Robert Downey Sr. was born in 1936 in Manhattan and initiated his directorial journey with three experimental comedy films. These films include “Babo 73,” “Chafed Elbows” from 1966, and “No More Excuses” released in 1968. All of these films were approximately an hour long and marked the beginning of his distinctive approach to comedy. They showcased a blend of Groucho Marx-inspired dialogue, Richard Lester’s visual humor, and a dash of risqué content that offered a refreshing break from conventional films. Film critic Andy Klein noted the uniqueness of Downey Sr.’s early movies as a pleasant divergence from the norm.
What Was Downey Sr.’s Most Recognizable Work?
Undoubtedly, “Putney Swope” released in 1969 stands as Downey Sr.’s pièce de résistance. He donned multiple hats for this avant-garde satire, serving as its writer, producer, and director. The film spotlights Arnold Johnson, who plays the lone Black man on an advertising agency’s board on Madison Avenue. His unexpected election as chairman takes his white colleagues by surprise. This film’s underlying comedy combined with its political undertones has made it a favorite among film enthusiasts, cementing its place as Downey Sr.’s most notable work.
How Was Downey Sr. As An Actor?
Apart from his directorial successes, Downey Sr. was also an actor. He debuted on the big screen in “No More Excuses,” playing a Civil War soldier who finds himself time-traveling to 1968 New York City. Over the years, he featured in a diverse range of films and TV series, including popular titles like “To Live and Die in L.A.,” “Boogie Nights,” “Tower Heist,” and “Magnolia.”
Did Robert Downey Jr. Work With His Father?
Yes, Robert Downey Jr., the renowned “Iron Man” star, began his acting career by starring in several of his father’s films. Some notable mentions include “Pound,” “Greaser’s Palace,” and “Up the Academy.” Downey Jr.’s sister, Allyson Downey, also shared the screen with him in a few of their father’s projects. Both children were from Downey Sr.’s first marriage with fellow actor Elsie Ford.
What Was Unique About Downey Sr.’s Approach to Filmmaking?
Downey Sr.’s filmmaking style was marked by his desire to push boundaries and experiment. Robert Downey Jr., reflecting on his father’s work, mentioned in 2014 that Downey Sr. wasn’t content with just traditional storytelling. He always had a vision but was constantly on the lookout for unconventional elements to incorporate. These unique aspects, often quirky or offbeat, became the memorable components of his films.
In conclusion, Robert Downey Sr.’s legacy as a maverick filmmaker remains undeniable. His fearless approach to cinema, combined with his comedic genius, ensures his work continues to inspire and entertain.