The Frisco Kid (1979)

PG  |   |  Comedy, Western  |  13 July 1979 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 6,392 users  
Reviews: 52 user | 17 critic

A Polish rabbi wanders through the Old West on his way to lead a synagogue in San Francisco. On the way he is nearly burnt at the stake by Indians and almost killed by outlaws.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ramon Bieri ...
Mr. Jones
Darryl Diggs (as George Ralph DiCenzo)
Leo Fuchs ...
Chief Rabbi
Matt Diggs
Jack Somack ...
Samuel Bender
Sarah Mindl (as Beege Barkett)
Walter Janovitz ...
Old Amish Man (as Walter Janowitz)
Joe Kapp ...
Mr. Ping
Clifford A. Pellow ...
Mr. Daniels (as Cliff Pellow)


A rabbi from Poland goes to America to lead a Jewish community. When he arrives in America he is hijacked and has to work his way across the country. On the way he meets up with a bank robber and they form a friendship, have many (mis)adventures including being captured by Indians. Written by Deirdre Dear

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


This kosher cowboy hasn't got a prayer -- but plenty of laughs. See more »


Comedy | Western


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

13 July 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

No Knife  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Penultimate film directed by Robert Aldrich. ...All the Marbles (1981) would be his last two years later. See more »


After Tommy shoots the first fish when the two main characters meet, he asks Avram how hungry he is. After Avram replies "Ah, I'm pretty hungry" Tommy takes out a long gun to shoot another fish. There is the sound of a lever-action rifle being cocked, but the gun he is holding is a side-by-side shotgun with exposed hammers. The sound of this gun being cocked would have sounded more like a revolver with the hammer being pulled back. See more »


[Tommy and Avram are being chased by a posse, but Avram won't ride on the sabbath]
Tommy: You give me the pee-doodles!
See more »


Referenced in Estrenos Críticos: ¡...con Phineas & Ferb! (2011) See more »


Camptown Races
Composed by Stephen Foster (as Stephen Collins Foster)
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User Reviews

The Rogue and the Rabbi -- An unforgettable gem of a film
13 February 2005 | by (Moscow, Idaho) – See all my reviews

This movie has withstood the test of time ... 25 years so far. At times it appears to contain obvious, silly and even base comedy. But that only mildly disguises the depth of humanity and profound philosophy that it successfully presents. Like other commentators, I consider this film to be one of my all-time favorites. Gene Wilder was at the peak of his career, having made a big splash in The Producers with Zero Mostel, and then going on to memorable performances in other Mel Brooks' classics: Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. In fact, many people erroneously believe that The Frisco Kid is a Mel Brooks film. (Indeed the writers, Elias & Shaw, had several years earlier written a TV Pilot based on the Blazing Saddles plot, but it had failed.)

Though I am a big fan of Mel Brooks, I think that one reason this film succeeds so well is that Robert Aldrich directed it instead of Brooks. In other words, it is essentially a dramatic western that is filled to the brim with comedy -- instead of the other way around. Aldrich had previously directed serious epic westerns, and he became famous in the sixties for directing What Ever Happened to Baby Jane, Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte, The Flight of the Phoenix, and The Dirty Dozen. These films, as well as his classic The Longest Yard, showed how infusing humor into serious drama can make plots more interesting and characters more human and sympathetic.

Frank DeVol provided the music ... and you can see him in the part of the old time piano player. DeVol had provided music for a number of Aldrich films, including the five films mentioned in the previous paragraph. He was famous for his comic scores (e.g., Pillow Talk, Cat Ballou, and The Trouble with Angels) and his music for TV series (e.g., My Three Sons, The Brady Bunch, McCloud, and the Love Boat).

Another gem in this film is Harrison Ford -- in a role that seems so second-nature to him, but showcases his versatility. His character is not that much different from Hans Solo. (Star Wars appeared in 1977 and Empire Strikes Back appeared in 1980, while The Frisco Kid came out in 1979.) In fact, it seemed emblematic of the movies in the sixties and seventies that some of our big screen heroes were selfish rogues with a heart of gold. Think of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which came out in 1969.

The executive producer was Hawk Koch, whose father, Howard W. Koch was a Hollywood icon, having produced scores of films, including The Manchurian Candidate and The Odd Couple. This was one of Hawk Koch's first jobs, and he has now been the executive producer of over twenty outstanding features, including Mike Myers' Wayne's World and -- another great comedy exploring religious belief -- Keeping the Faith, with Ben Stiller and Edward Norton.

Finally, because the DVD is not yet available, here's a gem that was not included in the IMDb Memorable Quotes section, though I have edited it to avoid giving too much away for those who haven't seen the film yet:

"Chief Gray Cloud: Yes or no, can your God make rain?"

"Avram: Yes."

"Chief Gray Cloud: But he doesn't?"

"Avram: That's right."

"Chief Gray Cloud: Why?"

"Avram: Because that's not his department!"

* * *

"Avram: ... He gives us strength when we're suffering! He gives us compassion when all that we feel is hatred! He gives us courage when we're searching around blindly like little mice in the darkness! ... "

HOW TRUE! Whether you identify with Gene Wilder's Rabbi or with Harrison Ford's Rogue, this film is filled with valuable lessons. The world is unpredictable. Sometimes we suffer. And sometimes we find strength, courage, compassion, ... and humor to deal with it all.

35 of 38 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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