Hollywood Comes to Half Moon Bay!
Odd Fellows Film Series is launching its 2023-24 season on Saturday, September 23rd, with a champagne reception and special screening of Remembering Gene Wilder, a boisterously entertaining film celebrating the beloved and multi-talented Hollywood and Broadway icon.
Wilder, the “Blazing Saddles” star who blazed a trail through Hollywood and who wrote and starred in several films, was a mensch (Yiddish for a good human being.)
“When we started doing the interviews, the warmth and kindness everyone feels for him, it was very obvious,” recalled executive producer David Knight. “There’s just a lot of love. We knew Mel Brooks really loved him, but these other people we interviewed really connected with him.”
That love is sure to be felt at the Odd Fellows event, where Karen Wilder, Gene’s wife of 27 years, will be present to toast the film and opening night answer questions – and maybe tap dance! (She did after our July film, Young Frankenstein!)
The warmth of Wilder’s personality led to his lifelong friendship with Brooks when the two met backstage during the 1963 Broadway run of Bertolt Brecht’s “Mother Courage and Her Children,” which starred Wilder and Anne Bancroft (Brooks’ girlfriend and future wife). Years later, that relationship led to the classic comedy, The Producers,” “Blazing Saddles” and “Young Frankenstein.”
In Remembering Gene Wilder, this multi-talented performer is dramatically brought to life through never-before-seen home movies and photographs, as well as the intimate insights of friends and colleagues including Mel Brooks, Alan Alda, CarolKane, Harry Connick Jr., Rain Pryor,
Gene’s wife, Karen Wilder, and Peter Ostrum, who portrayed “Charlie” in one of Gene’s most memorable roles, “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.” Remembering Gene Wilder reminds us of his stature as the beloved, one-of-a-kind star who could engage audiences with genuine comedic genius and pure imagination. In the words of Gene’s lifelong friend and collaborator, Mel Brooks, “He lived his life loud and eloquently. There will never be another Gene Wilder.”
He was born Jerome Silberman to an assimilated Milwaukee Jewish family, and his childhood buddies called him Jerry—but the world would come to know Gene Wilder (1933 – 2016) as an endearing comic genius through an extraordinary string of film roles that seem to grow deeper, funnier and more humane with time: from the timid Leo Bloom in Mel Brooks’ The Producers to the strange and magical title role in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, from his inspired on-screen partnership with Richard Pryor in movies like Silver Streak to the comedy classics of Blazing Saddles, The Frisco Kid and Young Frankenstein. Now, in Ron Frank’s affectionate and touching biographical documentary, the full measure of Wilder’s gifts is on display, not only as a comedic actor but as a writer, director and a mensch.
Told in part through Wilder’s own voice (luckily he recorded the audiobook of his memoir, which serves as narration), Remembering Gene Wilder is a treat to watch with its generous helpings of film clips from across Wilder’s career. Yes there are the ever-fresh line readings (“Put…the candle…back”) and his manic physical antics (his pre-verbal meltdown when Zero Mostel’s Bialystok separates Bloom from his little blue blanket)—but there are also uproarious outtakes from the set of Young Frankenstein and poignant home movies from his marriage to Gilda Radner. Get ready to binge-watch Wilder’s whole career—you’ll want to after seeing this tender and eye-opening tribute.
Wilder often called his wife Karen ‘Shug’ for sugar. There was nothing that brought him the tranquility that his marriage to Karen did.