Richard Donner – Top 5 Films

Hard at work behind the scenes of Lethal Weapon 2, one of Donner’s most iconic name brands

List compiled by Eddie on 09/07/2021

This week we lost a Hollywood icon, a director whose works changed the landscape of big budget filmmaking forever and a director who knew how to entertain audiences of all shapes and sizes.

Richard Donner may not have been the type of director you expected to see at or hear being called out on Oscar night, but in a career that spanned multiple decades and a successful move from TV director for hire to outright Hollywood heavyweight, Donner made his mark in multiple genres launching or elevating the careers of the likes of Christopher Reeves, Josh Brolin, Mel Gibson and Sean Astin in the process.

Reading and hearing the tributes this week from those that worked with him in various capacities throughout his career, it’s easy to see that Donner was one of the good guys of the movie making business, a no fuss imaginary who loved his craft, the people he worked with and most of all loved telling stories.

It had been a long time since we’d last seen Donner behind the camera with his so-so Bruce Willis starring thriller 16 Blocks from 2006 being his last credited film but below are five key works of Donner’s career that will ensure his legacy lives long into the future.

Vale Richard Donner, the greatest Goonie of them all.

5. Maverick (1994)

A fun and very playful western comedy with some great acting turns from his Lethal Weapon compatriot Mel Gibson and support from Jodie Foster and James Garner, Donner’s adaptation of the 1950’s TV show may not be ground-breaking stuff but it’s the perfect showcase for the entertaining director Donner was.

4. The Omen (1976)

One of the most renowned horror offerings of all time, Donner’s big break from the TV landscape came in the form of this creepy ride that ensured the name Damian wasn’t a popular pick for the years in the aftermath of this event. While parts of The Omen have aged in the years that have followed, there’s still no doubt that this was a cornerstone piece of work in a genre that owes a lot to this film.

3. Lethal Weapon (1987)

Easily one of the most beloved buddy cop films made, Lethal Weapon remains Donner’s most lucrative name brand offering that ensured its stars Mel Gibson and Danny Glover became two of the biggest Hollywood names of the late 80’s and early 90’s. A fantastic mix of comedy, action and scriptwriting, Lethal Weapon is just as fun as you remember it being all the years on from initial release.

2. Superman (1978)

While one can never say for certain, without Superman and the success that followed its release it’s highly unlikely we would’ve ever had the success we now have with comic book films all these years later. Proving to the world that you could make a man fly with the right amount of imagination and heart, Superman remains to this day one of the great comic book adaptations and a film that defies its aged technical elements with a heart and soul that makes it as ageless as a film could be.

1. The Goonies (1985)

One of the greatest family adventure films ever produced, The Goonies is one of the most whimsical and unforgettable rides ever to come from a Hollywood offering. I for one can speak to experience of rewinding and replaying a beloved VHS copy of The Goonies countless times through my childhood that The Goonies is a film that will never say die as the quest to discover One Eyed Willy’s treasure continues to be discovered by new generations for the years yet to come.

What’s your favorite Richard Donner film? Let me know in the comments below! 

16 responses to “Richard Donner – Top 5 Films

    • For jure buddy. Feel free to tag #jordanandeddie.
      Donner was such a part of my late childhood/early teens. He was a real treasure.

      • “Easy going charm about it” is a great descriptor. Would you consider writing a post about your favorite “easy going charm” movies (in storyline, art direction/cinematography, music)? Richard Linklater’s “Before Trilogy” (specifically “Before Sunrise” and “Before Sunset”) would probably fall under this category. Jacques Tati’s “Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday” would too. Maybe Sophia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation” as well.

    • It’s a crazy turnaround, Omen one day Goonies the next! Showed how he could really turn his hand to any genre which is a great feature of his craftsmanship.

      • Hello Eddie,
        There is something about childhood spirit throughout most of his films. You can also see young Clark Kent say goodbye to his youth and grow into an adult with great power and responsibility. And you can see the two guys from Lethal Weapon as two kids in an adult body playing cops.

  1. It’s really sad that Richard Donner passed away, but the dude has left behind a legacy of some really awesome films. I’m mainly a fan of his Lethal Weapon films, since I watched them a lot as a pre-teen/teenager. But I also really love Superman: The Movie, since it’s really fun and wholesome and captures the heart and spirit of the character.

    I honestly remember liking 16 Blocks when I saw it, even though it’s a derivative of the Clint Eastwood movie The Gauntlet.

    • It’s crazy too looking back through all his TV work and the great shows he worked on. His career was full of a great array of projects and I am so glad he got a chance to make so many memorable and beloved films.

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