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Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Frisco Kid (released in 1979) - a Western comedy starring Harrison Ford and Gene Wilder

The Frisco Kid is a 1979 movie directed by Robert Aldrich. The movie is a Western comedy featuring Gene Wilder and Harrison Ford in pivotal roles. Gene Wilder is Avram Belinski, a polish Rabbi who is traveling to San Fransisco to head a congregation there. He has graduated last in his synagogue and is sent to San Fransisco with the promise of a bride. He has a Torah scroll as a part of his meager possessions and is a trusting man of faith. A simpleton and an innocent traveler, Avram is duped by three con men who induce him to pay for the wagon and supplies and leave him behind.
Soon the adventures follow Avram as he determinedly follows the path to San Fransisco. There follows hilarious moments when he mistakenly resides with the Amish believing them to be Jews and fainting later as he discovers a Bible in their pockets. So one fine day while trying to catch fish for dinner he meets Tommy Lillard a kind hearted person on a horse back who in good humor takes him on. They journey through the American rough lands.



They are captured by the Indians and are almost burnt at stake and also meet the villains again who had robbed the Rabbi. The series of misadventures continue as Lillard is proved to be robber who robs banks. So Avram inadvertently plays a part in robing a bank with Lillard. But to Lillard's dismay the rabbi refuses to ride away the horse laden with goodies as its a sabbath day even with the sheriff's men hot on his tails. Their journey ends with lot of comical situations working to change their mindset. Both Lillard and Avram walk away enriched by their experiences and looking at life in a different sense.
I would not say that this is a typical slap stick comedy, but a comedy which makes you think. Many a time Avram has to propound his beliefs and faith in god and to explain to the agnostic the power and presence of God. He explains the Talmud and the point of view of his religion and still there is no preaching in it. It just says the love of God, so profound, humanistic and encompassing.
All the Actors have managed to capture our hearts with their endearing performances, but the cream of the acting is by Gene Wilder as the simpleton rabbi. The gems of a dialogue so rib-tickling and soul searching makes this film a classic. Harrison ford also in the role of the outlaw with a good heart is in great form. It is rumored that John Wayne was to play this role but had turned it down due to price constraints. But Johns loss is Harrison gains as he brings alive a outlaw turning over a new life on a journey with Avram.
This is may not be the top film of the decade or an academy award winner, but it has all ingredients to be your favorite film. So watch it to see God come alive through laughter.

The Frisco Kid (released in 1979) - a Western comedy starring Harrison Ford and Gene Wilder

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