davey" gives us a look at a much younger John Hurt than we're used to, in a very different kind of role than audiences might remember him for today.

48. Before Winter Comes

It's not just cinema's greatest directors that John Hurt had the privilege to work with during his long career. Across his six decades of film, Hurt also got to work alongside some of the most talented and famous actors of their day, from Anthony Hopkins in "The Elephant Man" to Marvel star Chris Evans in "Snowpiercer" more than 30 years later. In one of his earlier films, "Before Winter Comes," Hurt appeared with British icon David Niven.

A spirited war comedy, "Before Winter Comes" sees Niven and Hurt as Burnside and Pilkington, a pair of British soldiers overseeing a camp of refugees not long after World War II. In the days before the Berlin Wall, it's their job to decide who is to be sent to the American zone and who will go to the Russian side. But one helpful refugee named Jankovic is revealed to be a deserted Russian soldier, and while Pilkington wants to return him to the Russian authorities for punishment as ordered, Burnside wants to give him the opportunity to find freedom in the West.

47. 44 Inch Chest

By the 21st century, John Hurt had become a beloved British icon in his own right, every bit as respected and revered as David Niven had been in his day. Late in Hurt's career, though, the actor rarely played the lead role in a major Hollywood film, more often playing key supporting roles in movies with impeccable casts, even if they aren't the most celebrated or memorable projects. With "44 Inch Chest," for example, Hurt would star alongside Ray Winstone, Ian McShane, and Tom Wilkinson in a gritty crime thriller from the writers of "Sexy Beast."

A stylish crime caper and black comedy, it sees a used car salesman named Colin Diamond (Winstone) discover that his wife has been having an affair. At the urging of his bitter, disreputable friends Meredith (McShane), Peanut (Hurt), and Archie (Wilkinson), Colin exacts revenge with a plot to kidnap and torture his wife's new lover. 

Though the plot is fairly barebones, "44 Inch Chest" is a simple tale and it seems to exist only to allow its first-rate cast to chew the scenery and show off their towering acting talents. And with such wonderful stars, it's hard to complain.

46. Windprints

More than a decade before English actor Sean Bean did not simply walk into Mordor as Middle Earth warrior Boromir in "The Lord of the Rings," he starred alongside his countryman John Hurt in a controversial, racially charged film called "Windprints." Released in 1989, the film sees Bean playing a videographer and journalist from South Africa named Anton van Heerden, who brings with him the more experienced British reporter Charles Rutherford (Hurt) to cover a story in Namibia about a dangerous serial killer slaughtering Black workers.

In the minority white-ruled African nation, the killer, Nhadiep (Lesley Fong), has become infamous for eluding his pursuers and continuing his crimes. But as Van Heerden and Rutherford follow their leads, the young video journalist is forced to take a hard look at his own entitlements as a white man who belongs to the ruling class in a majority Black nation.

A film that raises a number of compelling questions about the apartheid era, it's admirable in its attempt, but falls short of its lofty goals.

45. Wild Bill

You might not think that a stalwart British actor like John Hurt would have ever starred in an American Western as a rough-riding cowboy, a tough-as-nails lawman, or a renegade outlaw. But in 1995, the veteran English star did get his chance when he played the role of Charley Prince in the Western biopic "Wild Bill." In this retelling of the exploits of Wild West legend Bill Hickok (Jeff Bridges), Hurt's Charley Prince is Hickok's old friend, attending the legendary gunslinger's funeral when the film begins.

Told largely in flashback, the rest of the film follows Hickok's days adventuring across the frontier, his stint as a U.S. Marshal in Deadwood, and his romance with the sharp-shooting Calamity Jane (Ellen Barkin). Through his travels, Hickok makes enemies too, and among them are Will Plummer (Bruce Dern) and Jack McCall (David Arquette), who pick up their six-shooters and come gunning for him.

Though its Western action isn't quite up to snuff, the fine cast of "Wild Bill," including Bridges, Hurt, and Dern, make it a movie worth watching.

44. From the Hip

Legendary TV producer David E. Kelley made his name with the hit 1986 legal series "L.A. Law," with its clever mix of comedy, drama, and courtroom procedural. Given the series' sudden status as a top TV hit, it makes perfect sense that Hollywood would tap him for a courtroom comedy just a year later. The result was the 1987 film "From the Hip," starring  Judd Nelson ("The Breakfast Club"), Elizabeth Perkins ("Big"), and John Hurt.

Another quirky legal comedy, "From the Hip" puts former "Brat Pack" star Judd Nelson into the role of rising young legal mind "Stormy" Weathers, who cons his own law firm into letting him try a relatively simple case. When his antics in the courtroom get him press, though, it attracts a load of new clients, forcing his bosses to make him a junior partner. And when the esteemed Douglass Benoit (Hurt) asks the eccentric Weathers to represent him at his murder trial, he will stop at nothing to get a not-guilty verdict, until he realizes his client may actually be a stone cold killer.

A dark, offbeat comedy, "From the Hip" wasn't a hit, and earned Nelson a Razzie for his performance. But it's not without its charms, including Hurt. But actor Ray Walston's small role as a cantankerous judge is also a highlight, and may have inspired his casting in Kelley's "Picket Fences."

43. The Osterman Weekend

John Hurt never did get to play the lead in a classic Western, but he did get to star in a film from "The Wild Bunch" director Sam Peckinpah. In the 1983 thriller "The Osterman Weekend," Hurt teamed with Rutger Hauer ("Blade Runner"), Burt Lancaster ("Seven Days in May"), and Dennis Hopper ("Easy Rider") for a riveting story based on a novel by Robert Ludlum, the author best known today for his "Jason Bourne" series.

Burt Lancaster stars as CIA director Maxwell Danforth, a man overwhelmed with rage after his wife is killed by Russian assassins. As he and his colleague Agent Laurence Fassett (Hurt) investigate the killing, they discover a secret Russian intelligence agency known only as "Omega." Learning that the organization has operatives all around them — including a surgeon (Hopper), a Wall Street stock trader (Chris Sarandon), and a TV producer (Craig T. Nelson), they decide to recruit reporter John Tanner (Hauer), an acquaintance of all three men, to join their operation as an undercover informant.

