I’ve had this idea rolling around my head recently of tributing certain members of the film community and writing short reviews on some random choices of their work. And with the recent passing of 70s cinema legend Gene Wilder, I thought this would make a good first edition.
The reason I have decided to review three of his works is because I have literally only seen three of Gene Wilder’s films. So here are the three films of Gene Wilder’s I have selected and my short reviews on them.
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)
In a world where Tim Burton’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s novel is considered terrible by comparison, I must be honest and claim nostalgia. I actually watched Burton’s film as a child way before I saw the original. And even though my nostalgia lies with the more recent, my critical praise must go to the 1971 film.
The sense of wonderment which flourishes through Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is boundless. When I read the book as a child, even my imagination of the factory was trumped in colour by this film.
There is a great reason that this film is so timeless; it’s wonderful orchestration.
Story-wise, it holds an interesting structure. Colour-wise, it’s magnificent. Music-wise, it’s beautiful. And acting-wise, it’s definitely Wilder’s most appreciated performance.
However I wouldn’t call Willy Wonka perfect as it does feel slightly corny at times.
The Woman in Red (1984)
This popped up on telly less than a day after the news of Wilder’s passing was public and I felt that it would be appropriate to watch.
The Woman in Red starred and was directed by Wilder and it was a remake of a 1976 French film titled Un éléphant ça trompe énormément (which translates into English as An Elephant Can Be Extremely Deceptive).
The film follows Teddy Pierce (Wilder), an office man with a loving family and great friends who falls in love with a model who passes him by in a car park. He follows the model into his own office and after a string of comedic events, they start an affair.
It sounds like a recipe for a comedy classic and I’m sure the producers thought that too but alas, it was not.
The fault didn’t lie in Gene Wilder’s directing as much as it did with the highly undercooked script which assumed its moral came packaged. The film’s underlying message is either “don’t cheat on the person you love” or “cheat on the person you love”, I can’t figure out because it isn’t made clear by the end.
There’s also zero build-up to that message, there’s simply one scene at the end where he makes the decision that cheating is wrong… and then the final shot says the opposite.
There were also many issues regarding character development, comedy (there wasn’t that much), story depth and practically everything else. Nice soundtrack though.
Blazing Saddles (1974)
Blazing Saddles is one of the greatest comedy films ever made and Gene Wilder had the coolest part in this film as The Waco Kid.
Blazing Saddles is the only Mel Brooks film I have seen and now more than ever, I am urging to see Young Frankenstein (which Wilder co-wrote) but until I see that, Blazing Saddles is my favourite Wilder/Brooks film.
It’s constantly funny, it geniusly spoofs the western genre, it’s constantly funny, every performance is great (especially Madeline Kahn who plays one of the funniest characters in comedy history), it’s constantly funny and it’s timeless.
So those are three Gene Wilder films and my opinions on them. I plan on doing more of these so if there are any suggestions for who I should write about next, leave that as a comment.
What was your favourite Gene Wilder film? Leave your comment at the top and don’t forget to follow my Instagram page for foreign versions of movie posters.