– by Mark MacDonald –
Duos are classic. Whether it’s a pair of train robbers, two detectives on the case, best friends, or outlaws on the run, people seem to love them. Here are some of the best duos in motion picture:
Maverick & Goose
“Maverick and Goose…” laments Commander Tom “Stinger” Jordan in the classic 1986 action film Top Gun. The pair of naval aviators are beloved around the world and became an archetype for many action films that followed. The reckless, young, brash, womanizing Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) and the softhearted, gentle, family man Nick “Goose” Bradshaw (Anthony Edwards) are among the best-of-the-best fighter pilots in the U.S. Navy, pushing the limits to try and become Top Gun trophy winners. They’re also best friends, having heart-to-hearts before flying Mach-2 with their hair on fire. They might not make it all the way together, and sure they don’t win the trophy, but Maverick and Goose are among the most memorable duos in movie history.
Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid
Based on the real-life outlaws Butch Cassidy and Harry Longabaugh, the 1969 film starred renowned actors Paul Newman and Robert Redford and was ranked the 49th-greatest American film on American Film Institute’s 100 Years … 100 Movies list. Set in the late 1890s, the film tells the tale of the pair of train robbers who evade authorities and escape to Bolivia until ultimately meeting their demise at the hands of Bolivian soldiers. Though the true account of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’s demise is unclear, the film portrays an epic finale; cornered and wounded, the two charge out to their deaths in Homeric fashion.
Martin Riggs & Roger Murtaugh
The 1987 film Lethal Weapon, starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, introduced the buddy-cop-duo Riggs and Murtaugh, whose adventures would continue in three more films. The Vietnam veteran, ex-Special Forces, loose cannon Riggs (Gibson) is teamed up with aging family man Murtaugh, and, though at odds with each other at first, the partners form a strong friendship through the course of the first film and beyond. Whether it’s South African drug smugglers, ex-cop arms dealers, or Chinese Triads, Riggs and Murtaugh find a way to solve the case and defeat every villain while also dealing with tragedy, romance, an irritating witness (Joe Pesci) and “getting too old for this sh*t.”
Hillary Whitney & C.C. Bloom
They may not fly fighter planes or rob trains, but C.C. Bloom and Hillary Whitney show us the meaning of friendship in the award-winning 1988 film Beaches. The heiress lawyer Hillary (Barbara Hershey) and the actress and singer C.C. (Bete Midler) first meet as children under an Atlantic City boardwalk and correspond via letters for years before becoming roommates. In the years that follow, the two develop an intimate friendship, and everything from love triangles, divorces, bottled up resentment, career ambitions, pregnancy and illness brings them closer together. They have their falling-outs, and they have their flaws, but the two are inevitably there for each other when it matters most. The film, based on the novel by Iris Rainer Dart, is a touching example of the dynamics and complexities of friendship, and features the Grammy-winning song “The Wind Beneath my Wings.”
Mike Lowrey & Marcus Burnett
“We ride together. We die together. Bad Boys for life.” I don’t think it gets more duo than that. Will Smith’s Mike Lowrey, the cool, reckless, rich, heartthrob detective, is paired up with the neurotic, stressed out, wife-and-kids Marcus Burnett, played hilariously by Martin Lawrence in the 1995 blockbuster that was legendary filmmaker Michael Bay’s directorial debut. The film was a smash success, leading to a 2003 sequel Bad Boys 2. Two narcotics detectives and friends since high school, Lowrey and Burnett bicker while they solve crime in the streets of Miami and take heat for their reckless behavior from their captain (Joe Pantoliano). In each film, it seems as though their partnership is over, but lo and behold, the two become even closer each time, their friendship solidified amid gunfights, car chases, undercover operatives and trying to sing along to their signature tune.
Thelma & Louise
Few duos are more iconic than Thelma Dickinson and Louise Sawyer. The 1991 film, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon, was a critical and commercial success and was nominated for six Academy Awards, winning for Best Original Screenplay. The adventure begins with the two friends setting off in a 1966 Ford Thunderbird convertible for a two-day vacation to escape their lackluster lives. After stopping at a roadhouse for a drink, Thelma is sexually assaulted by a man she had been dancing with. Louise is able to stop the assault by threatening the man with a gun, and though they are able to escape, the man’s barrage of insults and profanity causes Louise to lose her cool and she shoots and kills the man. Convinced that going to the police will only incriminate them, Louise decides to go on the run and Thelma joins her. The duo travel West, pick up a charming hitchhiker (Brad Pitt), lose all their money, rob a convenience store, outwit a state trooper, teach some manners to a rude truck driver, and eventually are cornered by the police near the Grand Canyon. Rather than spend the rest of their lives in prison, Thelma and Louise kiss each other goodbye, then ride their car off a cliff in one of the most iconic scenes in cinematic history.
Bonnie & Clyde
Based on the real-life bank-robbing couple Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, the 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde, directed by Arthur Penn and starring Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway and Gene Hackman, is a landmark Academy Award-winning film that was among the first hundred films preserved by the U.S. National Film Registry. The historic couple became famous in 1930s America during the “Public Enemy” era, immortalized by pictures found at their Joplin, Missouri hideout. The film, much like the historical couple, was provocative, and it was arguably part of the counterculture movement and essential in promoting a more open presentation of sex and violence in film. The convict and clumsy thief Clyde Barrow happens, by chance, upon the divorced, bored waitress Bonnie Parker and soon the two fall in love, rob a series of banks, humiliate a Texas Ranger and rise to fame before being gunned down in a hail of bullets in one of the bloodiest death scenes in film.