A gritty, complex thriller, its twists and turns may have you scratching your head at times, but it's a fast-paced, tension-riddled story, even if it won't ever be considered a classic.

42. Little Sweetheart

John Hurt starred in a number of thrillers in his career, some good, some bad, from his sci-fi flop "Monolith" to the comic book adaptation "V for Vendetta." But no thriller he starred in was quite as unconventional as the 1989 film "Little Sweetheart." 

When we first meet Robert Burger (John Hurt) he is arriving in a small town where he and his girlfriend Dorothea (Karen Young) have come to rent a house. Next door lives little Thelma (Cassie Barasch), who would be an otherwise ordinary nine-year-old were it not her penchant for deviousness, cunning, and blackmail. As Burger befriends his new neighbors, Thelma learns that he and Dorothea are actually on the run from the law, and attempts to blackmail them with knowledge of their crimes. But when Thelma's friend Elizabeth wants her to stop her scheme, the little girl's game turns deadly.

A surprisingly efficient thriller, "Little Sweethearts" is nothing special, but it's made fresh by its unusual child villain, and is at its best when it's being quirky and different.

41. Spectre

Not to be confused with the 2015 James Bond sequel of the same name, the 1977 movie "Spectre" was originally intended as a pilot for a future prime time drama. Never picked up by the network, what we're left with was just this lone made-for-TV film. Produced and written by "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry, the film starred Robert Culp, John Hurt, and Gig Young, with a small part for Roddenberry's wife Majel Barrett.

A supernatural gothic detective story, "Spectre" centers on William Sebastian (Culp), an occultist and former criminologist obsessed with finding the reason for the evil that lurks within human souls. During his travels he's become cursed by a demon, and is aided in his quest by his skeptic assistant Dr. Hamilton (Young) and faithful housekeeper Lilith (Barrett). With their help, Sebastian heads to England to look into the affairs of Geoffrey Cyon (James Villiers), a wealthy tycoon who's been dabbling in dark magic himself. Once there, Sebastian comes face to face with the demon Asmodeus, who has taken the form of Cyon's brother Mitri (Hurt).

An intriguing story with a good cast and some fun moments, it probably would have worked better as the TV series it was meant to be, but it's still a fun quasi-horror romp with the same kind of eccentric flare as Roddenberry's "Trek."

40. Great Moments in Aviation

Don't be fooled by its title — "Great Moments in Aviation" is not a documentary narrated by John Hurt about the history of air flight. Instead, it's a sweeping period romance that also stars Vanessa Redgrave, Jonathan Pryce, and Rakie Ayola. Set in the 1950s aboard a cruise ship destined for England, it follows Gabriel (Ayola), an aspiring pilot who gets caught up in a love affair with the mysterious Duncan (Pryce), who may not be exactly who he appears.

As Duncan and Gabriel fall in love, they encounter fellow passenger Professor Rex Goodyear (Hurt). According to the Goodyear, Duncan is not who he claims, and was once an old acquaintance named Alasdair, a man who had murdered his wife and stolen a valuable painting before disappearing for parts unknown. Now, Goodyear is determined to get revenge for the death of his beloved, while Gabriel becomes conflicted about her relationship with Goodyear's apparently duplicitous rival.

A clever multi-faceted mystery, "Great Moments in Aviation" was broadcast in England in 1995, and brought to the United States as "Shades of Fear" two years later.

39. Hercules

No, you're not reading that wrong — British icon John Hurt did indeed star alongside Hollywood and WWE superstar Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in his 2014 epic saga, "Hercules." Based on the mythical hero of legend, the film is an over-the-top big budget action movie that doesn't adapt the most famous story of his 12 labors, but instead tells a new adventure for the big screen.

The Rock's Hercules in the film is introduced as a downtrodden hero, leader of a group of nomadic renegade warriors. No matter what deeds he accomplishes, though, he can't shake his dark past, tormented by dreams of his dead wife and nightmarish visions of the demon Cerberus. But when he meets Princess Ergenia of Thrace (Rebecca Ferguson), he's hired by her father King Cotys (Hurt) to help prepare his armies for a great battle with a rival kingdom ruled by a vicious warlord. 

A pleasantly diverting fantasy adventure, "Hercules" may not be a classic, but it delivers all the fun, action-packed action one could want in a movie about Hercules as played by Hollywood's biggest star.

38. The Immortals

"Hercules" wasn't the only epic fantasy action movie that John Hurt appeared in that was inspired by Greek mythology. Three years earlier, future "Man of Steel" star Henry Cavill (then best known for his role as Charles Brandon on the period drama "The Tudors") starred as the fabled hero Theseus in "The Immortals." Hurt appears as the disguise of Zeus, who as an old man trains Theseus to prepare him for the days when he'll need to be a mighty warrior.

As an adult, Theseus is the prophesied hero destined to slay the madman King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), a ruthless leader who hungers to find the Epirus Bow. According to legend, the bow is the key to releasing the Titans from Mount Tartarus, casting out the gods from Mount Olympus and allowing him to take his place as ruler of all creation. With the help of the oracle Phaedra (Frieda Pinto), Theseus must accept his destiny and do battle with Hyperion to save the gods, including the old man who he never knew was his long-lost father, Zeus himself.

An epic action movie from director Tarsem Singh ("The Cell"), "The Immortals" benefits from the presence of Cavill and Hurt, who help elevate it from ordinary adventure to lively fantasy.

37. Lecture 21

Known for his distinctive voice, a mix of aristocratic regality and gritty authority, John Hurt has narrated a number of documentaries over the years. But in 2009, the drama "Lecture 21" (aka "Lesson 21") saw Hurt in the lead role of a university professor in a story disguised as a documentary itself. Written and directed by Italian filmmaker Alessandro Baricco, it presents Hurt's professor character as the subject of a video chronicle as he lectures his students on the travails of a legendary musician.

At his lecture, renowned professor Mondrian Kilroy (Hurt) expounds on the beauty and history of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, including the story of Hans Peters (Noah Taylor), a musician who yearned to understand it. Taking a trip through the snowy mountains, Peters would meet his fate there. A forum for Hurt to show off his immense talents, the film veers between Kilroy's lecture and Peters' story, leading to Kilroy's encounter with Martha (Leonor Watling), a young woman who engages him in spirited philosophical debate.

