Friday, January 20, 2012

Trains, Cars, and Dead People

When one views this movie, some of Alfred Hitchcock's thrillers come to mind, which is interesting considering that Silver Streak rather daftly combines suspense with comedy. Hitchcock was able to do that too, especially with one of his greatest movies, North By Northwest, a movie that in some ways inspired this movie. After all, Gene Wilder's rather confused and in over his head protagonist requires some of Carry Grant's best work, in that the common every man discovers himself wrapped up in a rather sinister plot. In this instance, its Wilder quickly discovering that he is not only suspected of murder, but that he is trapped on a train with the killers.

Also featured in this movie is Richard Pryor, another great comedian who ends up having excellent timing with Wilder. Even though they actually do not meet until later in the film, the rapport they have together is great, and it results in some of the film's most humorous moments. Particularly the funniest part, where Wilder is forced to pretend to be like Pryor; its a scene that could have been racist, but is instead mocking a white man for even trying to be something he is clearly not. The appearance of an actual African American leads the viewer to think that Wilder is in trouble, but instead the man says "You've got to keep time," as if he chooses instead to mock Wilder.

Really much like many of Hitchcock's movies the plot itself is a Macguffin, created to move the film along and not being of true particular importance. Especially silly is the villain's reason for everything he does, but that has no ill bearing on the movie, which is rather entertaining and a purely fun romp. Whether or not the other movies Pryor and Wilder made together are as good as this one remain to be seen by me, Silver Streak clearly has to be one of their best efforts. 85

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