A Danny Glover filmography -- We review the actor's heroes and villians

He’s one of the most successful black actors in Hollywood, not because he takes way-out-there chances — he has, on occasion — but because he exudes a friendly professionalism that audiences find incredibly comforting. With Lethal Weapon, Danny Glover had the good fortune to hop on the sequel gravy train, but even his portrayals of Roger Murtaugh in those megahits fit the gifted actor’s rigorous role-call of characters. Here, from a career filled with cops, good guys, and bad guys, are his most notable creations.

Places in the Heart(1984) Bringing in Sally Field’s cotton crop against all human and natural odds, Glover gives depth to a thin role. A-

Witness(1985) Disposing of a squealer in the men’s room of Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station and chasing Harrison Ford through Amish country, Glover’s killer cop is genuinely chilling. A-

Silverado(1985) Lawrence Kasdan’s revisionist Western is great fun, but Glover is along mostly to help Kevins Kline and Costner clean up the title city. B+

The Color Purple (1985) A fine, ferocious performance as Whoopi Goldberg’s abusive Mister, even if Steven Spielberg’s ending sugarcoats the novel’s character. B

Lethal Weapon (1987), Lethal Weapon 2 (1989), and Lethal Weapon 3 (1992) What started out as a reversal of the salt-and-pepper formula (the black cop’s the family man, the white cop’s the live wire) has in five years become the latest formula. Brutal, funny, stylish, and soulless, they’re ones for the time capsule. Lethal 1: B Lethal 2: B+ Lethal 3: C+

Mandela(1987) A sincere, well-produced HBO film, Mandela still falls victim to shallow Great Man pieties — rather understandable given that the film’s subject had been in jail for 24 years at that point. B+

Bat 21 (1988) He plays a Vietnam helicopter pilot on hand to rescue Gene Hackman’s downed officer. Effective adventure, nothing more. C

Lonesome Dove(1989) This miniseries is as sweeping as they come, but Glover is wasted as a plains scout leading Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones on a cattle drive. A

To Sleep With Anger (1990) The least-seen film on this list is also one of the best, with Glover slyly dangerous as a trickster from down South who jinxes his city friends. A

Predator 2 (1990) Cynical and vicious, P2 gives Glover his first bona fide lead role, as a cop fighting an alien invader in 1997 L.A. This must be progress. C

Flight of the Intruder (1991) An attempt at an old-fashioned war movie; too bad Vietnam wasn’t an old-fashioned war. Glover gives good gruff as Willem Dafoe’s hard-ass C.O., but it’s a losing battle in more ways than one. C

A Rage in Harlem (1991) A funny, fey cameo as a Harlem mobster who cares more for his Pekingese than his profits. B

Pure Luck (1991) Playing second fiddle as a detective to Martin Short’s dweeb in a misfired remake of the French comedy La Chèvre (”The Goat”), Glover looks like he’d much rather be elsewhere. D-

Grand Canyon (1991) Kasdan, Kline, and Glover again, this time in modern L.A. The script’s worrywart sensitivity makes Glover’s character too much of a racial representative to really work — but it’s still beautifully acted. B