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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


The Frisco Kid
Directed by Robert Aldrich
Warner Home Video 1979 DVD/VHS Feature Film

The Frisco Kid is the quirky inventive saga of a young Polish rabbi who is sent to America in 1850 to take over a congregation in San Francisco. Getting there proves to be quite a test of his stamina, his adaptability, and his religious faith. Gene Wilder's performance as Avram is a jaunty, sweet, and convincing triumph of comic bravado.

After docking in Philadelphia, the rabbi plays Good Samaritan to three roustabouts who later rob him. Fortunately he comes upon some Amish farmers who give him shelter and money to resume his trek. After a brief stint working on the railroad, Avram meets Tommy Lillard (Harrison Ford), a bank robber with a heart of gold and a quick temper. The two team up and go ricocheting from one adventure to another — an escape from a posse, a trial by fire at the hands of some Indians, a visit to the brotherhood of silent monks, and two violent encounters with the rakehells who robbed Avram in Philadelphia.

The Frisco Kid is an offbeat comedy that manages to convey the sturdy faith of a believer. Avram will not travel on the Sabbath for any reason; he returns his share of the money from Lillard's bank robbery; he transmits the joy of Judaism to the Indians; and he agonizes over murdering a man in self-defense. Whereas this movie will probably not become a smash with the public, it is highly regarded for the religiously sensitive.


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Reviews and database copyright 1970 2012
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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