Watched Jun 15, 2012
This film is described as a comedy-thriller; unfortunately it’s not particularly funny or thrilling. Gene Wilder plays George Caldwell, a book editor traveling by train from L.A. to Chicago for his sister’s wedding. Along the way he becomes embroiled in the conspiracy to kill a reclusive art historian and find the evidence behind his theory that some of Rembrandt’s paintings authenticated by art dealer Roger Devereau (Patrick McGoohan) are actually fakes.
The problem is the film doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. It fluctuates wildly from romantic comedy to paranoid thriller with some scenes near the end being more akin to a disaster movie, but Wilder’s laid-back performance lacks urgency and nullifies any real tension there might be. All that said Silver Streak does have some positives: there are a few laughs once Richard Pryor turns up around half way through, and it’s easy to see from this, their first film together, that Wilder and Pryor have great chemistry between them; although slightly one note and given little screen time, Patrick McGoohan does a good job as the ruthless villain, and it was great to see Richard Kiel (Jaws from the Bond films The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker) turn up as one of his henchmen; finally, the Henry Mancini score is as ever delightful and adds some real class to proceedings.
Overall it’s a pleasant enough film and certainly not one to avoid, but far from an essential watch.