by: Jay P. Carlson - Indie Revolver
My earliest memories of Robin Williams were from 'Mork and Mindy'. I'm pretty sure it was on in repeats in the mid 80's with 'Bosom Buddies'. I could be remembering that wrong though, it's amazing how your mind can reform memories and consolidate them as you get older. Maybe what was once two memories is now one. Anyway, around that time there was also Robert Altman's 'Popeye', I only saw pieces of this one as I found it somewhat disturbing. I also remember looking at the cover of 'The Best of Times' every time I went to the video store where I spent most of my childhood. I never rented it though.
My first real exposure to Robin Williams though was 'Good Morning Vietnam'. Something clicked for me with that film. I was only eight or nine, some of it was certainly beyond what I understood. Hell, I may not have even realized what Vietnam even was. But his performance, the way it went from manically funny DJ to the drama of the horrors of war all around him... It entranced me. I watched it MANY times, thanks to my grandfather buying it when it first came out. Something in his performance just grabbed me. I believe that was a sweet spot for him performance wise. Comedy made him famous but his dramatic performances made him a legend.
I became a fan of Williams during a period where he was moving beyond the comedy and focusing on more dramatic roles, so that's what I think of when I think of Robin Williams. Soon after 'Good Morning Vietnam' I saw 'Dead Poets Society' and then 'Awakenings' and 'The Fisher King'. 'Awakenings' is still an all-time favorite. Williams and De Niro played off each other like a couple of Jazz legends losing themselves in the music, each pushing each other to places they might not get to otherwise.
There are so many more Williams films that I loved over the years: Hook, Toys (I might be the only person to enjoy that one, thanks to HBO playing it constantly), Mrs Doubtfire, The Birdcage, Good Will Hunting, What Dreams May Come (Still decimates me), One Hour Photo, Insomnia, Death to Smoochy... So many amazing performances.
Most recently I had watched 'World's Greatest Dad' another tremendous performance that made me go back and reacquaint myself with the Williams films I loved.
The bitch of it all is that we never know when we're going to lose one of the ones that means so much to so many. Perhaps instead of celebrating them after their gone, it would be nice to recognize them universally while they're still with us.
If anyone is looking for me, I'll be spending some time with a friend taken too early via the amazing legacy of varied performances for the next few days.