One of the most prominent American filmmakers, Rob Reiner has produced several classics that have become an integral part of the national consciousness. Starting with his fantastic debut This Is Spinal Tap, Reiner continued to make highly successful projects such as Stand By Me and A Few Good Men which reinforced his status as a top director.
Born in New York, Reiner was interested in the cinematic arts as a student and attended classes at the prestigious UCLA Film School. Starting out with minor acting roles in TV shows, Reiner gained national recognition when he landed the opportunity of starring in the popular sitcom All in the Family which brought him unprecedented fame.
Reiner decided to try his hand at directing projects in the ’80s and went on an incredible run of hits. He even founded his own production company Castle Rock Entertainment which was revived last year when it got around $175 million in funding, starting a new chapter in the life of Reiner who continues to serve as the CEO of the company.
Rob Reiner’s six definitive films:
This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
One of Reiner’s most iconic directorial efforts, This Is Spinal Tap is definitely among the most enjoyable mockumentaries ever made. This was Reiner’s debut feature and it provided undeniable evidence of his talent as a filmmaker, paving the way for greater accomplishments in the future.
A thoroughly entertaining experience, This Is Spinal Tap is a fantastic satirical treatment of the formulaic documentaries about rock music as well as the innumerable idiosyncrasies of the bands themselves. Reiner’s debut is still one of the best films he ever directed.
Stand By Me (1986)
Another bonafide classic that is universally beloved because of its subject matter, Stand By Me is one of the most definitive cinematic commentaries on the innocence of childhood friendships. An adaptation of a story penned by the great Stephen King, Stand By Me is one of the most celebrated works of Reiner’s filmography.
It chronicles the journey of four young boys who set out on an adventure but end up in a tough spot when they discover the corpse of a missing child. An essential coming-of-age film, Stand By Me takes a sensitive approach to nostalgia, suspense and the tragedy of growing up.
The Princess Bride (1987)
It is evident from this list itself that Reiner had one hell of a run in the ’80s because he produced one gem after another. The Princess Bride is a bonafide cult classic which had a moderate reception at the time of its release but its reputation has only grown over the years.
Based on the eponymous novel by William Goldman, the film utilises metafictional elements to reimagine the highly codified narrative structures of a princess story. Since then, it has been regularly cited as one of the greatest American films ever made.
When Harry Met Sally… (1989)
Probably the most famous out of all of Reiner’s works, When Harry Met Sally… remains an important part of American popular culture even after all these years. One of the definitive romantic comedies, many films followed in its footsteps for years to come after its release.
It asks many questions by setting up the simple premise of a man and a woman who run into each other on multiple occasions, engaging in intense but fleeting connections. A central part of their relationship is the maintenance of the tension between the two friends who are afraid to enter uncharted territory.
Another adaptation of a Stephen King work, Misery was Reiner’s attempt to enter a new genre after having directed several features in the adventure and comedy domains. A tense psychological thriller, Misery proved that Reiner had the capacity to handle different subject matters.
It conducts a highly intelligent exploration of the very concept of authorship through the story of an obsessive fan who loves the works of an author so much that she paralyses him and tries to talk to him about his creations. King was also a huge fan of Reiner’s adaptation and considered it to be among his favourites.
A Few Good Men (1992)
Another popular project by Reiner, A Few Good Men was another step in Reiner’s career as he tried to enter different subsections of the vast world of cinema. A competent legal drama, the film revolves around two Marines who are accused of killing their colleague.
A huge commercial success, A Few Good Men managed to attract a lot of attention and even entered the coveted race for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. This incredible run of successes also enabled Reiner to produce more features in the future even though they did not compare to the body of work he had produced in this period.