Geoffrey Lewis: He Made Co-Starring Awesome

Always the co-star, never the star, but for Geoffrey Lewis that seemed the perfect position for a career surpassing 50 years.

I never thought to myself, I need to go see a Geoffrey Lewis movie; however, whenever he turned up in a movie I was pleasantly surprised and generally expected more from the film.  Hey, if he was good enough for Eastwood, then he was good enough for me! This long-time figure of Hollywood co-starring roles with more than 200 credits, and father of Juliette Lewis, passed away on April 7, 2015.

Here’s my list of movies that were made more awesome because of Lewis’ participation.

Night of the Comet

An underrated sci-fi comedy about a comet hitting the earth and those who survive must fight zombie-like infected humanoids.  Geoffrey Lewis is one of the bad guys-turned zombie, chasing after two teenage girls during the apocalypse! I was never quite sure if this movie scared me or not, but its low-key, low budget take on zombies from space always entertained me. This 1984 flick was a mainstay of cable TV back in the 80s! Grade: B+

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Bronco Billy

Highly entertaining rodeo flick directed by Clint Eastwood. In 1980 it seemed that every Eastwood movie had Lewis and Sandra Locke.  While Lewis made this one better, Locke detracted from the story with her mediocre acting. Eastwood and Lewis teamed up in many movies including Every Which Way But Loose, Any Which Way you Can, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, Pink Cadicllac and High Plains Drifter (mentioned next on this list). Grade: B

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High Plains Drifter

Another Eastwood directed vehicle with Lewis. This time around, Eastwood takes on the Spaghetti Western with his own style. In this 1973 movie, the Stranger turns the town of Lago into a Hell-on-Earth place of vengeance and death. Lewis plays one of the outlaws headed straight to Lago. This movie stuck to the structure of Eastwood’s earlier Westerns while simultaneously laying the groundwork for later efforts Pale Rider and Unforgiven. Grade: A+

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Salem’s Lot

Not only one of the best TV movies of all time, but possibly the best Stephen King novel adaptation as well! For a 1979 TV movie, this is an incredible achievement, and directed by Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) no less. Lewis is one of the unlucky town folk turned vamp enslaved to the Nosferatu-like master. This movie (literally) convinced me to make an emergency crucifix out of popsicle sticks just in case a vampirized Danny Glick came scratching at my window squealing, “I’m your friend, let me in.” Grade: A+

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The Devil’s Rejects

Arguably the best of the Rob Zombie movies, Rejects, has its moments with Lewis taking credit for a few of them. With the murderous Firefly family on the run, Roy Sullivan (Lewis) and friends have the misfortune of crossing their path. The movie is flawed, but Lewis makes it more awesome, and the end of this one ranks up their with all-time indie greats. Grade: B+

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By Brian Barsuglia