Welcome to another edition of MOVIE LISTS, the column where you’ll find lists of odds and ends about movies. Today, we look at films starring Gene Wilder.
Wilder, who passed away on August 29, 2016, was one of the most popular comic actors on the planet between 1974-1982. Here is a partial list of his film credits:
THE PRODUCERS (1967)- Leo Bloom- if you’ve seen this Mel Brooks comedy, you’ll remember Wilder as the neurotic producer who can’t handle it when the sure-fire flop he and co-producer Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) plan— a musical about Hitler— becomes a surprise hit. Wilder at his unstable best.
START THE REVOLUTION WITHOUT ME (1970) – Claude/Philippe – Having fun with Donald Sutherland during the French Revolution.
WILLY WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (1971) – Willy Wonka – Wilder is excellent in the lead in this Roald Dahl fantasy. I believe this is the first Gene Wilder movie I ever saw, although it’s not the movie that made me a fan. That would happen with YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN.
EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK (1972)- Doctor Ross. Wilder is hilarious here as a man who falls in love with a sheep in this wacky yet uneven Woody Allen comedy. I saw this years after it came out, probably in the early 1980s when I was in college.
BLAZING SADDLES (1974) – Jim – another Gene Wilder/Mel Brooks classic that I didn’t see until years after its release, again in the early 1980s. I was only 10 in 1974, and BLAZING SADDLES was Rated R, which meant it was off limits to me.
YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974)- Dr. Frederick Frankenstein – this one I did see shortly after it came out, as it was rated PG, and it’s the movie that made me a lifelong Gene Wilder fan. So many amazing memorable moments in the movie, generated by Wilder and the entire cast, and of course writer/director Mel Brooks. Among my favorite Wilder bits: “You just made a yummy sound,” “Put the candle back,” and “I thought I told you never to disturb me while I’m working!”
THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES’ SMARTER BROTHER (1975)- Sigerson Holmes- Funny film, but tried too hard to follow the same formula as YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN with inferior results. Wilder’s directorial debut.
SILVER STREAK (1976) – George- Wilder’s first pairing with Richard Pryor. Probably my second favorite Gene Wilder movie behind YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN.
THE WORLD’S GREATEST LOVER (1977) -Rudy Hickman- Not one of my favorites. This was the second film Wilder directed, after THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES’ SMARTER BROTHER. The jokes just aren’t as sharp this time around.
THE FRISCO KID (1979)- Avram- This has always been one of my favorite Gene Wilder roles and movies. Wilder plays a rabbi on an adventure in the wild west in this unlikely charmer by director Robert Aldrich. Co-starring Harrison Ford.
STIR CRAZY (1980) – Skip Donahue – Wilder’s second pairing with Richard Pryor might be their funniest. Directed by Sidney Poitier.
HANKY PANKY (1982) – Michael Jordon – Wilder co-stars with future wife Gilda Radner in this box office disaster originally written to feature both Wilder and Richard Pryor again. Once more directed by Sidney Poitier. Wilder considered this to be one of his worst movies.
THE WOMAN IN RED (1984) – Teddy Pierce – Another one of my favorites. Wilder becomes obsessed with a beautiful woman in red played by Kelly LeBrock in this amiable romantic comedy. Co-starring Charles Grodin and Gilda Radner. Wilder directed and co-wrote this remake of a French movie, which might be his best directorial effort.
HAUNTED HONEYMOON (1986) – Larry Abbot- Wilder once more directs himself and wife Gilda Radner, in what would be both his final directorial effort and last movie that he and Radner made together. Not surprisingly, this unfunny film bombed at the box office.
SEE NO EVIL, HEAR NO EVIL (1989) – Dave Lyons- Wilder’s third pairing with Richard Pryor, directed by Arthur Hiller, who also directed Wilder’s/Pryor’s first pairing, SILVER STREAK. Early film role for Kevin Spacey.
ANOTHER YOU (1991)- George/Abe Fielding – Wilder’s fourth and final movie with Richard Pryor. This was also Wilder’s final theatrical release. He would make four more movies, all of them made for TV.
Okay, there you have it, a partial list of the movies starring Gene Wilder.
Gene Wilder – June 11, 1933 – August 29, 2016
Thanks for reading everybody, and I’ll see you again next time for another MOVIE LISTS column where we’ll look at more odds and ends from the movies.