Wednesday, January 21, 2009

First Family Protocol

Gilda Radner was so funny, talented and beloved by 1978 (I had a poster of "Roseanna Roseannadanna" in my bedroom) that it was a shame that her post-SNL film career was lackluster at best.

It started with First Family, Buck Henry's 1980 flat satire of life in the White House. The excellent cast of Bob Newhart (president), Madeline Kahn (first lady), and Gilda as their Amy Carter-ish adolescent daughter flounder in this film. The trio travel to an African country where the First Daughter is kidnapped and white Americans are traded as slaves in exchange for some special animal dung that is able to accelerate plant growth. (Even the comedic talents of Harvey Korman and Fred Willard were wasted).

It was Buck Henry's first credit as the sole writer and director of a feature film. Four years passed before Henry's next screenplay, Protocol (1984), a disappointing Goldie Hawn vehicle with Capra-esque aspirations. While his screenwriting career waned, his career as a character actor thrived.

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