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    The Cotton Club (1984)
Dir. Francis Ford Coppola
Joe returns to the American screen in his first Hollywood A-picture, the notoriously troubled Robert Evans production about gangsters and The Cotton Club, where black entertainers performed for all-white clientele. Showing up on and off during the film’s climactic, all-star club scene, Joe manages to make a striking impression as the infamous Charles “Lucky” Luciano. He looks like he could be Robert De Niro’s brother! Available on DVD.
    Critical Condition (1987)
Dir. Michael Apted
Bearded and hobbling when we first see him, Joe at least gets to clean himself up a bit before the dangerous criminal subplot has him getting kicked in the nuts by Richard Pryor. Pryor’s busy masquerading as a doctor in an island hospital threatened by a hurricane. Available on DVD.
      Private War (1988)
Dir. Frank DiPalma
Joe proves he’s made of the right stuff when surprisingly cast as a hardcore military psycho in this action film that ends up playing like a slasher movie. Available on video. AKA Operation Paratrooper.
      Sunset (1988)
Dir. Blake Edwards
Joe holds his own as gangster Dutch Schultz opposite James Garner, Malcolm McDowell and Bruce Willis in the fictionalized story of the legendary Wyatt Earp coming to Hollywood to coach the legendary Tom Mix on playing him in the movies. Out-of-print, but still available on DVD.
    Cry-Baby (1990)
Dir. John Waters
He should have worked with cult director Waters long before this, but better late than never. Joe lends support to Waters’ usually fun and eclectic casting choices as a Bible-beating evangelist in the Johnny Depp juvenile delinquent musical. Available on DVD in a director's cut, including a making-of documentary and an "unrated" John Waters commentary.
    Double Revenge (1990)
Dir. Armand Mastroianni
Bad-ass Joe blows away the nice-guy’s wife and loses his own brother during a botched bank job. There’s not enough evidence to convict him, so it’s every man for himself in this action exploitation showdown.
      Almost An Angel (1990)
Dir. John Cornell
Joe receives special end credits billing for his cameo as the hooded bank robber in this Paul Hogan comedy...and gets one more shot in the getaway car without the hood. Available on DVD.
    Wild Orchid II: Two Shades of Blue (1992)
Dir. Zalman King
Another seedy character to add to his repertoire. Joe is the sleazy club owner who trades sex with a teenager for the drugs she needs to supply her horn-playing old man. The porcelain young beauty then prepares for a life as a shape-shifting prostitute in this goopy softcore bore. Available on DVD.
    Guncrazy (1992)
Dir. Tamra Davis
A fan-favorite of Joe’s films since his return to the screen in 1984, even though his role is a small one. Admittedly, he’s first-rate as a white trash geek living in a trailer and fooling around one time too many with his absent-girlfriend’s daughter (Drew Barrymore). The rest of the film follows the exploits of Drew and her ex-con boyfriend on the run. Available on DVD.
      Bad Love (1993)
Dir. Jill Goldman
Joe’s the sexist pig boss who insists on sleeping with his secretary until she decides to tell him off and moves on to employment as the companion to a has-been movie star recluse. Available on DVD.
      Sugar Hill (1994)
Dir. Leon Ichaso
Making a strong impression in his first scene as a vengeful hood threatening to get mixed up in the racial powerplay over drugs on the street, Joe has little to do in the rest of the movie and he really should have been there for the film’s showdown. That aside, this is an eloquent and powerful fable of redemption with Wesley Snipes as the brother who wants to break free from the clutches of crime, violence and drugs that have claimed his family. Available on DVD.
    Theodore Rex (1995)
Dir. Jonathan R. Betuel
Sure, it’s embarrassing, but you do what you have to do. A cookie-loving dinosaur teams up with a cyborg cop to investigate a dinocide that may be related to a real estate scheme. Joe has just a few painful minutes at the beginning, but at least he shares them with an equally-embarrassed Whoopi Goldberg, whom he enjoyed working with a great deal and considers a friend. Available on DVD.
    L.A. Without A Map (aka I Love LA; 1998)
Dir. Mika Kaurismäki
A self-described “light romantic comedy” about an aspiring Hollywood actress and her undertaker boyfriend from Britain. The second film in Kaurismäki’s international film trilogy (first was Condition Red, third will be Highway Society). Joe has a small role as a sleazy photographer in a cast that includes Vinessa Shaw, David Tennant, Julie Delpy, Vincent Gallo, James LeGros, Johnny Depp, and Anouk Aimee. Available on DVD.
      The Limey (1999)
Dir. Steven Soderbergh
Soderbergh’s critically-acclaimed crime drama stars Terence Stamp as a British criminal unwillingly lured back into the life while searching for his daughter’s killer in Los Angeles. Joe shows up as a dimwitted thug hired to off him. The cast includes Lesley Ann Warren, Peter Fonda, and Nicky Katt. The DVD version contains occasional commentary by Joe on the 1960's alternate audio track.
    Citizens of Perpetual Indulgence (1999)
Dir. Alex Monty Canawati
A remarkable cast that includes Alexis Arquette, Juliet Landau, John Phillip Law, Mink Stole, Holly Woodlawn, and Mary Woronov in an entirely improvised tale of a portrait artist and a struggling actor trying to break into the LA underground art scene. Joe plays a bartender and has a scene with Udo Kier! Unreleased, though the IMDb entry has been updated with a 2014 release under the title Citizens. Watch the Trailer.
      Pacino Is Missing (2002)
Dir. Eric Galler
A pseudo-Get Shorty with Joe as a mob boss whose moll has hooked up with a young hood now in charge of a movie studio. Shot in 1998. Unreleased, but test-screened in New York in 2002. The blurry trailer can be found at IMDb.
©2005; 2014, Michael Ferguson