Which is one reason why Silver Streak works as well as it does: it willfully violates those familiar rules. A thriller set on a train should be about the sensation of being trapped—but Gene Wilder gets thrown off, knocked off, or forced off the train three times in the course of this adventure! Far from being trapped on the train, he spends as much time off the train as on. (…)
Pryor instead suggested an alternate staging—why not have a black man come in instead, the shoeshine man for example, and immediately see through this as an incompetent effort. “You must be in a lot of trouble,” he could say, and shake his head in disappointment at the world. Then, when Wilder later manages to fool the cops with this blackface act, the joke isn’t directed at black people, it’s directed at Wilder’s character and the foolish white people who can’t see past the fake skin color.
(Good score by Henry Mancini, btw.)