YOUR MOVIE LISTS: MEL BROOKS

Mel Brooks in SILENT MOVIE (1976)

Mel Brooks in SILENT MOVIE (1976)

YOUR MOVIE LISTS: Mel Brooks By Michael Arruda

Welcome to another edition of YOUR MOVIE LISTS, that column where you’ll find lists of various odds and ends pertaining to the movies. Today we look at the films of Mel Brooks.

Mel Brooks is one of my favorite comedic filmmakers. His zany inane in-your-face style often reminds me of The Three Stooges.

Here’s a list of movies written and directed by Brooks, famous for his film parodies.

THE PRODUCERS (1967) – It’s “Springtime For Hitler” in this Brooks farce about two conniving producers played by Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder who set out to make a fortune by producing a sure-fire flop. Also features Dick Shawn and Kenneth Mars. Brooks’ screenplay won an Oscar.

THE TWELVE CHAIRS (1970) – Brooks’ comedy about a treasure hunt in Russia stars Ron Moody, Frank Langella, and Dom DeLuise.

BLAZING SADDLES (1974) – Brooks first megahit, this western spoof famous for its off-color raunchy humor and in-your-face slapstick gags stars Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Slim Pickens, Harvey Korman, Madeline Kahn, and Mel Brooks.

YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974) – Mel Brooks’ spoof of the Universal Frankenstein movies is my all-time favorite Mel Brooks movie, and one of my favorite comedies period. Everything works: the jokes, the performances, the Puttin’ on the Ritz song and dance number, nothing misfires. Starring Gene Wilder as Dr. Frankenstein—er, that’s Fron-kon- steen— Peter Boyle as the Monster, Marty Feldman as Igor— that’s pronounced Eye-gor—Madeline Kahn as Elizabeth, Cloris Leachman as Frau Blucher, Teri Garr as Inga, and Kenneth Mars as the one-armed Inspector. Nonstop laughs from beginning to end. Used the original FRANKENSTEIN lab equipment from the 1931 Karloff film. 1974 was quite the year for Brooks, as he made both this movie and BLAZING SADDLES in the one year! The screenplay by Brooks and Gene Wilder was nominated for an Oscar.

SILENT MOVIE (1976) – Brooks’ spoof of silent movies received less fanfare than his previous two hits and is a bit more uneven, but it’s still one of my favorite Mel Brooks movies. Stars Mel Brooks, Marty Feldman, Dom DeLuise, and Sid Caesar, with lots of cameos.

HIGH ANXIETY (1977) – Brooks’ spoof of Hitchcock movies failed to really catch on with audiences, but again, for me, this is another of my favorite Brooks movies. Love the PSYCHO and THE BIRDS sequences. Starring Brooks, Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman, and Harvey Korman.

HISTORY OF THE WORLD: PART 1 (1981) – the first Mel Brooks movie that I wasn’t crazy about. The humor just didn’t work for me here in this tale chronicling key events from world history. Includes the usual Mel Brooks cast: Brooks, Madeline Kahn, Dom DeLuise, Harvey Korman, and Cloris Leachman.

SPACEBALLS (1987) – Brooks’ spoof of STAR WARS and other science fiction movies isn’t bad, but it’s not as spot-on as his earlier works. Featuring John Candy as Barf, Rick Moranis as Dark Helmet, and Mel Brooks as Yogurt.

LIFE STINKS (1991) – Brooks’ misfire about a wealthy man who makes a bet that he can live on the streets as a homeless person for a month. Has its moments.

ROBIN HOOD: MEN IN TIGHTS (1993) – a spoof of — Robin Hood movies? I didn’t know this was even a genre. What this film mostly spoofs is the Kevin Costner film ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES (1991) a film that today most people have already forgotten and so lots of the jokes here fall flat. Mildly funny movie, nowhere near as sharp as Brooks’ earlier works.

DRACULA: DEAD AND LOVING IT (1995) – Brooks’ spoof of Dracula movies. Unlike YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, where Brooks parodied many key scenes from the original Universal series, he doesn’t do that here. The look of this one resembles the Christopher Lee Hammer Dracula series. Yet Brooks doesn’t make specific reference to them. With Leslie Nielsen as Dracula and Mel Brooks as Van Helsing, this one had lots of potential but simply forgot to be funny.

Mel Brooks was born on June 28, 1926. As of this writing, he’s 88 years-old.

Thanks for reading!

—Michael    

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