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I was wondering how many of his movies are acessiable through DVD and or Laserdisc?
I really wanna see America which according to IMDB came out in 1986.
Too Much Sounds, sounds interesting. Can anyone weigh in?
In 2005, he did a movie called Rittenhouse Square. Anyone seen it?
Putney Swope (1969) (as Robert Downey [a prince])
No More Excuses (1968)
Sweet Smell of Sex (1965) (as Robert Downey)
… aka Sweet Smell of Perfume (USA: alternative title)
Babo 73 (1964)
A Touch of Greatness (1964)
Balls Bluff (1961)
Up the Academy (1980)
… aka Mad Magazine Presents Up the Academy
… aka Mad Magazine’s Up the Academy
… aka The Brave Young Men of Weinberg
Moment to Moment (1975)
… aka Two Tons of Turquoise to Taos (USA: alternative title)
Sticks and Bones (1973)
Recently TCM played both Greaser’s Palace (1972) and Putney Swope (1969)
Lastly, this looks good:
wow – he has made alot of movies – where are they all?
i saw hugo pool on a rented VHS about 10 years ago – it was great; sort of tweaked 70’s surrealist take on the 90’s.
OISIN you just sold me on Hugo Pool “sort of tweaked 70’s surrealist take on the 90’s.” gracias
I can personally recommend Putney Swope. Its the smartest and wittiest movie to come out in 1969. I fucking love the movie, so ahead of its time yet still an astute social commentary
Putney Swope is oh so good. I’d love to see more of his stuff and I’m sorry I missed Greaser’s Palace on IFC recently. (if it played on the Canadian version of the channel as well). Mr. Sr. definitely needs to be added to The Auteurs.
His Boogie Nights scene is fantastic. I regularly lamely quote his “YP, not an MP” line (www.youtube.com/watch?v=Daoad5mDdqY )…
Poppa Downey was also awesome in To Live And Die in L.A :D
I wanna find more movies with Bob Ridgley, the Colonel from Boogie Nights, Acoording to PTA he was in some Brooks comedies
I know where to find a copy of Pound, Chaffed Elbows and Moment to Moment. Greaser’s Palace is horribly out of print (on Amazon, a new copy will cost ya $200.) If you want me to give you the link, drop me a line.
“Putney Swope” is a classic.
One of his early films — “Babo 73” I think — features a young would-be actor named (wait for it)
A lot of his later work is considered inferior in some circles and downright terrible in others, but I love everything he’s done. He’s a one-of-a-kind writer as well as director. You have to be open-minded, though, and appreciate sophomoric and politically incorrect humor.
He doesn’t seem to hold his work in very high regard, which is a shame, because it might explain why he hasn’t made more films. I wish he would.
I haven’t seen them all, but…
A Touch of Greatness – One of several interesting short films Downey shot during the early ’60s featuring the students of the maverick teacher Albert Cullum. Available on the DVD called A Touch of Greatness, the main feature of which is a documentary about Cullum.
Chafed Elbows – Probably my favorite, just a steady onslaught of brilliant one-liners and non sequiturs. Consists mostly of still photographs with a few live action scenes.
Putney Swope – Great satire, Downey’s most famous and influential.
Pound – A pure cinematic example of Theatre of the Absurd. A bunch of really talented comic actors pretending to be dogs in a pound, with a subplot involving the “Honky Killer” (he’s white). Great music.
Greaser’s Palace – I love this, it’s got some of my favorite Downey dialogue and it’s completely surreal and beautifully shot. It’s a parody of El Topo, which is weird in itself. Again, great music (by Jack Nitzsche).
MAD Magazine Presents Up the Academy – My least favorite, though it’s still good. A lot of it is just substandard gross-out teen humor, not particularly witty (even MAD disowned it), but with a good power-pop soundtrack.
America – This is a really good one. Has more of a “low-rent” feel than his earlier work, but still hilarious.
Rented Lips – Clever script by Martin Mull, who also stars, and Dick Shawn is great as always. Somehow, the kind of humor that would have been daring in the ’60s seemed tasteless to people in the ’80s. Insane Downey Jr. performance.
Too Much Sun – Insane Downey Jr. performance #2. Actually, everyone is insane in this one. Lacks the surrealism of Greaser’s, Pound, etc….see those first, but don’t skip this one.
