Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
A day late, I know, but R.I.P. Gene Wilder, dead at 83. Wilder was a superb comic actor and, from every account I’ve ever read, a thoroughly good man.
“Young Frankenstein” is one of my very favorite movies and certainly my most favorite Mel Brooks movie. This is primarily due to the writing, in which I believe Wilder had a significant hand. (Well, okay, the outstanding cast, too.) The trouble with most Brooks comedies is that they tend to start wandering, devolving into sledge-hammer slapstick or getting too cutesy. (The latter is my main problem with “Blazing Saddles”. Of course, it has a lot of good material in it, but it can’t stay in character, and by the end has gone completely haywire.) Not so with Y.F. – even with all the silly little asides, it holds true to the genre it parodies right the way through. As I say, I believe Wilder should be given credit for this.
It also occurred to me that I haven’t seen “Willie Wonka” in quite a long time, so I tossed that into the ol’ Netflix queue just now. I’ve often wondered how that film compares to the Roald Dahl book. (On principle, I’ve never seen the Johnny Depp remake bye the by.) Certainly it is old-fashioned in its rayther strict morality and quite out of date. The kidz are all Mike TeeVees and Veruca Salts now, and any suggestion that parents are responsible for such spoiled rotten brats would probably get one sent to the Camps.
(Mention of Wonka reminds me of a little throwaway bit in the movie of interest to musick-lovers. At one point, Wonka plays a little tune on a “musical lock” in order to open a door (into the fizzy-lifting water room, I believe). Mrs. TeeVee leans over to Grampa Joe and smugly mutters “Rachmaninoff”. Of course, the tune is nothing of the sort but is instead the opening couple of bars from the overture to Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro”. Wonka gives Mrs. TeeVee the smallest part of a condescending glance before moving on. I’ve often wondered what percentage of the audience the writers expected to get that bit. Significantly higher back when the movie came out than now, I’d bet.)