Almost an experimental film of sorts, The Hollywood Reporter praised "Lecture 21" as "a treat for lovers of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and filmgoers who enjoy sumptuous images accompanied by splendid music."

36. Outlander

Taking an age-old fantasy fable and infusing it with some science fiction, the 2008 adventure "Outlander" takes "Beowulf" where no epic poem had gone before. Starring Jim Caviezel, John Hurt, Sophia Myles, and Ron Perlman, the film tries to put a new spin on a classic tale. Here, an alien spacecraft crash lands in an ancient Norwegian village, bringing with it a powerful figure who soaks the land in blood.

Upon arriving on Earth in the 6th century, an alien warrior named Kainan (Caviezel) is captured and taken by would-be prince Wulfric (Jack Huston) to King Hrothgar (Hurt). But when a strange creature attacks the village, Kainan identifies it as a Moorwen, the deadly otherworldly beast that crashed his ship, and will surely destroy the village if he doesn't stop it. Now, putting advanced weaponry and Viking power together, Kainan, Wulfric, and Princess Freya set out to slay the monster from the stars once and for all.

A fast-paced cacophony that blends sci-fi and fantasy, "Outlander" does its job delivering breezy space-age Viking violence.

35. Heaven's Gate

For years, the dismal debacle that is the 1980 Western "Heaven's Gate" was known by many as among the worst films ever made (per The Los Angeles Times). Perhaps judged too harshly due to how hard it flopped at the box office, made worse by its enormous budget for the day — in excess of $44 million — the drama about a 19th century land baron isn't nearly as bad as its reputation would suggest. With a fine cast that includes not just John Hurt but Christopher Walken, Jeff Bridges, Sam Waterston, and Brad Dourif, there are excellent performances all around, at the very least.

A high profile film project from director Michael Cimino, who was fresh off his multiple Oscar wins on "The Deer Hunter," "Heaven's Gate" may have suffered from a bit too much anticipation that it just couldn't deliver on. It tells the story of Jim Averill (Kris Kristofferson), a U.S. Marshal who is tasked with protecting local landowners in Wyoming from the iron grip of wealthy cattle company tycoons. 

Savaged by critics at the time,  it was nominated for Worst Director at the infamous Razzie Awards in 1982. But "Heaven's Gate" has aged well: For years seen as a "Hollywood folly," its reputation has improved over the decades, with some now even calling it a masterpiece (per BBC Culture).

34. Bait

Late in his career, John Hurt was mostly providing a veteran presence as a supporting character in bigger films, but he did have his moments in a starring role. One of them was the 2002 made-for-television film "Bait," in which he starred as Jack Blake, a lonely older man still haunted by the murder of his daughter, a crime that remains unsolved. But when he comes across a broken down car driven by a woman who bears a striking resemblance to his lost child, Blake gets a chilling idea: he's going to use the woman and her young daughter as bait in a scheme to coax his own daughter's killer out into the open, without them even realizing it.

Admittedly, the movie is a fairly run-of-the-mill British crime thriller made for a home audience looking for something simple and diverting. But the film goes from bog standard to entertaining thanks to having the legendary Hurt in the starring role, delivering his customary best as a grizzled, world-weary man on a quest for revenge.

33. Oxford Murders

As he got older, John Hurt was often cast in mentor roles, like university professors or sagely teachers who help young and bright but naïve minds make their way through an adventure. In 2008 he played such a role alongside Elijah Wood in "The Oxford Murders," a thriller based on a book by mathematician and mystery writer Guillermo Martínez.

Young and brilliant math student Martin (Wood) goes to England to study abroad at Oxford University and work with noted professor Arthur Seldom (Hurt). But after the mysterious murder of his landlady, Martin becomes compelled to find the killer himself, and now instead of Seldom becoming his mentor in the classroom, he becomes his advisor as a mystery-hunting sleuth. But as they work together to track the culprit, it becomes clear that a famously unsolvable equation may hold the key to the case, and their mathematical minds may be able to unlock the secret that can stop a killer.

A film oft-compared to "The Da Vinci Code" (per Empire), "The Oxford Murders" is best enjoyed by those who grasp the math involved, or who at least love conspiracies and secret codes. For everyone else it may come across as a bit confusing, but if you can follow the numbers, you'll find a compelling conundrum.

32. The Commissioner

The 1998 political thriller "The Commissioner" is one of those films with so many plot twists and unexpected reversals, double-crosses, and revelations that it leaves your head spinning. But with John Hurt at its center, it can't help but keep you watching, even if it does all get a little mind-numbing.

In the film, a bitter British politician named James Morton (Hurt) is on the outs with his government, and relegated to a dismal post in Brussels as the European Commissioner of Industry. He at first believes the assignment to be a dull and worthless one, but soon comes across a series of letters hinting towards a vast conspiracy involving a chemical company that may be involved in the manufacture of deadly weapons. Intrigue, murder, corporate espionage, government corruption — "The Commissioner" checks all the boxes for a decent thriller, and Hurt's performance as the beleaguered diplomat with a new mission helps it along nicely.

31. Night Train

The somber story of a man hoping to escape his old life and find a new one, "The Night Train" is a 1998 romantic thriller out of Ireland that saw John Hurt star opposite Brenda Blethyn ("Secrets and Lies"). Part gangster saga, part eccentric love story, it finds Hurt in the role of Michael Poole, an ex-con just released from prison who in his younger days had run the books for a group of mobsters.

Now out of prison, Poole hides out from his former criminal cronies, and finds himself renting a room from Mrs. Mooney (Pauline Flanagan), who lives there with her daughter Alice (Blethyn). Beguiled by Poole's gentle spirit and his love of model trains, Alice finds Poole a kindred soul with much in common, both being at similar points in their lives, albeit for very different reasons. Using his model trains as a fantasy escape, Poole meanwhile lives in his own little world, but must soon face up to the real one when gangster Billy (Lorcan Cranitch) comes looking for him.

A story of two gentle soulmates at a crossroads, "The Night Train" is a different kind of story that puts a spotlight on Hurt's ability to render powerful pathos.

