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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I don't know if I can really say what many other people have already
said in the way of praising this very overlooked film, but I am so glad
to see so many fans of the film posting here.
This film is my all time favorite comedy, and I think it would be safe to say that if I had a top ten (across the spectrum list) this film would be in that too.
Gene Wilder and Harrison Ford are probably my two most favorite actors, and to see them paired in this film....well, someone had a stroke of genius on that score.
I first saw this movie when I was ten years old. My mom, my younger brother, and I loved this film the first time we saw it on Cinemax. And I have to say it is a TRIBUTE to the comedic genius of Gene Wilder that his Yiddish inflections STILL make me laugh my head off to this day. This film is not just a comedy. It is indeed a dramedy...and it has plenty of comedy and drama to really round the film out well.
A scene that almost always brings a tear to my eye is when Avram (Wilder) makes to leave the Amish folk who gave him shelter, and this exchange ensues:
Amish man: We hope this will help thee on thy journey, Brother Avram.
Avram: (with the most genuine look of gratitude I've ever seen an actor emulate) I will never forget thy kindness.
That scene is just beautiful.
Harrison Ford and Gene Wilder teaching each other the relative phrases for complete surprise was rib-tickling.
And probably the one scene that nearly makes me see stars laughing every single time is when Avram shouts his newly acquired colorful metaphor as his horse jumps off a cliff into a river below. "Whoa! Whoa horsey! I didn't tell you where to go! Whoa! Oy...oyoyoyoyoyooyoyoyoyoy oy! Shee-IT!"
With Harrison Ford's Tommy Lillard adopting the Jewish phrase of complete surprise and shouting it out in earnest as he follows suit: "Oy gevald!"
If I recall, I do believe Gene Wilder is Jewish. (His real name is of a Jewish nature). If he went to Synagogue, he remembered his time there well, and in my most humble opinion PERFECTLY played a Jewish Rabbi. The prayers and rituals all looked and sounded genuine. And Gene Wilder's comedic talent only tops this off exquisitely.
I am pleased to say that I own the movie on DVD, and this is a film I will be hard pressed to ever give up. This is a comedy for the ages...and I recommend families pass this movie on down the line to their descendants, as a reminder of what great comedy really is.
Respectfully, Steve Dunlap
Sort of playing off of his presence in "Blazing Saddles", Gene Wilder
plays rabbi Avram Belinski, who leaves his seminary in 1850 Poland to
marry a woman in San Francisco and start a synagogue there. But
naturally, the American West holds more than a few surprises for him,
namely train robber Tommy Lillard (Harrison Ford).
"The Frisco Kid" may not be the most famous movie, but it certainly has its merits. Wilder and Ford are quite a pairing, and the movie never drags. I think that I did once hear that some of the first cowboys may have been Jewish, but that's just a possibility. The point is that you're sure to like this movie.
I liked the film. It was funny and worth while viewing from time to time. As a Christian, I thought Harrison's language was a little excessive, but that's life. Some of that was a part of the plot. The thing I noticed on a VHS I bought, was during the screens where they were being chased by Indians. The view switched back and forth between the heroes and the Indians. On about the second switch back to the heroes, if you look at the lower left corner of the screen you will see a 1/2 second view of what looks like a still camera or a second small movie camera and the photographers hands. Poor job or editing, but fun to catch even the experts in a faux pas.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I absolutely love this movie! There are several parts that I have never forgotten and I just bought this one last year,after seeing it years ago. I think there is a great chemistry between Gene Wilder and Harrison Ford and there are several places in this film that cause real belly laughs! Warning:Spoilers:::: The part where Wilder and Ford are in the Indian camp celebrating with them and what I assume to be peyote mushrooms is hilarious as is the scene when Wilder comes to himself later in a monastery where the monks have taken a vow of silence.This movie is such fun after a slow first 30-40 minutes.Wilder's seeming naivete and desire to become Ford's "sidekick" is charming,and I enjoyed how Ford seemed truly bewildered by Wilder's innocence. For a fun evening I don't think this one could possibly disappoint.
As a prior reviewer states, the first forty-five minutes may seem slow,
only if you are totally unfamiliar with Judaism, or are entirely
uninterested in religions or customs other than your own.
I am a devout, practicing Atheist, but my best friend of over twenty years is Jewish, and because of what I've learned from him, and probably also as a result of my general interest in other peoples' religions and philosophies, I was captivated from the beginning.
This is a tale of the conquest of the meek over the bullies in life, and a story of one man's ultimate triumph, due to the fact (or perhaps in spite of it) that he stuck to his principles in the face of adversity.
Despite the apparent grave message of this story, it is portrayed in such a way that it will probably move you to sincere belly-laughter at many points along the way.
Gene Wilder plays a somewhat unconventional and naive Rabbi sent from the east by his superiors (who seem to only want to get rid of him) to Rabbi-less San Francisco. Harrison Ford plays the consummate dead-eye, gun slinging, opportunistic cowboy who becomes his reluctant protector and eventually his friend along the way, all the time with the Harrison Ford little boy charm many of us know so well from his earlier days.
Ultimately, however, one of Ford's interventions causes such animosity in the bully that it escalates things to the point where he follows the pair to San Francisco, arranges for Ford's temporary incapacitation, and then challenges Wilder to the ultimate showdown.
