Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Trailer Park Tuesday: The World According to Garp, RIP Robin Williams

Welcome to Trailer Park Tuesday, a showcase of new book trailers and, in a few cases, previews of book-related movies.

"T. S. Garp, huh?  What does the 'T. S.' stand for?"

Throughout the 1982 movie The World According to Garp, the question is answered several different ways: "Terribly Shy," "Terribly Sexy," and "Terribly Sad."

Today, like the rest of my generation who grew up holding out split fingers and saying, "Na-nu, na-nu," I'm Terribly Sad.  News of Robin Williams' death punched the wind out of my sails when I saw the email alert last night.  The words "Comedian Robin Williams found dead" just didn't make sense.  As Tom Shales noted in his tribute at The Daily Beast, "On television, the death on Monday of actor and comedian Robin Williams was hyped as 'Breaking News,' but they could justifiably have filed it under 'heartbreaking news' as well."  Though Williams' career had its peaks and valleys (perhaps too many valleys for a man of his gifts), the best years were his early ones.  In the late 1970s, when Robin Williams was unleashed on the world (in his stand-up comedy acts, the Mork and Mindy series, and even the under-appreciated movie Popeye), it was as if a furnace door had opened and we were caught in the blast of his improvisational heat.  He was a manic tornado of language and jokes--some of them sticking, some missing--in routines that literally left me breathless.  Words whipped past our ears at Tasmanian Devil speed; good luck catching all of them.

He dialed down the comedy a little bit for the big-screen treatment of John Irving's novel The World According to Garp, but he channeled the leftover energy into the dramatic side of T. S. Garp, a writer living in the shadow of his overbearing mother (Glenn Close).  The humor in both the movie and the book is dark...but delicious.  This may not be Robin Williams' best performances; but for me, it's one of the most memorable.  I can still remember when and where I was when I saw it for the first time: September 1982 in a Laramie, Wyoming movie theater.  As the movie opens, we see a baby being tossed in the air as The Beatles' "When I'm Sixty-Four" plays in the background.  Robin Williams died at 63--caught, perhaps, in the dark anxiety Garp calls "the Under Toad."

Today, while others remember Robin Williams with clips from movies like The Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting, Mrs. Doubtfire and Good, Morning Vietnam (all good performances), I thought I'd pay tribute to him with the trailer and some clips from Garp--even though watching them makes me Terribly Sad.

The trailer:

"The chances of another plane hitting this house are astronomical.  She's been pre-disastered.  We'll be safe here."  (By the way, the pilot in this scene is the movie's director, George Roy Hill.)

And, in closing, the writer at work:

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