209. The Fisher King


Movie: The Fisher King

Release Date: September 20, 1991

Director: Terry Gilliam

Starring: Robin Williams, Jeff Bridges, Mercedes Ruehl, Amanda Plummer, Michael Jeter.

Tag Lines: “A Modern Day Tale About The Search For Love, Sanity, Ethel Merman And The Holy Grail.”

“A good, old-fashioned story of guilt, poverty, love, madness and free video club membership.”

“Some called him a hero. Some called him the most dangerous man in America.”

Relevance: In the Fall of 1991, I was starting my Junior year of college. As I have mentioned on this blog before, I went to a school in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania without a movie theater. Actually, there were a lot of “without’s” in that place. My chances of seeing a theatrical new release at that time were slim to none considering the closest cinema was forty-five minutes away and I did not have a car. So ‘The Fisher King’ was missed.

I was already a huge Robin Williams’ fan by that time. I loved his stand-up, his television shows and movies. He was a comedian that would always cheer me up and he made me laugh until my stomach ached. He was an incredible dramatic actor too and I equally loved both his comedy and drama films. This is his first of seven films on my list of most influential movies of all time. Mr. Williams is without a doubt one of my favorite actors of all time.

‘The Fisher King’ was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning one, which only made me want to see it even more. Sometime over my summer break of 1992, I finally rented the film and watched it. I was floored. It was nothing like I imagined it to be, part comedy, part drama and part fantasy. It was beautifully directed and acted and I became fascinated with the story. I eventually read everything I could about Fisher King and the Holy Grail. I was already somewhat familiar due to my Catholic upbringing and my love for Indiana Jones, but I yearned to educate myself even more. I was so moved by both Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges’ performances, I watched and re-watched the movie. It was one of those films I rented a few times from Blockbuster. Every time I watched it, I would get something more out of it.

The movie and its themes have always stayed with me and it remains one of my favorite Jeff Bridges’ films of all time. He and Robin Williams are absolutely wonderful together. I am moved by both of their performances every time I watch it. Although he was nominated for Best Actor, it is one of Mr. Williams’ forgotten movies, and it shouldn’t be. It is a humorous, heartbreaking, romantic tale that has captivated me for years.

Today’s Thoughts: “It’s important to think. It’s what separates us from lentils.”

And ‘The Fisher King’ makes me think. A lot. I haven’t seen the film in its entirety in probably ten years or so, but it put me in a very philosophical mood after watching it today. Good thing I was home alone to marinate in my thoughts.

It really is a beautiful, poetic cinematic achievement. I can’t say enough about the directing and acting. To say they are top-notch is a discredit. Terry Gilliam created a believable universe and filled it with the most gifted of actors. Robin William and Jeff Bridges are of course still fantastic to watch, but Mercedes Ruehl gives a phenomenal performance and deserved every accolade she received for the role. Amanda Plummer was equally glorious as the quirky Lydia, love interest to Mr. Willliams’ character. The dinner date scene is a must watch. Billed as the Homeless Cabaret Singer, Michael Jeter absolutely steals every scene that he is in, which is really just two. He is equally heartbreaking and hysterical and his “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” routine is now iconic. He was such a talented comedic actor. It was a bit sad watching this movie today knowing that both he and Robin Williams are no longer on this planet. Two bright stars that definitely extinguished way too soon.

As if I didn’t love this movie enough, the penis finally makes a return on my countdown for its seventh time. Yes, ‘The Fisher King’ has male full frontal nudity. If you have ever wanted to see Robin Williams’ penis, this is the movie to check out. Again, silly to some I know, but it is just my way of pointing out how lopsided Hollywood can be when it comes to nudity and sexism. So thank you Mr. Williams for bearing all, clothes and soul. You can check out the six other “penises” here: 295. Being John Malkovich, 296. Wildcats, 332. The Crying Game, 335. Born on the Fourth of July343. Sideways and 357. Amadeus.

‘The Fisher King’ definitely comes highly recommended by this film fan. It is an interesting, thought-provoking film with really tremendous performances and a beautiful script. I will leave you with one of my favorite lines:

“There’s three things in this world that you need: Respect for all kinds of life, a nice bowel movement on a regular basis, and a navy blazer.”

It’s funny, cause it’s true.

Awards: Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Mercedes Ruehl (winner), Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Robin Williams (nomination), Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen. Richard LaGravenese (nomination), Academy Award for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Mel Bourne, Cindy Carr (nomination), Academy Award for Best Music, Original Score, George Fenton (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, Robin Williams (winner), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture, Mercedes Ruehl (winner), Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Director – Motion Picture, Terry Gilliam (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, Jeff Bridegs (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Amanda Plummer (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay – Original, Richard LaGravenese (nomination), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress, Mercedes Ruehl (winner), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Picture (nomination), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Director, Terry Gilliam (nomination), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress, Amanda Plummer (nomination), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Screenplay, Richard LaGravanese (nomination), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, Richard LaGravenese (nomination).

Ways to Watch: Vudu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, DVD Availability.


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