My favorite Robin Williams movies
Still trying to accept that he's gone. Tragic of course as any human's passing is. But also, for the talent he displayed and had yet to give.
He's in the Night At The Museum sequel about to come out.
But of all the stuff he did, one of my all time faves is Moscow On The Hudson.
There are just so many scenes in this one where he nails it. Several others were also outstanding, but this one remains my personal favorite, like the scene when he first encounters an American grocery store coffee aisle, after the privations of pre-glasnost Soviet want and rationing.
I remember first seeing him in an episode of Happy Days, here the Mork character made such an impression it generated the spin-off show, which was must-see viewing in my teen years. We would trade "Mork" impressions all day at school the next day after an episode. And his work with Jonathan Winters was mesmerizing.
His film performances were somewhat un-even; I think the conventional wisdom was that you needed a very strong Director to moderate Robin and channel his performances. He had an enormous range that went from actinic brightness to the darkest corners of humanity. His mime skills made him a living cartoon creature. If you read his bio, his childhood has some interesting parallels to that of Orson Welles, with loss, dark periods, and tragedies, as well as episodes of exceptionalism and iconoclastic searching for self-actualization.
Because of a lack of eloquence, I can only say that I am absolutely and completely bummed out. I is hard to accept, indeed. For me, my exposure to the talent of Robin Williams started with Popeye (backed by Harry Nilsson of course):
Robin Williams was also a part of my childhood. I remember watching Live at the Met (1986) when I was very young and therefore not really able to fully understand everything that he was saying, but yet, it impressed me. I could feel, through his use of language and character, how hard he struggled with addiction, even though he never really came out and said it in so many words. I didn't even know what addiction truly meant. I still watch it and it still impresses me.
Here's Part 1 (all 5 that are on youtube):
It's hard for me to name a favorite movie performance. He was a true talent.
Like Mark, I saw the original Happy Days appearance. For those born after 1975, Happy Days was a sitcom covering generally benign subjects in 1950's-60's midwest America, with the occasional musical number and some great characters. So when the show featured a egg-shaped UFO landing with Mork from Ork meeting Richie, it would seem that the show was about to "jump the shark." However the show really jumped the shark when Fonzie actually jumped a shark on waterskis, which is of course where the expression came from.
Yes this was the days of the spinoff show. Let's not forget that Laverne and Shirley was also a Happy Days spinoff.
So when Mork from Ork became a show of its own, it was the greatest thing on tv for a while. I believe it was either Tuesday or Friday nights, you had Mork, Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, Three's Company - 2 full hours of great comedy.
All the kids enjoyed the Mork catch phrases:
Mork Calling Orson, Come in Orson
If ever there was a breakout role for an actor it was Mork.
According to IMDB Williams previously appeared on The Richard Pryor Show, Laugh-in and Eight is Enough BEFORE Mork.
His first movie was Popeye. I remember seeing this on VHS in the early 80's.
I never saw The World According to Garp. It is not on Netflix, so chances are I will have to set my DVR to be on the lookout.
Next came "The Survivors" also starring Walter Matthau, followed by his breakout movie role Moscow on the Hudson. This movie really defined Williams as a comedic/dramatic actor. At the height of the 1980's Cold War, at a time when Reagan and Gorbachev were going head to head on nuclear weapons, Hudson brought Williams' Russian musician to New York where he defects inside Bloomingdales's - that description alone was enough to catapult this movie into pop culture history.
Going by IMDB, his next three films are relatively unknown (The Best of Times, Club Paradise, Seize the Day).
Then came 1987 and "Good Morning Vietnam." Both funny with its improvised radio monologues and poignant with its scenes of the horrors of war, this film firmly established Williams as a cinematic force to be reckoned with. This was the era of other Vietnam movies (Casualties of War, Full Metal Jacket, Platoon, Born of the Fourth of July) but this one spun things differently, that entertaining the troops has a place to take some of the burden off of those fighting. Comedy itself, as was the case with Williams and so many comedians, is a defense mechanism against the realities of life. Sometimes it works, sometimes life wins.
