The 10 Most Underrated William Friedkin Movies, Ranked

William Friedkin is best known for his highly acclaimed novel The Exorcist. The Exorcist placed Friedkin in the spotlight as a master of horror, creating a film that was both groundbreaking and controversial for its themes and graphic nature. Nonetheless, Friedkin presented the audience with a large number of high-quality films to enjoy, some of which are often overlooked. Here are William Friedkin’s 10 Most Underrated Movies.

10 Blue Chips (1994)

Blue chips Shaquille O'Neal
Paramount Pictures

In this early ’90s comedy, Shaquille O’Neal plays Neon Boudeaux, one of a trio of amateur but veteran basketball players who were signed by a college basketball coach (portrayed by Nick Nolte) to help him with college basketball. Basketball to help the team improve its skills. Bribed with favors for loved ones and a significant amount of money, Neon and his team agree to help the trainer, which in turn leads to a series of antics and mishaps for all involved. For someone relatively new to directing sports movies, William Friedkin pulled off this sports comedy perfectly.

9 Jade (1995)

Jade 1995 William Friedkin
Paramount Pictures

I tend towards a more sensual, erotic type of film, Friedkin’s jade outraged both audiences and critics with its sexually charged narrative. Based on the story of Assistant District Attorney David Corelli, David becomes entangled in the mystery surrounding the death of a powerful executive. As David investigates the crime further, he discovers that one of his former lovers, Katrina/Jade, was involved with the deceased man and is a suspect in the murder. As David works to prove Jade’s innocence, her turbulent past resurfaces, causing sexual tension and more bloodshed.

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8th The Guardian (1990)

Universal images

Another horror film by Friedkin, The guard gets inspiration from movies like Rosemary’s baby And The Omen to tell a scary story. After the birth of their first child, married couple Kate and Phil hire a young nanny named Camilla to help them raise their newborn. While everything seems perfect at first, the couple soon discovers that Camilla is hiding a sinister plan involving the occult and her newborn. A twisted story through and through, The guard is a worthy addition to Friedkin’s list of horror films.

Related Topics: The Exorcist: Believer: Why all eyes will be on the horror film after the death of William Friedkin

7 Wizard (1977)

Wizard 1977 William Friedkin
Universal images

Considered by many to be a remake of the 1953 film The wages of fear, wizard follows the story of a group of characters whose paths cross over the course of the film. Similar to movies like babel And crash, wizard is told through a series of vignettes that explore how a character’s actions perpetuate a chain of events that affect her as a whole. Although it was initially berated by critics, wizard is now considered one of Friedkin’s underrated masterpieces.

6 The Hunted (2003)

the hunted del toro
Paramount Pictures/Lakeshore Entertainment

This 2000 film stars Tommy Lee Jones as LT Bonham, a tracker who tracks an assassin with the help of FBI agent Abby Durrell. As the tracker and agent work through their differences to stop the assassin, they realize they will need all the help they can get as the assassin makes his way into town. Exciting, tense and clever, The hunted is a testament to Friedkin’s ability to master any film genre with ease.

5 The Brink’s Job (1978)

The Brink's Job 1978 William Friedkin
Universal images

This crime drama paved the way for modern films like Ocean’s Eleven And cherry. When a heist gets complicated, a group of petty thieves must find a way to avoid the law. At the same time, she tries to claim the money they split between themselves when one of her co-workers decides to betray her and keep the money for himself. Funny, exciting and borderline constructed, Brink’s job is a film worth revisiting for plenty of laughs coupled with some solid performances from Peter Falk, Gena Rowlands and Peter Boyle.

4 The Birthday Party (1968)

The birthday party
Continental Sales

This film noir, one of Friedkin’s earlier films, tells the story of Stanley, a man who lives in a boarding house by the sea. When two strangers, Goldberg and McCann, approach the house and invite them to Stanley’s retreat, Stanley soon becomes the pawn in a psychological game of cat and mouse. A dark, twisted and menacing story, The birthday party stays with the audience long after the final scene.

3 Killer Joe (2011)

Matthew McConaughey Killer Joe
LD entertainment

Friedkin’s penultimate film, Killer Joe, Matthew McConaughey plays a morally gray protagonist, Joe Cooper. Joe, an undercover cop posing as an assassin, is hired by a man to kill his mother with an additional deal: the man must let Joe sleep with his sister. Dark, strange and bordering on comic, Killer Joe is like nothing Friedkin has ever tackled before, but an enjoyable cinematic experience nonetheless.

2 The people against Paul Crump

Crump (1)
Facets multimedia distribution

Friedkin’s first documentary, The people against Paul Crump follows the trial of Paul Crump, a man sentenced to death for robbery and murder in the early 1960s. This documentary, critically acclaimed for its subject matter, paved Friedkin’s path as a director, and Friedkin later directed an episode The Alfred Hitchcock Lesson and eventually landed his breakthrough directing role for The Exorcist.

1 The boys in the band

The guys in the band Friedkin
National General Images

Adapted from the 1968 stage play, The boys in the band addressed the homophobia and struggles surrounding sexual identity of the 1970s. Following the story of Michaela struggling writer who throws a birthday party for his close friend Harold, The boys in the band captures the intimate atmosphere of a New York City Upper East Side apartment to deliver an emotionally charged narrative.

As friends new and old come together, past resentments and tensions are revealed, as well as secrets that both Michael and his college friend Alan have harbored for years. Daunting, thought provoking and ahead of its time, The boys in the band caused considerable controversy during its release.

Lindsay Lowe

Lindsay Lowe is a Worldtimetodays U.S. News Reporter based in Canada. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Lindsay Lowe joined Worldtimetodays in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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