Alan Arkin Movies: 10 of His Greatest Films Ranked Best To Worst

Alan Arkin movies are without a doubt some of the best that the silver screen has offered through the years. One of Hollywood’s most talented, skillful, gifted and prolific personalities, Arkin has done it all as far as acting is concerned.

The actor and singer has enjoyed a career that has spanned more than 6 decades in which he has taken roles in both TV and films, with more than a hundred works to his credit. The movie icon has won several accolades and received so many nominations. If he goes on to win an Emmy award before he retires from acting, he would join the league of other actors in the industry known as the “Triple Crown of Acting Winners”, those who have won the profession’s majors awards: Oscar, Emmy, and Tony.

He began his acting career in the 1950s with the popular Second City Comedy troupe in the city of Chicago, before making his first Broadway appearance with the group. He won a Tony award in 1963 for Best Featured Actor in a Play because of his performance in the play Enter Laughing. This actually marked the beginning of his fame.

Being one of the most outstanding actors in the industry, it would be exciting to know why the man is where he is today; here is a list of the 10 greatest movies of the star, ranked from best to worst.

Greatest Alan Arkin Movies

1. The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming (1966)

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This movie gave Arkin a perfect start for a successful career in acting with an Oscar nomination and a golden globe award for the role he played in the Cold War classic.

An adaptation of the novel The Off-Islanders by Nathaniel Benchley, the film tells the story of the cold war period when the submarine of the Soviet Union, Спрут was grounded on the island of New England. Arkin played the role of Lieutenant Yuri Rozanov, who is assigned by the captain of the ship to lead a 9-man party and find a means of fixing the submarine.

The movie made a box office hit of $21.7 million on a production budget of $3.9 million and it received positive ratings across platforms. Many years since the film was made, it still remains one of the most important films of Alan.

2. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1968)

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This is another movie that further proves how magnanimous the actor is. He got another Academy Award nomination for best actor for the role he played as a deaf-mute that relocated to a small town where he is able to befriend a teenage girl who at first resented him.

The Robert Ellis Miller directed film is largely based on the popular novel by Carson McCuller which highlights the very touchy relationship John Singer (Alan Arkin) has with Spiros (Sondra Locke), the daughter of his landlord. His performance in the movie was a master-class and this gave the impression that he is good at comic roles. He also got a Golden Globe nomination for best motion picture actor.

Set in the depression era, it made $1.1 million in Box office.

3. The Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

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This is the movie that gave the actor his Oscar. He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the movie.

It tells the story of the Hoover family; a man, his wife, his brother and grandfather played by Arkin who will stop at nothing to ensure that a daughter of the family, Abigail Breslin who portrays Olive Hoover, wins the Miss Sunshine beauty pageant she has her eyes on. The entire dysfunctional family takes a bus and is off to California to show support for Olive. Arkin the grandfather helped teach his granddaughter how to succeed.

Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, it grossed $100.5 million at the box office on a production budget of $8 million.

4. Wait Until Dark (1967)

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This movie shows another fine display of comedic flair by Arkin.

It tells the story of a woman who has gone blind and while she struggles to adjust to her misfortune, there is a group of thugs led by Alan Arkin who portrays the conniving and psychotic Roat. The criminals believe the blind woman, Susy Hendrix (Audrey Hepburn) has a doll which they use to smuggle drugs into the country. The doll was brought to the house by her husband who got it from a woman during his flight.

Bringing together a manipulative and violent Roat and a vulnerable Sussy, this movie directed by Terence Young became yet another movie that showed the overwhelming talent of Arkin and how he is able to get into almost any character. The movie was successful, grossing $17.6 million at the box office on a budget of $3 million.

5. The In-Laws (1979)

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Among Alan Arkin Movies, this is pretty much the most interesting and the one that doesn’t get old. The reason this movie has garnered a cult following is due to the pairing of two good comedians; Peter Falk and Alan Arkin.

It tells of a renowned dentist, Sheldon Kornpet (Alan Arkin) who becomes uncomfortable following his meeting with his daughter’s father-in-law Vincent Ricardo (Peter Falk). Vincent claims to be a CIA agent and he convinces Sheldon on going with him on an adventure as he is working on an international counterfeiting plot, and needs Sheldon’s help.

The movie made $38.2 million at the box office on a budget of $9 million. It was directed by Arthur Hiller.

6. Argo (2012)

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The movie is based on Antonio J. Mendez’s Master of Disguise and Joshua Bearman’s The Great Escape. It follows the story of how 52 Americans were taken as hostages in Tehran, Iran. Six of them manage to escape and seek refuge with the Canadian Ambassador. However, running out of time before they are found and executed, the US government sends an extractor Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) to rescue them. He disguised himself as a Hollywood producer looking for shooting locations and trains the refugees to act as members of his crew.

The movie clenched 3 Oscars and Arkin got a nomination for Best-Supporting Actor. The movie got a warm welcome and praise, especially for Arkin’s role. Despite achieving this feat, it got some criticisms because of a few historical inaccuracies. It made a whopping $232.3 million at the box office on a production budget of $44.5 million. It was directed by Ben Affleck.

7. Thirteen Conversations About One Thing (2001)

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The movie follows the lives of five different people, a man in his middle age, a young attorney, a woman, a businessman, and a young woman; who are seemingly looking for one thing in common – happiness. Their paths intersect in a way they never expected will change their lives. All these five different stories are put together into one tale of drama.

Arkin’s role of a father to a drug-addicted son won him the Boston Society of Film Critics Prize for Best Supporting Actor. The comedy-drama was directed by Jill Sprecher and it made over $3 million in Box office.

8. The Seven Percent Solution (1976)

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The movie was directed by Herbert Ross and features other stars like Nicol Williamson, Robert Duvall, and Laurence Oliver. It is an adaptation of Meyer’s 1974 novel of the same title which follows the story of how Dr. Watson (Robert Duvall) brings his good friend Sherlock Holmes who suffers from delusional paranoia as a result of cocaine addiction to Sigmund Freud (Alan Arkin), the popular and famous analyst and neurologist.

The movie is a blend of fictional and real characters like Sherlock Holmes and Sigmund Freud respectively. It was well-received by critics with an 82% rating on Rottentomatoes.

9. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

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Another of the Alan Arkin movies one should see is this 1992 George Aaronow-directed film. It is an adaptation of David Mamet’s 1984 Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same title and it tells the story of two days in the lives of 4 real estate salesmen who become desperate and charged when their corporate headquarters hints that within a week, all salesmen will lose their jobs except two. They all swing into action, making strategies on how to survive the heat and to outwit one another.

Financially, the movies didn’t make it big, grossing $10.7 million on a production budget of $12.5 million.

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10. Catch 22 (1970)

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The movie centers on the life of Captain John Yossarian played by Alan Arkin, who flies a jet on a bombing mission during WWll. He faces the reality of having to cope with the madness of armed conflict and find a way to out his wartime experience, but he’s surrounded by no-nonsense military officers. He must use whatever means necessary to escape this awkward and absurd situation.

The movie is an adaptation of Joseph Heller’s novel of the same title. It made $24.9 million on a budget of $18 million. It wasn’t well-received, because it was released at a time when the American audience was fed up with the experiences of the Vietnam war.