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Still from 'Start the Revolution Without Me' (1970)

Billie Whitelaw and Gene Wilder - Billie Whitelaw and Gene Wilder in 'Start the Revolution Without Me' (1970) Directed by Bud Yorkin - - Sunday 21st December 2014

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory Musical Debuts In West End


Sam Mendes Douglas Hodge Johnny Depp Gene Wilder Sophie Dahl

When Sam Mendes first decided to adapt Roald Dahl's 49 year-old best loved children's book about an eccentric chocolate maker and one very lucky little boy, he hadn't anticipated the scale or scope of his Charlie And The Chocolate Factory production - or the time it would take to come to fruition.

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory has been brought to life on a large scale before: 1971's film saw Gene Wilder bring his unconventional and volatile incarnation of the mad professor of confectionery in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, whereas a Tim Burton movie kickstarted the franchise again in 2005 with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that saw Johnny Depp on truly bizarre form.

Now, the legend has been brought to the West End by Skyfall director Sam Mendes, who also has a host of strong musicals under his belt, including Oliver! (1994) and Cabaret (1994). The Guardian hails the modern adaptation of Dahl's moral fable as a "sumptuous visual feast" and praises the effective "engaging and sinister" portrayal of Wonka by Douglas Hodge. Young Jack Costello's "adorable" performance as Charlie is lauded by The Independent, along with the band of entitled and greedy golden ticket-winning brats who accompany Charlie on the trip of a lifetime.

Continue reading: Charlie And The Chocolate Factory Musical Debuts In West End

Celebrities watching the men's semifinals match on Day 13 of the 2010 US Open at the USTA Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, Queens

Gene Wilder and Idina Menzel Saturday 11th September 2010 Celebrities watching the men's semifinals match on Day 13 of the 2010 US Open at the USTA Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, Queens New York City, USA

Opening Night of the new Mel Brooks musical 'Young Frankenstein' at the Hilton Theatre - Curtain Call

Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks - Gene Wilder & Mel Brooks New York City, USA - Opening Night of the new Mel Brooks musical 'Young Frankenstein' at the Hilton Theatre - Curtain Call Thursday 8th November 2007

Opening Night of the new Mel Brooks musical 'Young Frankenstein' at the Hilton Theatre - Curtain Call

Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks Thursday 8th November 2007 Opening Night of the new Mel Brooks musical 'Young Frankenstein' at the Hilton Theatre - Curtain Call New York City, USA

Opening Night of the new Mel Brooks musical 'Young Frankenstein' at the Hilton Theatre - Curtain Call

Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks - Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks New York City, USA - Opening Night of the new Mel Brooks musical 'Young Frankenstein' at the Hilton Theatre - Curtain Call Thursday 8th November 2007

Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks
Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks
Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks

Blazing Saddles Review


Excellent
Blazing Saddles isn't the funniest Mel Brooks movie (that'd be The Producers), but it's by far the least politically correct. Oddly, by venturing into new realms of racist humor, Brooks finds comedy gold, because he's mocking a genre (the western) that's chock full of racist content. And Brooks realizes, as do we during the screening of this film, that history has been willing to look the other way if John Wayne is the racist, so why can't a Jew do the same thing?

Saddles starts out both funny and inappropriate from frame one, with Burton Gilliam's chastisement of an Asian railroad worker who's passed out on the construction line: "Dock that chink a day's pay for nappin' on the job!" And that railroad actually has something to do with the movie: Evil governor (Mel Brooks) and his cornies (led by Harvey Korman) want to build a railroad to get rich. There's a town in the way, though, and they residents won't sell, so Lamarr appoints a black sheriff (Cleavon Little) to convince the redneck residents to leave voluntarily.

Continue reading: Blazing Saddles Review

Young Frankenstein Review


Essential
Mel Brooks was just about at the top of his game back in 1974, when he directed both Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. Young Frankenstein tells the tale of an heir (Gene Wilder) of the original Frank, who inherits his creepy castle (shot in the original castle from the first Frankenstein movie) and starts work anew on his ancestor's experiments. Of course, this is courtesy of Mel Brooks, and it's perfectly parodied -- probably the best horror spoof ever made and a far cry ahead of Brooks' later Dracula: Dead and Loving It gag. Wilder and Peter Boyle (as the monster) are hysterical, but it's Teri Garr who steals the show as Frankenstein's buxom and considerably vapid assistant. The special edition DVD is especially recommended -- with a handful of outtakes and deleted scenes (though none are nearly as funny as what made the final cut).

The Producers (1968) Review


Extraordinary
Mel Brooks' directorial debut occurred in 1968. It was his gift to the world. And, you might ask, what was his gift originally titled? Springtime for Hitler. Springtime for Hitler, re-titled The Producers (probably for reasons of political correctness, which the film appears not to give a damn about), was a movie about two theatre producers who take it upon themselves to make a fortune off of a flop.

