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The World's Greatest Lover (1977)

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 Hickman
Annie Hickman
Adolph Zitz
Tomaso Abalone
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


In the early 1920s Hollywood, Adolph Zitz, who surrounds himself with yes men, wants his movie studio, Rainbow, to be the greatest in town by making a movie called the "World's Greatest Lover" and finding that next star to outshine Rudolph Valentino as the renowned screen lover of his time. Mild mannered and somewhat hapless Rudy Hickman dreams of being such a movie star, he daydreaming about it so much that he is unable to hold onto his bakery jobs. With his supportive but highly hysterical wife Annie Hickman by his side, Rudy, using the stage name Rudy Valentine, pulls up stakes from Milwaukee and heads to Hollywood to try out for that part. He ends up getting a screen test like the thousands of other hopefuls flooding Hollywood for the chance. Annie, who loves the movies herself but who is naive from not having had much exposure to the world, has ulterior motives for going to Hollywood. Both Annie's Hollywood mission and Valentino himself will affect what happens to Rudy in ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Go ahead - laugh!




PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





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Release Date:

13 February 1978 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

O Maior Amante do Mundo  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The movie cost about twice as much as Gene Wilder's previous film The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother (1975) but took at the box-office about the same as that film. See more »


The "audition" record that Rudy listens to is obviously an LP running at 33 1/3 rpm. LPs would not be invented until the late 1940s. See more »


Adolph Zitz: All right! We'll get lovers from every big city and hick town on the map. Because, gentlemen, I promise you that within two weeks, every male in America between the ages of 17 and 55 is going to stop for a moment and at least think about coming to Hollywood to screen test for the biggest chance of his life - the chance to star in the new Rainbow Studios film: The World's Greatest Lover! Now! How's that for an idea?
Yes Man #1: Great!
Yes Man #2: Gweat!
Sven, Yes Man #3: Great! Yoost great!
[points to the barber]
Barber: Very good...
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 »


Ain't It Kinda Wonderful
Written by Gene Wilder
Sung by Harry Nilsson
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User Reviews

A fetish for popping eyeballs
11 June 2005 | by (las vegas, nv) – See all my reviews

Interesting that 20th Century Fox gave Gene Wilder a second chance to develop his talents as a writer-director-star (and producer AND songwriter this time) after "The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother" left most critics indifferent. "Brother" wasn't terrible, and it reportedly grossed twenty million dollars, but as comic movie-making it was a botch (it had too much manic energy for one picture). Here, Wilder plays a Milwaukee schnook who travels to Los Angeles in the 1920's with his new bride to audition for Rainbow Pictures' answer to Rudolph Valentino. Wilder doesn't float gags around, he hammers away at them without much subtlety or finesse; he loves a good burlesque gag and he's fond of old-fashioned slapstick, but he needs more soft edges (the best scenes are the ones featuring Carol Kane, who is handled gingerly playing the wife). Lots of running jokes (bad ones, like Gene's character being named Rudy Valentine, that simply don't pay off), and too much of Dom DeLuise, bring the picture down. There are some laughs: Gene making eyes at a plain Jane on the train, an overflowing bathtub in a posh hotel. Wilder certainly has lots of ideas, but the results are more miss than hit. ** from ****

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