“Moscow on the Hudson” (1984): A good sale at Bloomingdale’s could make anyone defect, really. In this case, it’s Robin Williams as Russian musician Vladimir Ivanoff. Though Williams is the star of this comedy, he’s not manic here, and the film is sweet without being sappy. Williams winds up in Greenwich Village, and like so many who had endured Soviet rule, is floored by the freedoms here, evidenced by his freaking out in a supermarket over the number of choices.
“The Coneheads” (1993): They may come here as invaders but wind up living the classic American immigrant story — even if they are visitors from another planet. Oops, make that France, as they like to say. Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin, with their bullet-shaped, bald skulls, are hilarious in one of the very few skits from “Saturday Night Live” that actually shines as a movie. It perfectly captures the usual worries of new Americans — problems with green cards, children who forget cultural traditions and fitting in with new neighbors.
“Coming to America” (1988): Prince Akeem of Zamunda (Eddie Murphy) turns 21, and as is the custom of his fictional country, needs to find a woman who can bear his heirs. Judging by names alone, the prince thinks he can find one in Queens. The film shines with Murphy, Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones and John Amos. An interesting behind-the-scenes factoid is that the late humor columnist Art Buchwald sued over the storyline and was later given credit.
“The Godfather: Part II” (1974): Statements like this beg challenges, but: This is one of the best films. Ever. Director Francis Ford Coppola’s sequel traces the economic rise and moral fall of the Corleones. In this one, we see Vito as a boy coming to America. He’s a child — alone, hungry and sick. This new world not only gives him opportunity but, he believes, a way to look out for other immigrants. Unfortunately, the way he chooses is the Mafia. Yet the audience, watching these epics, learns how well — even in criminal enterprises — someone can do here.