185. Hanky Panky

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Movie: Hanky Panky

Release Date: June 4, 1982

Director: Sidney Poitier

Starring: Gene Wilder, Gilda Radner, Kathleen Quinlan, Richard Widmark, Johnny Brown.

Tag Lines: “From the People who Brought you ‘Stir Crazy.'”

“On the run, falling in love and up to their necks in funny business!”

“Something funny’s going on here.”

“Meet Michael Jordan. And his mistake.”

“When you’re wanted for a murder you didn’t commit, Chased for secrets you didn’t steal, And running from people who want to kill you, The worst mistake you can make is falling in love…Meet Michael Jordan. And his mistake. HANKY PANKY. Something funny’s going on here.”

“When you’re wanted for a murder you didn’t commit, chased for secrets you didn’t steal, and running from people who want to kill you, the worst mistake you can make is falling in love…”

Relevance: I love all movies and will watch absolutely everything. Drama, comedy and musicals are probably my favorites but I will watch all other genres of film as well. Even war and western, my least favorite if I had to choose, will be watched. You never know the gem you might find if you don’t at least give it a shot. The only movies I don’t like are bad movies. But “bad movies” are in the eye of the beholder, aren’t they?

As a kid I used to love to watch HBO. Most of the movies I watched in the 1980’s were thanks to the cable network. My family got the channel sometime in the early 1980’s and besides MTV, it was the one that was watched the most. I would sit on the couch with our monthly HBO guide and read about the movies that were playing that particular month. I would mentally note the movies that I wanted to watch and when they were playing. Reading the HBO guide was the first time I came across ‘Hanky Panky.’

I was already familiar with both Gene Wilder and Gilda Radner and liked both of them very much. Simply put, they made me laugh. I knew Mr. Wilder mostly from his role as Willy Wonka as well as other comedy movies he did in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. I was less familiar with Ms. Radner but knew her from ‘Gilda Live’ as well as an appearance on “The Muppet Show.” After reading about their movie together and seeing the commercial for it on HBO, I knew I wanted to at least give it a try. I’m so glad that I did.

I watched the movie alone one day, probably some time around the summer of 1983, although the exact date is a bit fuzzy. What wasn’t fuzzy was how much the movie made me laugh. Mr. Wilder and Ms. Radner were the perfect comedy team. Their chemistry and timing were impeccable and it is no surprise their meeting on this film led to their loving relationship in real life. It was a simple, silly, trite story, but the comedy was so fresh and original, it totally made up for what lacked in the plot. I remember laughing so hard at so many scenes and the first time I watched it was definitely not the last time. I watched it over and over, eventually recording it on a blank VHS tape so that I didn’t have to wait for HBO to play it again.

Directed by Sidney Poitier, ‘Hanky Panky’ was not well received by critics and was considered a failure at the box office. Most people would consider it a “bad movie.” I, on the other hand, consider it one of the funniest films I ever watched as a young kid. It was a movie that stayed with me throughout my entire high school and college careers, and made me a genuine fan of both Gene Wilder and Gilda Radner. I guess one man’s trash really is another man’s treasure.

Today’s Thoughts: I do not own ‘Hanky Panky’ and probably have not watched it in its entirety since the 1990’s. With that said, I have watched many scenes from the film over the years when I needed a laugh. I was very excited to sit down today and watch Gene Wilder and Gilda Radner do what they do best, which is make me laugh.

Without its two stars, I can see why ‘Hanky Panky’ could be considered a throw away comedy from the 1980’s. It is not by any means a brilliant film, but boy oh boy did it still make me laugh today. The two of them are so funny in these roles and I laughed to the point of tears. I urge anyone to watch the “Mister Magic” bus scene or the “I am doing something, I am crashing an airplane” scene and not laugh. It’s impossible. When Gilda Radner says “Why don’t you ask Mr. Puckett where the wheels are?” I was practically in tears. They really were terrific partners both on and off the screen. It is sad that they are no longer with us on this planet. At least we have scenes like these to keep their memories alive.

‘Hanky Panky’ may not be the film that both Gene Wilder and Gilda Radner are remembered for, but when I think of either of them, its images always pop in my head. It’s a funny movie, they were funny people and I urge anyone that likes to laugh to check it out.

Ways to Watch: Vudu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, DVD Availability.

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