Posts Tagged ‘Gene Wilder’

The Muppet Show Season 6 Pt. 7

June 28, 2021

Gene Wilder

Gene Wilder was born Jerome Silberman in Milwaukee. Wilder has repeatedly told the story that got him into performing. His mother was diagnosed with rheumatic fever in and the doctor told young Jerome to try and make her laugh. His older sister was an actress and he was inspired by her. He grew up a bit and got involved in the local theater scene. He was cast in his first paid role at age fifteen. He studied theater at the University of Iowa. He then studied in England before returning to the States to study at the HB Studio. After a stint in the army, he started to get work as an actor and studied under the great Uta Hagen back at the HB Studio. He then studied under Lee Strasberg at the urging of Charles Grodin. Through his connections, he started to appear Off-Broadway and on Broadway. It was during this time that he met Mel Brooks and Zero Mostel which led to him being cast in The Producers. In the seventies, his movie career picked up even more as he worked again with Mel Brooks and started his partnership with Richard Pryor. In the eighties, he started to work primarily with Gilda Radner who he later married. He remains a comedy legend although he died in 2016.

He would be perfect for the Muppet Show because of his great comic timing that is born out of his deep knowledge of the art of acting. Every role whether it was serious, comedic, or even parody was grounded from a very real place. He is one of the best actors who ever lived. He has worked with a lot of crazy and wacky comedians and kept his head so working with the Muppets would be no problem.

Cold Open: Gene assures Pops that he will be able to deal with the insanity backstage and is immediately confronted by Lew Zealand, Animal, and Gonzo.

Guest Arc: Honeydew and Beaker’s newest Muppet Labs invention has warped reality making things really weird. The Muppet Theater is invaded by evil doubles of the cast and Gene Wilder.

Guest Acts:
“Crazy” (Masser/Goodrum) with the Electric Mayhem
Kermit tries to interview Gene at Rowlf’s Piano but finds the double instead, chaos ensues when the other doubles arrive with Rowlf stuck in the middle
“Puttin’ on the Ritz” (Irving Berlin) with Kermit and then most of the cast

Pat Benatar

Pat Benatar was born to European immigrants in Brooklyn with the last name of Andrzejewski. Her parents let her sign up for voice lessons, supporting her interest in singing. That interest led her to the stage as early as Elementary school and by high school, she was starring in stage musicals. She was all set to attend Julliard to be a coloratura but ended up pursuing a degree in health education instead. She got married to her high school sweetheart and got a job as a bank teller. She was inspired by a Liza Minelli concert to quit her job to pursue a singing career. She worked as a waitress while finding gigs and amateur nights where she could. That led to a record deal and she started to rocket to success. She had album after album and hit after hit. Hers was actually the second music video to be played on MTV after “Video Killed the Radio Star”. She was touring as late as 2019 (her 40th-anniversary tour) and may still tour again.

Benatar would be great for the Muppet Show not only because of her singing talent but her background as a performer and actress as well. She designed her whole look and reinvented herself from an opera singer to a rocker with relative ease. She knows what it takes to put on the best show and had released five albums by 1983.

Cold Open: Miss Piggy is picketing backstage in an effort to get more stage time when Pat walks in and supports her.

Guest Arc: Miss Piggy protests that the show needs more female representation and Kermit agrees and enlists Pat Benatar, Annie Sue, Janice, and Miss Mousey to provide it.

“Hit Me With Your Best Shot” with cannons by Crazy Harry
“Love is a Battlefield” with the Electric Mayhem
“Heartbreaker” with the Electric Mayhem

Carol Lawrence

Carol Lawrence was born Carolina Maria Laraia and was the daughter of two Italian immigrants who ended up in Melrose Park, Illinois a suburb of Chicago. She lasted one year in college before she left to pursue acting. Her decision paid off as she found herself on Broadway at age twenty. Five years later she originated the role of Maria in West Side Story on Broadway, a legendary role. She played the role for years. She stayed on Broadway through the sixties but when the seventies rolled around, she moved on. She became the shining jewel of The Muny in St. Louis, Missouri where she starred in many famous shows and usually in the lead role. She went back and forth from there to Broadway well into the 2000s. She also made many appearances in television shows through the decades. She was a consummate leading lady and delighted many audiences.