30. Bandyta

An independent film from Polish director Maciej Dejczer and starring an international cast, "Bandyta" was released in 1997 and may be one of the more uncomfortable films in John Hurt's catalog. Newcomer Til Schweiger plays Gerry Brutecki, known by his nickname "Brute." He's a violent, thuggish prisoner who is delivered to Romania to perform community service at a remote orphanage as penance for his crimes.

Though he at first has no interest in being there, Brute soon comes to see the orphans as his new family. Before long, they've become deeply bonded, and he wants to help them. But his new sympathetic attitude towards the children only serves to put him at odds with the orphanage's nefarious director (Pete Postlethwaite), who has sinister plans for the kids.

Exploring the hidden world of lost children, "Bandyta" can be a tough watch. While the script is sloppy at times and it has a decidedly indie feel, it's also a weighty film about the power of redemption. 

29. Champions

Entering the genre of sports films, John Hurt starred in the 1984 film "Champions," based on a true story of the aptly named British steeplechase jockey Bob Champion, who made a remarkable run at the 1981 Grand National. The film tells a classic underdog story, but does far more than portray the excitement and suspense as Champion battles to win the race. It also recounts the dramatic story of his years battling a life-threatening disease.

A headstrong young jockey in the 1970s, Champion's career takes a major hit when he's diagnosed with terminal cancer, and not given long to live. But against all odds, and thanks to his indomitable spirit, Champion undergoes treatment and surgery, before facing a grueling recovery. While his prospects of returning to the races are slim, Champion does just that, and soon finds himself riding to victory in Britain's biggest race just two years later. A moving tale of one man's strength and unwillingness to ever give in, "Champions" is an inspirational story that's made all the more powerful by being based on a true story.

28. Mr. Forbush and the Penguins

In 1971, a young John Hurt starred in quite the unusual movie, with a suitable title to match: "Mr. Forbush and the Penguins." Here he stars opposite Hayley Mills, who was known then for family films like "The Parent Trap and "That Darn Cat!" and happened to be married to the director. She plays Tara, a young woman being chased after by Hurt's titular Mr. Forbush, a handsome biology student. 

When his efforts to charm Tara fail, Forbush heads off to Antarctica to study the penguins there, thinking that his adventurous spirit and pioneering courage will impress her. Out alone in the remote icy wilderness, he tries to stay in contact with Tara via a series of audio tapes he sends back home, which she listens to with rapt interest as she is courted by a new man. But as Forbush gets to know the penguins he finds a genuine affection for them, and it's his sensitivity and compassion for the animals that winds up winning the woman over.

A somewhat cliched romance, it's the penguins themselves that make the film what it is. In fact, much of the story revolves around them, with real-life nature footage used to show their plight. 

27. Lou

Indie family drama "Lou" is a different kind of film for John Hurt, an earnest coming-of-age story about a young girl named Lou (played by newcomer Lily Bell Tindley). In the dreary outskirts of New South Whales, Lou has been looking after her two younger siblings since her father walked out, as her mother continues struggling to make ends meet. To make extra money, Lou's mother agrees to take in Doyle (Hurt), her father-in-law who is suffering from Alzheimer's Disease.

Lost and confused, his presence causes strife at home with night terrors and confusion during everyday moments. But he begins to settle down after striking up a friendship with young Lou, who is coming into womanhood with a crush on a neighbor boy. Things take a dark turn, however, when Doyle begins to confuse Lou for his ex-wife who had left him for another man, and while Lou is happy to play along, her mother isn't so sure about where his confusion will lead.

Despite being Tindley's only acting credit, the actress acquits herself with poise and grace as the eponymous Lou, while Hurt is at his best in a heartfelt role as the lost Doyle, who like Lou is just looking for someone to love.

26. The Climb

A tender story of a young boy and his unusual friendship with a crotchety old neighbor, "The Climb" is another coming-of-age tale, this time centered on a young boy who has become an outcast through no fault of his own. Growing up in a small town not long after World War II, Danny has had to deal with the town's derision of his father, who is labeled a coward because he never served during the war. Determined to prove he's better than his dad, Danny has become a strong-willed, adventurous young lad on a mission.

But when he meets his wise and cantankerous older neighbor Chuck, a former civil engineer who's nearly bed-ridden, the two become fast friends and unlikely close companions. Both seeking to free themselves of the shackles of other people's expectations, the two new friends work together on a plan to have Danny climb the town's tallest structure to prove himself.

A heartwarming story, "The Climb" is also the rare movie where John Hurt ditches his British accent for a Southern American drawl. But it's also a strong family film on its own merits, with the San Francisco Examiner calling "properly nostalgic, beautifully made, [with] a little something for everyone."

25. Night Crossing

Constructed in 1961, the Berlin Wall acted as a physical, concrete border that split Germany in two. The East was controlled by the Soviet Union, and the West under the jurisdiction of an alliance between the United States, Great Britain, and France, under an agreement made in the aftermath of World War II. For decades, the people of Germany were separated by this massive barrier, but that didn't stop many desperate people from trying to escape the tyranny of Soviet rule. One incredible true story of one such attempt was dramatized in the 1982 film "Night Crossing."

The year is 1978, and Peter Strelzyk and Günter Wetzeldecide plan a daring escape from East Germany under the nose of the Stasi, the ruthless German intelligence and security force that maintain order in the region. Their ambitious plan is to construct a hot air balloon that will take them over the Inner Zone and over the Berlin Wall into West Germany. But when their first attempt fails, it puts the Stasi in hot pursuit as they begin to hastily attempt a second flight, knowing now that if they are discovered, they are likely to be executed.

Starring John Hurt and Beau Bridges as Peter Strelzyk and Günter Wetzeldecide, "Night Crossing" is a tense drama about one of the greatest escapes ever attempted.

24. Whistle and I'll Come to You

Despite his long filmography, there are only a few horror movies in John Hurt's catalog. But if you are looking for his eeriest and most unsettling story, the best you might get is the BBC television movie "Whistle and I'll Come to You," a supernatural ghost story aired on Christmas Eve of 2010. Adapted by "Luther" creator Neil Cross, it's nearly a one-man play, with John Hurt starring in a loose retelling of a 1904 story by M.R. James.

