6.4/10
8,042
57 user 22 critic

The Frisco Kid (1979)

A Polish rabbi wanders through the Old West on his way to lead a synagogue in San Francisco. On the way he is nearly burnt at the stake by Indians and almost killed by outlaws.

Director:

Robert Aldrich

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2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Gene Wilder ... Avram
Harrison Ford ... Tommy
Ramon Bieri ... Mr. Jones
Val Bisoglio ... Chief Gray Cloud
George DiCenzo ... Darryl Diggs (as George Ralph DiCenzo)
Leo Fuchs Leo Fuchs ... Chief Rabbi
Penny Peyser ... Rosalie
William Smith ... Matt Diggs
Jack Somack Jack Somack ... Samuel Bender
Beege Barkette ... Sarah Mindl (as Beege Barkett)
Shay Duffin ... O'Leary
Walter Janovitz ... Old Amish Man (as Walter Janowitz)
Joe Kapp ... Monterano
Clyde Kusatsu ... Mr. Ping
Clifford A. Pellow Clifford A. Pellow ... Mr. Daniels (as Cliff Pellow)
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Storyline

A rabbi from Poland goes to America to lead a Jewish community. When he arrives in America he is hijacked and has to work his way across the country. On the way he meets up with a bank robber and they form a friendship, have many (mis)adventures including being captured by Indians. Written by Deirdre Dear

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The greatest cowboy ever to ride into the Wild West. From Poland. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Western

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Yiddish

Release Date:

13 July 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

No Knife See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$9,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$160,292, 15 July 1979

Gross USA:

$9,346,177

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$9,346,177
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Final film of veteran character actor Henry Rowland. See more »

Goofs

The Jewish Sabbath does not necessarily end when the sun goes down, but when it gets dark which could be up to an hour later. Also, an observant Jew would not be able to travel outside a city on Sabbath, even on foot, for more than 2,000 biblical "cubits" (~1,000 yards) from the place he was in when Sabbath began. Therefore, Avram would not have been willing to travel, leading his horse, on Sabbath. It is also forbidden to carry on the Sabbath in a public domain (such as a road), or to make one's animal carry. This is another reason why Avram would refuse to travel. See more »

Quotes

Avram: [Trying to catch a wild 'chicken'] Chicken, chicken, chicken! Chickie-chickie-chickie-chicken! Come here,
[sing-songs]
Avram: I don't want to hurt you, I just want to eat you.
[repeats in Yiddish, 'chicken' flies away]
Avram: Come here, wait! I don't want to hurt you! I just want to make you kosher!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Hollywood Greats: Harrison Ford (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Camptown Races
Composed by Stephen Foster (as Stephen Collins Foster)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Rogue and the Rabbi -- An unforgettable gem of a film
13 February 2005 | by myschrecSee all my reviews

This movie has withstood the test of time ... 25 years so far. At times it appears to contain obvious, silly and even base comedy. But that only mildly disguises the depth of humanity and profound philosophy that it successfully presents. Like other commentators, I consider this film to be one of my all-time favorites. Gene Wilder was at the peak of his career, having made a big splash in The Producers with Zero Mostel, and then going on to memorable performances in other Mel Brooks' classics: Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. In fact, many people erroneously believe that The Frisco Kid is a Mel Brooks film. (Indeed the writers, Elias & Shaw, had several years earlier written a TV Pilot based on the Blazing Saddles plot, but it had failed.)

Though I am a big fan of Mel Brooks, I think that one reason this film succeeds so well is that Robert Aldrich directed it instead of Brooks. In other words, it is essentially a dramatic western that is filled to the brim with comedy -- instead of the other way around. Aldrich had previously directed serious epic westerns, and he became famous in the sixties for directing What Ever Happened to Baby Jane, Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte, The Flight of the Phoenix, and The Dirty Dozen. These films, as well as his classic The Longest Yard, showed how infusing humor into serious drama can make plots more interesting and characters more human and sympathetic.

Frank DeVol provided the music ... and you can see him in the part of the old time piano player. DeVol had provided music for a number of Aldrich films, including the five films mentioned in the previous paragraph. He was famous for his comic scores (e.g., Pillow Talk, Cat Ballou, and The Trouble with Angels) and his music for TV series (e.g., My Three Sons, The Brady Bunch, McCloud, and the Love Boat).

Another gem in this film is Harrison Ford -- in a role that seems so second-nature to him, but showcases his versatility. His character is not that much different from Hans Solo. (Star Wars appeared in 1977 and Empire Strikes Back appeared in 1980, while The Frisco Kid came out in 1979.) In fact, it seemed emblematic of the movies in the sixties and seventies that some of our big screen heroes were selfish rogues with a heart of gold. Think of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which came out in 1969.

The executive producer was Hawk Koch, whose father, Howard W. Koch was a Hollywood icon, having produced scores of films, including The Manchurian Candidate and The Odd Couple. This was one of Hawk Koch's first jobs, and he has now been the executive producer of over twenty outstanding features, including Mike Myers' Wayne's World and -- another great comedy exploring religious belief -- Keeping the Faith, with Ben Stiller and Edward Norton.

Finally, because the DVD is not yet available, here's a gem that was not included in the IMDb Memorable Quotes section, though I have edited it to avoid giving too much away for those who haven't seen the film yet:

"Chief Gray Cloud: Yes or no, can your God make rain?"

"Avram: Yes."

"Chief Gray Cloud: But he doesn't?"

"Avram: That's right."

"Chief Gray Cloud: Why?"

"Avram: Because that's not his department!"

* * *

"Avram: ... He gives us strength when we're suffering! He gives us compassion when all that we feel is hatred! He gives us courage when we're searching around blindly like little mice in the darkness! ... "

HOW TRUE! Whether you identify with Gene Wilder's Rabbi or with Harrison Ford's Rogue, this film is filled with valuable lessons. The world is unpredictable. Sometimes we suffer. And sometimes we find strength, courage, compassion, ... and humor to deal with it all.


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