This unlikely scam features the seduction of old ladies for financing, the purchasing of a script titled: "Springtime for Hitler: A Musical Romp with Adolf and Eva", the hiring of the worst director and actor possible, and, of course, setting it all to music.

Continue reading: The Producers (1968) Review

Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex * But Were Afraid To Ask Review


Excellent
A minor classic and Woody Allen's most absurd film ever, this series of seven short vignettes is worth a look for its '70s fueled humor and sex-crazed hysterics. Based on (well, not really -- inspired by, let's say) the watershed book, Allen indulges in homages to everyone from Scorsese to Kubrick to Fellini, with stops along the way for his traditional neurotic filmmaking style. The stories are goofs on cross-dressing, beastiality, sex in public, and more. Perhaps the most notorious moment involves an enormous breast rampaging the countryside, and the "What's My Perversion?" sketch (a riff on What's My Line?, starring Jack Barry as himself) is classic. Pricelessly ridiculous.

Young Frankenstein Review


Essential
Mel Brooks was just about at the top of his game back in 1974, when he directed both Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. Young Frankenstein tells the tale of an heir (Gene Wilder) of the original Frank, who inherits his creepy castle (shot in the original castle from the first Frankenstein movie) and starts work anew on his ancestor's experiments. Of course, this is courtesy of Mel Brooks, and it's perfectly parodied -- probably the best horror spoof ever made and a far cry ahead of Brooks' later Dracula: Dead and Loving It gag. Wilder and Peter Boyle (as the monster) are hysterical, but it's Teri Garr who steals the show as Frankenstein's buxom and considerably vapid assistant. The special edition DVD is especially recommended -- with a handful of outtakes and deleted scenes (though none are nearly as funny as what made the final cut).

Blazing Saddles Review


Excellent
Blazing Saddles isn't the funniest Mel Brooks movie (that'd be The Producers), but it's by far the least politically correct. Oddly, by venturing into new realms of racist humor, Brooks finds comedy gold, because he's mocking a genre (the western) that's chock full of racist content. And Brooks realizes, as do we during the screening of this film, that history has been willing to look the other way if John Wayne is the racist, so why can't a Jew do the same thing?

Saddles starts out both funny and inappropriate from frame one, with Burton Gilliam's chastisement of an Asian railroad worker who's passed out on the construction line: "Dock that chink a day's pay for nappin' on the job!" And that railroad actually has something to do with the movie: Evil governor (Mel Brooks) and his cornies (led by Harvey Korman) want to build a railroad to get rich. There's a town in the way, though, and they residents won't sell, so Lamarr appoints a black sheriff (Cleavon Little) to convince the redneck residents to leave voluntarily.

Continue reading: Blazing Saddles Review

Funny About Love Review


OK
Funny fact about Funny About Love: Though the box cover and poster feature Gene Wilder with a baby on his head, there's no baby in this movie. At least not until the last two minutes... and it's not even Wilder's!

In fact, people expecting another Three Men and a Baby are going to be sorely disappointed: For such a frivolous image and goofy title, this is serious stuff. Wilder plays a comic strip artist who finds he's really, really anxious to have a kid. Unfortunately, things don't quite click biologically with his new wife (Christine Lahti), and after years of trying, they call it quits -- not just on the baby, but on the marriage too.

Continue reading: Funny About Love Review

The Producers Review


Extraordinary
Mel Brooks' directorial debut occurred in 1968. It was his gift to the world. And, you might ask, what was his gift originally titled? Springtime for Hitler. Springtime for Hitler, re-titled The Producers (probably for reasons of political correctness, which the film appears not to give a damn about), was a movie about two theatre producers who take it upon themselves to make a fortune off of a flop.

This unlikely scam features the seduction of old ladies for financing, the purchasing of a script titled: "Springtime for Hitler: A Musical Romp with Adolf and Eva", the hiring of the worst director and actor possible, and, of course, setting it all to music.

Continue reading: The Producers Review

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) Review


Essential
When you're a kid, candy is a dream: a fluffy white cloud of chocolate joy. For adults, candy is poison, a fat filled brick of love handles, pimples, and excessive flatulants. But, Willy Wonka, despite being a film about sugar-tooth delights, brings joy to adult and child alike.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory stars Gene Wilder as Wonka himself, in an 70's adaptation of the popular children's book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Willy Wonka tells the story of a poverty-stricken boy on a fantastic voyage through the magical candy factories of the Willy Wonka Candy Company. A strange and fantastic place, filled with dancing midget Oompa Loompas and chocolates with powers far beyond those of common Hershey bars.

Continue reading: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) Review

Gene Wilder

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