I don't know how you were able to miss such incredibly sad news, but in case you hadn't heard, Gene Wilder, star of "Young Frankenstein", "The Producers", "Blazing Saddles", and "Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory" and a host of other comic movies, passed away from complications of Alzheimer's on August 29 at the age of 83.
As popular as he was in the Cineverse, he also made his mark in the various dimensions of Toobworld - in the Tooniverse, ToobStage, Skitlanida, and of course in Earth Prime-Time.
The year 1974 may have been his most prolific year for movies:
- "Blazing Saddles"
- "Thursday's Game" (TV Movie)
- Harry Evers
- "The Little Prince"
- The Fox
- "Young Frankenstein"
- Dr. Frederick Frankenstein
As you can see, tucked away in the middle of that list is a TV movie, "Thursday's Game" (which was actually filmed in 1971). The TV Movie Of The Week was a big thing on ABC back in the early 70s and supplied the bulk of its programming on Tuesday and Wednesday nights for the most part.
In "Thursday's Game", Gene Wilder and Bob Newhart played a couple of guys who get kicked out of their weekly poker game and then decide to keep meeting up anyway to discuss whatever is on their minds. It becomes kind of a one-on-one therapy support group. This leads to some repercussions with their wives - Ellen Burstyn and Cloris Leachman, respectively - whom they neglected to tell about the change in their schedules.
Also in the cast are Nancy Walker, Martha Scott, Valerie Harper, Rob Reiner, Norman Fell, Dick Gautier, and Chris Sarandon. It was written by James L. Brooks. With a cast like that known for comedy, you might be surprised at how heart-felt and touching it is. And it's Cloris Leachman who shines the most in one particular scene which has stayed with me for the last forty plus years.
Here is the first part of the movie as found on YouTube. If all goes according to plan, and since I set it up for this post, I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't, each succeeding segment of the movie should follow straight on from the preceding one. (If it doesn't, I'm sure you know how to find it.) Think of those momentary lapses as the commercial breaks that weren't.
I hope you enjoy it as much as my eighteen year old self did.....