Recently a barista friend of mine and I were discussing the wonderfulness that is Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. It was during this conversation that I uttered the words, “Gene Wilder is the best”. I mean, could you imagine a cinematic universe void of Gene Wilder? It’s not a pretty thought, right? With the tune to “If you want to view paradise” firmly stuck in my head, the conversation than shifted to how fantastic the Wild man was in all of his co-staring roles next to the great Richard Pryor, as well as his work with Mel Brooks. At some point in the conversation I realized that there were still many of this man’s filmography that I still haven’t seen and that perhaps my praise of him as a comedic great might be a little premature.
This feature serves one purpose; to honor one of my favorite actors of all time and to (re)acquaint myself with his entire body of work. Some films I may only have a paragraph or two worth of comments to make in discussing his performance, and other films I may have a short novel worth of observational musings.
Hit the jump to see my take on Gene Wilder in Waris Hussein‘s Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin In The Bronx
No, no, no, no, no. Here’s the biggest thing I took away from this film; Gene Wilder and Irish accents do not bode well together. From what I’ve seen thus far in Wilder’s career, the man does know how to be funny, but when it comes to being funny and Irish, well, not so much.
Here Gene plays Quackser, an Irishman content on earning his honest day’s pay by peddling horse manure in a cart-o-shit throughout his Dublin community. At first Quackser’s only adversity lies in gaining his father’s respect and approval of his chosen vocation while stubbornly not following in his father’s footsteps by taking a job at the manufacturing plant down the street. But soon other factors, such as falling in love with the bad screen presence of Margot Kidder, and the disappearance of all city’s horses come into play, leaving Quackser with more to worry about than simply pleasing his father’s expectations.
On those rare occasions where I was able to wade through the piss-poor script and insulting/borderline racist mockery of the Irish dialect, I did find Gene’s portrayal of naivety to be a sincere one. And that’s about the only nice thing I can say regarding this movie, that and it was nice seeing a young David Kelly in action, even if it was a wee part. We all know David Kelly. He played the old skinny naked man in Waking Ned Devine.
Interesting side note; David Kelly would go on to play Grandpa Joe in Tim Burton‘s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), while Wilder’s follow-up to Quackser would be Willy Wonka & Chocolate Factory (1971). How’s that for a segue into the next Wild over Wilder segment?
Past Wild over Wilder entries:
Part 3: Start The Revolution Without Me
Part 2: The Producers
Part 1: Bonnie and Clyde