5 Gene Wilder movies you may have missed

August 30, 2016

Gene Wilder, who died this week at age 83, was in a lot of great movies. The first ones you think of are Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, and maybe Bonnie and Clyde. But do you remember any of these movies?


Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin in the Bronx: In this 1970 movie, Wilder plays Quackser Fortune, a poor Irish manure collector who falls in love with an American exchange student (Margot Kidder) after she almost runs him over. I do remember renting this movie, on VHS or maybe even Beta, that it was quite weird, and that I liked it.

Rhinoceros  I have not seen this movie, released in 1974, but it sounds so bizarre that I've got to put it on my list for the future. Here's the plot: The residents of a large town are inexplicably turning into rhinoceroses, and Gene Wilder is a mild-mannered office clerk, who can't believe it's happening. He watches as his neighbor and best friend John (Zero Mostel) and his girlfriend Daisy (Karen Black) change into giant one-horned mammals. Is he the only non-rhino left on Earth? This got very bad reviews, but still my curiosity persists.

The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother This is a musical comedy that came out in 1975, and was written and directed by Wilder. Wilder also starred in the movie and rounded up some of his buddies from Mel Brooks' movies-- Marty Feldman and Madeline Kahn, along with Dom DeLuise, as part of the supporting cast.The New York Times calls it "a charming slapstick comedy that honors Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original creation as much by what it doesn't do as by what it does do." 

The Frisco Kid  This movie was released in 1979 movie directed by Robert Aldrich, the same guy who directed Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, The Longest Yard, and The Dirty Dozen. It's a Western comedy featuring Gene Wilder as Avram Belinski, a Polish rabbi who is traveling to San Francisco, and Harrison Ford as a bank robber who befriends him. Sounds like a good premise, but I'm not sure it pays off.

Hanky Panky This is the 1982 comedy film that brought Wilder and Gilda Radner together. The movie was directed by Sidney Poitier, and it features Wilder as a guy who's wanted for a murder he didn't commit, chased for secrets he didn't steal, and running from people who want to kill him. According to the movie's tagline, when all that happens, "the worst mistake you can make is falling in love."  As I recall, the movie's not that great, but it's fun to watch Gene and Gilda together.