James Parkin is an aging professor in his twilight years who has just left his wife in a care home for the elderly as she has succumbed to the effects of dementia. Distraught, Parkin rents a room at a beach-side hotel in winter, hoping to rekindle memories of his wife in the place they had once stayed. But after discovering a strange ring in the sand, Parkin soon becomes stalked by a strange apparition that seems to want something from him. Though his scientific mind refuses to accept the supernatural, he quickly finds no other way to explain what is happening to him.

An eerie story that's perhaps better suited for Halloween than Christmas, "Whistle and I'll Come to You" offers plenty of good old-fashioned spooky scares.

23. Dark at Noon

It's hard to find a pattern to the movies that John Hurt chose to star in. He appeared in conventional dramas, indie thrillers, and even a few over-the-top blockbusters. But despite his star status and reputation as one of the finest British actors working in his day — a reputation that could have gotten him any major movie he wanted — his career is also dotted with a handful of small, offbeat foreign films. This includes the 1993 French fantasy comedy "Dark at Noon."

In "Dark at Noon" we meet Felicien (Didier Bourdon), a French man living in the days following World War I. After the death of his father, Felicien heads to a small village in Portugal to inspect a factory that his late father had apparently invested heavily in. But when he arrives, he discovers the village is a bizarre dreamscape where fantasy has become reality, where the line between the true and the impossible has been erased. A meeting with the head of the factory Anthony (Hurt) leads Felicien to encounters with disembodied souls, the Virgin Mary, and a giant stone finger.

A film that's as hard to decipher as it is to describe, "Dark at Noon" is nevertheless a solid effort in the genre of surrealist filmmaking.

22. That Good Night

Based on a play by N.J. Crisp, the 2017 film "That Good Night" is a sobering examination of love, life, and death, telling the story of an aging writer facing his final days at an idyllic villa with his much younger wife. John Hurt stars as Ralph, a well-known and beloved screenwriter who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and begins to reassess his own beliefs on the end of life. At the same time, he is looking back with some regret, hopeful that he can make amends with Michael, his estranged son.

But while contemplating his existence, Ralph is visited by a white-suited stranger (Charles Dance) who wants to help ease his passing. Ralph is also unwilling to become a burden to his young wife, and the stranger helps him ruminate on matters of love and loyalty, in deeply philosophical discussions that form the heart of the film.

The story of one man's thoughts on life and death, "That Good Night" was made all the more poignant with Hurt's own terminal diagnosis two years earlier, as he faced his own death while filming. Given that Hurt passed away not long before the film's release, it gave a new tender dimension to his performance. A showcase for two brilliant English actors, "That Good Night" was Hurt's final leading role.

21. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Late in John Hurt's career the British icon joined a pair of major franchises. Before debuting on "Doctor Who," Hurt would play the role of Professor Oxley in 2008's long-awaited "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." Released nearly 20 years after the previous film in the series, "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" saw Harrison Ford reprise one of his most iconic film roles, and reunite with Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood on an adventure to seek a long lost artifact that could point the way to an ancient civilization lost in the jungles of Brazil.

In the film, Indiana Jones is called out to help search for Oxley by his old flame Ravenwood when the professor is abducted by enemy agents during his search for crystal skulls of the lost city of Akator. With the help of young greaser Mutt Williams (Shia LeBeouf), the heroes head to the Amazon in search of Oxley and the fabled relics. But to find Oxley they'll have to face down the devious and deadly Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett), who is obsessed with acquiring the power of the crystal skulls.

Though it received mixed reviews from diehard fans, "The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" is still a rousing pulpy adventure that brought Indiana Jones to a new generation.

20. The Shout

John Hurt's horror movies are all unique affairs, but are usually of the psychological variety rather than being outright gorey slashers. One of his earliest was "The Shout," in which he starred alongside actress Susannah York, with the pair playing an unsuspecting English couple living in the secluded area of Devon. There, husband Anthony works on his experimental music, and Rachel is his doting housewife. But when a drifter named Crossley (Alan Bates) comes across their doorstep, their lives are forever changed.

Claiming to have spent nearly two decades in the Australian outback learning a form of dark aboriginal magic from its native people, Crossley comes to live with the young couple. Though they are wary of the mysterious stranger, something otherworldly seems to possess them into trusting him, and they soon fall under his spell. After a time, Crossley begins to hold sway over Rachel and Anthony and their own home, and also claims that he has learned an ancient shout that is so boundless and full of despair that it can kill.

A haunting tale of terror, "The Shout" is buoyed by Hurt's nuanced performance, and the unsettling tone that permeates as we wonder if Crossley's claims of deadly ancient magic are true.

19. The Journey

John Hurt starred in several true stories, and a pair of them have involve major political events in his native Britain. The first was "The Scandal," which may be one of Hurt's finest, but "The Journey" from 2016 is no slouch either. Centered on the conflict between two Irish rivals, it provides a fictionalized account of how the two former enemies wound up working together to reshape the political landscape.

"Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" star Colm Meaney plays Martin McGuinness, a former IRA leader turned Democratic Unionist Party politician, while "Harry Potter" actor Timothy Spall is Ian Paisley — a Protestant religious leader from Northern Ireland. The two openly despise one another, but in 2006, amidst important peace talks, both men find themselves together sharing a car — and a common goal — and are suddenly exploring the idea of an uneasy alliance.  

A captivating political drama, its cast also includes John Hurt, Toby Stephens, and Freddie Highmore, rounding out a strong ensemble delivering top notch performances.

18. All the Animals

Welsh actor Christian Bale might be one of Hollywood's biggest A-listers today, but in the late 1990s, he was just another up-and-coming young actor. Then best known for his child roles in earlier films like "Newsies" and "Empire of the Sun," his journey to superstardom had several odd roles mixed in, including the 1998 drama "All the Animals" alongside the legendary John Hurt. 

The film sees Bale playing Bobby Platt, a developmentally challenged young man from an abusive home. His father, known as "The Fats," had killed his pet mouse and beaten his mother, and now Bobby has run away from home, and that's when he encounters a kindly old man named Mr. Summers (Hurt). Summers is a wanderer of sorts, who drifts here and there performing burials for dead animals along the road, and the two strike up a fast friendship over their love of wildlife. 

