1. BONNIE AND CLYDE (Arthur Penn; 1967) 4 stars

One of the key American movies of the '60s: producer-star Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons and Michael J. Pollard are a glamorized version of the Bonnie Parker-Clyde Barrow Gang, a naive but murderous bunch whose reckless Depression criminal career turns into a romantic, terrifying odyssey of blood, fame and reckoning. It's a movie whose perfectly controlled mix of violence, romance, laughs, period detail and social comment caught the mood and spirit of the Vietnam War era. (on DVD and video)

2. THE FRENCH CONNECTION (William Friedkin; 1971) 4 stars

The most violently kinetic cops-and-robbers thriller of its day, based on the real-life Marseilles heroin connection investigation by New York cops Sonny Grosso and Eddie Egan -- re-created by Roy Scheider as Buddy Russo and Oscar-winner Hackman as Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle. (DVD/video)

3. SCARECROW (Jerry Schatzberg; 1973) 4 stars

A lyrical yet wounding movie about two outsiders (ex-con Max, played by Hackman, and misfit Lion, Al Pacino) who hook up while hitchhiking from California to Pittsburgh and undergo trials and tragedy. Schatzberg's moody portrayal of these two mismatched, luckless drifters is graced with brilliant performances by Hackman and Pacino. (DVD/video)

4. THE CONVERSATION (Francis Coppola; 1974) 4 stars

Coppola's mesmerizing Cannes Grand Prize winner about surveillance expert Harry Caul (Hackman) who's been hired for a mysterious bugging job and comes to suspect he's being pulled into something far more dangerous and sinister. Harry pieces together damning bits of taped conversation, whose meanings change the more he listens. (DVD/video)

5. UNFORGIVEN (Clint Eastwood; 1992) (4 stars

Director-star Eastwood's hard-bitten, melancholy revision of the Western myth got him the best reviews of his career (and Oscars for "Best Picture" and "Best Director"). It's a tough look at an aging gunslinger's last battle -- with Eastwood as the old top gun, Morgan Freeman as his sidekick-buddy, and Hackman as a sadistic sheriff. The cast is brilliant, especially Hackman. (DVD/video)

Michael Wilmington is the Chicago Tribune movie critic.