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).