Mr. Summers and Bobby continue their work as a team before they head back to Bobby's home to confront his father together. A mostly forgotten film today, "All the Little Animals" pairs one of U.K.'s best veteran actors with one of its finest emerging stars.

17. Little Malcolm and His Struggle

The first film to be produced and funded by the late Beatle George Harrison, "Little Malcolm and his Struggle Against the Eunuchs" was filmed in the early 1970s and was a darling of the film festival circuit at the time. But it would take nearly 40 years for the film to see the light of day again, never widely released to theaters thanks to the infamous series of lawsuits involving Harrison, the Beatles, and their manager Alan Klein. Caught in the middle was "Little Malcolm," Harrison's first attempt at making movies, which became a contested asset in the split between the legendary rock group and Klein (via The Guardian).

For decades the film was practically a legend itself, often spoken of but rarely seen. Headlined by British stars like John Hurt and David Warner, the film was a black comic satire about a young man expelled from university who fights back by forming his own political movement. Based on a stage play by David Halliwell, the film won the Silver Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival, before being lost for decades. Finally released on DVD in 2011, "Little Malcolm and his Struggle Against the Eunuchs" can now finally be seen, with Hurt's energetic performance on full display for all to see.

16. Love and Death on Long Island

Often compared to the classic novel "Death in Venice" (per Film at Lincoln Center), the 1997 film "Love and Death on Long Island" stars John Hurt as Giles, an older British gentleman who becomes obsessed with a younger man. In the middle of his stint on "Beverly Hills, 90210," TV star Jason Priestley plays Ronnie Bostock, a struggling young actor not content to be a teen idol, harboring dreams of starring in more serious dramas where he can show off his true talents on screen.

Meanwhile, Giles De'ath (Hurt), is a weary, disillusioned screenwriter and a widower. He's an old fashioned sort who dislikes the modern world, and has no use for its nonsense. But on mistakenly entering the wrong movie theater, Giles witnesses Bostock's latest film, the hilariously named "Hotpants College II," and becomes enamored with the young actor's raw beauty. Entranced, Giles flies to America and stakes out Bostock's hometown on Long Island, desperate to meet him in person. Once he does, he worms his way into the actor's life, creating trouble for Bostock's girlfriend (Fiona Loewi).

A story of love, lust, and dark desire, "Love and Death on Long Island" is simultaneously touching, unsettling, and wryly comic.

15. Hellboy (2004)

A macabre but light-hearted superhero adventure, the 2004 film "Hellboy" was based on the comics from writer and artist Mike Mignola. A fusion of pulp adventure and supernatural gothic horror, the film was a passion project for director Guillermo del Toro, who had just come off his first big mainstream Hollywood action movie, "Blade II," also based on a comic book property. "Hellboy" starred Ron Perlman in the title role, Doug Jones as sidekick Abe Sapien, Selma Blair as firestarter Liz Sherman, and John Hurt chosen as the wise, sagely Professor Bruttenholm, the hero's mentor. 

In the film we meet the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Development — or BPRD for short — and their lead agent, a heroic pistol-packing demon who goes by the moniker Hellboy. He's paired with newly-minted BPRD agent John Myers (Rupert Evans), who joins Hellboy and his team — including the amphibious Abe Sapien and the pyrokinetic Sherman — on a mission to stop the ancient villain Rasputin (Karel Roden), who wants to use Hellboy to bring about the apocalypse.

Well-loved by fans of the original comic book series, critics seemed pleased as well, with NPR calling it "thrilling, emotionally complex, and rapturously beautiful all at once."

14. An Englishman in New York

In 1975, John Hurt starred in "The Naked Civil Servant," a biopic that told the story of author, social satirist, and LGBTQ iconoclast Quentin Crisp. Decades later in 2009, Hurt would reprise the role, returning to play Crisp once more in a sequel of sorts that dramatized the writer's latter days in the late 1970s when he relocated from Britain to New York City and became a scandalous figure in the Big Apple's gay community.

By the time of the film's release, Hurt's first performance as Crisp more than 30 years earlier had become iconic in its own right, and his return was celebrated. Picking up just as the 1980s are around the corner, the film finds Crisp on the outs in his native Britain following a disastrous public interview. Relocating to New York after signing with an American agent, Crisp is at first the darling of the NYC social scene, and then becomes a writer for the Village Voice and the New Yorker. But he struggles too, facing condemnation for controversial comments on sexuality and the AIDS crisis, but later makes a comeback in the '90s.

A fabulous and unexpected reprisal, "An Englishman in New York" provides a forum for a performance different than his first effort in the role, but one that is no less impressive.

13. Only Lovers Left Alive

Even into his final years, John Hurt's celebrity status never waned, and his addition to the cast of any film always seemed to bring with it a certain gravitas, no matter what other heavyweights might be starring. Even in 2013, his supporting role in director Jim Jarmusch's "Only Lovers Left Alive," a film headlined by a pair of contemporary stars, provided the film with a veteran presence. A modern gothic vampire story, its star-studded cast was led by Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston and supported by Hurt, Jeffrey Wright, Mia Wasikowska, and Anton Yelchin. 

The film centers on immortal vampire musician Adam (Hiddleston) and his alluring ageless wife Eve (Swinton). Each has their own means to secure supplies of blood for consumption in an effort to avoid killing for sustenance. Eve's supplier is the veteran vampire Christopher Marlowe (Hurt), the 16th century English playwright who as a member of the unliving had faked his death centuries ago and now lives as a recluse. But Adam and Eve's fantasy world comes crashing down when Eve's chaotic sister Ava comes into their life, murdering one of their friends for his blood and wrecking everything they've built.

An innovative and eccentric modern vampire story, it's everything you could want from the combination of talent involved.

12. Rob Roy

A grand, sweeping old school adventure, the 1995 historical epic "Rob Roy" stars Liam Neeson not long after his Oscar-nominated performance in "Schindler's List." Here he plays the real life figure Robert Roy MacGregor, an 18th century Scottish folk hero who had already been the subject of a swashbuckling 1953 adventure film. Reinvented for the 1990s, "Rob Roy" sees Neeson's hero go up against Cunningham, a despicable swordsman played by Tim Roth ("She-Hulk"), who brutally murders his friend (Eric Stoltz) and assaults his wife (Jessica Lange).

