Farewell to the Great Gene Wilder

A few days ago the world lost one of the great comedic actors, Gene Wilder. While I’d always considered myself a fan, it wasn’t until I really thought about the roles he’d had that I realized what a gift he had been to us all.

So to celebrate his career, here are some of my favorite moments (at least the ones with clips available online). Feel free to add yours.

Silver Streak

As odd as it may sound, this was the first movie I remember seeing with Wilder in it. By all accounts it’s a pretty average movie. A writer on a train, mischief happens. Yet of course he pulls it off, aided to perfection by Richard Pryor (one of their four great collaborations). It doesn’t hold up, as the LATimes wrote about, but I remember it fondly (perhaps enough not to revisit it).

Blazing Saddles

I didn’t see this movie until college, and I’m glad. I would not have been able to appreciate it if I were any younger. Wilder is certainly more of a supporting presence here, and rightly so, but since every piece of this movie works in concert to create such a brilliant bit of filmmaking, he's key. Even Mel Brooks admits it could never get made today.


This is, arguably, Wilder’s masterpiece. The quiet menace wrapped in otherworldly weirdness… no actor alive then or now could pull off a character so bizarre, and still, somehow likeable (in his way). He’s wonderfully, captivatingly weird and in hitting that mark so perfectly, the performance and movie are immortal.

These are just a handful of his great roles, but they’re my favorites. What are your favorites?

Jonasandezekiel's picture

That review is hilarious, if only for the fact that the uptight LA Times reviewer can't seem to just sit back and enjoy a funny movie without finding every societal ill he could think of to complain about. I'm surprised he didn't bring up white privilege as well. I guess we should just throw it in the dumpster and ignore anything from 70s or 80s. At least it underlines what a serious and compassionate person he is!