Tag: Arthur Hiller

MOVIE REVIEW | Silver Streak (1976)

Silver Streak
I grew up loving See No Evil, Hear No Evil.  I know it hasn’t aged well and that a lot of people see it as the worst of the team ups between its two main actors.  And I know it’s probably fuelled by pure nostalgia these days, but what can I say, I still find Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor really funny in that movie.  Funny enough that’s it’s totally bizarre that I never got around to seeing their other two major teams ups, Stir Crazy and Silver Streak… Until now.  Because now, I have seen Silver Streak and I’m not sure I want to take my chances with Stir Crazy.

Gene Wilder plays George Caldwell, a mild mannered book editor, boarding the Silver Streak, a long haul train to Chicago.  On board, he meets Bob Sweet, a vitamin salesman played by Ned Beatty.  This meeting leads to one of the very few funny parts of Silver Streak when Beatty describes his methods for using train rides to score a bit of transient tail.  It turns out his theories aren’t so out there, because soon enough, Wilder has hooked up with train trollop Hilly Burns (Jill Clayburgh).

They hook up, or at least, they begin to hook up, but are rudely interrupted when Wilder sees a dead body hanging outside the train’s window.  This sets off a story of Wilder becoming more and more mixed up in a world of intrigue, suspense and mystery. I assume.  I got bored a lot and found myself zoning out for long periods of time struggling to give the smallest of shits about what was going on.  Silver Streak gets a much needed shot in the arm about halfway through when Richard Pryor pops up as pretty crook Grover T Muldoon.  Black face sequence aside, the chemistry of Wilder and Pryor is almost enough to make it worth sitting through the first half.  Almost.

Until the appearance of Pryor, I genuinely wasn’t sure if Silver Streak was supposed to be a comedy or an action thriller.  It’s not that I thought the jokes weren’t funny, the problem was I struggled to even recognise attempts at jokes.  Maybe it was just working on a subtle, dry level I just don’t get, but I wasn’t 100% sure it was even trying to be a comedy until I googled it and saw a poster that described Silver Streak as, “The most hilarious suspense ride of your life”.  Whoever wrote that had one sad life.  I say “had” because I assume that line’s author is dead now, having died of shame after lying to the movie going public like that.

In case I haven’t been clear, I did not like Silver Streak.  Wilder and Pryor both get a few funny bits here and there, but not nearly enough to fill a feature length film that’s supposedly “The most hilarious suspense ride of your life”.  I’m struggling, do I risk it and give Stir Crazy a go, or just play it safe and watch See No Evil, Hear No Evil again?

Silver Streak
Directed By – Arthur Hiller
Written By – Colin Higgins