She would be perfect for The Muppet Show because of her obvious experience on and off Broadway and her experience on television as well. She worked with a lot of different casts on a lot of different shows which shows that she can adapt. She also starred in the show Camelot which would serve her well in a fantasy tale like Cinderella.

Cold Open: Scooter comes to give Carol her warning but Miss Piggy is bringing in the glass slippers. Unfortunately, Carol points out that they’re glass shards foiling Piggy’s plot.

Guest Arc: The Muppet Theater puts on the Cinderella story with Carol as Cinderella, Gonzo as Prince Charming, Miss Piggy as the Evil Stepmother, and so on.

“I Feel Pretty” with Camilla and the chickens
“I’m a Brass Band” at the ball
“If My Friends Could See Me Now” (Coleman/Fields) back in the royal court

Media Update 9/14/17

September 14, 2017

Silver Streak

I was astonished as I sat down with my folks this weekend, my mouth full of gauze from my wisdom tooth extraction, and started watching this movie. I thought I had seen it. Unless I was more drugged than I thought, I had not. I definitely would have remembered this movie. Gene Wilder was an absolute genius. His comedic performance often had an underlying depression and/or anger underneath it that just added such great layers to it. He is brilliant in this mystery aboard a train from Los Angeles to Chicago. There is plenty of slapstick, wordplay, great situational humor, and even some vaudeville style stuff. The other top-billed actor in this movie is, of course, Richard Pryor who does not show up for the first hour of the movie. This gives Gene Wilder, Jill Clayburgh, and a great cast of character actors room to breathe. Richard Pryor appears in time to give the movie a good kick in the rear to get it going faster towards its conclusion. He works so well with Gene Wilder which is why they paired them together several times at the height of their careers. Somewhat inspired by movies like North by Northwest, this movie ups the comedy without losing the suspense of the thriller genre. I definitely recommend it.


If you look back at last year’s Halloween movie reviews, you will see how much I enjoyed Joon-Ho Bong’s The Host. It was a great take on what would happen if a city was actually attacked by a strange, alien creature. Bong is really good at taking fantastic ideas and then grounding them and making them relatable while still keeping them insane. This movie is about an Earth where the world released chemicals into the air to counteract global warming and accidentally froze the world. The movie takes place on a train that perpetually circumnavigates the world. The movie says a lot about class differences and what you are willing to forgive others for and what you are able to live with within yourself. It stars Chris Evans in arguably one of his most difficult acting roles. We also get great performances from seasoned professionals like John Hurt and Ed Harris. There is also Tilda Swinton in probably the best performance I have seen from her. Finally, we have Kang-ho Song, which adds a little more variety to this tense combination between a drama and basically a war movie. The movie is dark and not at all happy. Instead, like most futuristic stories, they show just what we are willing to do to each other. I definitely recommend it.

The Great Train Robbery (2017)

In 1963, 2.6 million pounds (which is 49 million today) was stolen from a train transporting cash through the Royal Mail system. After they got some inside information, a gang of fifteen thieves was able to get away with the money without firing a shot. Recently, a new dramatization of the crime was released on Netflix. I watched the first of two parts which was basically a movie about the heist itself. The movie follows the careful planning of the crime, its completion, and then the immediate aftermath after the criminals were not immediately caught. I am looking forward to watching the second half which is the investigation and arrest of the whole gang based on the mistakes they made. It is an interesting concept because I spent the whole first half getting to know the criminals and a lot of them are portrayed as likable. None of them are guilty of much violence and each of them walked away with a small fortune. They come off as kind of heroic so you forget that they are definitely criminals. I recommend it.

