SleepyDogFilms

Silver Streak (1976)

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I finally watched this movie in its entirety on Netflix. I had seen parts of it over the years on TV, but never the entire thing. I loved it. It had a perfect balance of comedy and thriller. What are your thoughts on Silver Streak?

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I posted the following a couple of years ago in honour of this comedy:

 

Posted 17 August 2014 - 12:47 PM

images10_zpsf1225d11.jpg

 

Do you remember that scene in Silver Streak? The one in which Gene Wilder disguises himself as a black man in order to allude authorities, while Richard Pryor desperately tries to show him how to act “hip black.” It’s an hilarious moment because Wilder is so ludicrously over-the-top that he appears more drug-induced deranged than anything else. My favourite scene in the film.

 

Well, it was filmed in Toronto’s Union Station washroom in 1976. And as the years passed and I felt the call of nature at that train depot I would walk (sometimes limp) past the other washrooms in the building and go to the upper level of Union Station – to the Silver Streak washroom.

 

And as I used those gracefully aging facilities there, I would happily look around and think yep – it’s still all here and looking EXACTLY the same as it did in the film. Oh, they may have changed a washer or two over the years , but, essentially, it was the same old washbasins, the same smeary mirrors, the same open air urinals that Wilder and Pryor worked beside and (I liked to think) once used.

 

I regarded that washroom as Union Station’s shrine to a great moment in screen comedy.

 

I recall one time I was in the washroom and mentioned its historical significance to another patron there washing his hands at the time. He recalled Wilder in grease-smeared (or whatever it was) blackface, too, and smiled in his realization of the hallowed grounds upon which he stood and splashed.

 

 Some years later I mentioned it to another person while we were both in there doing our thing. He had never heard of Silver Streak and, therefore, looked duly unimpressed. “Cultural boor,” I looked down my nose at him, “We’re in a urinary shrine right now.”

 

Anyway, a couple of years ago the City of Toronto hired a contractor to start huge multi-million dollar renovations  on Union Station. When it’s all completed (possibly two years from now) there’s supposed to be a major shoppers’ mecca there, I believe, in addition to being the city’s central transportation terminal.

 

As a result of this parts of Union Station have been cut off from view as workmen are sighted everywhere, along with the sounds of drills and hammers and what not.

 

Naturally, my great concern was for the Silver Streak Washroom.  I, if no one else around here, have my priorities. The first time I was at Union after construction had begun I naturally rushed to the washroom, even though I didn’t really need to avail myself of its chambers. Thank goodness it was still there. The place where Wilder shucked and jived! I was happy, feeling great relief (though perhaps not the quite same kind that I normally experienced there).

 

A few months later when I returned, however, the Silver Streak Washroom had been cut off from view. Massive boards were erected where Wilder and Pryor once performed. Since they are now modernizing everything at Union Station’s other washrooms (motion activated taps and urinals, sparkling new tile floors you could eat off, mirrors where you can actually see yourself) I know that the Silver Streak Washroom is no more.

 

The last time I was in Toronto and at Union Station I took a sad stroll near where Wilder had jived and Pryor had grimaced in response to that jive. Still boarded off, still no sign of any kind of washroom even returning there. For all I know that spot will now become the location of a fancy dress shop or drug store. Oh, THE SHAME!

 

A construction worker passed by me as I looked at the spot . “Have you NO respect for film history,” I thought. Okay, I’m rational enough in the midst of my mourning to know that he’s not personally responsible. He is, however, symbolic of the inevitability of change.

 

So it’s gone, folks. And I’m sorry if I added to the burden of your day by sharing this tragic news with those who, like I, love that scene in Silver Streak.

 

The Silver Streak Washroom - may it R(estroom)IP.

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I posted the following a couple of years ago in honour if this comedy:

 

Posted 17 August 2014 - 12:47 PM

images10_zpsf1225d11.jpg

 

Do you remember that scene in Silver Streak? The one in which Gene Wilder disguises himself as a black man in order to allude authorities, while Richard Pryor desperately tries to show him how to act “hip black.” It’s an hilarious moment because Wilder is so ludicrously over-the-top that he appears more drug-induced deranged than anything else. My favourite scene in the film.

 

Well, it was filmed in Toronto’s Union Station washroom in 1976. And as the years passed and I felt the call of nature at that train depot I would walk (sometimes limp) past the other washrooms in the building and go to the upper level of Union Station – to the Silver Streak washroom.

 

And as I used those gracefully aging facilities there, I would happily look around and think yep – it’s still all here and looking EXACTLY the same as it did in the film. Oh, they may have changed a washer or two over the years , but, essentially, it was the same old washbasins, the same smeary mirrors, the same open air urinals that Wilder and Pryor worked beside and (I liked to think) once used.

 

I regarded that washroom as Union Station’s shrine to a great moment in screen comedy.

