By Arthur Flynn
A film with the strange title of ‘Quackser Fortune has a Cousin in the Bronx’ was completed in Dublin in one tenth of the time it took to shoot David Lean’s Ryan’s Daughter in Dingle, County Kerry. Not alone was the period shorter but the budget was only a fraction of the Kerry epic.
During the 1970s and 80s, one of the funniest men in films and on tv was Gene Wilder. His twisted, odd face ideally suited the roles he was cast to play. He would regularly steal scenes from big stars, particularly in American tv shows.
In 1967 he was to be chosen to play a pivotal role in two films that would launch his career on a big scale. They were Bonny and Clyde and The Producers. Three years later he was to come to Dublin to play a role he will be long remembered for – Quackser Fortune has a Cousin in the Bronx.
He was ideal for the role of the title character. It came natural to him to play the Dubliner whose job was to collect horse dung around the streets and sell it to householders for their gardens. He was made for the role.
A strong production team was assembled for the Irish American comedy, headed by director Waris Hussein, music director Michael Dress, cinematographer Gilbert Taylor and editor Bill Blunder. Originally Jean Renoir was considered to direct it. The script was written by Gabriel Walsh with a modest budget of $1.2 million.
Along with Wilder there was a strong cast headed by Margot Kidder as Zagel, Eileen Colgan as Betsy Burke, May Ollis as Mrs Fortune, Seamus Forde as Mr Fortune and David Kelly as Maguire.