Silver Streak

USA 1976, 114 mins
Director: Arthur Hiller

Set on a train from Los Angeles to Chicago, Silver Streak marks Pryor’s first collaboration with his frequent co-star Gene Wilder. The film mixes romance, comedy, caper, and big-budget action, and set the template for a generation of genre-bending buddy movies, with Wilder and Pryor’s chemistry creating the gold standard.

The cage that trapped Richard Pryor in many of his films of the early 1980s was due in part to the unexpected popularity he stumbled into with the buddy comedy Silver Streak (1976), starring Gene Wilder, which in turn led to the screwball comedy Stir Crazy (1980, also with Wilder). Stealing the spotlight in Silver Streak from his co-star, Pryor mesmerised a mainstream white audience who wanted to see more of him. The problem, of course, was that Hollywood never really knew how best to harness his talent – all they knew was that he could make people laugh, without understanding the how or why of where the laughter originated. As a result, much of the audience who went to see Stir Crazy or Brewster’s Millions (1985) only knew one version of him, and it was definitely not the version who recorded That Nigger’s Crazy. Audiences watching The Toy (1982) saw the Pryor who made them laugh by simply being silly, whereas the Pryor who performed stand-up made people laugh by exposing his torment. And the only time that torment ever came through in his work outside of stand-up comedy was in his dramatic performances.
David F. Walker, Sight and Sound, October 2021

Director: Arthur Hiller
Production Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Executive Producers: Frank Yablans, Martin Ransohoff
Producers: Edward K. Milkis, Thomas L. Miller
Production Managers: Jack B. Bernstein, Peter V. Herald
Production Co-ordinator: Chip Fowler
2nd Unit Director: Max Kleven
Assistant Directors: Jack Roe, L. Andrew Stone
Screenplay: Colin Higgins
Director of Photography: David M. Walsh
2nd Unit Photographer: Ralph Woolsey
Special Effects: Fred Cramer
Process Consultant: Bill Hansard
Editor: David Bretherton
Production Designer: Alfred Sweeney
Set Decorator: Marvin March
Title Design: Phill Norman
Music Composed and Conducted by:
Henry Mancini
Sound Recording: Hal Etherington
Sound Re-recording: Don Mitchell
Sound Editors: William Hartman, Edward Rossi
Stunt Co-ordinator: Mickey Gilbert

Gene Wilder (George Caldwell)
Jill Clayburgh (Hilly Burns)
Richard Pryor (Grover Muldoon)
Patrick McGoohan (Roger Devereau)
Ned Beatty (Sweet)
Clifton James (Sheriff Chauncey)
Ray Walston (Mr Whiney)
Stefan Gierasch (Johnson)
Len Birman (Chief)
Valerie Curtin (Plain Jane)
Richard Kiel (Reace Goldtooth)
Lucille Benson (Rita Babtree)
Scatman Crothers (Raslton)
Fred Willard (Jerry Jarvis)
Delos V. Smith (Burt)
Matilda Calnan (blue-haired lady)
Nick Stewart (shoeshiner)
Margarita Garcia (Mexican mama-san)
Jack Mather (conductor)
Henry Beckman, Steve Weston, Harvey Atkin (conventioneers)
Lloyd White (porter)
Ed McNamara (Benny)
Raymond Guth (nightwatchman)
John Day (engineer)
Jack O’Leary (1st fat man)
Lee Mclaughlin (2nd fat man)
Tom Erhart (cab driver)
Gordon Hurst (Moose)
Bill Henderson (Red Cap)
Charles Napier (Matthews, FBI agent)

USA 1976
114 mins

Richard Pryor: Live in Concert
Wed 1 Sep 20:50; Fri 1 Oct 18:00
Some Call It Loving
Thu 2 Sep 20:40; Mon 20 Sep 18:00 (+ pre-recorded intro)
Lady Sings the Blues
Sat 4 Sep 11:30; Wed 15 Sep 13:50; Mon 27 Sep 20:20
The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings
Sat 4 Sep 20:30; Sat 25 Sep 14:45
Blue Collar
Mon 6 Sep 14:30; Fri 17 Sep 20:40 (+ pre-recorded intro); Tue 5 Oct 17:35
Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling
Tue 7 Sep 18:10 (+ pre-recorded intro); Mon 4 Oct 20:45
African Odysseys Presents: The Black History of Comedy
Fri 10 Sep 18:15
Fri 10 Sep 21:00; Tue 14 Sep 18:00; Sat 18 Sep 20:10
Car Wash
Sat 11 Sep 17:50; Tue 28 Sep 20:50
Blazing Saddles
Sat 11 Sep 20:45; Wed 22 Sep 18:15
Silver Streak
Sun 12 Sep 15:15; Wed 29 Sep 20:45
Which Way Is Up?
Wed 15 Sep 21:00; Sun 26 Sep 18:10
Lost Highway (unconfirmed)
Thu 16 Sep 17:30; Tue 5 Oct 20:30
Richard Pryor: A Comedy Genius
Thu 16 Sep 18:15
Stir Crazy
Sun 19 Sep 18:10; Fri 1 Oct 20:30
Bustin’ Loose
Mon 20 Sep 21:00; Sun 3 Oct 18:10
Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip
Tue 21 Sep 18:00 (+ discussion); Mon 4 Oct 18:20
Richard Pryor… Here and Now
Wed 22 Sep 20:45; Sat 2 Oct 18:00
Brewster’s Millions
Thu 23 Sep 20:45; Sun 3 Oct 15:15

A Pryor Engagement was originally programmed by Nellie Killian for BAMcinématek in 2013

This season is presented in partnership with We Are Parable

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Programme notes and credits compiled by the BFI Documentation Unit
Notes may be edited or abridged
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