Hugs and condolences for the family, friends, colleagues and fans of director Richard Donner, who was born on 4.24.30 and passed earlier today at age 91. Donner was no visionary auteur but an amiable, well-liked, good-guy journeyman — he behaved like a human being, always got the job done, kept his cool, smoked cigarettes, etc.

Hollywood Elsewhere is an unqualified fan of two things Donner directed — “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” the 1963 Twilight Zone episode in which an airborne William Shatner grappled with the sight of a gremlin on the wing, and the original Lethal Weapon (’87), an anarchic, crazy-violent, occasionally funny cop thriller that helped launch a new idea in action films– i.e., the cop who was crazier than the criminals. (Angel Heart, which opened concurrent with Lethal Weapon, advanced the same notion.)

Be honest — the first Lethal Weapon was the only decent one, and it represented the only time in Donner’s career when he was truly the king of the hill and totally on top of the zeitgiest curve.

I was mezzo mezzo on Superman — didn’t care for the scenes with fat, white-haired Marlon Brando, hated the Jeff East casting as young Chris Reeve, loathed the North Pole ice palace, etc. But I loved Gene Hackman and Ned Beatty‘s interplay (“Otisburg?”).

I’m sorry but I had problems with every other Donner-directed film — The Omen (silly, stupid, annoying), Superman II, The Toy, The Goonies, Ladyhawke, Scrooged, Lethal Weapon 2, Radio Flyer, Lethal Weapon 3, Maverick (a friend called it “a $75 million dollar Elvis Presley film“), Assassins, Conspiracy Theory, Lethal Weapon 4, Tales from the Crypt: Ritual, Timeline, 16 Blocks.