September 2, 2016

HOW THE COMIC GENE WILDER BECAME THE CUDDLY GENE WILDER: John Podhoretz explores “The Hiller Effect,” how veteran director Arthur Hiller tamed the manic streak in Wilder that Mel Brooks exploited so well in The Producers and Young Frankenstein. (Wilder was the calm eye of the hurricane in Blazing Saddles, which had enough mania bouncing off the walls for ten movies. But Wilder saved the production, flying in on very short notice when Gig Young’s alcoholism got the better of him.) Silver Streak, Wilder’s first film with Hiller, was a huge hit in 1976, but ultimately, the cuddly Wilder was a boring one, which is why we remember Wilder fondly for his brilliant early roles, not the elegiac last half of his career.

Related: When Gene Wilder Went ‘Stir Crazy.’

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