The World's Greatest Lover

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The World's Greatest Lover
The World's Greatest Lover.jpg
DVD Cover
Directed by Gene Wilder
Produced by Gene Wilder
Frank Baur
(associate prod.)
Written by Gene Wilder
Starring Gene Wilder
Carol Kane
Dom DeLuise
Music by John Morris
Cinematography Gerald Hirschfeld
Edited by Anthony A. Pellegrino
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
  • December 18, 1977 (1977-12-18)
Running time
89 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $4.8 million[1]
Box office $21,000,000[2]

The World's Greatest Lover is a 1977 American comedy film directed, written by and starring Gene Wilder, and co-starring Carol Kane. It is a tribute/spoof of classic silent comedies and "old Hollywood" of the 1920s, specifically the popularity of romantic icon Rudolph Valentino.


In the silent film era, Rainbow Studios executives figure they are losing revenue to a rival studio because they don't have Rudolph Valentino. Led by studio head Adolph Zitz, they decide to hold a contest for the World's Greatest Lover in order to find a star to combat Valentino's popularity.

Rudy Hickman is a neurotic baker from Milwaukee, but aspires to become a Hollywood star. His entry into the contest tests his marriage, and his neuroses manifest in his screen test, where he nearly kills his fellow actress. Surprisingly, this behavior scores favorably with Zitz and the studio executives reviewing his performance. Now calling himself "Rudy Valentine," he gets a slot in the final phase of the contest, just after finding his wife Annie has left him.



Critics, who compared it to Wilder's earlier works with Mel Brooks, were left largely unimpressed by the film, feeling it was not as balanced as previous works, and felt more excessive. It currently has a 22% "Rotten" rating on the criticism aggregation site, Rotten Tomatoes,[3] as well as a 5.7 on the Internet Movie Database.[4]

Despite the negative reception, the film was a commercial success. Produced on a budget of $4.8 million,[1] the film grossed $21 million at the box office,[2] earning $9.9 million US theatrical rentals.[5] It was the 25th highest grossing film of 1977.


  1. ^ a b Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History, Scarecrow Press, 1989 p258.
  2. ^ a b "The World's Greatest Lover, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved September 15, 2013. 
  3. ^ The World's Greatest Lover at Rotten Tomatoes
  4. ^ The World's Greatest Lover on IMDb
  5. ^ Solomon p 234. Figure is rentals not total gross.

External links[edit]