“What is your connection with Janet Dunn?”
Have you ever seen Hitchcock’s North by Northwest? If you have then you pretty much know the plot to Hanky Panky. Hitchcock’s film was a serious thriller and as you can tell by seeing Gene Wilder and Gilda Radner in the poster this is not as serious (it is a serious movie for the two actors as far as I am concerned). Hanky Panky is a flat out tribute to Hitchcock’s thrillers and one that was done very well.
Michael Jordan (Wilder) is an architect who has recently moved to New York City. He is originally from Chicago so he is still getting used to the city. On one of his first days he meets a woman who has jumped into his taxi. The woman’s name is Janet Dunn. Before she jumped into the taxi she was running away from some bad guys who were after her for something she has. Janet has something she wants to mail so Michael very kindly puts it in the mail box for her. The bad guys see him deposit the envelope and they believe he is involved with whatever Janet is involved in.
Janet is staying at a hotel so that night Michael hoping to get lucky goes to meet her. Janet is unfortunately very frazzled and he does not get the hint. You know how in North by Northwest Cary Grant is accused of a murder he did not commit but he was photographed as if he was? Yeah that happens to Michael and now he is on the run. And like a Hitchcock film he has a femme fatale type of women following him around… ok so maybe not a femme fatale in the usual sexiness but a woman none the less named Kate Hellman (Radner).
Michael and Kate are after the same person- he is trying to clear his name and learn what the bad guys want from him and she is trying to find out who killed her brother.
As I have been saying Hanky Panky is in the same style as a Hitchcock film especially North by Northwest but this one just happens to be funnier. Michael is being played by top government officials who know he is innocent but need him to get to the bad guys. In the end Michael has cleared his name and gotten rid of the bad (and in an awesome way I must say).
Gene Wilder and Gilda Radner were awesome you can never go wrong with a movie where they are the stars. They were hysterical together. I have nothing but admiration for Radner she was so funny and so good acting. Wilder is the best when he has to freak out and go nuts some may see him overacting but I see him as just being silly.
Richard Widmark plays the main villain Ransom, the guy is just creepy. I have not seen him in any of his earlier films but I am guessing he played the bad, sinister guy all the time. He was great in Murder on the Orient Express as Rachett.
Hanky Panky is one of the reasons why old comedy films are the best. Comedy films of today try too hard to be funny and it comes across. Gene Wilder and Gilda Radner were just naturally funny all they had to do was give a look or say something subtly or just in a certain tone and it was hysterical. Wilder knew how to make a good quality comedy film with a good story. Hanky Panky along with High Anxiety is one of the best tributes to Hitchcock and his thrillers because it was done with respect and care.