ByLivingston Wade Oden, writer at
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Livingston Wade Oden

The death of Gene Wilder has made us all so sad, but the legend has undoubtedly left us a lasting legacy to enjoy. Let's take a look at five of his best films.

5. Silver Streak (1976)

You can't have a list of Wilder films without at least one movie with frequent comedy collaborator Richard Pryor. These two starred in four films together, with Silver Streak being the first. It's ranked as the 95th funniest film of all time on the American Film Institute list 100 Years... 100 Laughs. This 40-year-old film still holds up and is just as funny now as it was back then.

4. The Woman In Red (1984)

Directed by Wilder and panned by critics, this film went on to become one of his most memorable films of the '80s. The Stevie Wonder soundtrack and Kelly LeBrock's feature film debut didn't hurt, but it's still a classic thanks to the Wilder touch. The film revolves around the premise of his character Teddy Pierce lusting after a young model taking the world by storm, while trying to keep his betrayal a secret from his wife and family. It's a story that still seems relevant today. I'm sure it had a sentimental place in Wilder's heart due to working alongside comedienne Gilda Radner, whom he married that same year.

3. Blazing Saddles (1974)

A Mel Brooks classic and one of the best spoof movies around, Blazing Saddles was something special back in the day. It's No. 6 on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs, and for very good reason, as it took a risk in satirizing the racism of Hollywood films. Wilder played the Waco Kid, who helps the sheriff clean up the town and make everything right in the world. Sure, some of the jokes might be a little dated, but it doesn't take away the genius that went into creating this film.

2. Young Frankenstein (1974)

Another Brooks film starring Wilder, this one making its way to No. 13 on the 100 Years... 100 Laughs list. Young Frankenstein — oh, I mean Fronkensteen — is another great spoof that takes the story we know and spins it on its head. Wilder is the titular character, a man who inherits his mad scientist grandfather's estate and goes on to create the square-headed creature we know so well. A great film, to say the least, and one that everyone should check out at least once, if not 40 times.

1. Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971)

My favorite of all Wilder's films — and one that still captures the imaginations of the young and old — Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory became his quintessential role. Sure, the movie is more than four decades old and some of the practical effects are very much a product of the '70s, but that doesn't change how magical it is. The original novel is much darker in tone, but the music and imagery of the film was extraordinary. Willy Wonka lives on and was intrinsic in showing the childish side of Wilder, while being a heartfelt, endearing story about the innocence of the child within us all.

What is your favorite Gene Wilder film? Let's celebrate his life with our answers below.


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