Ah, the 70s. Before helicopter parenting was a thing and smoking was still cool. Yes, as a society, we have progressed. We’ve made huge advances in technology and smaller, but significant, steps toward equality–at least we’re talking about it.
Yet, as a girl who grew up middle-class with working mom and dad, eating pineapple chicken and watergate salad–the 70s loved a can of pineapple–I can’t help but feel nostalgic. Especially now that the movie stars from that beloved time are passing.
We often hear that Hollywood can no longer make movies like those from the 70s anymore. Those movies are racist, sexist and exploitative.
And so freakin’ funny.
Sorry. I’m not racist, sexist or exploitative in the least. But COME ON. Bash me in the comments* but I think we can all agree the 70s were a golden era of savagely funny movies over which the late Gene Wilder had tremendous influence. I’ve listed five of my favorites. Credit details are from IMDb.
*Comments are moderated, just so you know, and will be edited for content and to make me look fabulous. “Idiotic,” will become, “brilliant,” and “should not be allowed near a computer,” will be changed to, “queen of the keyboard.”
Writer: Mel Brooks
Story: Producers Max Bialystok and his timid accountant, Leo Bloom, make money by producing a sure-fire flop.
Character: Leo Bloom
Leo Bloom: [reads title of play for first time] “Springtime for Hitler” a gay romp with Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgaden… Wow!
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Writer: Roald Dahl
Story: A little boy, Charlie, receives a golden ticket to a magical candy factor and finds adventure.
Character: Willy Wonka
Wonka: I don’t understand it. The children are disappearing like rabbits. Well, we still have each other. Shall we press on?
Wonka: Well, well, well, two naughty, nasty little children gone. Three good, sweet little children left.
Mr. Salt: You sure this thing’ll float, eh, Wonka?
Wonka: With your buoyancy, sir, rest assured.
Mrs. Teevee: I assume there’s an accident indemnity clause.
Wonka: Never between friends.
Wonka: If the good Lord had intended us to walk, he wouldn’t have invented roller skates.
Wonka: Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.
Charlie: Mr. Wonka, they won’t really be burned in the furnace, will they?
Wonka: Hm…well, I think that furnace is only lit every other day, so they have a good sporting chance, haven’t they?
Mrs. Gloop: Don’t just stand there, do something!
Wonka: [unenthusiastically] Help. Police. Murder.
Wonka: The suspense is terrible…I hope it’ll last.
Writers: Mel Brooks, Norman Steinberg, Andrew Bergman, Richard Pryor, Alan Uger
Story: To ruin a western town, a corrupt political boss appoints a black sheriff, who promptly becomes his most formidable adversary alongside with his sidekick, the alcoholic Waco Kid.
Character: Jim, The Waco Kid
Jim: [consoling Bart] What did you expect? “Welcome, sonny”? “Make yourself at home”? “Marry my daughter”? You’ve got to remember that these are simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know…morons.
Jim: Well, it got so bad that every piss-ant prairie punk who thought he could shoot a gun would ride into town to try out the Waco Kid. I must have killed more men than Cecil B. DeMille. It got pretty gritty. I started to hear the word “draw” in my sleep. Then one day, I was just walking down the street when I heard a voice behind me say, “Reach for it, mister!” I spun around…and there I was, face to face with a six-year old kid. Well, I just threw my guns down and walked away. Little bastard shot me in the ass. So I limped to the nearest saloon, crawled inside a whiskey bottle…and I’ve been there ever since.
Bart: Are we awake?
Jim: We’re not sure. Are we…black?
Bart: Yes, we are.
Jim: Then we’re awake…but we’re very puzzled.
Writers: Gene Wilder, Mel Brooks, Mary Shelley
Story: An American grandson of the infamous scientist, struggling to prove that he is not as insane as people believe, is invited to Transylvania, where he discovers the process that reanimates a dead body.
Character: Dr. Frederick Frankenstein. Pronounced FRONK-en-steen.
[Frankenstein, Igor and Inga in front of HUGE castle doors]
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: What knockers.
Inga: Oh, thank you doctor.
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: For what we are about to see next, we must enter quietly into the realm of genius.
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: [singing] If you’re blue, and you don’t know where to go to, why don’t you go where fashion sits…
The Monster: ‘UTTEN ON THE ‘IIIIITZ.
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Well, dear, are you ready?
Inga: Yes, Doctor
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Elevate me.
Inga: Now? Right here?
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Yes, yes, raise the platform.
Inga: Oh. Ze platform. Oh, zat, yah, yah…yes
Bonus: Best Gene Wilder scene of all time:
Writers: Bruce Jay Friedman
Story: When Skip & Harry decided they’ve had enough of New York they decide to head to the blue sky and sun of California. Taking a job as promoters in a bank they get falsely accused of bank robbery and are sent to a tough jail where they form unlikely friendships and they find themselves in the prison rodeo.
Character: Skip Donahue
Skip Donahue: This filthy, roach-ridden reality is inspiring…what did that second policeman say to you when he grabbed you by the throat?
Harry Monroe: Man, I don’t fucking believe you!
Skip Donahue: “Man, I don’t fucking believe you!” Fabulous!
Harry Monroe: You don’t get it do you, Skip. You think this is The Count of Monte Cristo or something. We’re in deep trouble. This is the real deal. We’re in deep shit.
Skip Donahue: Aren’t you amazed at the quality of the vegetables – in a prison.”
Harry Monroe: I’m amazed at what’s crawling around in my soup!”
I’m thinking film festival really hard right now. Read this to get ideas of hosting your own Gene Wilder Film Fest and The Progression of the 70s After Discussion.
Rest in peace, Gene. The 70s couldn’t have gotten any wilder without you.