“I just think he’s one of our great American directors” — P.T. Anderson
Underground filmmaker, midnight movie maven, existential cosmic joker and surrealist film freak extraordinary — Robert Downey, Sr. was the clown prince of the Beat Cinema scene in its golden age. Inspired equally by the Marx Brothers and Samuel Beckett, Downey’s absurdist wit and jazz film style made him a critics’ darling and audience favorite in the 1960s New York arthouse scene, and later a cult movie sensation in the 1970s with classics like Putney Swope and Greaser’s Palace. These early works are as barbed as Lenny Bruce, as absurd as Alfred Jarry, and as out-to-lunch as Eric Dolphy. Rough around the edges and all-around hilarious, Downey’s first films stand as landmark works in the history of American independent cinema.