Next came a fun minor part as King of the Moon in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen - Terry Gilliam's underrated fantasy which I quite enjoy every time I see it.
Dead Poets Society - if you thought you had seen the dramatic side of Williams, this film took him to the next level. As one of the definitive coming of age movies of the 80's (along with Stand by Me), Poets became a staple of college orientations, graduation speeches and was immediately seen as the vehicle that would take Williams into serious drama for the forseeable future.
Cadillac Man - I remember seeing this at the theater but admittedly don't remember it. Not on Netflix either. Come on Netflix.
Awakenings - with Robert Deniro in DeNiro's heyday before he decided to be a comedian!
The Fisher King - Gilliam again
Hook - seemingly back to comedy, this film was a hit before cameras rolled - Williams, Roberts, Spielberg, Hoskins, Hoffman - Hook was a retelling of Peter Pan with the spin being that the Peter Pan story that we all know was true, and that Peter stayed in reality, grew up, became a father and forgot about his past, but then has to go back to Neverland when his own kids are abducted by Captain Hook. Spielberg, king of nostalgia, really captured the memories of a childhood story and created a fun yet emotionally driven story. The best moments were, in my opinion, when the movie called back to the original JM Barrie story, with Wendy as an old lady and the original nursery where the original story began.
Back on the comedy horse, Williams next big thing was voicing Genie in the animated Disney movie Aladdin. No one will ever know how much was improvised, probably most of it, but there is some fantastic comedic acting in this movie and really set the bar for the modern animated classic.
Toys was a cute little film worth another look (Barry Levinson teamed up with Williams on this film and Good Morning Vietnam.)
Next came one of the funniest movies of Williams' career, Mrs. Doubtfire. With hints of Tootsie, this movie put Williams over the top as a comedic actor once again, but like most good comedy, it had a big heart too.
With Jumanji, Williams entered the era of movies featuring digital technology - a dangerous game in which A-List actors need to now compete with synthetic characters. So many times the CGI wins. I think Williams did ok in this adaptation of a children's book, but the CGI won the day.
I'm going to have to come back to this, as we still have the Birdcage, Jack, Good Will Hunting, What Dreams May Come (oddly enough this movie had depression and suicide as a theme), Patch Adams, Bicentennial Man, One Hour Photo, Insomnia and many more to discuss.
We'll miss you Robin.
This celebrity death really stings. What an incredible force Robin Williams was. My favorite performances were Hook, Patch Adams, Aladdin, Mork & Mindy and his stand-up Live on Broadway and stand-up/Improv on Comic Relief. Solo stand-up, group improvisation, scripted drama. Unbelievable. Just seeing the energy he brought to Inside the Actors Studio is incredible.
With all of the bright energy he brought to these things, I can only imagine how dark those demons must have been in the shadows. At the risk of sounding pessimistic, I think he should be respected for keeping those demons at bay for so long. Many other artists were not so lucky. Still tragic. Still so sad. Still hope for those who battle.
Marc Maron reposted his 2010 interview with Mr Williams.
Very sad... Being a young fella in the early 90s, I was raised on Aladdin, Hook, Jumanji and to an extent, Jack (which is better than a lot of Coppola's other films). But first and foremost for me, was Mrs. Doubtfire, a movie I practically have memorized because I've seen it about 50 times.
I can respect all the other work he's done, and I have explored his stand up and early TV appearances as well (and they are great and show his all over the place talent), but his work in children's films in the 90s are pretty personally emotional to me (and a lot of other people too).
And then in my later years, I grew to watch and enjoy Good Will Hunting, One Hour Photo, and World's Greatest Dad (not the best movie ever, but a really good performance from Williams). At least it has been nice to see all the tributes and memories from almost everyone, which have done nothing but make me smile. This is one of the biggest outpourings of respect for a fallen celebrity I may have ever seen.
(opens refrigerator) (slams whip cream pie into face) (springs to attention) GooooOOOOOOD-BYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE, Mr. Williams