John Hurt appears as the Duke of Montrose, a pernicious aristocrat who makes a deal with MacGregor that goes sour. Indebted to the Duke, MacGregor is declared an outlaw and goes on the run, pursued by the swordsman Cunningham. A renegade and enemy of the state, Rob Roy MacGregor becomes a legend for his heroic quest for revenge and his fight against the redcoats.

Though it was overshadowed by the similarly themed "Braveheart" that same year, "Rob Roy" was no less exciting. Noted critic Roger Ebert gave the film a glowing review, calling it "splendid, rousing historical adventure, an example of what can happen when the best direction, acting, writing and technical credits are brought to bear on what might look like shopworn material."

11. Scandal

In the 1960s, a political kerfuffle rocked the foundation of the British government, a scandal full of sex, lies, and intrigue that captured the world's attention. The so-called Profumo Affair was sparked by a dalliance between teenager Christine Keeler and the married Secretary of War John Profumo. But domestic gossip soon gave way to a crisis when it was learned that she also engaged in an affair with Soviet naval attaché Yevgeny Ivanov, and had been paid to pursue powerful men by a British socialite named Stephen Ward.

The 1989 film "Scandal" dramatizes the Profumo Affair with John Hurt starring as Ward and Ian McKellan as Profumo. Joanne Whalley is Keeler, the young showgirl who strikes up affairs with prominent political figures, destroying Profumo's career and nearly collapsing the entire British government in the process. Though the film takes some liberties with the true story, it was hailed as Hurt's masterpiece by The Guardian in 2017 in a posthumous review of the actor's long career.

10. The Field

Just a year after "Windprints," John Hurt would reunite with co-star Sean Bean to star in "The Field," based on a play by John B. Keane. The film is centered on Bull McCabe, an Irish farmer played by Richard Harris, who is caught up in a land dispute after the death of his wife. Sean Bean plays McCabe's troubled son Tadhg, and Hurt is his friend Bird O'Donnell. 

Though he doesn't own the land himself, McCabe and his late wife worked hard to bring it to life, from a once dry patch of dirt to thriving farmland. But the land's owner, an elderly widow, angers McCabe when she puts the land up for auction, instead of giving him the opportunity to buy it from her. Meanwhile, a wealthy American tycoon (Tom Berenger) makes an enormous bid with plans to build a power plant there, which sends McCabe into a fury, desperate to hold on to the last piece of his old life. 

A film that Roger Ebert called "a grim allegory of hard life on the land," "The Field" earned Harris an Academy Award nomination, and it remains an important and beloved film in Irish cinema (per The Irish Roadtrip).

9. Nineteen Eighty-Four

Adapted from the classic George Orwell novel of the same name, this particular adaptation of "Nineteen Eighty-Four" ironically was released that very year, and put up on the big screen a bold vision of a dystopian future that perfectly captured the zeitgeist of the era. John Hurt starred as the story's protagonist Winston Smith, while the legendary Richard Burton played the villainous government agent O'Brien, in his final film performance before his death in October of that year.

In the nightmare alternate world of "1984," freedom is quashed in the mega-state of Oceana, where an iron-fisted government is ruled by Big Brother, a powerful but unseen authority that controls every aspect of society. Winston Smith is a pencil-pushing drone in the government's Ministry of Truth, who disseminates the information that is consumed by the masses, tightly controlled to prevent free thought. But unbeknownst to his colleagues in the Ministry, Smith is a thought criminal, who catalogs his own independent ideas in a secret diary, and when he comes across another like him named Julia (Suzanna Hamilton), he is inspired to do more than just think freely.

A terrifying glimpse into a dark future, "1984" somehow managed to live up to the towering legacy of Orwell's milestone opus, and remains one of the best sci-fi films of the '80s.

8. The Day of the Doctor

Though not a feature film in the traditional sense, this special event episode of the "Doctor Who" TV series was released theatrically in 2013 simultaneously with its broadcast on television, and is too important a project in Hurt's late career not to include. Titled "The Day of the Doctor," it was the culmination of nearly a decade's worth of stories that began when "Doctor Who" first came back to television in 2005, and sees three versions of the Doctor meet in an effort to put an end to a galactic conflict.

Playing a central role, John Hurt is revealed to be The War Doctor, a battle-scarred incarnation of the character hitherto unseen, who is about to trigger a devastating weapon that will end the war between the Time Lords and the Daleks forever by destroying both races. But before he can activate the weapon, Hurt's Doctor is catapulted into a meeting with two future versions of himself, the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and the Eleventh (Matt Smith). Now aware of his own future, the War Doctor must decide if wiping out his own people is a necessary price to pay to end a war that's destroying the universe.

A landmark television movie that was met with rave reviews, "The Day of the Doctor" added British legend John Hurt to what might be the most iconic English franchise.

7. V For Vendetta

Famed comic book writer Alan Moore has never been a fan of adaptations of his work. But by the time that the big screen version of his seminal '80s classic "V For Vendetta" was released in 2005, he had disavowed them entirely, forfeiting royalties and having his name removed from the credits (via The New York Times). But whatever he might think of what ended up on screen, we can't imagine Moore would have any objections to John Hurt starring as the villainous Chancellor Sutler in the film.

Likely cast as an homage to his role in "1984," the film version of the comic book "V For Vendetta" is set in a similarly dystopian fascist police state. As the tyrannical High Chancellor sends his secret police to control the people, dissenters are silenced, and thought forbidden. But a masked vigilante known as V (Hugo Weaving) rises up to strike back against the regime, inspiring scores of followers. Natalie Portman stars as Evey, a young woman who gets swept up in V's quest for a revolution, bringing its violence to the Chancellor's front door.

Mixing slick Hollywood action with powerful political messaging, "V For Vendetta" rose above other comic book adaptations to become a cautionary tale that feels all too relevant.

6. Snowpiercer

A veteran of multiple science fiction films, John Hurt had already appeared in a pair of critically acclaimed films depicting dystopian futurist nightmare worlds. He joined a third in 2013 when he starred in the South Korean film "Snowpiercer." With future "Parasite" director Bong Joon-ho at the helm, the film became hit outside of Asia thanks in part to its international cast that included "Captain America" actor Chris Evans, "Doctor Strange" actress Tilda Swinton, and "Fantastic Four" alum Jamie Bell at the top of the bill, with Song Kang-Ho, Octavia Spencer, and Ed Harris rounding out the roster of stars. 

