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Film / The Frisco Kid

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The Frisco Kid is a 1979 American Western comedy film directed by Robert Aldrich, starring Gene Wilder as a Polish rabbi traveling to a Synagogue in San Francisco and befriends a bank robber (Harrison Ford) while being chased by outlaws and Native Americans.

The film also stars Ramon Bieri, Val Bisoglio, Leo Fuchs, and Penny Peyser.

It was released on July 13, 1979.

Tropes for the film:

  • Artistic License – Religion: There are several inaccuracies about Judaism, ranging from relatively trivial to the more significant:
    • After Tommy Lillard shoots the fish rabbi Belinski has been trying to catch, the rabbi exclaims, "If you had been here yesterday, we would have had fried chicken!" In kosher law, while a fish may be eaten regardless of how it was killed, birds and mammals may not be eaten unless they were slaughtered strictly according to the laws of shechita, which involve a quick severing of the animal's neck.
    • Belinski refuses to get on his horse on Shabbat, but he is seen pulling the horse with its reins, and traveling long distances by foot- both also forbidden activities on Shabbat.
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    • Shabbat ends at sundown/dusk, not sunset.
    • The movie doesn't seem aware of a basic concept in Judaism called pekuach nefesh, the principle that nearly all the religious laws can and should be violated to save a person's life. He is seen repeatedly risking his life not to violate the Shabbat or see his Torah scroll be burned, and any rabbi would know he has no obligation to do such things, and that it's even considered a serious sin to endanger one's life for such purposes.
    • While it's understandable that Belinski would feel traumatized after being forced to kill someone in self-defense, he'd know perfectly well that it's entirely permitted in Judaism. The movie makes it sound like his religion has some absolute prohibition on killing under any circumstance.
  • Mistaken for Afterlife: Avram passes out after having too many berries at an Indian Bonfire, even though Tommy, his gunslinger companion, tells him to ease off. He awakes in a small room, attended by a silent figure in robes, with a large cross on the wall. When he starts to panic, thinking he died, Tommy shows up and tells him that he was brought to a local monastery for help.
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  • Settle for Sibling: Played with as Belinksi is arranged to be married to the daughter of a local Jewish merchant, without having met her; she's vain, selfish, a total flirt and obviously not a good match for him. Her shyer more modest and withdrawn sister is a much better the rabbi discovers when he eventually arrives in town, takes one glimpse of the younger sister and falls hopelessly in love with her, without having even met his intended bride. He ends up marrying her instead.
  • Thunder = Downpour: After rabbi Avram tells a skeptical Native American chief that the Abrahamic God can do anything, "but he does not. Make. Rain.", there's a thunderclap and a downpour.
  • Tonto Talk: When Avram and Tommy are captured by Native Americans, they attempt some Tonto talk, e.g. "Me rabbi. Jewish Rabbi. I cross big ocean. I read much book about Indians." Chief Gray Cloud is not amused and replies "You don't speak English very well."


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