“Stir Crazy” (1980)
Running Time: 111 minutes
Director: Sidney Poitier
Featuring: Richard Pyor, Gene Wilder, Jobeth Williams
Rory: “That’s Grossberger. The biggest mass murderer in the history of the southwest? My dear, he killed his entire family and all of his relatives in one weekend and then he killed some more people that reminded him of his family!”
This is one of nine films the great Sidney Poitier directed and is possibly his most successful in terms of box office and critical reviews – it is one of the best Pryor/Wilder films around and deserves a look as it has recently been re-released on Blu-ray and looks great.
As with most broad comedies the plot is rather simple and is this case is about two best friends set-up for something they didn’t do, sent to prison, however, no prison cell can keep them locked in for long. Harry (Richard Pryor) is a waiter recently fired and Skip (Gene Wilder) works as a store detective also recently fired. While on a break from everything they are arrested mistakenly arrested for robbing a bank and so from there hilarity ensues.
While the duo, who are on break, two men steal the costumes and rob the bank. Harry and Skip are arrested, whisked through a speedy trial and handed 125-year jail sentences. Their court-appointed lawyer, Len Garber, advises them to wait until he can appeal their case.
This was the second of four movies that Wilder and Pryor appeared in together and this is a perfect example of how they would be an odd couple of sorts and muddle through a comedic adventure. Its wonderful watching these two great comic actors at work and one can only wish they had made more films together.
“See No Evil Hear No Evil” (1989)
Running Time: 103 minutes
Director: Arthur Hiller
Featuring: Richard Pryor, Gene Wilder, Joan Severance and Kevin Spacey
Capt. Braddock: “Okay no more bullshit!”
Capt. Braddock: [to Dave, talking fast] “was there or wasn’t there a woman?”
Dave: “Are you serious?”
Capt. Braddock: “Yes I’m goddamn serious.”
Dave: “Fuzzy Wuzzy was a woman?”
Capt. Braddock: “What the hell is he taking about?”
Wally: “He reads lips. You’re talking too fast.”
Capt. Braddock: [to Dave, talking slowly] “Was there… a wom-an… pres-ent?”
Dave: [to Capt. Braddock, talking slowly] “Yes. There was… a wom-an… pres-ent.”
Capt. Braddock: “Why is he talking like that?”
Wally: [to Capt. Braddock, talking slowly] “Because he’s deaf… not stup-id.”
A blind man Wally (Richard Pryor) and a deaf man Dave (Gene Wilder) meet when Wally applies for a job in Dave’s New York City concession shop. After a brief period of confusion and antagonism, Wally and Dave become close friends. Dave reads lips and guides Wally when they travel, and Wally tells Dave about invisible sounds and what people say behind his back.
Once day the guys witness a murder at their shop and from there they are on the run from the police and the people that committed the crime.
Many people judge this film quite harshly but it was the first film of theirs I saw in cinemas and so has a special place in my heart. After this film the quality of their output together and alone started to decline – but to be fair at this point both were legendary artists in multiple fields.
I recommend both of these films as I think they are both classic examples of comedy films with real plots and narratives.
If you enjoyed these then try:
“Blazing Saddles (1974)
“Young Frankenstein (1974)
“Silver Streak” (1976)
“The Toy” (1982)