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Monday, July 2, 2007

The Gene Genie

Last night when watching Channel 4 I chanced upon one of those 10 second quotes between programming that celebrities and actors make commenting about the art of film, movies and life in general. The pearl of wisdom came from Gene Wilder and I couldnt hear what he had said as I was deaf with shock to see how much this great man had aged, sunken in frame and generally looked a shadow of his former self and I learned he was hospitalized with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1999 and made a full recovery in 2000. It sure has taken its toil on him along with old age.
It takes a certain type of nerd to appreciate an actor like Gene Wilder I think. Although he has a chequered resume for turkeys as far as movies are concerned, he no doubt won the glittering prizes of his career with Mel Brooks and Richard Pryor. He had been reletively quite on the movie front for the past 15 years preferring writing and directional roles rather than acting. When Surfing the web just to see what he had been up to in this 15 year wilderness I came across an account of how he and Mel Brooks met. It was 1963. Anne Bancroft was doing “Mother Courage and Her Children” on Broadway. She asked her friend Gene Wilder, “Do you want to meet my boy friend?”

Why not?

Gene extended his hand to Mel Brooks and complimented him: “You look great in that P-jacket.”

Mel, ever the comic, shot back: “They used to call it a urine jacket, but it didn’t sell.”




Such was the start of a famous collaboration that included Gene starring with Zero Mostel in Mel’s 1968 film, “The Producers.” Apart from his critical acclaim playing Willie Wonka , Victor Fronkonschtein, and The Waco Kid. He also made a movie here in Dublin with Margot Kidder (Lois Lane) a year before Willie Wonka, It was called 'Quackster Fortune has a cousin in the Bronx' (I would have loved to hear the movie pitch for that title). I had seen this about 10 years ago and was curious because A it was shot in Dublin and B because I trusted his choice of roles as an actor. In it Gene plays a shit shoveller, yes you read that correct. His character goes around following work horses around the city and sells their manure to horticultralists. An american student nearly mows him down in her car(Kidder) and thus the love story begins. Gene plays the role of Quackster, (who character is of limited intelligence) quite well save for his 'oirish' accent.

I guess though for many (myself included),feel that Wilder always worked his best in partnerships. In the late 1970s and 1980s he appeared in a number of movies with Richard Pryor, making them the most prolific inter-racial comedy double act in movies during the period. Who could forget Silver Streak, Sir Crazy, Hear no Evil Speak no Evil?
Anyway just to remind you of some of his golden moments on screen here are a series of quotes starting with the unforgettable Young Frankenstein. Sorry thats Fronkonschtein..

Dr. Friedrich von Frankenstein: That music...
Frau Blucher: Yes! It's in your blood - it's in the blood of ALL Frankensteins! It reaches the soul when words are useless. Your grandfather used to play it to the creature HE vas making!
Dr. Friedrich von Frankenstein: Then it was you all the time!
Frau Blucher: Yes!
Dr. Friedrich von Frankenstein: You played that music in the middle of the night...
Frau Blucher: Yes!
Dr. Friedrich von Frankenstein: ...to get us to the laboratory!
Frau Blucher: Yes!
Dr. Friedrich von Frankenstein: That was YOUR cigar smoldering in the ashtray!
Frau Blucher: Yes!
Dr. Friedrich von Frankenstein: And it was you... who left my grandfather's book out for me to find!
Frau Blucher: Yes!
Dr. Friedrich von Frankenstein: So that I would...
Frau Blucher: Yes!
Dr. Friedrich von Frankenstein: Then you and Victor were...
Frau Blucher: YES! YES! Say it! He vas my... BOYFRIEND!

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[Frankenstein, Igor and Inga in front of HUGE castle doors.]
Dr. Friedrich von Frankenstein: What knockers!
Inga: Oh, thank you doctor!

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Dr. Friedrich von Frankenstein: Igor, would you mind telling me whose brain I did put in?
Igor: And you won't be angry?
Dr. Friedrich von Frankenstein: I will NOT be angry.
Igor: Abby someone.
Dr. Friedrich von Frankenstein: Abby someone. Abby who?
Igor: Abby Normal.
Dr. Friedrich von Frankenstein: Abby Normal?
Igor: I'm almost sure that was the name.
Dr. Friedrich von Frankenstein: Do you mean to tell me that I put an abnormal brain into an, 8 foot tall, 300 pound, GORILLA?!!!

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[Dr. Frankenstein leans in for a kiss.]
Elizabeth: Taffeta, darling.
Dr. Friedrich von Frankenstein: Taffeta, dear.
Elizabeth: [pulling away] No, the dress is taffeta. It wrinkles so easily.

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[Froederick and Igor are exhuming a dead criminal.]
Dr. Friedrich von Frankenstein: What a filthy job.
Igor: Could be worse.
Dr. Friedrich von Frankenstein: How?
Igor: Could be raining.
[It starts to pour.]

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Dr. Friedrich von Frankenstein: For what we are about to see next, we must enter quietly into the realm of genius!

