"Did you lose your mind all at once, or was it a slow, gradual process'"
- Jack to Parry (Robin Williams)
"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. And oh, one more thing: Never take your eye off the ball."
"I am the janitor of God."
- Parry to Jack
"There is no magic."
- Jack to Parry
"If I had to live with my mother, I'd stab myself six times."
- Anne (Mercedes Ruehl) to Lydia (Amanda Plummer)
"You're the one."
- Parry to Jack
Academy Awards 1991 -
Best Supporting Actress: Mercedes Ruehl
Rolling Stone - 10/17/1991
"...THE FISHER KING restores our belief in the power of movies to transform reality..."
New York Times - 09/20/1991
"...Capable of great charm....[Williams] brings a disarming warmth and gentleness to the fiendishly comic Parry..."
Los Angeles Times - 09/20/1991
Total Film - 08/01/2000
"...The performances are capable, with Mercedes Ruehl the standout..."
Premiere - 12/01/2005
"Bridges brings a piercing despair to his role as a shock-radio jock who falls into a crippling depression..."
Jack Lucas (Jeff Bridges), a self-obsessed shock jock who thinks he has it all, is about to hit rock bottom. The cult personality spends his time on the radio insulting and berating his listeners, but when one caller takes Jack's advice literally and shoots up a New York City hotspot, Jack is sent swirling down into a depression that has him suicidal three years later. However, he is rescued out of the night by a different kind of knight in shining armor--a homeless man named Parry, played fabulously by Robin Williams, who thinks he's on a quest for the Holy Grail, which he believes to be in a Fifth Avenue town house. Parry serves as the living embodiment of Jack's guilt--Parry's beloved wife was killed in the nightclub massacre. Jack soon becomes conviced that by helping Parry he will also wind up helping himself, so he tries to help Parry win his lady love (Amanda Plummer), at the expense of risking his own relationship with Anne (Mercedes Ruehl, in an Academy Award-winning role), who has stood by his side during his downward spiral.
Terry Gilliam's romantic parable THE FISHER KING is yet another visually stunning work from a master filmmaker, with a different kind of heart from Gilliam's other films, delving deep into the nature of love and loss, of guilt and redemption, of character and tragedy. Featuring a terrific cast and unusual locations for a fantasy story (New York City, brilliantly photographed by Roger Pratt), THE FISHER KING is both an exciting adventure and a charming romance.
After vicariously ruining each other's lives, two men become friends and saviors to each other in this intensely felt and imagined modern parable. Jack, a cynical Manhattan disc jockey, plunges into a suicidal depression when one of his flippant, outrageous comments inspires a crazed listener to shoot seven people in a fashionable night spot. Redemption comes in the form of a derelict former history professor named Parry whose wife was one of those killed by the sniper. Parry heads a gang of loony homeless people in search for what he believes to be the Holy Grail, enlisting Jack in his quest.
Big City |
Essential Cinema |
Theatrical release: September 20, 1991
Filmed on location in New York City and in a Los Angeles studio.
The film grossed $41 million at the box office and was nominated for five Oscars.
THE FISHER KING marked the first time Terry Gilliam directed a film written by someone else; he said he wanted to do that to prove to himself that he was a film director, not just a filmmaker. It was also Richard LaGravenese's first original screenplay. The two men collaborated throughout the production.
At one time James Cameron was considered as director, and Billy Crystal was a possibility to play Jack Lucas.
The Grand Central dance scene was not in the original script; it was the only major addition Gilliam made.
For the scenes by the Manhattan Bridge, the production team wanted the real feel of the garbage-strewn area; unfortunately, the Sanitation Department cleaned out the area for the shooting, so the garbage had to be re-created.
When Jack goes into the Video Spot!, where he works, two of the posters are for Terry Gilliam movies: THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN and BRAZIL.
The video Jack gives to the crazed customer played by Kathy Najimy is entitled ORDINARY PEEPHOLES.
Harry Shearer can be seen on the television in the role that Jack was originally supposed to get in ON THE RADIO.
Tom Waits makes an uncredited cameo as a homeless veteran in Grand Central Station.
The romance novel in Parry's shrine is Barbara Taylor Bradford's A WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE.
When Parry and Jack are following Lydia, they turn the corner near Madison Square Park and instantly turn up in front of Grand Central Station, some 20 blocks away.
The film features an extended full-frontal nude scene of Robin Williams in Central Park.
GILDA is playing in the background during the scene in which Lydia comes into the video store.
Screenwriter Richard LaGravenese makes a cameo appearance in the film as the Strait Jacket Yuppie.
Production designer Mel Bourne appears in the film as Langdon Carmichael, who owns the apartment house on Fifth Avenue that just might contain the Holy Grail. In actuality, the building used in the scene is the Armory on Madison Avenue.
Stunt coordinator Chris Howell also played the Red Knight.
During a late night of shooting a woman tossed a bucket of water from her apartment window onto the Red Knight to complain about the lights and the noise.
The exterior of the apartment building where Jack lives at the start of the film was based on one that belonged to Creative Artists Agency founder Mike Ovitz, with whom Gilliam had recently signed. Gilliam merely picked out the building from the street without knowing that.
Parry is short for Parsifal, the innocent who joined King Arthur's knights in their search for the Holy Grail.
Ray Charles's "Hit the Road Jack" plays over the opening credits.
Robin Williams sings Groucho Marx's "Lydia the Tattooed Lady" in the film.
Harry Nilsson sings "How About You" over the closing credits.