Tag Archives: Anne Bancroft

All About Me!: My Remarkable Life in Show Business Book Review

The word “genius” is often thrown around without anything to back it up. One of the few people who can legitimately be given that title is Mel Brooks. He has made audiences laugh for 70+ years, taking comedy in a direction that few have dared to.

His new autobiography, All About Me!: My Remarkable Life in Show Business, was released last November. The youngest of four boys, Brooks was born to a Jewish immigrant family in 1926. Raised in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn by his widowed mother, he grew up during the Great Depression and served his country during World War II. After the war, he joined one of the greatest comedy writing teams of all time as a co-writer of Sid Ceasar‘s Your Show of Shows.

Married to actress Anne Bancroft for five decades, Brooks directed (and in some cases starred in) such classics as Young Frankenstein, To Be or Not To Be, The Producers, Spaceballs, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, History of the World: Part I, etc. Telling his story as only he can, Brooks reveals his heart, his humor, his work ethic, and his acute ability to use laughter to delve into topics that many would not dare to touch.

In his mid 90’s, he has more energy and gusto many are half his age. It was an incredible insight into a man who has made generations of audiences laugh. What I loved was the revelation of the man behind the jokes. He reminds me of someone’s old uncle who is not quite politically correct. They know that they are crossing the line. But it is not out of spite or to cause trouble. It’s to make the audience laugh and while they are laughing, perhaps think about the message behind the joke.

As I read the book, two things jumped out at me. The first was that there was no mention of his first wife and not a lot of time focused on his older children. The second is that he refers to almost every woman first by her looks and then by her talent. Maybe it’s me or maybe it’s a generational thing. I get that it could be construed as a compliment, but I would rather be known for my abilities first and my looks second.

Other than that, do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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All About Me!: My Remarkable Life in Show Business is available wherever books are sold.

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Throwback Thursday- RIP Mike Nichols- The Graduate (1967) & Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Wolf (1966)

Mike Nichols passed away last night. A child refugee from Nazi Germany, Nichols is on the very short list of entertainers who have an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award).

In honor of the many incredible films he made over the years, this Throwback Thursday post is dedicated to him.

The Graduate (1967)

Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) has recently graduated college. He has started sleeping with Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), the wife of his father’s business partner.  The affair is short, but it comes back to bite Benjamin in the behind when he falls in love with Elaine (Katharine Ross), Mrs. Robinson’s daughter.

Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Wolf (1966)

Martha (Elizabeth Taylor) and George (Richard Burton) are a middle aged married couple who seem to never stop arguing. Their arguments are fueled by alcohol and the fact that Martha’s father is the president of the university where George works as a history professor.  They invite Nick (George Segal), a young, ambitious biology professor and his mousy wife, Honey (Sandy Dennis) out for a night cap after a faculty event. That’s when sh*t gets real and the underlying issues between Martha and George come to light.

While both of these movies are very different, they are both very good and worth another viewing.

RIP Mr. Nichols. Thanks for the entertainment.

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Throwback Thursday- Mel Brooks Double Feature- Young Frankenstein and To Be or Not To Be

Ask any comedian over the last forty years and they will probably tell you that Mel Brooks is a comedy g-d.

On this Throwback Thursday post, I’m going to talk about Young Frankenstein And To Be Or Not To Be

Young Frankenstein

Dr. Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) is the grandson of the original Dr. Frankenstein. After years of trying to remove himself from his familial past, he is pulled back in and attempts to re-create his grandfather’s work. Co starring the late Peter Boyle (the monster), Marty Feldman (Igor), Teri Garr (Inga) and the late great Madeline Kahn (Elizabeth).

What can I say about this movie? It is immensely quotable and beyond funny. Brooks retains the origins of Mary Shelley’s original novel  while putting his own stamp on the story.

And now for your viewing pleasure, the trailer for Young Frankenstein:

I’m also including Putting On The Ritz, it’s the funniest scene in the film.

To Be or Not To Be

To Be Or Not To Be is Brook’s 1983 remake of the 1942 original film starring Jack Benny and Carole Lombard.

Just before World War II, a Polish acting troupe led by Frederick and Anna Bronski (Brooks and his late wife, Anne Bancroft) is preparing for their next production when they learn that it has to be scrapped. The Nazis are massing on the borders of Poland.  When Anna starts receiving flowers and visits from a young Polish officer (Tim Matheson), the entire troupe becomes involved in the war.

Brooks and his collaborators kept much of the original screenplay intact while putting their own spin on the film. As he did in The Producers, Brooks taking the sting out of the Nazis (as much as one can), while pointing out the absurdity of their beliefs.  This movie is perfect and funny and always enjoyable.

I recommend both films.

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