MSNBC is ranking the five worst movie performances by an athlete-turned actor, to which we say, is there really any need to go beyond Kazaam? Apparently there is, and so we also get Wilt Chamberlain in Conan the Destroyer, Roosevelt Grier in The Glove, Dennis Rodman in Double Team and Mitch Gaylord in American Anthem. We don't have the energy to disagree, except to say that as far as bad movies go, Grier's The Thing With Two Heads (see photo) kicks every inch of The Glove's ass.
But beyond that we say, why so negative? Why can't it be the five best movie performances by an athlete-turned-actor? (Waves magic wand) Ding! And so it shall.
After the jump, we present associate editor Rick Chandler's guide to excellent athlete performances.
5. Johnny Weissmuller, Tarzan. Weissmuller won five Olympic swimming gold medals and one bronze medal, won 52 U.S. National Championships and set 67 world records. And starred in 12 Tarzan movies. When Mark Spitz jumps into the river from the back of a wildebeest and subdues a crocodile, get back to me.
4. Jim Brown, 100 Rifles. Simply put, Jim Brown kicks ass. He kicked German ass in The Dirty Dozen, he kicked Federali ass in Rio Conchos, and he even kicked alien ass in Mars Attacks! And he kicks ass here, with the added bonus of some sex scenes with Raquel Welch; pretty unconventional stuff for 1969.
3. Woody Strode, Sergeant Rutledge. Now practically lost in the mists of time, John Ford's remarkable 1960 western co-starred Strode as a cavalry sergeant falsely accused of rape and murder. Not a conventional Ford effort, and Strode was no conventional man; he was one of the first black players in the NFL (Los Angeles Rams, 1946) and was also a decathlete at UCLA.
2. Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Airplane. A couple things we'll bet you didn't know: Pete Rose was originally supposed to play Kareem's role in this film ... and David Letterman had a screen test for the role of Ted Striker. We're so glad it ended up as it did.
1. Burt Reynolds, Deliverance. Buddy Reynolds was a star high school halfback in Florida before earning all-conference honors at the same position at Florida State. It was only due to multiple knee injuries that he turned to acting, and with Deliverance, well, what can you say? A defining moment in American film. And even without it, he'd still get the top nod for The Longest Yard. Or Rent-a-Cop.