Wilder's character however, has finally had enough. With sudden (uncharacteristic, but eminently believable) courage, or perhaps just plain foolhardiness, he faces his tormentor in a gunfight in the street, and the rest I will leave to you to discover.
This is indeed one of the great but over-looked films, and you should see it, if only to be able to say I was wrong.
This is a film to be viewed with a date, or with your significant other. It includes enough action for the male types to be more than satisfied, and it includes enough drama for the female types to be satisfied as well. This is one of the only films I've watched in the last several decades that was truly deserving of that over-used appellation "A feel-good film".
This has to be rated one of the funniest movies ever to be made. Whilst there have been many funny movies made over the years, this one is one laugh from beginning to end. It contains all the elements to make incredible and unbelievable scenarios real. The writer combines (almost pure) slapstick with pathos throughout the movie, and the magic works. The partnership of the characters, unlikely as it at first seems, works perfectly. This movie should be re-released - it would make millions of dollars making millions of people ache with laughter.
Often exquisite little masterpieces such as this get by the critics and audiences alike the first time around. An early Harrison Ford effort, the story and direction uses his straight forward comedic under-playing of a shiftless western drifter against Gene Wilder's best "controlled hysteria" school of acting portrayal of a Polish rabbinical school dropout who meet in the middle of nowhere as Wilder heads to San Francisco to fulfill a dead end assignment. What develops between this most unlikely pair is not only first rate comedy, but a touching story about friendship and how it can evolve in the most doubtful circumstances between two most improbable candidates. If you take the time to watch it more than once, you are sure to find yet another exquisite moment between these two that you missed the last time you watched it. This is satire at its best. An astute and subtle western send-up with a heart-warming underplot.
Aldrich's penultimate film is an odd and mildly interesting Western
which, given its unlikely alliance between Polish rabbi Gene Wilder and
young robber Harrison Ford, actually ties in nicely with the various
buddy-buddy Spaghetti Westerns I've been going through this past week
Still, the two-hour running-time is too great to sustain its rambling but, ultimately, pointless narrative (Wilder goes through many a misadventure, including being mistaken for Ford's accomplice and then having to depend on him for survival, on his long voyage) and few elements of the typical Western fare are utilized in any significant way (despite trains, banks, shoot-outs, posses, Indians, etc.) - though the landscapes are pleasant enough. Wilder's characteristically energetic performance helps a lot; Ford, however, is both too young and too modern for this type of role (according to Wilder's autobiography, it was originally intended for John Wayne!).
Rabbi Avram Belinski (Gene Wilder) is sent from Poland to lead a
congregation in San Francisco. When he arrives in Philadelphia, the
naive Avram falls in with three con men who robs him and throws him off
the wagon in Pennsylvania. He is hopelessly dependent on the kindness
of strangers including a kind hearted robber Tommy Lillard (Harrison
Ford) on his long road west.
I never even heard of this movie. I am glad that I caught it on TV. Wilder and Ford make an odd couple. That's the point here. Wilder brings a bit of his humor while Ford is Han Solo without Chewbacca. This a funny buddy comedy.
The running time of almost 2 hours is too long. It would be better to start the journey with Ford. That way they could build up the chemistry earlier. And they need more jokes. Gene Wilder's mannerism is great, but the movie should be more jam packed with jokes. It's hilarious when Harrison Ford starts yelling at Gene Wilder for not riding on Saturday. They make for a fun duo.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is one of those comic gems that almost approaches "Blazing Saddles" in it's best moments. Just like "Cat Ballou" there's a few killings in it that tend to spoil the overall "feel" of the film. At it's funniest: Sent to San Francisco from Poland by his Rabbinical counsel, an inept naive Rabbi (87th in his class of 88) journeys to San Francisco and naturally is robbed of his $200 by 3 ragtag brothers. Penniless, he takes a job as a railroad "gandy-dancer" and there are faint echoes of "Blazing Saddles" there. He is befriended by a settlement of Amish farmers and mistakenly believes they are "Jews", at first, due to their mannerisms and dress. Then he meets up with Harrison Ford, a bank robber, again by accident, and their journey West begins. There is a terrific stunt where they both dive off a cliff on horseback. They are captured by a band of Indians and are almost burned at the stake. After the Rabbi makes rain for them, ("God can do whatever he wants to") there is much celebration and he ends up at a monastery to recover. The movie loses its way when the Rabbi wins a bar fight and "whips" the 3 brothers who stole his money. Again, near the movies' end, he is forced to kill one of them in self defense. He falls in love and marries the younger daughter of the head of the Jewish Congregation. ("Take the money out of the building fund.") Gene Wilder is the saving grace of this film. His earnest performance is what makes it all worthwhile. Harrison Ford is also terrific as the reluctant "Moses" who leads the Rabbi out of the wilderness into the holy land of San Francisco. Their humorous dialog will remind you of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid". The wedding sequence is shown over the credits which somewhat spoils it, as it is hard to view. I would have rated this movie higher except for the (in my opinion) unneeded violence in the story. You don't have to be Jewish to enjoy this film, which did a 9 million dollar gross worldwide!
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