Music of the Week:
The Fluids – Creatures

Chvrches – Broken Bones

BUCKY BOYS – Shadowpeople

TWRP – The No Pants Dance

Fab 5 Freddy – Change The Beat

Weekly Updates:
– This week’s theme is “Mysteries and Secrets on Trains”
– I watched more Supergirl Season 2
– I finished Once Upon a Time Season 6
– I watched more White Collar Season 6
– I watched more Glitter Force Season 2
– I started watching the Mae Young Classic
– I started Bojack Horseman Season 4
– I watched more Riverdale Season 1

The Frisco Kid

February 23, 2014

So.  I know I’ve started a couple things on this blog that I fully intended to continue on a regular basis but then I didn’t because of reasons.  Of course, some of those were in my head instead of on the blog so you don’t know about it.   Just think of this one as a continuation of my movie reviews like Man of Steel (which I actually want to redo).  I’m on a classic movie kick lately so we’ll start with….

The Frisco Kid

This is a western film originally released on July 13, 1979.  For the record, that’s over two and a half years before I was born.  If you did not notice, this was Friday the 13th.  Maybe that is why I heard the movie was considered a flop at the box office.

How could a Gene Wilder/Harrison Ford flick be a flop?  Those two actors are such legends in my history book.   I idolized Harrison Ford as a kid mostly for Indiana Jones but I got a kick out of most of his work.  I saw Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka and then I was later introduced to Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein and a host of hilarious movies.  These two were dynamite separately, now I would see how they faired when thrown together.

Now, when I think of western films, I don’t think of either Gene Wilder or Harrison Ford.  Of course, after this Harrison Ford wouldn’t do another “western” until 2011 when he did Cowboys and Aliens (which doesn’t fully count, does it?)  Gene Wilder visited the genre in  Blazing Saddles but don’t expect to see anything like the Waco Kid here.

Gene Wilder plays a bumbling and honest Polish rabbi on his way across the United States to San Francisco.  Harrison Ford plays a sarcastic outlaw who meets up with Wilder’s character on the road to the west coast.

Both actors are playing to their strengths.  Harrison Ford is not going to go near any heavy lifting acting-wise but will stick with being a funny outsider.  That is completely OK.   Meanwhile, Gene has excellent comedic timing and is great and being a subtle shade of goofy.  I would say that his very full beard covers up his usual great facial expressions but his eyes are the most expressive part of him.

Now, let’s talk about the elephant in the room.  Gene Wilder plays a stereotypical Jewish man complete with accent.  However, there is absolutely nothing in what he does that is insulting or untrue about the culture.  Well, he does mention Polan being near Czechoslovakia which didn’t exist yet in 1850.  Other than that, it’s a depiction of an honest, good-hearted man who just happens to fit a stereotype.  In other words, he is not playing the stereotype, he is playing a character who meets much of the criteria of that stereotype.

Speaking of accents, thankfully Harrison Ford does not attempt a western twang.  It’s not that I think that it would be be bad, it’s just I’m afraid that might be.  Harrison Ford is not a trained actor, he’s just really good at doing what he does best much like Bruce Willis or Charles Bronson.  So it may be unfair but I hold actors like Ford to a lower standard, a bar they can usually easily get over.  Still, he does a really good job here at being the unapologetic jerk with a heart of gold.

This was Gene Wilder’s story.  Much like Mattie Ross is the real hero of True Grit, Rabbi Avram is the true hero of The Frisco Kid.   Though this movie is mostly a funny comedy, it certainly does get very real at moments.   Gene Wilder has proven again and again that he can do comedy and he can do drama and he can switch from one to the other at a moment’s notice.  In my opinion, this movie is about one man’s unending determination.  It also ends up being about friendship and reaching across cultural dividing lines as well but that’s just a pleasant bonus.

It was also really refreshing to sit down and watch a comedy again that is smart and not offensive.  Two men lay together to keep warm without an extended five minute gay joke.   Now, I don’t know about the accuracy of Jewish and Native American culture but from what I could see it was alright.   It could have been just another buddy comedy film but it was definitely smarter than that.

Overall, the movie was funny all the way through and it was defintely heartwarming here and there.   It started well and finished really strong.  I would definitely reccomend it to just about anybody I know.

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