The Frisco Kid
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Frisco Kid, The (DVD)
Harrison Ford and Gene Wilder star as a taciturn gunslinger and a clueless immigrant rabbi traveling across the Wild West in the comic adventures of The Frisco Kid. Ranked 87th out of 88 in his rabbinical class, Avram Belinski (Wilder--Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein) accepts a posting to Gold Rush-era San Francisco. Speaking little English but following a leading from God, the young rabbi sets out from Philadelphia for San Francisco, believing his destination to be a short walk. Along the way he befriends bank robber Tommy Lillard (Ford--Indiana Jones films, Star Wars films). Now, as this mismatched pair crosses the frontier, the Old West will never be the same.]]>
- Theatrical trailer
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The main character, despite the jacket cover, is actually Gene Wilder as Avram Belinski , the Rabbi from Poland who is on his way to head his first congregation in San Francisco. Avram is making his way west from Philadelphia and runs into numerous obstacles. He finally meets up with Harrison Ford as bandit Tom Lillard who helps Avram make it to San Francisco after dealing with outlaws, Indians and several other problems.
George DiCenzo, William Smith and Ramon Bieri portray the resident villans.
There is a fair amount of obscenities in the movie, one in particular which some people might not like, but overall should not take away from enjoying what is a good movie.
But I took the gamble, and ordered a copy. And am I ever happy that I did so! The movie turned out to be way above expectations. Not "great" by anyone's standards, but Rabbi Belinski is a most sympathetic character - not portrayed (as I had feared) as a bumbling naïf, but rather as an earnest yet somewhat gullible Man with a Mission: to bring the Torah to the American West. There were several outstanding episodes along the way of his odyssey. The encounter with the Amish farmers, the scene with the Indians where he shows himself willing to die in order to protect the Torah, and finally where Avram tells Tommy Lillard (Harrison Ford) that they are the best of friends (despite all their arguments along the way). But most of all, you really LIKE the people in this film (other than the Bad Guys, of course).
Missteps along the way: the robbery on the train, the opening vignette in Poland, and the scene in the first Western town they come to (about which I can say nothing further without major spoilers).
I also smiled at the barbed wire fences in many scenes. The movie is set in 1850, and barbed wire wasn't invented until 1873. And the roads that they travel down, although unpaved, are also clearly of 20th century vintage (way too smooth, with clean, straight-as-a-ruler shoulders).
Among my favorite films? Not by a long shot, although I strongly suspect this movie will grow on me over time.
My only complaint would be the cover art. Harrison Ford is shown rather prominently and Gene Wilder is almost an afterthought. The two should have had more equal representation, or if one person had to be given prominence it is more Wilder's movie then it is Ford's. Still, that is a complaint against the producers of the DVD (who likely saw Ford as the more marketable star to modern audiences) and not against the film itself, so I won't let it effect my rating.
If you're looking for an entertaining, quality, classic comedy, this is a great film to watch. And as a bonus, assuming you aren't already knowledgeable about such things, this film can give you a bit of a light hearted and fun, while at the same time respectful, peak into Jewish culture.
Gene Wilder was brilliant. I think this was one of his best performances. And Harrison Ford did it again. At the beginning of the film, Ford was driving me crazy. He grew on me faster than Wilder's character.
A touching, brilliantly funny, well paced film.