This movie is incidentally legendary in my family. I’m told I saw a few minutes of it at an extremely young age until my mother realized she shouldn’t be playing it in the presence of someone so young. So this is the Ur-example of movies I haven’t seen because of good parenting.
The combination of Gene Wilder and the Holmes mythos is an odd one, but both of them individually are reasons to take an interest, so hopefully they merge successfully. I expect the reason Wilder’s character is “Sigerson Holmes” when Mycroft Holmes is a canonical character who is actually smarter than Sherlock is so they have more room to do what they want with him, but I hope Mycroft at least gets a mention. I think the Doyle estate still had American copyright over Holmes characters, so this might be a legal loophole as well.
I think somewhere around the house there’s still an off-air recording of this movie (which has most of the title on the label, but always seemed less like a title and more like a placeholding description), but even if we had a working Betamax player, I don’t like to review from off-air recordings since scenes get cut for time and content, and commercials break the flow in an unintended way. I saw this float through the library again and decided it was time.
This is billed as a comedy, but it sounds like it could be more serious. How many moody dramas follow the dissolution of a marriage because the man had his head turned by a beautiful woman? The summaries point out that he’s happily married at the start, which makes it sound sadder.
On the other hand, a lot of comedies track the beginning of a relationship at the expense of another, and Wilder would do well at the flustered sort of unfaithful man like the type in The Seven Year Itch.
I’m not sure if this movie would be more effective for me if I was more familiar with Rudolph Valentino, but actually the fact that I know he existed and had such a reputation is probably more than I could say for a lot of my generation.
I’d like to say more, but there really doesn’t seem to be more to this than a Valentino parody. And Gene Wilder being Gene Wilder when he’s not being Valentino.
June is no longer Non-Alliterative Silver Screen Classic Movie Month!
Before watching the movie:
Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor (whom I’ve only seen together in one other movie) get thrown in jail for a crime they didn’t commit. Comedy ensues. Escaping? Surviving? I’m expecting both. Other than that, I’m not sure what’s going to happen, because the last time I saw them together, they were playing blind and deaf, which seems like it would make a big difference.
A blind man and a deaf man work together at a newsstand, get falsely accused of murder, and then get in trouble with criminals. Hilarious, right? That’s what all reports indicate. I can see where the humor comes in, namely that the two leads are Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder. I just have no idea what direction it could go other than the nebulous “madcap.” I fear it will be madcap comedy that could be accused of terrible taste.
Also, the last time I saw a Richard Pryor movie, it was Superman III, which while not as abysmal as Superman IV, was not helped by his presence. Apparently his partnership with Wilder has a good reputation, though. Also, this film is R-Rated so he won’t have to stick to harmless family fare. What I’ve seen of his Saturday Night Live guesting is hilarious (go watch “Word Association” if you haven’t seen it).