At the age of 17, Abe Vigoda scored his first role in a stage play, igniting the wick of a career that would burn for seven decades until he retired from the entertainment industry. Over the course of his enduring career, he scored dozens of acting credits across the stage, film, and television, earning international fame for some of the iconic roles he played. Although he is no longer with us, the actor will always be fondly remembered as one of the brightest talents to come out of Hollywood. Here is a list of the greatest Abe Vigoda’s movies and TV shows ranked from his best to his worst.
Greatest Abe Vigoda’s Movies and TV Shows
1. THE GODFATHER (1972)
Does anyone still need to be told why The Godfather is considered one of the greatest movies of all time? The movie is one of the finest Hollywood stories. It was a critical and commercial success for many reasons and continues to be held in high esteem by viewers and critics alike. It is very rare for a movie to get every single thing right, but The Godfather not only manages to do that excellently; it also set a new standard for the industry to follow. The epic crime saga is an incredibly moving story about family, honor, and the length people will go in order to protect or avenge what they hold dear. If you haven’t seen this movie by now, you need to wake up and fix that error while you still can.
2. BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM (1993)
This stylish animated live picture adaptation of the comic series of the same name is one of the best movies to come out of the DC Universe. Abe Vigoda delivers one of the finest performances of his life as the voice of the character Valestra. In this version, the superhero Batman is half-crazy with his obsession with justices and comes uncomfortably close to going full-blown psychotic. He tries to capture the villain known as Phantasm who murders a crime lord and frames Batman for the death, which leads to a smear campaign against him in the media.
The film manages to capture the essence of the story it was trying to tell by jumping backward and forward in time, so viewers can catch glimpses of the events that originated the whole mess Batman is currently mired in. It’s without a doubt one of the greatest Abe Vigoda’s movies.
3. BARNEY MILLER (1975-1982)
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Barney Miller set the tone for all the New York cop movies that have hit television in the last three decades. The Emmy-winning show is set in 12th Precinct Greenwich Village, where the prevalent vibe is sometimes joyous, sometimes edgy, but always entertaining. Over the course of its eight seasons, the show maintained high ratings, winning the admiration of millions of fans from all around the world. The eccentric actor is responsible for bringing the role of Detective Phil Fish to life. It is one of the most memorable roles of his career, so it’s only logical that Barney Miller is considered one of the greatest Abe Vigoda’s TV shows.
4. PRANCER (1989)
Christmas themes movies are known and loved for the fun and good-natured cheer they bring to the holiday season, and Prancer manages to live up to this seasoned routine. The storyline follows a 9-year-old who finds a wounded reindeer in the forest, which she believes to be one of Santa’s magical helpers. She secretly nurses it back to health and embarks on a mission to contact Santa so she can return his reindeer to him.
Abe plays Orel Brenton, a kindhearted veterinarian who helps the girt take care of the wounded creature. Prancer is a moderately entertaining, feel-good film that will put a smile on your face. Whether it’s the holiday season or not, everyone can use a little cheer every now and then and this beautiful picture is guaranteed to brighten up your mood. It is one of the greatest Abe Vigoda’s movies out there, so you won’t regret spending some time with it.
5. NORM (1999-2001)
This three-season sitcom centers around a former hockey player named Norm who is forced to do community service after he is arrested and charged with tax evasion. He soon drives his coworkers crazy with his smarmy nature and rule-bending ways. Abe plays George Sullivan, one of Norm’s clients. Even though it’s a minor role, the seasoned actor manages to leave his mark and thoroughly impress viewers.
6. WITNESS TO THE MOB (1998)
This made for television film brings to life the drama that led to one of the biggest court cases in history: the trial of the crime boss John Gotti and other members of his vast criminal empire. The story is told through Sammy Gravano, Gotti’s enforcer and number two man, who cut a deal with the state and gave testimony that sent his boss and many key players in the mob to prison for a very long time. One of the places where the movie really thrives is in its characters, most of which are played by stars like Abe Vigoda who are well-recognized for the roles they’ve played in mafia films and television shows over the years. Although the three-hour runtime of the movie might be discouraging to sit through, the film is quite rewarding and proves to be well worth the time in the end.
7. THE ROCKFORD FILES (1974-1980)
Abe Vigoda takes on two different roles, in two different years, in this hit drama series about a private investigator named Jim Rockford. When Jim returns from prison after being convicted for a crime he did not commit, he decides to build a career as a private investigator, accepting cases that everyone rejects or is simply afraid to touch. He is helped by his lawyer girlfriend, his tough as nails father, and some former associates with shady backgrounds. Jim is a hard worker and a smooth talker who often finds himself in uncomfortable situations due to the nature of his job. His fees are moderate and he is willing to investigate cold cases, low budget insurance scams, missing persons, murder mysteries, and practically anything anyone throws his way. The show earned Emmy awards for itself and some of its cast members, which is why it belongs to the list of best Abe Vigoda TV shows.
8. ONE GOOD COP (1991)
One Good Cop has deservedly earned a spot on any list of the worst Abe Vigoda’s movies even though he only made a short appearance in it. The film follows Artie Lewis, the quintessential good cop, who has to choose between doing the right thing or breaking the law when his partner dies on the job, leaving behind three daughters with nowhere to go. Artie and his wife decide to adopt them, but Child Welfare Services will not allow it because their apartment is too small. To buy a new house, he needs to come up with $25,000 very quickly for a down payment. Frustrated and desperate, he decides to rob a drug dealer who was involved in his partner’s death. Unknown to him, the dealer’s girlfriend is an undercover cop who can blow his life and career wide open at any minute.
The movie received mostly mixed to negative reviews because, despite its attempt at winning the sympathy of the viewers by using orphaned children as bait, it had very little that was worth holding on to.
9. THE BIONIC WOMAN (1976-1978)
This series revolves around Jamie Sommers, the titular character who almost loses her life after a skydiving incident. Fortunately for her, bionic technology is used to rebuild her, just like her former fiance, Steve Austin, the six million dollar man. As a way of showing her gratitude for the work that was put into saving her life, Jamie decides to put her new bionic skills to good use by undertaking dangerous missions on behalf of the government. She goes on all kinds of adventures, taking on perilous covert missions that would prove too dangerous for an ordinary operative.
The series lasted two seasons and managed to win reasonable followership. However, it is considered one of the less impressive Abe Vigoda’s TV show outings, perhaps because his character Barlow is only a minor cast member.
10. JURY DUTY (1995)
A notorious slacker and stripper is rendered homeless after his mother kicks him out of their shared trailer. Having nowhere to stay and growing increasingly desperate, he devises a crooked plan to solve his problems. He is going to find a way to serve on a jury, so he can get a roof over his head, food in his stomach, and some money in his pocket. To his surprise, the plan actually works, and now he will do everything in his power to prolong the trial, so he can keep enjoying the fruits of his crooked labor.
Abe Vigoda stars as Judge Powell in this aggravating and immensely forgettable slapstick comedy. The movie was a total failure at the box office and the reviews it garnered were not forgiving. There was simply no redeeming quality in this film as it was bad in every way possible from the cinematography to acting, directing, plotline, story progression, and pacing. For a comedy movie, it is one of the most painfully unfunny things you will ever see. You can’t justify counting it among the greatest Abe Vigoda’s movies, no matter how hard you try.