9/2/16

HANKY PANKY - REVIEW


Gene Wilder and Gilda Radner star in Hanky Panky, a comedy thriller from Sidney Poitier about a man on the run after being accused of a crime he didn't commit who meets a reporter before they both find themselves entangled in a web of top secret intrigue.

Don't let the inexplicably silly title fool you, this is actually a fun, at times suspenseful film. It's really not the ridiculous farce it sounds like and it is, in fact, more akin to something like Silver Streak in that, while it does have some comedy elements, it's mostly a thriller. There's a Hitchcockian vibe to this one as Wilder plays a similar role to Cary Grant in North By Northwest: a desperate man trying to prove his innocence. The whole thing starts with Michael Jordon (Wilder) flirting with a woman in a cab and offering to mail an envelope for her. Unfortunately, he is spotted helping her and, when she is later murdered, he becomes the prime suspect and some shady parties start questioning him about the address on the envelope and its contents. He eventually meets Kate Hellman (Radner), a reporter who decides to believe his random story but she soon proves to not be who she seems either.

Hanky Panky was meant to be a spiritual successor to Stir Crazy which was also directed by Poitier and Richard Pryor was supposed to star alongside Gene Wilder but it was never meant to be. Probably partly due to that foolish title, the film was a box-office flop, which is a shame because this is really not a bad movie and it manages to be both a tense thriller and a fun comedy. Its tone is, admittedly, a bit erratic and it's not the most memorable man-on-the-run plot out there but the effortless charm of the Wilder/Radner duo makes it worth it plus there are some enjoyably goofy sequences throughout. The climax, which sees our heroes attempt to fly an out of control helicopter above the Grand Canyon is very good and ends things on a more light-hearted note.

Sidney Poitier's film may not have attracted the same kind of audience that Stir Crazy did and Hanky Panky may not be quite as funny as that film but it's a very different type of movie so if you know what you're in for, there's no reason you shouldn't have a good time watching this one.

Underrated.

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