The World’s Greatest Lover (1977)
“I will win that screen test!”
“Not because I am the best actor in the world!”
“Not because I am the sexiest man in the world!”
“Not because I am the most handsomest man in the world!”
“But because I am unique!”
So says the character of Rudy Valentine journeying to Hollywood with his meek and mousey wife Carl Kane as he chases the dream of becoming the next Rudolph Valentino.
From the mind of Gene Wilder comes this silent film era tale of Rainbow Studios and their bid to uncover a new screen lover to compete with Valentino while at the same time save the studio from bankruptcy.
Don DeLuise plays the studio head who along with his group of “yes” men are conducting the screen tests of which Gene Wilder is partaking.
This is a perfectly zany comedy that was written, produced and directed by our leading man Wilder. With eyes and facial expressions that are screaming with compassion, Wilder goes about capturing the hearts of millions of women leaving wife Kane after realizing she might be standing in his way.
Other than the sure fire comedy hits that Wilder participated in with Mel Brooks, I don’t hear his name mentioned all that much unless we are talking Richard Pryor’s career. I don’t know why that is. The man makes me laugh! While I grant you that some of the jokes don’t always come off he still succeeds in winning me over in most of the films he has done. There’s always something to enjoy and smile at.
His comic timing here is fine and the gags themselves are at times a nice tribute to the silent film comedians that came before him. Carol Kane herself looks as if she just stepped out of a silent film therefore fitting her role quite nicely.
Danny DeVito fans take notice that he has an early role hear as a stage manager working at DeLuise’s Rainbow studios. It’s also very funny to see long time character actor James Hong as “yes man number 3” Sven sporting a Swedish accent. That scene alone got a nice laugh out of yours truly.
So whether or not Gene Wilder is an acquired taste I can’t say. If all you have seen him in is the standard features, Young Frankenstein, Willy Wonka and Blazing Saddles, then seek out some of his other titles. They can strike your funny bone and are generally family friendly unless his efforts with Pryor and the use of foul language offend.