My Favorite Paul Verhoeven Films

* * * * (Out of * * * *)

1.   Showgirls (1995)

2.   Elle (2016)

3.   Black Book (2006)

4.   Basic Instinct (1992)

5.   Starship Troopers (1997)

6.   The Fourth Man (1983)

7.   Robocop (1987)

8.   Total Recall (1990)

9.   Turkish Delight (1973)  

10. Soldier of Orange (1977)

11. Spetters (1980)

* * * 1/2 (Out of * * * *)

1.   Flesh+Blood (1985)


18 thoughts on “My Favorite Paul Verhoeven Films

  1. Soldier of Orange is such a underrated film….and Starship Troopers is my favorite of Paul’s films. Why did you pick Showgirls as the 2nd best? That had me laughing….the only thing missing from that film is two slices of bread….

  2. I’m a big fan, but would rearrange the list somewhat.
    1) Soldier of Orange.
    2) Black Book
    3) Showgirls.
    4) Starship Troopers.
    5) Flesh and Blood.
    6) Basic Instinct.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  3. Nice list. I am very far from an expert on Paul Verhoeven films, but am pleased with your choice of Black Book and Elle in the third and fourth places respectively. Total Recall was crazy, but enjoyable crazy too. Now, I need to watch Showgirls and Starship Troopers.

  4. Regarding why Showgirls is my number two favorite of his films is an interesting story. When I first saw it 16 years ago, I was with a majority of people in that it came off as ridiculous. One of my friends told me that I should give it another chance. By 2009, I did and the more viewings I took in of it, I started to notice what the film was trying to say. The result now comes off for me as a social commentary and subtle satire on the artifice of Vegas while also serving as a cynical look at the aspirations of stardom and the inevitable disappointment that follows. I am not the first person to suggest this either. Other supporters of the film have beaten me to this realization. I mean just consider the last shot of the film when Elizabeth Berkley’s character decides to try out Hollywood. This is an indication that in the end it is going to be another disappointment. Again, I am not the first person to come to that realization so all I can do is nod in agreement with those viewers who see it that way. The stylized sets and the behavior of some of the characters may be mistaken for camp, but their depiction of somebody who is hungry for fame sometimes (or often) mirrors our image of that kind of person. This is not to say that all people who want to be famous are like that, but we seem to view that in people who just want fame and nothing else. While it would be easy to dismiss the lead character as a complex joke, she is really anything but, when it seems to be implied somewhere in the film that her character comes from a broken home. This aspect along with the views of Gina Gershon’s character and an unexpected rape scene (played for seriousness) gives what could have easily been dismissed as 50% (If not 100%) camp elevates this to something darker and edgier in certain parts. This is one of those films that you need to see more than twice in order to truly appreciate because that is how I came to truly appreciating it. Anyway, thanks for dropping by 🙂

  5. Interesting ranking there Pete 🙂 Glad to see somebody else on here who appreciates Showgirls every bit as much as I do 🙂 In retrospect, it really comes off as a misunderstood masterpiece. Anyway, thanks for dropping by 🙂

  6. Please watch Showgirls and Starship Troopers right away because while viewing them, both of the films offer much more than meets the eye. Anyway, thanks for dropping by 🙂

  7. I can see why it got panned at the time, but both Berkley and Gershon took it seriously, and that showed. They were definitely good to look at too, which didn’t hurt. On repeated viewings, it just gets better.

  8. “I thought EVERYONE had seen Starship Troopers. 🙂 It’s a great satire on Totalitarianism, and the bugs are wonderful!
    Regards, Pete.”

    My thoughts exactly 🙂

  9. Berkley and Gershon are most certainly attractive as you so eloquently imply and yes, I think they took the roles seriously as well. I think the characters they played in the film is in actuality not a far cry from how these type of people would act in real life. People who ferociously desire fame or already consumed by it can come off as people who can unintentionally make you laugh or take them seriously. We seem to imply this all the time about big name celebrities, who seem to serve (intentionally or unintentionally) as bait for the media. Anyway, thanks for dropping by 🙂

  10. You make an eloquent case for Showgirls John, and I respect Pete’s opinion as well, but I’m with Michael of Inner Circle; I love Showgirls like I love Plan 9 From Outer Space. The swimming pool scene makes me laugh…hard. (Don’t get upset with me John. You know I respect your opinion.)
    My Verhoven list goes like this:
    Robo Cop
    Flesh and Blood (very underrated, I think)
    Starship Troopers (wonderful, campy, fun, satirical and the special effects…Wow!)
    Total Recall (a smart action film, but it is Sci-Fi after all)

  11. I think comparing Showgirls to Plan 9 From Outer Space becomes awkward once you move beyond that and realize what the film is trying to say as a whole. In many ways (both open and subtle), it was intended for one to laugh during the swimming pool scene. The complex joke behind it is that people who are hungry for fame and little else (let alone those already consumed by it) are inevitably bound to be mistaken as a parody (for the former) or self-parody (for the latter). I mean Showgirls was pure camp and nothing else, it would already be a great film, but certain aspects of the film elevate it to something even more daring. I really feel that you have to give this film five more viewings because that is the number of times I saw it in order to fully appreciate. Nevertheless, I do highly respect your opinion though. We can always agree to disagree 🙂

    As for your ranking of Paul Verhoeven films go, I have to say it is intriguing 🙂 Elle at number one is a wow 🙂 I was happy that you loved Robocop, Total Recall and Starship Troopers as much as I did. And I nod in agreement with everything you said about it’s satire and special effects. Speaking of Elle, isn’t Isabelle Huppert just a fantastic actress. I mean she just really owns the film as other people have commented about the film. Anyway, thanks for dropping by and keep those comments coming 🙂

  12. Yes, she’s very good. I was unfamiliar with her before Elle. I would like to see more of her work. I like the fact that she’s a smart, sexy, more mature woman. That’s refreshing–to me anyway. Ha!

  13. I may give Showgirls another viewing, I don’t mind…I’ve seen it a few times. Verhoeven may have had a lot to say about offering oneself up to meatgrinder of fame, but I just didn’t like the way he said it. The actors weren’t sly enough, or directed well enough to give us that wink and nod that satire demands. Just my opinion.

  14. Showgirls works as both a satire and social commentary. As for how Verhoeven and screenwriter Joe Esztherhas depicted it’s satire, I will say that they merely recorded it. I can’t say for sure that they read this guy, but it makes a lot of sense when you take into account these quotes from a late great humorist from 1985. 10 years before the film’s release:

    “You can’t make up anything anymore. The world itself is a satire. All you’re doing is recording it.”
    -Art Buchwald (1925-2007) in a New York Times interview from 1985

    Truer words have never been spoken since on that issue. Anyway, keep those comments coming 🙂

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