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Silver Streak (1976)

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On a long-distance train trip, a man finds romance but also finds himself in danger of being killed, or at least pushed off the train.

Director:

Arthur Hiller

Writer:

Colin Higgins
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Gene Wilder ... George
Jill Clayburgh ... Hilly
Richard Pryor ... Grover
Patrick McGoohan ... Devereau
Ned Beatty ... Sweet
Clifton James ... Sheriff Chauncey
Ray Walston ... Mr. Whiney
Stefan Gierasch ... Professor Schreiner & Johnson
Len Birman Len Birman ... Chief
Valerie Curtin ... Plain Jane
Lucille Benson ... Rita Babtree
Scatman Crothers ... Ralston
Richard Kiel ... Reace
Fred Willard ... Jerry Jarvis
Delos V. Smith Jr. Delos V. Smith Jr. ... Burt (as Delos V. Smith)
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Storyline

A somewhat daffy book editor on a rail trip from Los Angeles to Chicago thinks that he sees a murdered man thrown from the train. When he can find no one who will believe him, he starts doing some investigating of his own. But all that accomplishes is to get the killer after him. Written by Alfred Jingle

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

By plane, by train, by the edge of your seat, it's the most hilarious suspense ride of your life! See more »


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 December 1976 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El expreso de Chicago See more »

Filming Locations:

Okotoks, Alberta, Canada See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,500,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$51,079,064, 31 December 1977
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor almost acted together on Blazing Saddles (1974). Pryor was originally supposed to star, but the studio objected, insisting on a more genteel Cleavon Little and Wilder replaced Gig Young after filming had already started. See more »

Goofs

This movie is presented as being set in the United States. Towards the end of the movie, the train is about to crash into the fictional "Central Station" in Chicago. When the assistant controller, Jerry Jarvis, is running through the station looking for his boss, he stops to ask a janitor who is polishing a piece of marble clearly marked "GO Transit". GO Transit is Ontario, Canada's interregional public transit system. See more »

Quotes

George Caldwell: What did you come back here for?
Grover Muldoon: You forgot your wallet.
George Caldwell: Oh, some thief you are.
See more »

Alternate Versions

When Silver Streak was first shown on TV, it had scenes that were not in the home video version, such as:
  • There's an extra scene of George and Rita talking. She inquires as to if he was riding hobo on the train.
  • A longer scene of Rita and George taking off in the airplane.
  • At the beginning when George arrives at the train station, the taxi driver comments that since George is going from Los Angeles to Chicago and a train that he must be a sucker for boredom.
  • A scene where the Silver Streak is pulling into the Kansas City station, which takes place right before Grover and George rush in.
See more »

Connections

References The Narrow Margin (1952) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Hitchcockian Thriller Played For Laughs
30 September 2003 | by britishdominionSee all my reviews

"Silver Streak" was released the very same year the Master of Suspense, Sir Alfred Hitchcock, released his black-comedy swan song, "Family Plot". Though Hitch was in the very twilight of his long, illustrious career, his playful style was alive and well, and well appropriated, in Hollywood. The Master didn't make this movie - Canadian Arthur ("Love Story") Hiller did - but the unmistakable fingerprints and shop-hewn template of Hitchcock's "North By Northwest" (amongst other classics) are in great display thanks to writer Colin ("Foul Play") Higgins in the cheery, breezy action comedy, "Silver Streak".

"Silver Streak" is the first of four Gene Wilder & Richard Pryor match-ups and certainly in retrospect, one of the best. Wilder is an ordinary Joe taking the titular Amtrak train across country. In the midst of his journey, he befriends and beds fellow passenger Jill ("An Unmarried Woman") Clayburgh, ends up witnessing a murder then is wrongly accused of the crime, and is thrown off the train many, many times in his pursuit to clear his name, save the girl from a mysterious villain and get to the other side of the country.

This is a very gentle but funny comedy that plays with the conventions of one of Hitch's favorite themes, the mistaken identity of everyday man in extraordinary circumstances. Wilder is wonderful, fitfully funny as usual and shines as both a romantic lead (!) and does his patented "crazy" guy when things start falling apart. Just watching Wilder's eyes as he exasperatedly tries to explain out the fantastic plot he's wrapped up in to unbelieving characters along the way is one of the film's funniest, simplest rewards.

The film's masterstroke, however, is the addition of Richard Pryor as a part-time thief. Pryor was in the midst of a very hot career in 1976, and although this film seems to restrain some of the imagination and language of his stage presence and TV specials, (this is a PG-rated movie, after all), he still creates an indelible extended 'cameo' that fuses film with a hip, perfectly cool counterbalance to Wilder's mania and confusion. When Pryor is on screen he not only steals the film, but also elevates this old-fashioned adventure-comedy concept to something otherwise original... and you can't take your eyes off the guy.

Filmed all across his native Canada (thanks IMDb for confirming this!), director Hiller pulls this fun little audience-pleasing gem along the rails to a bright and exciting climax. The supporting cast is loaded with wonderful character actors including Patrick MacGoohan, Ray (My Favorite Martian) Walston, Ned Beatty and Scatman Crothers amongst others. A very luxurious and memorable score by Henry Mancini is the capper to this sparkling comedy, perfect as a primer for, and a loving compendium of, many of the Hitchcock classics that wait for you to discover them on DVD, VHS or on the tube.


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