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Igor: Dr. Frankenstein...
Dr. Friedrich von Frankenstein: "Fronkensteen."
Igor: You're putting me on.
Dr. Friedrich von Frankenstein: No, it's pronounced "Fronkensteen."
Igor: Do you also say "Froaderick"?
Dr. Friedrich von Frankenstein: No... "Frederick."
Igor: Well, why isn't it "Froaderick Fronkensteen"?
Dr. Friedrich von Frankenstein: It isn't; it's "Frederick Fronensteen."
Igor: I see.
Dr. Friedrich von Frankenstein: You must be Igor.
[He pronounces it ee-gor.]
Igor: No, it's pronounced "eye-gor."
Dr. Friedrich von Frankenstein: But they told me it was "ee-gor."
Igor: Well, they were wrong, weren't they?

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Inga: Werewolf!
Dr. Friedrich von Frankenstein: Werewolf?
Igor: There Wolf; There Castle!

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Dr. Friedrich von Frankenstein: Damn your eyes!
Igor: [to camera] Too late.

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Dr. Friedrich von Frankenstein: For the experiment to be a success, all of the body parts must be enlarged.
Inga: His veins, his feet, his hands, his organs vould all have to be increased in size.
Dr. Friedrich von Frankenstein: Exactly.
Inga: He vould have an enormous Shwanstooker!
Dr. Friedrich von Frankenstein: That goes without saying.
Inga: Voof!
Igor: He's going to be very popular.

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[After sex with The Monster]
Elizabeth: Oh! Where you going? ...Oh, you men are all alike! Seven or eight quick ones and then you're out with the boys to boast and brag! YOU BETTER KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT! Oh... I think I love him!

[Upon seeing the monster's manhood]
Elizabeth: Oh my God! Woof!

Blazing Saddles
[describing how everyone wanted to duel him when he was The Waco Kid]
Jim: Then one day I hear "Reach for it, mister." I spun around, and there I was standing face to face with a six year old kid. Well, I just laid down my guns and walked away. Little bastard shot me in the ass. So I limped to the nearest saloon, crawled inside a whiskey bottle, and I've been there ever since


Stir Crazy
Skip Donahue: This filthy, roach-ridden reality is inspiring... what did that second policeman say to you when he grabbed you by the throat?
Harry Monroe: Man, I don't fucking believe you!
Skip Donahue: "Man, I don't fucking believe you!" Fabulous!
Harry Monroe: You don't get it do you, Skip. You think this is The Count Of Monte Cristo or something. We're in deep trouble. This is the real deal. We're in deep shit.
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So I also found out that on On March 1, 2005 (I know, its a little old news)Gene Wilder released his highly-personal memoir Kiss Me Like A Stranger, an account of his life covering everything from his childhood, when his mother died of heart disease, up through his late wife's death. He has been praised for the openness and honesty of his writing, setting it apart from other Hollywood memoirs. So I know what book I will be reading next. Lately he had been furiously attacking hollywood for making so many sequels and remakes and 'following the money' as he calls it. Its something I can very much sympathise with in his view.Bastardisations of world cinema for the mass, sequel upon sequel, beat that movie horse to death mindset of producers etc So the next time I go to buy a dvd just for the sake of seeing it , I think I will keep my hand in my pocket and go home and stick on one of his classic movies because as he says 'they simply dont make them like the used to'. He is of course right. Why? Because he's the candyman.

8 comments:

General Catz said...

I quite like Gene. And i'm a huge fan of Mel Brooks. Did you ever see The Twelve Chairs? Hilarious.

Glamourpuss said...

Young Frankenstein is one of my faves - Marty Feldman is genius. As is the dance routine.

I think you have to be of a certain generation to feel affection for this man. I loved his movies as a kid and they still make me laugh.

Puss

My Reflecting Pool said...

My Grandma introduced me to Mel Brooks' zany movies and characters. I introduced them to my kids. We adore the movies and characters and oneliners so funny you need to pee before watching them.

AmyTree said...

God, just look at those eyes!! The man is a genius, and will always, always be the Candyman for me... (I'm so reading that book too!!)

Hammer said...

I saw him in a mystery series a couple years back and he looked like his old self.. I guess time eventually catches up.

I loved wilders movies, the original Producers is one of my favorites.

Judith said...

Catz
I have seen 12 chairs. I think Mel brooks deserves to have a post dedicated to himself!
Glam
I loved the way peter boyle roars 'putting on the ritz' and I have a photo of marty feldman holding the abbey normal brain bell jar in my loo!
Pool
the only way I got to know about his movies was my dad sat down with us and watched them too! let me hear a hurumph for Good parenting!
Amytree
Hey thanks for stopping by again! He does have some peepers does gene- He comes across in his interviews as quite the poet. He will always be willy wonka to me not like the michael jackson charlatan that tim 'open my legs for disney' burton gave us.
Hammer
I think that may have been when he was getting stem cell treatment but yes he is half the man he used to be on the outside..

Flyinfox_SATX said...

And who can forget when he teamed up with Richard Pryor in SilverStreak! That was one hell of a funny movie! Gene Wilder Rocks!

slaghammer said...

The man is one of my favorites. I have Young Frankenstein on dvd and I’m always trying to badger people into watching it with me. There haven’t been many takers over the last few years, confirming one of my worst fears. These days, market appeal is valued over comedic genius. Sad but true.