AMC theaters and Warner Bros. are bringing back a pair of Gene Wilder films — “Blazing Saddles” and “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” — in honor of the late actor this weekend.
The two films will screen Saturday and Sunday at 55 AMC locations nationwide, with tickets for each costing $5. “Willy Wonka” will also be screened at about 145 non-AMC locations this weekend.
“Willy Wonka,” released in 1971, stars Wilder as a candy mogul. “Blazing Saddles,” released in 1974, is a collaboration between Wilder and director Mel Brooks.
Both films are part of the Warner Bros. Classics library, which is regularly licensed for special showings.
I know that a lot of my comedian friends think “Young Frankenstein” was Wilder’s best movie, but these are my top two, and always have been.
It has been noted many times in recent years that “Blazing Saddles” probably couldn’t even get made in today’s permanently aggrieved, politically correct society. No offensive stone is left un-turned and it takes so many shots that it would probably have more people picketing than watching it.
The movie also features a lot of classic Mel Brooks over-the-top humor, but some of the greatest lines in it are delivered by Wilder in a very understated fashion. That was part of his genius–he could deliver a punch line without really having to punch it, which isn’t easy to do.
“Willy Wonka” is beloved by practically everyone because it’s filled with humor that appeals to both children and adults, sort of like classic Warner Bros. cartoons.
I was with a few other comedians in New York last Monday when the news of Wilder’s death hit and we all agreed that this was the worst of the 2016 celebrity deaths for us. Not only was he brilliant at what he did, his connection with Richard Pryor endeared him to us even more.