Remembering Gene Wilder (Blu-ray Review)

  • Reviewed by: Bill Hunt
  • Review Date: Jun 29, 2024
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Remembering Gene Wilder (Blu-ray Review)


Ron Frank

Release Date(s)

2023 (June 11, 2024)


Health Point Productions (Kino Lorber)
  • Film/Program Grade: A
  • Video Grade: B
  • Audio Grade: B
  • Extras Grade: C+

Remembering Gene Wilder (Blu-ray Disc)



“I didn’t think Jerry Silberman had the right ring to it. I wanted to be… Wilder.”

If you grew up in the 1970s and 80s, Gene Wilder was a regular fixture in your pop cultural awareness. You can probably remember the first time you saw Mel Stuart’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), which is where one’s experience of Gene typically began. But in the era of subscription cable television, his many collaborations with Mel Brooks and Richard Prior were in constant rotation on HBO or Cinemax—films like The Producers (1967), Young Frankenstein (1974), Blazing Saddles (1974), Silver Streak (1976), and Stir Crazy (1980)—every one of them a classic. These were incredibly bold comedies, films that often had you in tears from laughing so hard, and they’re sadly the kind of films that no studio executive would have the courage to make today. Then you got a little older and maybe you realized that Gene had appeared in Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde (1967) too, not to mention Woody Allen’s Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) (1972). He’d even co-starred in a Western buddy comedy with Harrison Ford, The Frisco Kid (1979)! Then you learned of Gene’s marriage to comedian and original Saturday Night Live cast member Gilda Radner—herself a pop culture staple—and somehow you just grew to love them both even more.

If you’re like me, once you got into college in the late 1980s, you kind of lost touch with Gene’s work, and yet he kept working! There was The Woman in Red (1984), See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989) (a final team up with Prior), Funny About Love (1990), and Another You (1991). Then Gilda was gone far too soon, having died in 1989 of cancer. And eventually, Gene passed too in 2016 (from complications of Alzheimer’s at the age of 83) after many years of living out of the public eye. But before his death, he did more theater (which is where his acting career began), he became an accomplished watercolor painter, and he even wrote several books. And so much of that I had no awareness of until seeing Ron Frank’s new documentary Remembering Gene Wilder. Produced by Julie Nimoy (daughter of Leonard Nimoy, who directed Funny About Love) and David Knight, the film features interviews with Gene’s many friends, family members, and admirers, including Mel Brooks, Karen Wilder (Gene’s wife), Alan Alda, Carol Kane, Harry Connick Jr., Mike Medavoy, Rain Pryor (daughter of Richard), Dick Cavett, Eric McCormack, Ben Mankiewicz, Peter Ostrum, and others. It covers his entire personal and creative life, and features an abundance of rare photographs, film and video footage, as well as clips from his many films. Fittingly, it’s also narrated by Gene himself—in his own words—using recordings he made for the audiobook version of his memoir, Kiss Me Like a Stranger: My Search for Love and Art, which was published in 2005.

Remembering Gene Wilder was produced in 1080p HD video (1.78:1) and is compiled from archive TV footage, newly-shot interviews, film clips, still photographs, and more in a variety of source resolutions (HD, 2K, 4K). As such, the image quality will tend to vary, but it’s generally very solid for such a multimedia presentation. Audio on the Blu-ray is available in lossless English 5.1 and 2.0 in DTS-HD Master Audio format, each clear and readily discernible, with optional English SDH subtitles. All in all, the presentation quality here is quite good, and exactly what you’d expect for a modern documentary release on this format.

Kino Lorber’s Blu-ray includes the film itself, along with the following special features:

  • Additional Interviews
    • Mel Brooks (HD – 11:15)
    • Harry Connick Jr. (HD – 4:28)
    • Burton Gilliam (HD – 5:15)
    • Carol Kane (HD – 2:19)
    • Ben Mankiewicz (HD – 5:26)
    • Peter Ostrum (HD – 6:24)
    • Karen Wilder (HD – 2:18)
    • Alan Zweibel (HD – 4:25)
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD – 2:40)

There isn’t a lot of content here, but then this title doesn’t really demand a lot of bonus material. There are, however, a few good and entertaining additional stories to be found among the interview clips, including Brooks talking about how he almost got John Wayne to play the Waco Kid in Blazing Saddles and how supportive Alan Ladd Jr. was in the making of Young Frankenstein, as well as Burton Gilliam proudly recounting the story of Brooks telling him—on the set of Blazing Saddles—how he was about to become the first person ever in film history to fart on screen.

Perhaps the best thing I can say about Remembering Gene Wilder is that it made me laugh—a lot—and more than once it brought a tear to my eye. It also made me want to revisit many of Gene’s films, especially his work with Brooks and Pryor, and it certainly gave me a whole new appreciation for this brilliant, gentle, brave, and zany man, and his lifelong impact on my imagination. Gene Wilder was one of a kind and I’m grateful for him. If you count yourself a fan as well, Remembering Gene Wilder is worth your time and not to be missed.

- Bill Hunt

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