Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Hitchcock By Way of Wonka, or Thoughts on Gene Wilder in Silver Streak

The late great Gene Wilder (June 11, 1933 – August 29, 2016) found romance and mystery on the Silver Streak (1976), a train from Los Angeles to Chicago; where he starred as George Caldwell, book editor and accidental hero who witnesses a murder that nobody believes.  Director Arthur Hiller from Love Story (1970) and Author! Author! (1982) composed a classic Hitchock-inspired thriller with comedic overtones complete with lost Rembrandt letters, kidnapping, mistaken identities, and the infamous cow-milking scene.   Jill Clayburgh stars as Hilly Burns while Richard Pryor makes his first collaboration with Gene as Grover T. Muldoon, a streetwise petty thief George finds in the back of a police car that he happened to steal.
Gene is not as maniac as his signature performances in Young Frankenstein (1974) or The Producers (1968), and sadly, most of the humor has not aged well and will seem sexist and insensitive from a contemporary perspective, including a regrettable black face scene with Richard Pryor.  But the movie is carried by Gene Wilder’s natural amiability and the anticipation of his inevitable freak out after he’s pushed to far.
Look out for Ned Beatty from Deliverance (1972), Superman (1978) and with an IMDb page that goes back to 1972, Richard Kiel, Jaws from The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and the Twilight Zone alien from “To Serve Man” (1962, it’s a cookbook!), Scatman Crothers from The Shining (1980) as a porter  and Patrick “No. 6“ McGoohan as Roger Devereau, and if that name doesn’t scream BAD GUY to you, then you need to watch more movies.



my first novel?  thanks for asking:)  it’s a the first book in a 4-volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of killer kung-fu witches, haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hour diner with the best pie in town…
read for free on kindle unlimited or buy the paperback, available at fine bookstores everywhere (amazon).