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General Information

Poster for Seize the Day
  • Directed by

    Fielder Cook

  • Based on a novel by

    Saul Bellow

  • Screenplay by

    Ronald Ribman

  • Music Composed by

    Elizabeth Swados

  • Theatrical Release Date

    September 9, 1986 (Toronto Film Festival)

  • Television Debut

    May 1, 1987

  • DVD Release Date

    February 18, 2003

  • Production Company

    Learning in Focus

  • Distribution Companies

    Public Broadcasting Service, HBO/Cannon Video

Main Cast

  • Robin Williams

    Tommy Wilhelm

  • Joseph Wiseman

    Dr. Adler

  • Jerry Stiller

    Dr. Tamkin

  • Glenne Headly



The PBS series Great Performances first presented the made-for-TV feature Seize the Day. The time is the success-driven 1950s; Robin plays Tommy Wilhelm, a middle-ager who has just lost his salesman's job. Tommy's wife Katharine Borowitz, on the verge of divorce, fully intends to take him to the cleaners whether he has an income or not. Doctor Adler, Tommy's judgmental father, cannot abide having a failure in the family and refuses to lend his son a single penny. In desperation, Tommy heads to New York City, where his old wheeler-dealer pal Dr. Tamkin has promised him a job. Even there, however, Tommy is defeated by the cold-shoulder treatment afforded him by the people whose opinions he values most.



  • Tommy

    Screw you, Mr. Rowchecks! You fat bastard!

  • Tommy

    Kiddy crap! Kiddy crap! You never even loved that dog!

  • Old woman

    Did you push the button?

  • Tommy

    Yes. He's... going on the floor.

  • Old woman

    What can I do? He's old... he can't hold it so good.



Robin Williams in a rare, unforgettable performance


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Filming Info

  • Locations

    New York City, NY

International Release Dates

  • Canada

    September 9, 1986 (Toronto Film Festival)

International Titles

  • West Germany

    Das Geschäft des Lebens

  • Poland

    Korzystaj z dnia

  • Finland

    Tartu tilaisuuteen


  • Sundance Film Festival

    Nom - 1987 - Grand Jury Prize (Fielder Cook)

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