Truth & Soul, Inc.: The Films of Robert Downey, Sr. (a prince)



“I just think he’s one of our great American directors” — P.T. Anderson


Putney Swope was my first big inspiration.” — Louis CK


“After being thrown out of the house, four schools and the United States Army, I discovered that I was on the right track.” — Robert Downey, Sr.


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.


TICKETS: $12/free for members. Showtimes subject to change. Note: we have cancelled our December showtimes of “Greaser’s Palace”, as further 35mm restoration work is being performed on the film. We’re hoping to have this work concluded by Spring 2015. Stay tuned!):

STICKS AND BONES – Members-Only free screening (w/ pre-registration) – Tue 12/16: 7:30pm
An Evening With Antonio Fargas (feat. “Putney Swope”!) – Sat 12/20: 6:00pm



An Evening With Antonio Fargas (feat. "Putney Swope"!)

12/20/2014 - 6PM

It’s been our pleasure to celebrate a wide variety of character actors throughout Cinefamily’s years, but we’ve never had a guest with the ability to be so sharp, so smooth and so sly all at the same time. Known internationally for his landmark role as “Huggy Bear” on Starsky & Hutch, Antonio Fargas’ career now spans into its sixth decade. He’s been a staple of blaxploitation classics like Shaft, Foxy Brown, Car Wash and Cleopatra Jones, but he’s also had an illustrious stage career in New York and England alongside dozens of TV guest spots, playing a fearless panoply of out-there cats. Whenever this dude enters a scene, all heads immediately turn to him. His charisma is undeniable and his style, as RuPaul would say, is sickening. Come sit a spell with Antonio, as he regales us with a stream of stories from throughout his incredible ride. Plus, after the break, we’ll settle into a screening of Robert Downey, Sr.’s 1969 counterculture classic Putney Swope, featuring Antonio in one of his earliest, craziest, most verbally geometric roles.
Putney Swope Dir. Robert Downey, Sr., 1969, DCP, 84 min.

Watch an excerpt of Antonio Fargas in “Putney Swope”!
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MEMBERS-ONLY: Sticks and Bones (star Cliff DeYoung in person!)

12/16/2014 - 7:30PM

NOTE: To help us track attendance, you must pre-register for “first-come, first-serve” admission. Your registration does not guarantee you a seat.

“Seen today, it is incredible if not insane to imagine that this aggressively offbeat anti-war parable would have ever been shown on, much less made for television, especially at a time when there were only a handful of networks.” — Anthology Film Archives

Cliff DeYoung in person! One of Robert Downey, Sr.’s most controversial works, Sticks and Bones is Downey’s only movie made for television — and aired only once in 1973, before being unfairly banished to the CBS vaults, and seen by only a chosen few in the forty years since. This emotionally impactful adaptation of the Vietnam-era stage play by David Rabe (“Streamers”, “Hurlyburly”), produced for TV by Public Theater founder Joseph Papp, concerns a young soldier blinded and sent home to parents not even remotely equipped to handle his embittered outlook on the rest of his life. Basically, it was so powerful, and came at such a crucial time in our nation’s battered history that it freaked out pretty much everyone who came across it during its lone original late-night Sunday airing without commercials. A remarkable piece of broadcast history, and a seminal missing link in Downey’s audacious filmography.
Dir. Robert Downey Sr., 1973, analog presentation, 105 min.

Chafed Elbows + No More Excuses (archival 35mm prints!)

12/12/2014 - 7:30PM

A double shot of Downey, Sr.’s anarchic NYC counterculture gems. In Chafed Elbows, hapless Walter Dinsmore undergoes his annual November breakdown at the World’s Fair, has a love affair with his mother, recollects his hysterectomy operation, impersonates a cop, is sold as a piece of living art, goes to heaven and becomes a rock star — but not necessarily in that order. Downey, Sr. show this ground-zero satire of his Greenwich Village bohemian scene with a still 35mm camera (a la La Jetee), and had the film processed at Walgreens. No More Excuses is the rowdiest of Downey, Sr.’s early films (which is saying a lot), and interweaves five scenarios into one raucous amalgamation, including a dazed Civil War soldier mysterious awakening in modern NYC, the director of the Society for Indecency To Naked Animals speaking from the heart of his crusade to clothe all of God’s creatures, and Sr. visiting the seriously swinging singles scene that is the original T.G.I. Friday’s on the Upper East Side. This one’s unhinged, downright funny and art brut to the max. Both films presented from archival 35mm prints, courtesy of Anthology Film Archives!
Chafed Elbows Dir. Robert Downey Sr., 1966, 35mm, 63 min.
No More Excuses Dir. Robert Downey Sr., 1968, 35mm, 62 min.

