I’ve seen many stories about an obscenely rich person obtaining living characters as a personal plaything for themselves or their children, but I doubt any of them were direct references to this story so much as just yet another commentary on how rich people live in a completely different world.
I think Jackie Gleason is primarily known for playing a decidedly blue collar guy, so it seems like an unusual choice to cast him as the eccentric millionaire. However it seems like most of Richard Pryor‘s movies in the 80s were about him reacting to finding himself in impossible situations, so the dissonance of agreeing to something bizarre he doesn’t believe in because he needs the money fits that pattern.
The first brief summations I read for this just say that the character is a veteran having a hard time coming home and getting into “trouble”. Which also describes First Blood. A slightly more involved summary mentioned that he ends up in a criminal heist for the mob, which I can certainly see being played for laughs or drama, and in fact, the book this is based on was a serious drama, but this is a dramedy because the studio insisted that Richard Pryor do comedic scenes. I think it will be interesting to see Pryor do as much drama as the suits will allow him to.
This movie sounds very similar to Monty Python’s The Life of Brian. The major difference, aside from being about a Moses parallel instead of a Jesus parallel, seems to be that Herschel has been deluded into believing he is God’s prophet while Brian spends the whole movie begging the crowds to stop trying to make him their messiah. Apparently it was also protested by Jewish groups for mocking their religion. I didn’t find Life of Brian as blasphemous as everyone said, so I’ll reserve judgment here.
I’ve already covered the 1945 version of this story, but I knew that eventually I’d come to this one. This is the 7th movie adaptation of the 1902 novel just in English, and at this point it’s surprising that it hasn’t been tried again. The reputation this version has is tepid, and it’s the version people think of when the name comes up (the last version with the same title was made 40 years previous), but it’s clearly a story with staying power, and within the next ten years, every memorable movie from the 80s is going to get remade if it hasn’t already.
I honestly didn’t know this movie existed five minutes before selecting it. It’s a Richard Pryor vehicle in which he apparently gets mistaken for a doctor while trying to escape the psych ward he faked a plea of insanity to get into.
It’s exciting going into a movie blind. I have generally a good impression of Richard Pryor, though I can only come up with two or three movies I’ve seen him in, and one was Superman III. I can’t think of another one that I’ve seen that didn’t show up here.
This movie came to my attention from a book of Drew Struzan movie poster art (his design was not used). I was interested by the art deco style of Struzan’s poster and headliners Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor, but I was scared off by the way it seemed to be promoted as a serious film about organized crime. I was relieved to read today when I chose it that it is in fact an action comedy. About organized crime.
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).