Anytime you are feeling down and want something to make you laugh pick up this collection of eight Mel Brooks classic comedies and you will forget your blues. Mel Brooks is the king of directing and writing zany, tongue-planted-firmly-in-cheek comedies. He also has the knack for casting actors who will do anything to get a laugh. Don’t kid yourselves, folks, this is a talent! Dom DeLuise, Cloris Leachman, Gene Wilder, and Madelaine Kahn’s careers as comedic actors were all cemented by appearing in Brooks’ films. No subject, person, piece of literature, or historical era is off limits for Brooks; he will make fun of God himself if he thinks there is a laugh in it.
Some claim this is Brooks’ best film. You can judge for yourselves. Rock Ridge is your typical sleepy town with not much going on. That is all going to change because the railroad is going to now pass through it and as a result land will now be worth a pretty penny. Unfortunately for the slimy politician, Hedley Lamarr, (Harvey Korman – from television’s The Carol Burnett Show) who hopes to make money off of it, the townspeople of Rock Ridge already own their land. A rough and tough gang is sent in to scare the townspeople and a sheriff (Cleavon Little – Fletch Lives, Once Bitten) is hired who is thought will last a day. The Old West will never be the same now that Mel Brooks has made a film about it.
This is Mel Brooks’ homage to the thrillers made by Alfred Hitchcock…done in a way only Brooks would even attempt. World famous Harvard psychiatrist, Dr. Richard Thorndyke (Mel Brooks), a psychologically unbalanced man with a crazy fear of heights, has just been made head of the psycho-neurotic institute for the very nervous. Thorndyke discovers that his predecessor died under suspicious circumstances so he looks for help from a jealous associate, Dr. Charles Montague (Harvey Korman – Curse of the Pink Panther, History of the World Part 1) and the wicked head nurse, Charlotte Diesel (Cloris Leachman – Young Frankenstein, Scary Movie 4). Unfortunately for Thorndyke they are no real help. On top of this, people start dying and Thorndyke is accused of the crimes.
History of the World Part 1:
Mel Brooks’ version of history is proof that nothing is off limits for this filmmaker. This is his idea of what really happened throughout the ages. The film, amazingly enough, is narrated by the legendary Orson Welles. Brooks covers all times from prehistoric man to the stories of the Roman Empire to the happenings during the French Revolution all the way up to the year 2001. There is nothing historically accurate about this film and it really is an exercise in revisionist history. What it really is though is uproariously silly. As an equal opportunity director, Brooks has inserted a little something to offend everyone.
Robin Hood: Men in Tights:
The well-known and loved fable of Robin Hood is the next subject tackled by Brooks. Robin of Luxley (Cary Ewles – Kiss the Girls, The Princess Bride) and his band of merry men try to take the ruling power away from the not-so-nice Prince John (Richard Lewis – Leaving Las Vegas, Cinderella Man). At the same time they also do their darndest to show up the wretched Sheriff of Rotingham (Roger Rees – The Pink Panther (2006), The New World). Robin Hood has also added insult to injury by sweeping the fair Maid Marian (Amy Yasbeck – The Mask, Pretty Woman) off her feet. This is definitely meant to be a spoof of the classic tale.
How about a movie about a silent movie called Asia Silent that only has one word of dialogue. Only from the mind of Mel Brooks, I tell you! This film is one sight gag after another. An evil large conglomerate wants to next take over a small film company and will do anything to accomplish this. Washed up director, Mel Funn (Mel Brooks) the mistrustful studio head (Sid Caesar – Grease, It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World) to fund a star studded silent picture. Somehow Funn and his aides manage to sign huge stars such as Paul Newman, Anne Bancroft, Liza Minelli, Burt Reynolds, and James Caan to star in the picture. The film goes on to poke fun at just about everything that happens in Hollywood.
The Twelve Chairs:
Believe it or not, this film is based on a Russian tale written by two journalists in the 1920s. The film is based in Russia during the 1920s and tells the tale of a former aristocrat (Ron Moody – appeared in episodes of Hart to Hart and Murder She Wrote) who now, under the new regime, works as a clerk. He learns that his gravely ill mother-in-law has sewn a fortune in family jewels into one of 12 dining room chairs, he leaps to action. Traveling across Russia, he tries to locate the chairs and find the one with the jewels in it. A priest (Dom DeLuise – Cannonball Run, All Dogs Go To Heaven) and his former servant (Mel Brooks) are also trying to find the chair and it is a race to see who will discover it first.
To Be Or Not To Be:
Good God! Even the great scribe Shakespeare is not safe from Mel Brooks. Though this one is not directed by Brooks, but rather by Alan Johnson (Solarbabies) Frederick Bronski (Mel Brooks) is a great Polish actor who no one has heard of. His wife, Anna (Anne Bancroft – Mr. Jones, Torch Song Trilogy), who is also an actress and he fights for his time in the spotlight with, is having an affair with a good-looking fighter pilot (Tim Matheson – Van Wilder, The Story of Us). All of this is not important when the Nazis invade Poland. The entire acting group is now involved in a web of murders, mistaken identities and on-the-spot improv in order to stay ahead of the Nazis and protect the Polish underground.
Definitely my favourite Mel Brooks film! The film is a spoof of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and is a virtual laugh-a-minute. Young Dr. Frankenstein (Gene Wilder – The Woman in Red, Stir Crazy) has to go to his deceased uncle’s castle in Transylvania for the reading of his will. Dr. Frankenstein soon discovers a manual, which sets out step-by-step how to bring a dead body to life. Helped by his assistant, Igor (Marty Feldman – Silent Movie, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother) and the beautiful Inga (Teri Garr – Mr. Mom, Dumb and Dumber), Frankenstein sets about creating a monster (Peter Boyle – from television’s Everybody Loves Raymond) who ends up just wanting to be loved.
-120 page book
-Back in the Saddle
-Intimate Portrait: Madeline Kahn
-Black Bart: 1975 Pilot Episode of the Proposed TV Series Spin-Off
-Inside the Lab: Secret Formulas in the Making of Young Frankenstein
-It’s Alive! Creating a Monster Classic
-Making FrankenSense of Young Frankenstein
–Transylvanian Lullaby: The Music of John Morris
-The Franken-Track: A Monstrous Conglomeration of Trivia
–Silent Laughter: The Reel Inspirations of Silent Movie
–Speak Up! Historical Hollywood Trivia Track
–Hitchcock and Mel: Spoofing the Master of Suspense
–The “Am I Very Very Nervous?” Test
–Don’t Get Anxious! The Trivia of Hitchcock
–Musical Mel: Inventing “The Inquisition”
–The Real History of the World Trivia Track
–Making History: Mel Brooks on Creating the World
–Brooks and Bancroft: A Perfect Pair
–How Serious Can Mel Brooks Really Get?
–To Be or Not To Be: That is the Trivia!
–Spaceballs: The Documentary
–In Conversation: Mel Brooks & Thomas Meehan
–John Candy: Comic Spirit
-Watch the Movie in Ludicrous Speed!
–Funny Men in Tights: Three Generations of Comedy
–Robin Hood: Men in Tights – The Legend Had it Coming
-Isolate Score Tracks