memories of the ’70s – Silver Streak

Silver-Streak-Poster.jpgA comedy thriller that paired two funny men for the first time – Silver Streak starring Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor.

Directed by Arthur Hiller and written by Colin Higgins, the Silver Streak screenplay was a mix of comedy and thriller.

Wilder plays book editor George Caldwell, taking the Silver Streak train from Los Angeles to Chicago to attend his sister’s wedding.

He meets the lovely Hilly Burns (played by Jill Clayburgh) who works for an art historian, Professor Shreiner and vitamin salesman Bob Sweet played by Ned Beatty.

During their night of romance, Caldwell is positive he sees the body of a man outside the train window, but Burns convinces him he was drunk. Meanwhile, three men have conspired to kill Schreiner, with one man impersonating him.

Caldwell suspects there is something going on and gets tossed off the train and rescued by a farmer who gets him back on the train. Caldwell confides in Sweet about what has happened, who confides in him that he’s really an FBI agent on the trail of the three conspirators who have killed Schreiner.

Caldwell tries to prove the guilt one of the conspirators and ends up off the train and accused of a crime. Stealing a patrol car he meets Grover T. Muldoon (Pryor) who ends up helping him uncover the conspiracy and hunting down the bad guys when they return to the train.

Filmed in Alberta and Toronto, Canada, the film was made for US$6.5 million and released in December 1976. The unique combination of Wilder and Pryor as well as Clayburgh and Beatty made for box office gold: the film grossed US$51 million at the box office over the holiday season.

This would be the first of four collaborations between Wilder and Pryor and prove that comedy duos are always the funniest.

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About Waheeda Harris

A freelance journalist with a penchant for exploring our planet.
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