Based on a French graphic novel series, "Snowpiercer" takes place in a dismal post-apocalyptic future where the world has been all but entirely frozen over. What's left of humanity has been packed aboard an endless, non-stop train called the Snowpiercer, which serves as a mobile society unto itself. With people divided up by social status in its train cars, this new ever-moving civilization has become politically charged as the lower class in the rear cars are given few resources, while the wealthy in the front live lavishly. Now, a small group of malcontents rise up and revolt, fighting their way to the front of the train with the hopes of upending their track-bound system.

Startling audiences with a unique vision of a grim future, "Snowpiercer" is full of social and political allegory, while delighting audiences with gritty action and high stakes adventure.

5. Beyond the Gates

In 2005, John Hurt re-teamed with his "Rob Roy" director Michael Caton-Jones for a project that would wind up being among his best films, "Beyond the Gates." Starring future "Hannibal" actor Hugh Dancy, the film recounts the harrowing experiences of David Belton and the horrific events that took place at the École Technique Officielle during the Rwandan genocide in the mid-1990s. In contrast to its contemporary, the better known "Hotel Rwanda," Hurt and company filmed on location at the site of where the events took place, while real survivors served as extras (per Crosswalk).

Adapted from the true story, Dancy stars as Joe Connor, a British man who has come to Rwanda to be a teacher. But when conflict breaks out between warring tribes there, his school suddenly becomes a refuge for innocent Tutsis hoping to escape the wrath of the murderous Hutu's. As the United Nations decides not to intervene in the crisis and chaos spirals around them, Connor and his headmaster Father Christopher (Hurt) must decide whether to abandon their students or stay and risk death with them.

In addition to powerful performances from Dancy and Hurt, the film's use of the real location adds a sense of stark reality that is hard to ignore. Deeply unnerving, "Beyond the Gates" is not for the faint of heart.

4. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Across more than 50 years of films, John Hurt rarely signed up for blockbuster film franchises, but when he did he picked them right. In 2001, "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" started a run of box office dominance that would last more than a decade. It turned its young cast into global superstars, and the studio made good on J.K. Rowling's promise to cast only English actors in the series. This put British star John Hurt on the inside track for a role, and sure enough he'd land the part of Garrick Ollivander, the owner of a wizard shop who plays a key supporting role in more than one film in the series.

In "The Philosopher's Stone" — renamed "The Sorcerer's Stone" in the United States — Hurt's Ollivander sets Daniel Radcliffe's Harry Potter out on his journey by assigning him his own special wand after his arrival in Diagon Alley. Hurt brings a foppish charm to the otherwise small role, and he'd reprise it 10 years later in the film's final two installments, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Parts 1 & 2." 

3. The Naked Civil Servant

Author Quentin Crisp was an eccentric philosopher, a humorist, a writer, and a downright captivating personality who was hard to ignore. In 1975, when he became the subject of a feature film starring John Hurt, based on his memoir "The Naked Civil Servant," Crisp became an overnight star. An LGBTQ icon for his frank discussion of his sexuality in the public sphere, he wasn't without controversy, and the film put it all on full display for the world to see.

Opening with a monologue from the real Crisp himself, the film dramatizes his life from his youth through the 1960s, beginning with his difficult early years as he struggled with his own identity. But on discovering his sexuality, Crisp takes to the streets and proudly flaunts himself to the public, drawing the ire of a conservative nation, and even scorn among the closeted gay community who resent his ostentatiousness. Focusing on his love affairs, his time as an artist's model, and his outlandish court case, "The Naked Civil Servant" is ultimately a story about accepting who you are.

Not without its own controversy, the film caused waves of displeasure in the United States for a time (via TV Guide), but is now seen as one of Hurt's most beloved performances. 

2. The Elephant Man

Avant garde director David Lynch is known for eerie, breathtaking, and downright baffling stories, with classics like "Eraserhead" and "Twin Peaks" that often defy conventional description. But one of his most straightforward films is his second, the 1980 drama "The Elephant Man." Nearly devoid of any of Lynch's customary surrealism or mind-bending weirdness, the film tells the tragic true story of Joseph Merrick, a British man who lived in the late 19th century who suffered from a debilitating deformity that made him the object of scorn, ridicule, and later fascination among the British public.

In the film, Dr. Frederic Treves (Anthony Hopkins) discovers Merrick (renamed John for the film) at a circus sideshow under the thumb of a cruel ringmaster. Treves eventually takes Merrick into his custody and learns that despite his deformity, he is quite the gentle, educated, and sophisticated man. Merrick is initially a sensation with Treves' socialite circle, but the doctor begins to have misgivings about bringing him home when he realizes that the young man remains a mere object of curiosity and pity to those around him.

A treatise on morality, dignity, and the human heart, "The Elephant Man" was a triumph that catapulted director Lynch to the mainstream. Earning eight Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director, Hurt himself would earn a Best Actor nomination for his performance, one of just two he'd garner in his career.

1. Alien

In a decade jam-packed with groundbreaking science fiction sagas on the big screen, John Hurt would star in one of the best, the sci-fi/horror classic "Alien." Led by newcomer Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley, the film follows a crew of space truckers on a long-haul mission aboard a lonely freighter. But the eclectic crew is threatened by a unique life form they discover on a distant alien world. Taking aboard a strange specimen they find there, they're horrified as it quickly gives rise to a deadly creature that terrorizes the ship, picking them off one by one.

Though his role is a supporting one that only features in the early part of the film, John Hurt gets arguably the most memorable scene as Kane. The first victim of the alien, he's the one with the creature gestating inside him until it bursts from his chest in one of the most horrifying and visceral scenes in sci-fi history. A gritty, grounded, and stunning chiller, "Alien" blends elements from science fiction, slashers, and psychological thrillers. Directed by a young filmmaker named Ridley Scott, it delivered a jaw-dropping experience for moviegoers unlike anything they'd seen before, and became one of the most gripping, terrifying, and downright shocking films of the era. Sparking a long-running franchise that continues to this day, "Alien" also topped our list of best sci-fi movies of the '70s.