Watch an excerpt from “Chafed Elbows”!
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FREE SHOW / TRUTH & SOUL, INC.: DAY FOUR: Show & Tell w/ Robert Downey, Sr. (Alan Arkin in person, feat. "No More Excuses" & "Rittenhouse Square")

12/8/2014 - 7:30PM

NOTE: To help us track attendance, you must pre-register for “first-come, first-serve” admission. Your registration does not guarantee you a seat.

For the final night of our retrospective, it’s a special evening of conversation and rarities, odds ‘n ends, and bits ‘n pieces with Robert Downey, Sr. Not only will he present rarely-screened works like Rittenhouse Square (his 2005 impressionistic, music-filled documentary about a small Philadelphia park) and an Anthology Film Archives restoration of 1968’s No More Excuses (a compilation of Downey’s earliest shorts and assorted improprieties), but also various films he loves, and films he’s been working on — and maybe even a few surprises. Plus, Alan Arkin (longtime friend of Robert Downey, Sr.) joins us in person!

No More Excuses Dir. Robert Downey, Sr., 1968, 35mm, 62 min. (Print courtesy of Anthology Film Archives with support from The Film Foundation)
Rittenhouse Square Dir. Robert Downey, Sr., 2005, digital presentation, 92 min.

OFFSITE @ ACE HOTEL / TRUTH & SOUL, INC: DAY THREE - Downey, Clown Prince of the Underground (hosted by Louis CK, Alan Arkin in person, feat. "Putney Swope")

12/7/2014 - 2PM

LOCATION: The Ace Hotel, 929 S. Broadway, 90015. This event does not take place at the Silent Movie Theater location.

The Coen Brothers, Chris Rock, Dave Chapelle and Paul Thomas Anderson are all known to be big fans — Jane Fonda declared it a masterpiece on “The Tonight Show” in 1969 — De La Soul sampled it, the Beastie Boys rapped about it and Louis CK cites it as “the first film that inspired me as a filmmaker.” For the Sunday afternoon event, we share with you the film that made Robert Downey, Sr. famous. It’s his funniest and most irreverent work, and his crossover hit: Putney Swope. See this legendary cult comedy classic with a huge appreciative audience at the Ace Hotel’s gorgeous United Artists movie palace. The afternoon’s show is hosted by Louis CK — and Alan Arkin (longtime friend of Robert Downey, Sr.) joins us in person!
Putney Swope Dir. Robert Downey, Sr., 1969, digital presentation, 84 min.

NOTE: there are two different ticket pricing tiers for this event. The ticketing link attached to the “Buy Tickets” icon is for the General Admission tier.

BUY TICKETS (Premium Seating)
BUY TICKETS (General Admission)

Watch Cinefamily’s original trailer for “Putney Swope”!

TRUTH & SOUL, INC.: DAY TWO - Downey and the Midnight Movie (hosted by P.T. Anderson, feat. "Greaser's Palace" & "Pound")

12/6/2014 - 7PM

For lovers of all things Downey, this is the night of deep cuts. The Friends Of Cinefamily have struck a brand-new 35mm print of Downey’s “acid western” Greaser’s Palace — a classic of the ‘70s midnight movie circuit (named by the Coen Brothers as one of their favorite films of all-time) that’s been out of theatrical circulation for decades. Following is a celebration of the music Robert Downey made with Charlie Cuva and Jack Nitzsche, a reunion of his cast-‘n-crew extended family”, and a rare screening of his never-on-DVD (heck, never-even-on-VHS) Pound.

Greaser’s Palace Dir. Robert Downey, Sr., 1972, 35mm, 91 min.
Pound Dir. Robert Downey, Sr., 1970, digital presentation, 92 min.

TRUTH & SOUL, INC: DAY ONE - An Evening With Robert Downey, Sr. (hosted by Robert Downey, Jr., feat. "Chafed Elbows" & "Two Tons of Turquoise To Taos Tonight")

12/5/2014 - 8PM

Join us for an intimate, career-spanning conversation between father and son, touring the early life and work of Robert Downey, Sr. The evening features never-before-seen rare clips, ephemera and other surprises, along with screenings of some of Downey’s best work. The night includes a beautiful 35mm restoration by Anthology Film Archives of his breakthrough underground hit Chafed Elbows, and a rare screening of Two Tons of Turquoise to Taos Tonight, Robert Downey, Jr.’s personal favorite of his father’s work.

Chafed Elbows Dir. Robert Downey, Sr., 1966, 35mm, 63 min. (print courtesy of Anthology Film Archives with the support of The Film Foundation)
Two Tons of Turquoise To Taos Tonight Dir. Robert Downey, Sr., 1975, digital presentation, 56 min.