Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wednesday Westerns: The Frisco Kid

Welcome a weekly feature here at Movies With Abe. In an effort to provide a look back at older films and a desire to highlight a specific genre, I will be spotlighting a Western film each week, combining films from a course I took while at NYU called Myth of the Last Western and other films I have seen and do see. If you have a Western you’d like to write about, please let me know and feel free to submit a guest spot for future weeks!

The Frisco Kid
Directed by Robert Aldrich
Released July 13, 1979

After looking at some of the more classic, traditional Westerns, let’s shift for a week or two to the more comic, obvious mockeries of the genre. “The Frisco Kid” is one of those movies that seems infinitely funnier the first time around at a young age than when looked at again with a more critical eye and a few more years of experience digesting cinema. It brings together two actors who did a whole lot in the 1970s, Gene Wilder and Harrison Ford. Wilder is the more evidently comic choice, zany as always in the role of Avram, a Polish Rabbi whose efforts to reach his new synagogue in San Francisco are delayed by a treacherous and hilarious journey through the West. Ford, two years after Han Solo and two years before Indiana Jones, fits in considerably better with the West, and predictably has little patience for Avram’s inability to comprehend the way things work in the good old United States of America. There’s plenty of Jewish humor which works well, and even if the movie is too silly for its own good, it’s definitely a blast. It devolves considerably towards it end, but it’s still a fun ride. For me, the most memorable scene involves Avram accidentally encouraging a monk to break a lifelong vow of silence when he thanks him and elicits a “you’re welcome” in response. There just isn’t anything else out there like this, except of course next week’s entry, which you’ll have to come back and read to find out what it is, though I imagine you can guess.

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