Saturday, May 11, 2013

silver streak [1976]

going to the sac 6 drive ins a couple weeks ago put in mind of certain movie memories at the drive-ins.  this is one of those flicks that i saw at the sac 6 drive in upon its release in 1976.  this is not really a great movie but it has brilliant comedic flashes with the pair of gene wilder and richard pryor as its leads.

this movie is a rather confused outing.  marketed as a comedy for most of the run-time the pic plays as a drama.  the comedy only hits the fore with the introduction of richard pryor as a small-time thief caught in the larger schemes of the bad guy played by patrick mcgoohan and gene wilder as the schmuck who witnesses a murder and wants to protect a woman, jill clayburgh, from the dastardly mcgoohan.

i remember the film fucked up on the first reel at the sac 6.  a man tried to hit up clayburgh and she dumps a highball down his trrousers.  it got a laugh from the surrounding cars.  then the film tripped up in the projector.  the projectionists had to start the film over.  i remember -- because it was funny the first time -- doubling up in laughter a second time when the scene of clayburgh, highball and drench trousers played again.

that's all i remember of that night's screening.  the rest of the movie plays on my mind's screen.  i've seen it hundreds of times on television.  pryor proved in this outing to be a singular brilliant comic actor.  without him and gene wilder's manic energy this film would be all but unwatchable.  there is not a lot of tension and drama in the script.

it is a large movie made for a large screen.  the 1970s were good like that.  filmmakers used tricks like CINEMASCOPE to get asses in theater seats.  it was the era of irwin allen's disaster movies with large production and even bigger casts.  spectacle was the game even if spectacle was bogged down by budget and limiting scripts. 

whatever the case i have a great affection for this movie.  the duo richard pryor and gene wilder was magic on the silver screen.  i remember the intermission shorts of the era at the sac 6, shorts that i'd love to see today for many of those intermission commercials were produced locally and i'm sure those films are stored in cans at the sac 6 today.  i hope soon that someone will preserve those intermission shorts and make them available to us who remember them and would cherish them. 


At 8:48 AM, Blogger Jim K. said...

yes, pryor as ballast for wilder..
he needed a tether bad back then,
that dizzy hyper-hippie-honkie act

great combination

At 9:35 PM, Blogger richard lopez said...

they were brilliant apart, genius together. another favorite film starring the duo is STIR CRAZY. especially the scenes when wilder and pryor are arrested and put in jail. comedy at the first intensity.

At 6:16 PM, Blogger Jim K. said...

i think stir crazy is the best
duo feature with them

the train-disaster-drama thing
is itself done really well in
this one, though

At 9:15 PM, Blogger richard lopez said...

it was the era of disaster movies, which was a cool detail of this flick, but because the filmmakers tried to make a romance, a manic romp, and an action film/disaster movie all in one narrative simply made a confusing pic. still, it works and is a hell of a lot of fun to watch.


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