Monday, August 29, 2016

Remembering Gene Wilder's films, most of all the end of "Silver Streak"

We will all remember Gene Wilder today, as he passed away at age 83.  I actually learned this first from a tweet from Jack Andraka.

Two films in particular that I remember him for.  One was the black-and-white horror comedy "Young Frankenstein" (1974), by Mel Brooks, which I saw for $1 at the old St. Marks theater in the East Village in New York City, not too far from the Ninth Street Center when I was attending it just after moving there.  Wilder plays the mad surgeon. I don’t recall “Blazing Saddles” quite as well.

But the best film I recall him in is “Silver Streak” (1976, Arthur Hiller), where he finds romance but evades being pushed off the train, until it crashes into Union Station in Chicago.  Washington DC had such a wreck when I was a boy in 1953.

The video above shows the end of “Silver Streak”, where the railroad has unbelievable bureaucratic incompetence – filmed at an aircraft hangar and partly in Toronto, although it’s supposed to happen in Chicago – the train engineer is apparently murdered.  The other clip is “Murder in a Private Car” (1934) where people are rescued by a steam engine.

Of course, we're reminded of the real, horrific Amtrak crash in Philadelphia in May 2015.

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