Best known and loved for his quirky comic performances in the likes of Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles, Gene Wilder’s collaborations with Mel Brooks have created some of the most memorable comedy films. Here are just a few of these moments from these collaborations and other highlights from the actor’s career.
This first clip shows Wilder’s gift of picking exactly the right right tone when delivering his lines that draw out the best laughs. It was a talent that he was able to use time and time again to great effect and endeared him to audiences.
His collaborations with Mel Brooks among others, reveal the way that as a person Wilder was very much a team player – as this scene particularly shows when he worked with Marty Feldman and Teri Garr to create such a memorable scene. Brilliantly and sharply executed by all involved, with Gene Wilder taking control of the scene without overshadowing the others.
Both Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder were not afraid to push boundaries and take their sense of humour to the next level, challenging audiences about preconceptions that exist in society such as racism (Blazing Saddles). But it has to be said that The Producers was probably the most wackiest collaboration that the pair did together. Wilder’s grounded and down to earth approach made the performance and the film believable – not matter how nonsensical the situation became.
But his most beloved role was as Willy Wonka, his slightly crazed mannerisms perfectly capturing the character – suiting his approach to acting perfectly (despite what Roald Dahl felt). His performance of ‘Pure Imagination’ is one of the most memorable and beloved in film history and Wilder’s performance throughout the film is one that still captures the hearts and imaginations of children today.
It was his naturalness and understanding of the type of character he was playing that made his performances so memorable and will be fondly remembered for a long time to come. While his death is tragic, he has left audiences plenty of material to enjoy for many years to come – for that it is only fair that we thank him.