Friday, June 11, 2021
And This Blog Loves Gene Wilder, Born on This Day
While there are lots and lots of 20th century luminaries born on June 11 - jazz great Shelly Manne comes to mind - can't think of any we love more than the superb actor-writer-director Gene Wilder.
First became aware of Gene by seeing Mel Brooks' The Producers on TV - and via the following scene in particular.
And his role as The Waco Kid in Blazing Saddles.
He shined in and co-wrote Mel's subsequent film, Young Frankenstein. Along with Blazing Saddles and Monty Python & The Holy Grail, Young Frankenstein represented the new frontier in silver screen comedy.
Of the films written and directed by Gene Wilder, The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother, featuring fellow co-stars from Mel Brooks movies Marty Feldman and the brilliant musical comedienne Madeline Kahn, remains a standout. Wilder's films have a whimsical flavor different from the Brooks movies.
Gene's 1977 film The World's Greatest Lover features another outstanding comedienne, Carol Kane.
The scariest thing about Haunted Honeymoon, Wilder's 1986 spoof of The Old Dark House and the many variants on the haunted house genre, is Dom DeLuise in drag, but at least the outstanding comedienne Gene married, Gilda Radner from Second City Toronto and Saturday Night Live, also appears in this goofy Gothic piece.
Sadly, Gilda was stricken by cancer, so she and Gene did not get to do a series of movies exploring different genres together.
Gene and Richard Pryor co-starred in a series of movies, all quite funny. Silver Streak and Stir Crazy are comedy gold.
Here, Gene recalls Richard's talent for improv and acting skill drove their work together.
Looking back, wonder how much better the Pryor-Wilder starring vehicles would have been had Gene and Richard also collaborated, not just on improvising dialogue, but on writing the screenplays.
Gene granted several interviews in his later years.
At Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog, we could not agree more strongly with Gene's frequent collaborator Mel Brooks. . . WE MISS GENE! And Gilda. . . and Madeline. . . and Richard. . . and Marty. . . and Dom.