Quackser Fortune (Gene Wilder) rejected working at the local foundry in Dublin like his father does to be self employed, pushing a cart around the streets after the horses and collecting their manure, which he sells as fertiliser to the cityfolk. He lives with his family, and today, after breakfast, he goes out as usual and is making his way through the streets when suddenly he is nearly run over by a speeding sports car; the passenger calls out sorry, but the wheel falls off Quackser's cart. He has it repaired, and the next day is taking it along the riverbank when he is approached by a woman on horseback. She is Zazel (Margot Kidder), who was in the sports car, and wants to apologise - so begins a close relationship that Quackser could have never expected...
Now more obscure than in its cult film heyday of the seventies and eighties, Quackser Fortune has a Cousin in the Bronx (snappy title!) paints an engaging picture of an eccentric who is reluctant to march to the beat of anyone else's drum but his own. Wilder is tailor made for such roles, and here sports a slightly dodgy Irish accent, but that's not much of a distraction to the story, slight as it is. Filmed in and around Dublin, it's also a nice snapshot of the city at the end of the sixties/start of the seventies, with some very picturesque views of the surrounding countryside on display and a combined tour of the local landmarks.
The script was written by actor Gabriel Walsh as an unlikely romance between a working class individualist and a sophisticated, American student, a romance where the couple seem ill-suited to one another, and indeed they have more than their share of awkward moments. At first Zazel spends the day with Quackser, pointing out to him the history of the city which, although he has lived there all his life, he is ignorant of. Quackser takes her to his local pub, where she receives an initially frosty welcome from the regulars, but they soon wander over to find out more about this exotic visitor.
Then, after Zazel has given her shoes away, Quackser takes her to meet his mother for a cup of tea, and his mother remains unconvinced by her son's new girlfriend. The couple make plans to meet at the cinema (going to see Oliver!, apparently), but yet again Zazel does something to let down Quackser as she doesn't turn up. She finds him the next day to apologise and invite him out for a drive, but he's having none of it and turns her down. However, he soon has second thoughts; one of the affecting aspects of the film is the way that both protagonists have genuine feelings for each other despite their differing backgrounds.
But it is those differing backgrounds that will ensure that their relationship, as expected, has nowhere really to go. This coincides with the bad news for Quackser concerning his job - his mother has tried to keep it from him but the horses that pull the milk carts are to be sent to the slaughterhouse and turned into glue. Dublin is being modernised with motor vehicles replacing the horses, and Quackser is deeply saddened and not a little angry by this development, smashing up his cart in despair. Combine this with the way Zazel brings the love affair to an end, and things look bleak for him, but rest assured there is a happy ending. Played with great charm by the leads, the film is a whimsical but uplifting experience, a minor work but a valuable one. Music by Michael Dress.