A traveler finds romance on a long-distance train trip and
ends up getting involved in an art dealer's murder scheme.
Silver Streak (1976)
Directed by Arthur Hiller
Written by Colin Higgins
Starring Gene Wilder, Jill Clayburgh, Richard Pryor, Patrick McGoohan, Ned Beatty, Ray Walston, Stefan Gierasch,
Clifton James, Scatman Crothers, Lucille Benson, Richard Kiel
Oscar Nominations - Best Sound Mixing
Silver Streak is an interesting movie, but it suffers from the absolute worst sin a comedy movie can commit. It's simply not funny. Every attempt at a funny situation feels like all set-up and no payoff. Even with the combined comedic talents of Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor, almost everything in Silver Streak seems forced. There's only a handful of memorable laughs and pretty much all of them come from Richard Pryor, who doesn't even show up until almost an hour has passed. Before that, the film feels like a poor man's modern-day retelling of Murder on the Orient Express.
Wilder plays George Caldwell, a publisher who is traveling on the silver streak train to Chicago. He meets beautiful Hilly (Jill Clayburgh) and falls in love, leading to his witnessing a murder. From there, George gets sucked into a murder scheme involving priceless letters from Rembrandt. In the right hands, I'm sure this scenario with these actors could've been downright hilarious, but the finished product is really anything but. The whole thing plays like a serious crime drama, with Richard Pryor doing his best to keep things light. Hell, his introduction is easily the best scene in the movie.
I wanted to enjoy Silver Streak, but it wasn't the film I'd been led to believe it was. It lacked the comedic tone of other Wilder/Pryor collaborations like Stir Crazy, and instead opted for a more serious tone that really takes away from what I think the film was intended to be. It's a shame because I really enjoy watching both Wilder and Pryor work their onscreen magic. If only the filmmakers had been more capable of harnessing their palpable chemistry.