 

I recall one time I was in the washroom and mentioned its historical significance to another patron there washing his hands at the time. He recalled Wilder in grease-smeared (or whatever it was) blackface, too, and smiled in his realization of the hallowed grounds upon which he stood and splashed.

 

 Some years later I mentioned it to another person while we were both in there doing our thing. He had never heard of Silver Streak and, therefore, looked duly unimpressed. “Cultural boor,” I looked down my nose at him, “We’re in a urinary shrine right now.”

 

Anyway, a couple of years ago the City of Toronto hired a contractor to start huge multi-million dollar renovations  on Union Station. When it’s all completed (possibly two years from now) there’s supposed to be a major shoppers’ mecca there, I believe, in addition to being the city’s central transportation terminal.

 

As a result of this parts of Union Station have been cut off from view as workmen are sighted everywhere, along with the sounds of drills and hammers and what not.

 

Naturally, my great concern was for the Silver Streak Washroom.  I, if no one else around here, have my priorities. The first time I was at Union after construction had begun I naturally rushed to the washroom, even though I didn’t really need to avail myself of its chambers. Thank goodness it was still there. The place where Wilder shucked and jived! I was happy, feeling great relief (though perhaps not the quite same kind that I normally experienced there).

 

A few months later when I returned, however, the Silver Streak Washroom had been cut off from view. Massive boards were erected where Wilder and Pryor once performed. Since they are now modernizing everything at Union Station’s other washrooms (motion activated taps and urinals, sparkling new tile floors you could eat off, mirrors where you can actually see yourself) I know that the Silver Streak Washroom is no more.

 

The last time I was in Toronto and at Union Station I took a sad stroll near where Wilder had jived and Pryor had grimaced in response to that jive. Still boarded off, still no sign of any kind of washroom even returning there. For all I know that spot will now become the location of a fancy dress shop or drug store. Oh, THE SHAME!

 

A construction worker passed by me as I looked at the spot . “Have you NO respect for film history,” I thought. Okay, I’m rational enough in the midst of my mourning to know that he’s not personally responsible. He is, however, symbolic of the inevitability of change.

 

So it’s gone, folks. And I’m sorry if I added to the burden of your day by sharing this tragic news with those who, like I, love that scene in Silver Streak.

 

The Silver Streak Washroom - may it R(estroom)IP.

That's a hilarious post! Thank you for sharing!

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Yeah, I loved that post Tom.

 

We had discussed SILVER STREAK a few years ago and I was surprised Richard Pryor came in so late in the film. The entire movie picked up once he showed up. 

 

I then went on to see all Pryor's movies and every single one of them were good. Dated, but still very fun to watch. He was very talented at playing WC Field type roles, too bad drugs ruined his career.

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Silver Streak is one of my all time favorites.  Have been watching it at least once or twice per year since I bought the VHS tape in 1977.  Now have the DVD version.

It is the best of the four movies Wilder and Pryor did together.  

I immediately became a big fan of Wilder, Pryor and Jill Clayburgh.  The Henry Mancinni soundtrack really fits the movie.

The other actors really did good jobs as well.

One of those movies where direction, screenplay, music and acting really come together.

 

The train was a CP Rail passenger train repainted for AMRoad as Amtrak refused to participate or permit use of its name.  This is why you seldom see Amtrak trains in movies and TV shows.

Most train scences are in Canada, as is much of the movie.  The opening shot is at LA Union Station which has been used in many movies and TV shows.

 

There was a much earlier movie called The Silver Streak (1934), but nothing similar to this movie.  Only similarities are the name and a train is prominently featured in both.

 

As far as I can tell, there never was a Silver Streak train as such, but CB&Q did operate the Silver Streak Zephyr for many years.  It was actually named after the 1934 movie. The movie had used CB&Q's Pioneer Zephyr train as the Silver Streak.

 

Primarily a comedy, but enough thriller/mystery to keep it very interesting.

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Just as an update on my three year old post about the Silver Streak Washroom at Toronto's renovated Union Station, I went to those hallowed grounds last October, my first time there in some time.

 

There are now two small washrooms, one for men, the other for women, where once Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor had performed comedy magic.

 

Checking out the men's, one would never know that a Hollywood movie shoot ever taken place on that location. All traces of the old washroom, of course, are completely gone. The new one is compact, clean, utilitarian with motion activated taps and all. And has absolutely no sense of history (not that anyone frequenting that location today outside of myself would know anything about that).

 

I can't count the number of times over the years that I made a point of visiting that ancient washroom, my modest movie fan pilgrimage to the spot where a great comedian and a great comic actor had once performed together.

 

The washroom may be gone but my memories of it remain strong.

 

gene-wilder-richard-pryor-silver-streak-

 

Yep, I looked into those same mirrors many times over the years. And there were times as I stared into them when I liked to think I could see a couple of comedy legends riffing and jiving beside me.

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