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Moran: Farewell to Gene Wilder and 2016 summer movies

The death of another star from the peak years of the Baby Boom generated a little more nostalgia than usual this week, since Gene Wilder starred in some of the most quotable films of the 1970s:

"Come with me and you'll be/In a world of pure imagination ..."

"The suspense is terrible ... I hope it'll last."

"It's pronounced 'Fronken-steen.'"

"I must have killed more men than Cecil B. DeMille."

That last one was from "Blazing Saddles," and is possibly the only line from the entire film that can be repeated in a Family Newspaper.

At the McHenry Outdoor Theatre, Wilder's legacy is being honored with screenings of not only "Blazing Saddles" but also "Young Frankenstein," with Saturday featuring the last of two nights for the double-bill.

"We are saddened to hear of the passing of silver screen legend, Gene Wilder," McHenry Outdoor owner Scott Dehn posted on the theater's Facebook page on Aug. 29. "This weekend will now be named 'Gene Wilder Weekend' as we celebrate his wonderful life. Thanks for the memories, Gene, and may you rest in peace."

The twin-bill — part of the McHenry Outdoor's now-annual Fall Throwback Series represents two of the strongest comedies of the Me Decade, and possibly in the history of Hollywood.

Just remember that if you take the kids, "Blazing Saddles" was rated R upon its release for "strong language including racial slurs, comic western violence, and for some sexual humor," so be prepared for earmuffs unless you want them to get an education. A hilarious education in satire, but still.

Anyway, the use of the word "Fall" in the phrase "Fall Throwback Series" serves as a reminder that the 2016 summer movie season has come to an unceremonious halt. Let's look back at the film season that was in our more-or-less annual roundup of summer movies from A to Z (with the exceptions this year of multiple letters, not just the usual Q, due to space limitations):

B is for "The BFG": The F is for friendly, as in "The Big Friendly Giant." Considering the film barely made back its reported $140 million budget, you wonder if skittish parents thought it was something else.

C is for "Captain America: Civil War": Twelve down, at least nine to go for those of us investing discretionary income in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Are we allowed to ask if we really need a third interpretation of Spider-Man?

H is for "Hillary's America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party": No. 1 at the box office in your dad's universe.

I is for "Ice Age: Collision Course": Wait — there was another one of these? Isn't there a 2016 equivalent for "straight to video"?

L is for "The Legend of Tarzan": Don't worry if you missed this one — from Johnny Weismuller to Ron Ely to Alexander Skarsgard, there have been something like 55 Tarzan movies dating back to 1918, so another one is coming any day now.

N is for "Now You See Me 2": Some of us managed not to see either one.

P is for "Pets, The Secret Life of": With a reported $725 million gross and counting, this is your most successful non-Disney animated movie of all time. Sounds impressive until you look at the all-time box office list and see it is still behind "Monsters University," "Shrek Forever After" and other animated films you only kind-of remember paying good money to witness.

S is for "Suicide Squad": The lines for this one were literally out the door at the Marcus Gurnee Cinema during its opening week. True, it was on the $5 Tuesday of opening week, but there you go.

W is for "Weiner": You might have missed this documentary about fallen New York Congressman Anthony Weiner when it came out just before Memorial Day, but considering headlines in the past week, it turned out to be a prequel.

X is, as almost always, for an "X-Men" movie, in this case "X-Men: Apocalypse": Your enjoyment of this rather bleak chapter in the escapist franchise depended entirely on whether or not you suspended disbelief as Cairo and other major world cities filled with millions of victims were turned to rubble.

And now we move on to two months of horror movies and two more months of Oscar clips while we wait for summer 2017, which will bring us a second "Guardians of the Galaxy," a third "Despicable Me" and an eighth "Fast" or "Furious" movie. In the meantime, think warm thoughts.

danmoran@tribpub.com

Twitter @NewsSunDanMoran

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