Read Gene Wilder's feedback on Willy Wonka costume concepts for the 1971 film

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Well, now I love Gene Wilder even more than I did before!


Gene why did you have to retire?


OK, I’m going to cook up a similar letter of review for a 2016 web designer or maybe a new lojo. So civil! Most criticism today is delivered like that old saw from the oatmeal.

What a guy!


And he made it work. The Gene Wilder version seems to have a little darkness to him, but it is offset by everything else he does. He knows who got the tickets and takes the kids through to find the one he can trust with the factory. The Johnny Depp version…well, I enjoyed it, but it was more of a ‘why in the Hell am I dealing with these snot monkeys and how can I get out of it?’ type of thing.


Those are some really fantastic notes.


I always felt that between a lot of failed relationships, a string of sub-par movies in the late 80’s, and Gilda’s death, he just soured on show business permanently. I mean, the guy worked hard, and has publicly stated that he doesn’t like show business. So now he writes and stays quiet.


I would dearly love to see the costume sketches. He’s right, the original costume sounds like it was modeled directly on the description in the book: a foot-high hat, jodhpurs, and striped green pants. Gene Wilder not only had fashion sense, he knew what would work on camera and what made sense for Willy Wonka as a person. I’m curious as to what point the blue hatband became brown.


I don’t think of Willy as an eccentric who holds on to his 1912 Dandy’s Sunday suit and wears it in 1970…

The timelessness of the film always struck me. Although there’s modern technology of television, the city scenes, candy shop, crazy knife cart and Charlie’s family squalor along with elements of the factory all evade a fixed point in time and hearken back to Charles Dickens. Adding the crossover of dialects gives it an “anywhere in prewar Europe” feel.

In case anyone missed this in other readings/dvd… Wonka’s introduction in the film, where he hobbles out on a cane and then does a somersault, was an idea Wilder put forward and insisted on as a condition of taking the role. I thought it set the tone brilliantly.


My favorite line from the book, that wasn’t included in either film version, is when they’re in the Great Glass Elevator and Mr. Wonka says something about hoping they don’t run into the other Great Glass Elevator that runs on the same track in the opposite direction.

As if it weren’t already clear that was the moment that for me made it clear that Mr. Wonka was genuinely dangerous, which made him so much more interesting.

Dear Tim,

I think the most important thing to communicate about this character 
is that he is a person who should not be entrusted with children under 
any circumstances. Like a pimp, only darker and more mentally unstable. 
An accessory of some kind would help too, like a cane that says 
"step out of line and I WILL fuck you up."

Just my two cents.



Is such a thing even possible?!?!?

If you read this in Wilder’s voice, it’s even better.

(Is such a thing even possible?!?!?)


Y’know, I’ve watched that entire movie and this is the first time I noticed those terrible gloves.


I’m impressed. I think we could all stand to learn a thing or two from Mr. Wilder.

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That cat is way too streetwise to leave fingerprints.


Gene’s Wonka had a little bit of that attitude, what with his sarcastic warning to Mike Teevee.

“oh, stop, don’t, come back”

Reminds me a bit of Ofdensen when he tortures Rockso.

“OhMiGodWhatAreYouDoingStopTorturingHim… give him just one more.”


Yes! Really well-thought out and -reasoned and -expressed. The bit about Wonka being eccentric, not dated struck em as spot on.


“To match the shoes with the jacket is fey. To match the shoes with the hat is taste.”

Paging @japhroaig - Do some guys just know this stuff? Innately? Like the tweed thing?


The ephemerality of genius has always fascinated me. Wilder burned so bright in the 70’s. He actually conceived & wrote Young Frankenstein, not Mel Brooks. It seems only a few people can keep it up. Look at Rob Reiner, he had an unbelievable string of movies starting with Spinal Tap through A Few Good Men, and then the muse up and left. He’s made some critically well received movies since, but none cultural touchstones like Spinal Tap, Princess Bride, or When Harry Met Sally. Lets not get started on Billy Crystal…


I object to this: it implies your love for Gene Wilder was not already at the highest possible level.

How do you live with yourself?