A Movie A Day: QUACKSER FORTUNE HAS A COUSIN IN THE BRONX (1970) You silly bitch. You don’t even understand.
Published at: Aug. 7, 2008, 1:20 p.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day.
[For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge. My DVD collection is thousands strong, many of them films I haven’t seen yet, but picked up as I scoured used DVD stores. Each day I’ll pull a previously unseen film from my collection and discuss it here. Each movie will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.]
Waris Hussein, director, bridges us from yesterday’s sort of okay THE POSSESSION OF JOEL DELANEY to today’s QUACKSER FORTUNE HAS A COUSIN IN THE BRONX which I believe is the longest title in the AMAD run so far (although I know of a couple others coming up that will make this title look like F/X).
Let’s get this out of the way first. I have an unhealthy fascination with Gene Wilder. His voice is like Linus’ blanket to me. From WILLY WONKA and YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN to BLAZING SADDLES and SILVER STREAK and STIR CRAY and even HAUNTED HONEYMOON… I grew up with his films. His personality was just as meaningful and real in my life as any Uncle or Cousin, maybe even more so.
There are a few of his films I haven’t seen, some I knew existed (like tomorrow’s film) and some I had no idea existed, which is where QUACKSER FORTUNE HAS A COUSIN IN THE BRONX fits in.
I read his memoir Kiss Me Like A Stranger… a really bizarre read, by the way… and read about the production troubles on this film, a romance where he was to play an Irish man in love with an American girl.
Amazon had it on DVD and I had it a few days later.
I had to take a last minute trip to Arkansas to visit my grandmother and my great-grandmother. The latter is pushing 92 and it’s been nearly 10 years since I’ve seen them and even though the last thing I wanted to do after 2 weeks of LAing and Comic-Con was drive 8 hours to Arkansas, this was the only time I could make the trip and could be my last time to see my Great-Grandmother.
First thing I made sure to pack were my AMAD movies for the week, so I’ve been watching them (and writing the column) every night before going to sleep.
Man, get to the point. I guess this is what you’d call filler because I don’t have a whole lot to say about this movie.
Essentially you have Wilder playing a young Irish man whose job is to scoop up horseshit from the Dublin streets and sell it off as fertilizer. He meets a liberated rich American college student studying abroad (Margot Kidder) and they have a fling.
That’s about it. There are a few more threads, but it’s mostly just about Wilder trying to get into Kidder’s pants while trying his damndest to get keep his Irish accent going.
I think I’m a big Margot Kidder fan all the way up to SUPERMAN… I think I am because I don’t exactly love her as Lois Lane, or rather what she became as the character in the sequels because the sheer charisma she shares with with Christopher Reeve in the first one makes her a worthy Lane.
But I love the early ‘70s shit she’s done. This movie isn’t so great, but she’s good in it. I love BLACK CHRISTMAS, THE DION BROTHERS (in the top 5 of “Why the fuck isn’t this out on DVD yet?” titles) and SISTERS.
Wilder is trying hard here, but is struggling uphill with a script that probably read much better than it was visually told. Can’t say I like Waris Hussein after seeing two movies he’s directed. His visual style is barely acceptable for TV and doesn’t pass muster for feature films.
THE POSSESSION OF JOEL DELANEY should have been atmospheric when it wasn’t and QUACKSER FORTUNE should have had an ethereal quality to it. It’s almost a fairy tale, trying to ride the balance of whimsy and drama, but it can never attain that sweet-spot and just goes all over the place like a drunk on the road… sometimes he stays in his lane, sometimes he hits a group of children at a crosswalk.
I will say that Wilder is worth watching the movie for, but more for where this falls in his filmography. He did this and tomorrow’s AMAD back to back in-between his one-two punch introduction with BONNIE & CLYDE and THE PRODUCERS and his iconic (although not recognized at the time) turn in WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY.
He’s hungry here, but his talent isn’t focused. If you see how Mel Brooks used Wilder in THE PRODUCERS, BLAZING SADDLES and YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN I think you’ve seen how well that talent can be used. Brooks seems to get the heart and borderline insanity that is Wilder’s trademark.
So you see young Wilder in his prime here, using his voice and body for some great character moments, but ultimately it turns out to be a mediocre movie that wasn’t released to big fanfare for a reason.
Final Thoughts: If you ever wanted to see Willy Wonka suck on Lois Lane’s titties, then this movie is for you. Yes, it’s graphic, yes they’re adorable and double-yes it’s fucking creepy to watch Gene Wilder suck on someone’s tits. That’s like walking in on your grandpa trimming his pubes or something. QUACKSER isn’t a horrible movie, but it’s not a trend-setter, it’s not a showcase for any particular actor (with both leads being better in other movies) and I doubt it’ll blow anybody’s hair back. One little interesting bit of trivia, though, is that David Kelly is a supporting character, a pub-crawler who is obsessed with Kidder’s shoes. Kelly played Grandpa Joe in the Tim Burton remake of Willy Wonka, CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. Interesting to see him so young and in a movie with the other, far superior Wonka.