Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. USA, 1976. Frank Yablans Presentations, Miller-Milkis Productions, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. Screenplay by Colin Higgins. Cinematography by David M. Walsh. Produced by Edward K. Milkis, Thomas L. Miller. Music by Henry Mancini. Production Design by Alfred Sweeney. Costume Design by Phyllis Garr, Michael J. Harte. Film Editing by David Bretherton. Academy Awards 1976. Golden Globe Awards 1976. New York Film Critics Awards 1976.
Gene Wilder is an airplane-phobic book editor who boards a train that will take him from Chicago to Los Angeles in what he hopes will be a pleasure trip. His hopes are heightened further when he meets a beautiful woman (Jill Clayburgh, who is criminally underused) and the two spark an attraction between them. One night he sees what he is sure is a body being thrown off the train, and his inability to prove it or get anyone to believe him starts a hilarious descent into a murder mystery that keeps getting him thrown off the train and eventually pairs him up with a car thief (Richard Pryor) who helps him get to the bottom of the mystery. Lots of great humour, especially from Pryor, in a film hasn’t aged all that well but is a great comedic homage to the films of Alfred Hitchcock, most especially The Lady Vanishes and North y Northwest, but it equals neither of them.