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The World's Greatest Lover (1977)

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Ratings: 5.8/10 from 1,281 users  
Reviews: 23 user | 9 critic

A neurotic baker travels to Hollywood to attend a talent search for an actor to rival the great Valentino. Although not an actor, through blind luck he succeeds - to a certain degree!



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Rudy Valentine / Rudy Hickman
Annie Hickman
Adolph Zitz
Fritz Feld ...
Tomaso Abalone, Hotel Manager
Mark Silberman ...
Cousin Buddy
Robert Ball ...
Bald Man (as Robert E. Ball)
Randolph Dobbs ...
Yes Man #1
Sandy Rovetta ...
Woman Dancer
Hannah Dean ...
Rita Conde ...
Whore #1
Whore #2
Teda Bracci ...
Whore #3
Elaine Everett ...
Whore #4
Gustaf Unger ...
Harry Gold ...
Freddie the Runner


A neurotic baker travels to Hollywood to attend a talent search for an actor to rival the great Valentino. Although not an actor, through blind luck he succeeds - to a certain degree!

Add Full Plot | Add Synopsis


Go ahead - laugh!




PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

13 February 1978 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

The World's Greatest Lover  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Though Gene Wilder's character real name is Rudy Hickman who parades as Rudy Valentino, the character is billed as only Rudy Valentino in the closing credits with no mention of Rudy Hickman. See more »


This film is supposed to take place in the 1920s silent movie era, yet the movie extras riding in the bus to their location sing-along to "Shuffle Off to Buffalo", a Harry Warren-Al Dubin song written for the 1933 sound film "42nd Street." See more »


Adolph Zitz: Now listen to me very carefully: The women in this country are so sex-starved, they'll accept the first pretty face that comes along and make him a star. Well, what the hell will they do when they hear that Rainbow Studios is going to find the greatest lover in America? I'm talking about someone who will make Rudolph Valentino look like a part-time nurse!
See more »

Crazy Credits

There is a credit to Frederico Fellini, who was not on the picture, 'for encouragement at the right time'. See more »


Featured in Lørdagshjørnet: Gene Wilder (1978) See more »


Written by F.D. Marchetti
Played on the violin in Valentino's tent and at the end
See more »

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User Reviews

Wilder 'bout Fellini
17 July 2007 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

Coming out at the same time as Ken Russell's rather more amusing Valentino, The World's Greatest Lover suffers from Gene Wilder's sporadic tendency to mistake the grotesque for the side-splitting. Thus we get the odd huge close-up of mouths covered in shaving foam and a lot of tiresome hysteria and tongues. We also get far more of Dom DeLuise mugging away as if semaphore were back in fashion than is strictly necessary, though he's not as OTT here as in Sherlock, for which we can at least be grateful. Unfortunately, we get much more of Wilder's tendency to mistake hysteria for the hysterical – when in doubt, shout seems to be his motto – with Wilder adding a nervous tic that sees him stick out his tongue when he gets nervous. And he gets nervous a lot. Be still my aching ribs… It's a reworking of Fellini's near career killing early flop The White Sheik, even including a Felliniesque lineup of hookers at a bus stop in one scene, only without Fellini's restraint (yes, you did read that right), with Wilder's unemployed baker heading for Hollywood to enter a screen test to find the next Valentino while his young wife seeks out the real thing. Wilder does acknowledge the debt in a screen credit that's part thank you to 'my friend', but seems more name-dropping in a film that comes across as something of a vanity project – certainly with Wilder starring, writing, directing, producing and even writing a song for the film, it's fair to say where the buck stops on this one. One of those films that at once offers fairly lavish period production design but often a complete lack of understanding of silent cinema – yes, we do get sped-up comedy scenes - it's definitely pre-Kevin Brownlow's Hollywood, which completely destroyed most of the then-common myths about silent cinema that this embraces. Indeed, anachronisms abound, with the feel (and the songs) often more Thirties than Twenties, which perhaps wouldn't matter quite so much if it were all funnier. It's not a total disaster – there's the odd good line (a conductor announcing "Hollywood, home of the stars and several featured players"), a nicely natural performance from Carol Kane before she became a mess of mannerisms to rival Wilder and it does offer a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see James Hong playing a Norwegian (or is it Svedish?) studio executive, complete with excellent accent. (Also to be glimpsed among the bit parts in the supporting cast are Danny De Vito as an assistant director, Billy Sands – Paparelli in Sergeant Bilko – as a studio guard and, as the boss of a bakery, David Huddleston, here billed as 'Michael Huddleston's Father'!)

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