The entertainment mourns a tremendous loss today as we learn of the passing of Buck Henry, known for his work as an actor, a director, and a writer. Henry has a great many credits to his name, and I’d like to talk a bit about the ones I feel strongly about, in no particular order.
Grumpy Old Men: I think my first memory of seeing Henry onscreen was in the film Grumpy Old Men, where he played Snyder, the government employee trying to take John Gustafson’s house from him. He’s a straight man in the comedy, and the closest thing to a true villain in the film, and while he’s not onscreen a lot in the film, he’s memorably without any remorse for what he has to do, and it made him an effective antagonist.
Get Smart: Henry was the co-creator of Get Smart with Mel Brooks, and this is one of those shows that I feel was so ahead of its time, creating a great many tropes of parody-storytelling, and it’s a shame it’s gone mostly forgotten outside of the so-so film adaptation from a decade ago. I truly enjoyed watching these classic episodes and I actually had no idea that Buck Henry helped create and develop the series until a few years ago.
The Graduate: This is a film I only recently saw for the first time, but Henry’s dry humor can be found all over this screenplay. He was a gifted storyteller that created moments and situations that feel lived-in, even when the subject matter is almost silly. This a terrific screenplay and a wonderful film.
The Player: I actually saw The Player before The Graduate. It was in a film appreciation class in college, but revisiting it some time later, I absolutely adore the appearance by Henry, playing himself, pitching a sequel to The Graduate. It’s a fun little moment in a strange and surreal satire of Hollywood.
Saturday Night Live: I’ve seen several of Buck Henry’s appearances on SNL, dating back to the show’s first season. I firmly believe that his numerous appearances early on helped to develop a tone for where the show would go. He was always quite funny and unique, and I enjoyed seeing his episodes of the classic sketch comedy series. They are some of the best.
Buck Henry had his hand in a lot of Hollywood throughout his varied career in front of and behind the camera. He will be missed.
- The Graduate (1967)
- Get Smart (TV) (1965-1970)
- What’s Up, Doc? (1972)
- The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)
- Heaven Can Wait (1978)
- Saturday Night Live (TV) (1976-1980)
- The Nude Bomb (1980)
- Eating Raoul (1982)
- The Player (1992)
- Short Cuts (1993)
- Grumpy Old Men (1993)
- Town & Country (2001)
Do you have a favorite piece of cinema from Buck Henry? Let me know/Drop a comment down below.
-Kyle A. Goethe