Hugo Pool – Great, turned a lot of people off with its well-known cast delivering offbeat and downright weird performances. It has a serious undercurrent and Patrick Dempsey and Alyssa Milano are memorable. (REALLY) insane Downey Jr. performance #3.
Rittenhouse Square – I saw Downey Sr. live in Philadelphia when this premiered (it’s a documentary about a section of Philly). It’s his least Downey-like, not really absurdist or bizarre like his fiction films, but worth seeing.
Thank you Tio Bradski so much for your input.
Dave, that pretty cool.
J Dunn hit me up with that link :D
Tio, Can you speak on Rittenhouse Square and America,more
Rittenhouse Square is structured around a year in the existence of a park in Philadelphia. It was shot near the Curtis Institute of Music and it has a lot of music in it, performed by diverse people on diverse instruments. We see people engaged in lots of park-like activities, people discuss the park’s spotty history and we meet some of its denizens—some of it gets rather bizarre, which I imagine was Downey directing people to be bizarre. Or maybe not (we’re in Philadelphia, after all). Downey still has his eye for grotesques. The film is dominated by a young violin-playing girl, who is very talented, but one wishes there was greater attention to other musicians. The film manages to make Philly seem like an attractive place.
America is such a ramshackle film, I can understand why it’s ignored, but it’s awesome, especially if you like low-budget -‘80s comedies. I see it as a successful continuation of the kind of humor that made Greaser’s Palace and Pound so great – a satire about TV, dated but funny. The main character wears a skirt throughout the movie because his wife found it in his briefcase, the news anchor yells his lines, Richard Belzer (not my favorite comic) shows up inexplicably to do stand-up, the music is pure ‘80s cheese…the story flies off the tracks (if it was even on tracks in the first place) but the characters and situations are so absurd and ridiculous, it’s classic Downey nevertheless. It’s not a “good” (or even “passable”) movie but if you’ve ever recognized how Mel Brooks comedies are terrible and brilliant at the same time, it’s kind of like that (but weirder).
Thanks I wish there was a way to obtain his films without a hassle
I wonder when Rittenhouse Square will be on DVD and or America
how come he is sometime credited as “a prince”?
Watchmaker Films and Benten Films will be remastering and or restoring the following films:
Moment to Moment
No More Excuses
and possibly Babo ’73 and Sticks and Bones (including a commentary by Downey and playwrite David Rabe).
We hope to have the titles available for screenings in the fall and DVD/BD shortly after.
Robert Downey Jr. makes his motion picture debut in “Pound” — as a puppy.
@Etienne Carsoux — For his first few films he was ALWAYS credited as “Robert Downey ( a prince)”
I think you have to be from New York to understand that.
@ Mark Rance
Whats up with the remastering or restoring of the Downey Sr movies? Is it still moving forward. Hopefully America can be apart of the restoring magic as well.
Ok so I finally got around to watching Greasers Palace and WOW WOW did I enjoy the movie. What a treat it was. I could not stop thinking about one thing upon watching the film. I was struck by the imagery of the film and how some shots in the film resembled There Will Be Blood. Not like an exact like shot but just like production design things and camera movements and overall kinda of feeling. I know that Paul Thomas Anderson must of seen this movie and riffed off Greasers Palace. It was awesome to watch Greasers Palace and just be kinda of dazzled by the fact that the movie is so fucking great and at the same time you are watching Greasers Palace you can see where P.T Anderson got some inspiration from. I know Paul Thomas Anderson is a big fan of Downey Sr, he mentions his love for Putney Swope on the Boogie Nights Commentary and Papa Downey is even in Boogie Nights(Y.P/M.P)
@Mark Rance: Whats the story with these remastered Downey Sr. movies and the commentaries!?
I recommend everyone who is interested in Robert Downey Sr.’s movies to go see Greasers Palace. Also anyone who is a fan of P.T Anderson or There Will Be Blood.
I am really surprised nobody has written on the similarities to There Will Be Blood to Greasers Palace.
here are some clips on youtube that really drive my point:
PTA copies more people than QT (nearly)
glad u liked Greasers. I like all of Sr. films including Up the Academy and Hugo Pool
hahah thanks for the quick reply. I need to see those. I really wanna see Hugo Pool. I really wanna see America, as well.
@ Coffin Den PTA and Q.T are on the same level and when it comes to riffing off other films they love they do it like no one else can, that is one of the reasons they are companeros
There is an episode of the Museum of the Moving Image podcast that’s essentially an audience talkback with Downey after a 2009 screening of Putney Swope.
