We’ve lost a lot of big names in 2016 so far, and while not one of the biggest, Gene Wilder was still the greatest comic actor of our generation. He was one of the funniest actors to ever live. Gene Wilder’s life is proof that laughter can change the world. A laugh is every bit as meaningful as a tear. A smile, just as much as a frown.
Gene Wilder is irreplaceable. So, turning away from politics (and it’s cultural ramifications thereof) for a moment, the team here at LwC decided to take this moment to reminisce, and honor one of the brightest talents with which the screen has ever been graced.
YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (Jared)
Against my parents wishes, I remember watching Young Frankenstein at a young age. As a spoiled 90’s kid, it was one of the few films for which I readily broke my “absolutely no black and white movie” policy. It may not be his funniest film, but I can remember laughing to tears with my brother watching Gene Wilder perform his charades routine whilst being choked out by Frank Barone. “SEDAGIVE!? SEDAGIVE!!?” Today, it’s probably not even my favorite scene. But in the 4th grade, that nugget of comedy gold was a repeat rewinder. And that was back before DVD’s… so we really had to put the work in. Thanks for all the laughs, Gene.
BLAZING SADDLES (Brodigan)
You can’t think Gene Wilder without thinking Mel Brooks (close second is Wilder with Richard Pryor). Brooks and Wilder are half of everything I know to be funny, with the other half being everyone from Buster Keaton to Steven Crowder combined (that’s called “employment insurance” folks). This scene also shows what Crowder says about his brilliant comedy. The “morons” line was ad libed. It was so ad libed, that Sheriff Bart laughing was because the actor Cleavon Little broke character and couldn’t hold it in. Brooks kept the scene because…really, how could you not.
And to answer the question, you can still make “Blazing Saddles” today. Just with more outrage…that both Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks who had had fun with.
SEE NO EVIL, HEAR NO EVIL (Kacie)
Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor together in one movie. You’d think grouping so much talent into one movie would cause disarray, be a clashing of titans, cause a supernova flop never before seen by mankind, etc. Nay. The two complement each other perfectly (see Silver Streak and Stir Crazy). Hence the reason they did it repeatedly. Wilder plays deaf while Pryor is blind. Their comedic timing on screen? Pure awesomeness. And by “awesomeness,” I really mean whatever word is the equivalent of two hours spent keeled over trying not to have a hernia while gasping for air between laughs. Yeah, I’m shameless. It’s that good.
This is one of Gene Wilder’s best. Thus it being on this list. But really, what other movie can get away with featuring a chorus line chanting “Springtime for Hitler and Germany”? Also, the blue blanket scene. The fat scene. The glorious “I’ll do it” scene with the fountain. It’s an actual goldmine of funnies. And for the record, SJWs got nothing on Wilder’s blue blanket hysteria.
WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (Crowder)
I didn’t pick this because it’s inherently my favorite movie of Wilder’s. Not even because it’s necessarily his best. But it was the one I studied the most. See, in the 6th grade I auditioned for the school play. I was slated to play none other than… Willy Wonka. Even as a child, I was immediately anxious, thinking that my lowly performance would be measured against Wilder’s. Knowing that I could never stack up. Even at 11, I had more foresight than Johnny Depp. I watched the movie on a continuous loop, studying Gene’s every mannerism, taking notes. At our first rehearsal, I remember our director telling me “You know, Steven… You don’t have to do a Gene Wilder impression.” I asked “Why not?!” To this day, the answer to that question is simple: because nobody could do it better.
“Want to change the world? There’s nothing to it.” truer words could never be spoken of Gene Wilder. Rest in peace, old chap. You will be missed.