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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Gene Wilder is Avram, a Polish rabbi. He barely made it through rabbi school--ending up a close 87th out of 88 students in his class. But he's perfect to fill the request for a rabbi in "the village of San Francisco."
Avram is a fish out of water in America, and almost immediately ends up robbed of his money and possessions. Enter Harrison Ford as Tommy Lillard, a bank robber.
The unlikely duo travels cross-country, facing one peril after another, and becoming inseparable friends.
Initially, I was a bit wary. It seemed that Avram was going to be portrayed as a comedic victim, and, in much the same way that I didn't like watching the boxing scenes in Rocky, I didn't want to see him being swindled and taken advantage of at every turn, or having to be rescued, either by Tommy or Divine Providence.
Avram is naive and gullible, but he's also kind and generous and unshakable in his faith. And despite his poor showing in rabbinical school, he's not stupid. And what's really lovely is that he's a character you can really respect. Not because he's otherworldly, or espouses moral values, but because he's genuine, in the way very few people are.
I was struck by how different The Frisco Kid was from current movies with similar themes. It's much slower-paced, for one thing, and the humor isn't quite as over-the-top. The biggest difference, though, was the characters. Maybe I've just been watching the wrong movies, but these characters seemed more three-dimensional and their development more subtle than their contemporary counterparts. I think it's that we're not hit over the head with the changes. I detected a distinct lack of anvils. We know Tommy and Avram have changed through their association with each other, but neither changes his basic self.
I'm glad I bought this one--I'm sure I'll watch it again.
The movie has heart, is interesting, and is genuinely funny. Especially if you are a fan of Wilder or Ford, or both, you will enjoy it.