In it, Downey says the audience’s response has encouraged him to make more films they way he did in the 60s. We can only hope. In the meantime, extremely happy to hear about remastering.
Whats the deal with getting this man’s movies on DVD! Criterion get to work!
Films of Robert Downey Sr.
Chale Nafus | Apr 03, 2011 | Comments 0
The bright, masterful, formerly drug-taking, always delightful actor Robert Downey Jr. didn’t need to fall far from his paternal tree. Robert Downey Sr. was a brilliant, irreverent, drug-experiencing, free-spirited, creative observer of the American cultural landscape of the 1960s and early 70s. He wrote and directed a number of short and feature narrative films which prove his talents. The Alamo Drafthouse and Austin Film Society are now going to present four of those criminally neglected films in April.
The first Downey film I ever saw was CHAFED ELBOWS. It was 1966 and this movie with the somehow-salacious title was playing at Batts Auditorium on the UT Austin campus, a place my friends and I saw films (“foreign” and “underground”) at least once a week. Raquel, a friend at the time, and I sat down in those uncomfortable wooden seats and watched the film unwind. The first scene I remember 45 years later is a man in bed with a woman, interrupted by a knock at the door. When he referred to the woman as “mother” and dropped her out the window to escape detection, I think we yelled – with delight – at the irreverence and smuttiness of this filmmaker. Even with the 60s in full swing, even in Austin, we could still be shocked. Now that I read J. Hoberman’s 2008 review, I am thinking maybe the mother was knocking at the door and interrupting her son’s sexual tryst with some other woman: “Blithely transgressive, Chafed Elbows is an episodic Candide story in which a bland young slacker [that was not a word used outside of military circles in the 60s] wanders through Manhattan mixing it up with downtown artists, midtown cops, and uptown sock-sniffers. It ends happily when he marries his mother, moves to Queens, and goes on welfare.” Bedding his mother, marrying his mother, whatever. There was still something shocking about the principal male character doing anything with his mother in the 1960s. The Alamo will present this barely feature-length, mainly black & white comedy along with NO MORE EXCUSES, apparently a pastiche of four of Downey’s pre-CHAFED shorts, which, according to J. Hoberman, cobble together scenes of a Civil War soldier in 60s Manhattan, an advocate for animal couture, President Garfield’s assassination re-enactment, soft-core sex, and singles bars. Somebody had to cover all these themes in 62 minutes before John Waters came along.
I never saw MOMENT TO MOMENT, so I am really glad that the Alamo programmers, Zack and Lars, added this to the lineup. Aaron Hillis, who certainly knows a thing or two about dark humor, as a co-director of FISH KILL FLEA (2007), wrote this about Downey’s MOMENT TO MOMENT: “This odd bird from 1975 that took him years to finish [is] perhaps the most obscure and personal of the lot. An absurdist, 16mm sketch comedy with jazzy digressions and countercultural wordplay…. A full-manned baseball game is played entirely on horseback, senior citizens pick fights over chicks, yet at some point, a voice in the cacophony sighs, ‘Today’s surrealism is tomorrow’s soap opera.’” There’s even an appearance by a very young Robert Downey Jr.
Kicking off the 3-evening retrospective will be Robert Downey Sr.’s PUTNEY SWOPE. When it was released in 1969, there was way too much material in it that simply wasn’t funny. We weren’t cynical or ironic—yet. Black Power still garnered a lot of support from the left, and the idea of a Black man taking control of an advertising agency was laudable, not funny. Filling the agency with his friends and relatives smacked too much of stereotyping and so wasn’t funny either. In fact, Putney refused to take on ads for cigarettes, alcohol, or war toys – again, a righteous attitude, though he would eventually succumb for money. Today, the film seems way ahead of its time – not with the ethnic, homophobic, or sexist “humor,” which is now more tiresome than upsetting – but as a satire of advertising and capitalism. Some of the TV commercials are humorous, if belaboured. And, to be fair, no one escaped Downey’s satirical weapons, so it could be said that he was already uncovering the eventual absurdity of many aspects of the 60s. He never saw a sacred cow he didn’t want to eat. This film certainly offers some intriguing plotlines for future seasons of MAD MEN and is well worth seeing as an artefact/mirror of its time. And you might even find it funny in an ironic, 21st century way.
and he looks well
Putney Swope was a huge influence on Louis C.K. Great Flick!!!
Eclipse Series-May 22
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