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The Survivors

3.0 1
Director: Michael Ritchie, Walter Matthau, Robin Williams, Jerry Reed

Cast: Michael Ritchie, Walter Matthau, Robin Williams, Jerry Reed


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Robin Williams and Walter Matthau team up in the Michael Ritchie comedy The Survivors, which comes to DVD with a widescreen anamorphic transfer that preserves the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. English and French soundtracks are rendered in Dolby Digital Stereo. English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, and Thai subtitles are


Robin Williams and Walter Matthau team up in the Michael Ritchie comedy The Survivors, which comes to DVD with a widescreen anamorphic transfer that preserves the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. English and French soundtracks are rendered in Dolby Digital Stereo. English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, and Thai subtitles are accessible. Supplemental materials include the original theatrical trailer. This is a solid, if unspectacular release from ColumbiaTriStar.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Nathan Southern
Smile and Bad News Bears helmer Michael Ritchie and sitcom scribe Michael Leeson (Rhoda, Taxi, Happy Days) pooled their talents for this overlooked 1983 buddy comedy. The picture details the unlikely camaraderie of service-station owner Sonny (Walter Matthau), who loses his business in an explosive mishap, and New York executive Donald (Robin Williams), fired in the most humiliating manner by a ruthless boss and a gun-toting secretary. Winding up next to each other at a diner counter, these two strangers inadvertently foil a gunman's (Jerry Reed) stick-up of the restaurant and become local heroes and friends, but the incident sends Donald completely around the bend. Confronted with his own fear in the face of Reed's gun, Donald accumulates an outrageous stockpile of assault weapons and hightails it to the wilderness for survivalist training at a paramilitary camp; Sonny heads out to rescue him, adolescent daughter (Kristen Vigard) in-tow. The picture benefits from its inspired, lunatic premise and from Williams's comic performance. Some critics accused Ritchie of shooing the wisdom that George Roy Hill displayed on the set of The World According to Garp (when he clamped down on Williams's desire to improvise), arguing that Ritchie allows Williams to destroy scenes with his ad-libbing. But (as in the Good Morning, Vietnam) the free association here serves Williams's character brilliantly. He doesn't begin his shtick until Donald has a breakdown, and from that point the insanity of the character and the ever-present comic buzz of the actor mesh with something close to perfection. (And, moreover, Williams is funny.) More difficult to swallow are the undercurrents of cynicism, pain, and anger from which Leeson pulls humor in the first half of the film. One example has Donald asking politely to cut in front of a woman in an employment line -- she promptly offers to bite his nose off and shove it sideways. A subsequent scene has an unemployment officer dumping a can of mace into Sonny's eyes when he refuses to move. These are indicative of the early overtones in the picture, and its acid level of pessimism about the sourness of human nature and the rotten state of the world leave a bitter aftertaste. (It feels wholly credible, all right, but -- like Scorsese's The King of Comedy -- the rage and cynicism become almost too paralyzing for a comedy.) Despite this, we can be glad that the picture cools down slightly after its first half-hour or so; it continues to bite but lightens up a bit, and its nuttiness turns surprisingly breezy and enjoyable to sit through. (Williams's one-ended telephone call to Reed in the final act is undoubtedly the film's comic highlight; it recalls Newhart, but substitutes anger and raw insult humor for the passivity and helplessness of the button-down mind.) This much-underrated picture also features an early appearance by John Goodman and a lovely turn by the fetching redhead Vigard.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Sony Pictures
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Digitally mastered audio & video; Widescreen presentation; Audio: English, French; Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Thai; Theatrical trailers; Interactive menus; Scene selections

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Walter Matthau Sonny Paluso
Robin Williams Donald Quinelle
Jerry Reed Jack Locke
James Wainwright Wes Huntley
Kristen Vigard Candice Paluso
John Goodman Commando
Annie McEnroe Doreen
Anne Pitoniak Betty
Skipp Lynch Wiley
Mark Stevens Himself
Bernard Barrow TV Manager
Marian Hailey Jack's Wife
Joseph Carberry Detective Matt Burke
Marilyn Cooper Waitress
Meg Mundy Mace Lover
Norma Pratt Armed Little Lady
John de Bello Salesman
Morgan Upton Cost-Conscious Survivalist
J.B. Waters Interviewer
Tiffany Clark Tiffany Clark
Michael P. Moran Gun Salesman

Technical Credits
Michael Ritchie Director
Gene Callahan Production Designer
Paul Chihara Score Composer
Richard A. Harris Editor
Michael Leeson Screenwriter
Tom Mack Asst. Director
Dennis L. Maitland Sound/Sound Designer
Steve Maslow Sound/Sound Designer
John J. Moore Art Director
Herb Mulligan Set Decoration/Design
Howard Pine Executive Producer
Jonathan Reynolds Screenwriter
Kay Rose Sound Editor
Ann Roth Costumes/Costume Designer
Monroe Sachson Producer
William Sackheim Producer
Billy Williams Cinematographer

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Start [2:23]
2. Fired By a Parrot [2:41]
3. Out of Business [1:52]
4. Unemployment Line [2:37]
5. Pit Stop Diner [2:05]
6. Wallets vs. Dignity [3:11]
7. Visiting Day [4:21]
8. Candice [2:10]
9. Editorial Reply [1:59]
10. "Sorry to Wake You." [4:33]
11. Babbling Avenger [6:06]
12. The Police Station [4:25]
13. The Gun Store [1:58]
14. Assault Rifle & Goodies [7:18]
15. "Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries" [1:36]
16. A Fare Deal [1:42]
17. Calling Jack [4:37]
18. "I'm a Professional Killer." [2:42]
19. Wes Huntley [4:23]
20. Combat Master [3:37]
21. Hot Weapons [2:54]
22. Donald's Escape [2:03]
23. Cigarettes & Trees [4:17]
24. "You Shot My Gun!" [4:13]
25. Trigger-Happy Friends [4:09]
26. "He's Mine!" [4:21]
27. "Ride of the Valkyries" [3:18]
28. A Simple Businessman [3:17]


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The Survivors 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a querky little film that exposes the nuances of robin williams and walter mathau at their best....Williams as a paranoid salesman whose tired of the world and the government telling him what to do while he screws it up whether he listens to them or not!...and mathau, his calm cool neighbor who doesn't really want to help him, but finds a way to reach out to the confused and misguided williams in a most unusual way. Lets just say an anti government cult, training for a revolt against america, AND a very good supporting performance by jerry reed makes this a hillarius comedy that really keeps you wondering what to expect next...Hey it not oscar winning material but if yoiu like these two great actors, they won't disappoint you in this B movie that really didn't get much ink, but might deserve a little more.