If the recent release of The Gray Man has proved anything, it is that movies about strange professions are the ultimate escape from the working world. While most films deal with normal jobs, some plumb the depths of employment and tell stories about unusual professions that aren’t seen every day.
Whether it was realistic dramas like The Wrestleror over-the-top action movies like Jackie Brown, it is the odd jobs that seem to be the most riveting. Even though tons of great movies have been made about outlandish professions, only the best are worth remembering and garnered impressive score on IMDb.
10 Days Of Thunder (1990) – 6.0
As he has once again proven in Top Gun: Maverickactor Tom Cruise has never been afraid of dangerous roles in his career. Days of Thunder casts Cruise as Cole Trickle, an up-and-coming stock car racer who competes in NASCAR despite his reputation for reckless driving.
Though stock car racing has been a profession since the 1940s, no film had captured the nuances of the job quite like Days of Thunder. Even if the viewer wasn’t a fan of the sport, the in-depth information regarding it was delivered through exciting exposition that kept the movie going. While it may suffer from early ’90s cheesiness at parts, it is still the closest a film has come to bottling the pure essence of racing.
9 Hooper (1978) – 6.3
Generally considered one of Burt Reynolds’ most iconic roles, hooper also shined a light on an underrated Hollywood profession. The titular hero Hooper is a stuntman at the top of his game. However, when a younger stuntman comes along to steal his thunder, he begins pushing himself for more and more dangerous acts.
Director Hal Needham had a lot to say about the business of making movies, and as a former stuntman himself, he was perfectly suited to tell the story. While it does play fast and loose with how filmmaking actually works, it does accurately portray the difficulties imposed on stunt professionals as they damage their bodies and grow older.
8 Magic (1978) – 6.8
Not all movies about unusual professions are necessarily flattering, and some actually play off of common fears regarding the job. magic is the story of a professional ventriloquist who begins to spiral out of control as he loses his grip on reality and suspects that his dummy is actually alive.
Long before Anthony Hopkins had his star-making role as Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, he was equally chilling in the obscure horror classic from the 70s. Though the art of ventriloquy is quite old, it had begun to slowly fall out of popularity after the middle part of the 20th century. Similar to clowns, many viewers had begun to find ventriloquy creepy, and magic perfectly played on those fears.
7 Repo Man (1984) – 6.8
Though the story around Repo Man is over-the-top, its entirely portrayal of the profession of repossession is mostly accurate. The film follows a young punk who is recruited by a jaded repo man to help him repossess cars. Meanwhile, a mysterious car containing a deadly green energy terrorizes Los Angeles.
The profession of repossession professional is used as a symbol for working in general, and the story is all about a young man coming to grips with the fact that he has to go straight. The job is shown as dangerous and un-rewarding, and the film is very strong in its portrayal of the actual process of car repossession and the public’s response to the people that do the job.
6 Blow Out (1981) – 7.4
If there is one thing that Hollywood loves to do, it’s tell stories about themselves, and Blow Out explored an unsung aspect of film production. It tells the story of a sound engineer who accidentally documents a car accident while recording sound effects in the park. His obsession with the recording leads him to uncover a far-reaching political conspiracy.
Counted among some of director Brian De Palma’s best movies, Blow Out was a time capsule to the way that movies used to be made. As outlandish as the main plot is, the portrayal of the art or sound recording is almost perfect in its accuracy. In the era before massive digital sound libraries, it wasn’t unusual for sound engineers to be on the hunt for the perfect SFX recording.
5 Jackie Brown (1997) – 7.5
Even if the profession portrayed in Jackie Brown isn’t the entire focus of the film, it is nevertheless one that isn’t seen in films frequently. The story follows a bail bondsman who attempts to help a woman beat a drug smuggling charge by flipping on her drug dealing boss.
Robert Forster’s role as the harried bail bondsman is not too far off from the day-to-day trappings of the job. It is mostly thankless work, and the movie pulls no punches when it comes to its blunt realities. Most of Quentin Tarantino’s films are about the criminal element, and Jackie Brown was a refreshing change of pace by showing the other side.
4 (500) Days Of Summer (2009) – 7.7
(500) Days of Summer has a reputation as a quirky comedy, so it was only natural that its lead character would have a quirky job. When his girlfriend suddenly dumps him, a hopelessly romantic greeting card writer looks back on their time together in an attempt to rediscover his passion for life.
While it may seem like a made up profession, someone obviously has to write the words found in greeting cards, even if the movie doesn’t show it accurately. Tom’s job is mostly used for symbolic purposes, but it nevertheless adds another layer to the film that makes it all the more intriguing.
3 Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) – 7.7
The job of real estate agent isn’t particularly strange, but the high-stakes world of multi-million dollar deals as shown in Glengarry Glen Ross certainly is. A high-powered New York real estate office is thrown into disarray when the agents are informed that all but two of them will be fired at the end of the week.
Written by playwright turned director David Mamet, the unbelievable pressure of high-level real estate is brought to life through the stunning characters. The scenario might be a bit contrived for story purposes, but the level of professional maneuvering is not far from the mark. Reflecting the business culture of the 1980s, Mamet didn’t sugarcoat his depiction of the profession.
2 The Wrestler (2008) – 7.9
In many ways, professional wrestling is another form of performance art, and yet there are tremendous physical consequences on its performers. The Wrestler showed the life of washed-up pro-wrestler Randy “The Ram” Robinson as he struggles to make a life for himself after he departs the sport.
Though pro-wrestling has its tremendous heights, it also has crippling lows, and that’s what the film centers on. Randy’s body is failing and yet he can’t help but continue to torture it through more wrestling events. As a testament to the film’s quality, the pro-wrestling community praised the film for its unflinching look at the struggles of the former titans of the squared circle.
1 The Maltese Falcon (1941) – 8.0
Legendary actor Humphrey Bogart made a career playing private investigators, but his crowning jewel was as Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon. After a mysterious woman hires him for a case, Spade gets wrangled into a web of conspiracy surrounding a priceless statue that several criminals are after.
Of all the misrepresented jobs in film history, the PI game is perhaps the most egregiously inaccurate. Most PI work is perfunctory and slow, but The Maltese Falcon explored the exciting possibilities that the job could present. The secretive nature of PI work has sparked the imaginations of many artists, and it continues to be a common unusual job trope in cinema to this day.
NEXT: The 10 Best Movies About Private Investigators, According To IMDb
What Marvel Comics Super Villain Would You Be, Based on Your Zodiac Sign?
About The Author