Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory is on right now. It's one of my all time favorites even though the writer of the book seems to have much disdain for this particular film. He feels like it is a bastardized retelling of his story. I disagree on the basis that if Tim Burton's Chocolate Factory is supposed to be the better book-to-film adaption of the story, I 1) simply did not see that much difference and 2) did not like it nearly as much.
Plus the first film is a part of my childhood and as such I can recite all of the songs and best lines of the movie. I can't really remember anything from TB's adaption. Other than Johnny Depp did a smashing job as a creepy character - as always.
As for Gene Wilder's portrayal of Willy Wonka, I am of the opinion that any character he plays is done to the finest ability that it can be played. He is the studious type who will research and immerse himself into the role until he becomes it. I realize that many actors do that, but not many do it to the extent that he does. Plus, I really enjoy his characterizations, they seem to be lasting and memorable. Young Frankenstein is one of my all time favorites of his, in fact it's one of his very own favorites as well, and it is one I can most likely recite from beginning to end.
He most recently has taken up writing as, well not a career move but a past time and hobby. Gene Wilder the man is a fascinating character. He is a master fencer, a very skilled dancer and a little bit of an artist. There isn't anything that he doesn't do very well. He's just that type of individual. As for his writing, I own 2 of his most recent novellas My French Whore and The Woman Who Wouldn't. I actually had the pleasure of meeting Gene Wilder at a recent signing for the latter book. Many would say things to him as they approached him to get their book signed but he remained quiet and just looked at them with his deep blue eyes and gave no more than an appreciative gaze and a grin as a response. As for myself, I was so excited [as you can see in my picture below] that I pointed at him rather forwardly and practically yelled, "You're a brilliant man, I love your work!" It's funny thinking back, as I pointed he was wide eyed with anticipation, he seemed poised for me to either animatedly recite a movie line of his or to just scream flamboyant praise at him. He followed that up with a quick and sincere, "Thank you, thank you very much." To this day I am still proud of that small rejoinder because no one else ahead of me or before me [that I could see] was getting as much.