STIR CRAZY (1980) AND SEE NO EVIL, HEAR NO EVIL (1989). A DOUBLE REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

STIR CRAZY (1980) AND SEE NO EVIL, HEAR NO EVIL (1989). A DOUBLE REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
STIR CRAZY. (1980) DIRECTED BY SIDNEY POITIER. STARRING GENE WILDER, RICHARD PRYOR, GEORG STANFORD BROWN, CRAIG T. NELSON AND BARRY CORBIN.
SEE NO EVIL, HEAR NO EVIL. (1989) DIRECTED BY ARTHUR HILLER. STARRING GENE WILDER, RICHARD PRYOR, JOAN SEVERANCE, KEVIN SPACEY AND ANTHONY ZERBE.

I love both of these American comedies and frequently watch them together at Christmas. I don’t mind admitting, though, that both films start out really strong, with terrific comedy performances from the two leads, and then they kind of lose their way and become a wee bit confusing and tiresome. The performances of the two leads, however, are most likely what you’ll remember about the films so it’s all good.

STIR CRAZY sees Wilder and Pryor take on the roles of two best friends, a down on their luck scriptwriter and aspiring actor, who get sentenced to 125 years in prison after being mistaken for two violent bank robbers dressed as chickens. (It’ll make sense when you watch the film, lol.) The prison is the kind of one with chain gangs doing hard labour in the blazing sun and guards whose truncheons seem to be permanently set to whuppin’…

While inmates of this particularly tough prison, they make friends with other convicts and impress the warden greatly with Gene Wilder’s prowess on the mechanical bull. When said warden arranges for Wilder’s character to take part in the annual prison rodeo, a small select group of prisoners, Wilder and Pryor included, arrange to use the rodeo as a chance to break out…

Despite being a convicted criminal, Gene Wilder still manages to have a romance with JoBeth Williams, the mom from POLTERGEIST, who’s playing his lawyer’s assistant. The two lads together also make firm friends with Grossberger, the most feared inmate in the prison, and they find that he’s surprisingly loyal and blessed with a beautiful singing voice. Seemingly, all he needed was for someone to just reach out to him…

My favourite part of the film is probably when Gene Wilder takes a list of his prison grievances to the warden, with the honest expectation that the warden will be only too delighted to discuss the ways in which he can help to enhance and improve the prison experience of the men in his care. Set that night-stick to whoppin’, boys… I also love Craig T. Nelson, aka COACH and the dad from POLTERGEIST, as the warden’s bullying second-in-command.

In SEE NO EVIL, HEAR NO EVIL, the two lads play a blind man (Pryor) and a deaf man (Wilder) who accidentally get mixed up with a trio of murderous thieves and have to go on a mission to clear their own names (yep, they’ve been wrongly accused again!) and, hopefully, catch the thieving real killers as well.

Kevin Spacey is quite good as one of the villains, with the gorgeous leggy Joan Severance on duty as the eye-candy. The scene where Gene Wilder threatens to ‘shoot’ a nudie Joan Severance with his erection is very funny.

It’s also the film in which are uttered the immortal words, ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy was a woman,’ and the scene in which Gene Wilder freaks out at the thought that he’s somehow contracted the ‘mens rea’ always makes me laugh out loud.

I don’t much care for Anthony Zerbe as the mysterious Mr. Sutherland, the villains’ boss, as I’m all worn out by the chase at this point. (Don’t get me wrong, watching a blind man and a deaf man attempt to drive a getaway car through downtown New York is pretty hilarious.)

And I was completely underwhelmed at the moment it’s revealed that the gold coin everyone’s been chasing is a ‘room temperature superconductor.’ Are we supposed to be impressed? Talk about meh.

Wilder and Pryor are always funny, though, and lovable and cuddly and, in the case of Gene Wilder in particular, surprisingly sexually attractive. I’ve always wanted to just give him a big hug, gaze deep into his brilliant blue eyes while gently touching his curly hair and then take it from there, lol.

Both men are great comedic partners, and the way they vibe off each other more than makes up for any deficiencies in plot. The scene where they meet at Wilder’s news kiosk is so funny, and ditto the one where Richard Pryor is masquerading as a Swedish sex therapist for geriatrics. The bit where he says, in authentic Swedish Chef from THE MUPPET SHOW pidgin English, ‘Mostly, they just like fucking…!’ is just a priceless moment in the film.

Happy New Year, anyway. Let’s welcome 2022 with open arms and open minds. I won’t challenge the Universe to fisticuffs by saying that things can’t get any worse, so instead I’ll just say that we all sincerely hope that they’ll get a little easier.

  AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
 
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
https://www.amazon.com/Thirteen-Stops-Sandra-Harris-ebook/dp/B089DJMH64
The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
 https://www.amazon.com/dp/1781994234
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2 thoughts on “STIR CRAZY (1980) AND SEE NO EVIL, HEAR NO EVIL (1989). A DOUBLE REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

  1. Poitier just died, and I was surprised to see that no one mentioned that he was the first African-American person to direct a movie (Stir Crazy) that surpassed the 100 million mark.

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