Saturday, 10 May 2014

The Frisco Kid (1979)

























Imagine it, you've got Harrison Ford who's literately fresh off Star Wars and the hottest thing in Hollywood at the time. So what better way to follow on from that with...a Gene Wilder comedy set in the wild west?. This is probably the one type of film that I wouldn't ever expect to see Harrison Ford in.

The plot is very straight forward, a Jewish Rabbi needs to get across the US to San Francisco so he can take up his new position and meet his new wife there. Its a perilous journey and he's gonna need help, luckily along the way he meets up with cowboy and bank robber Ford to guide him. What follows is a classic old fashioned odd couple tale with Ford as the stern dashing risk taking criminal who's good in a fight and fast with his pistol, and dragging his arse behind him is the strictly religious meek kind gentle innocent Rabbi who absolutely refuses to ride his horse on a Saturday.

Its the typical Wilder vehicle really with cheeky clever dialog, visual gags and pratfalls, tonnes of charm and a heart of gold at the centre. You know what to expect along the way, its pretty obvious really, any cliched predictable cowboy setup and scenario you can think of but stick a Rabbi in the thick of it, you know its gonna be amusing. I won't say its the best comedy I've come across or the best Wilder comedy, its certainly cute cheerful and good viewing for all the family.  Its not quite as funny as I thought it might be admittedly, watching Wilder prance around in his Jewish tucks trying to cope with the wild west whilst Ford gruffly shouts at him is funny to begin with but does get a tad dull after a time.



The film does lack a bit of bite and could do with some more outright laughs really. Ford's acting is also a bit touch and go at first but he gets into it later on, only problem is he takes things a bit too seriously I think. You do tend to think this will be a farcical spoof type affair much like 'Young Frankenstein', the films poster hints at it and the combination of the ever lovable goofy Wilder alongside the manly Ford does seem to scream it. But this doesn't really materialise, in fact the film does swing more towards a soppy light-hearted drama towards the end which spoils the fun a bit for me.

The best moments are probably when the duo get caught by native Indians, again there are hints of great comedy here but it doesn't quite make it. And Again when the duo end up in a Trappist monastery (vows of silence)...you know where I'm going with this don't you huh. Yep its the classic setup for the kind of silly laughs you half expect to see in a Mel Brooks parody. Only thing is again they don't quite take advantage of the setup with only one funny silly moment.

I do feel there was a really classic comedy here just waiting to burst free but somehow its been smothered, not sure how or why. Maybe Wilder wanted to actually make a more semi serious comedy with some emotion. Its a strange little movie really, some nice bits of humorous dialog from Wilder at times but they get rained upon by Ford's overly assertive character. The films visuals are nice and cozy overall (you can see its an old film that's for sure) and generally everything ticks along harmlessly giving you the odd smile. Not really the manic wacky zany riot of belly laughs you've come to expect from Wilder. Never the less its a solid quirky alternative little western that's still worth a watch even though it does feel like its missing Mel Brooks' input.

6/10