Flashback Friday: History of the World: Part I (1981)

Mel Brooks is a legend for a reason. His comedy is hilarious, gut-busting, not exactly politically correct, and has kept generations of fans entertained.

His 1981 film, History of The World: Part I is a series of short stories about various times in world history told as only Brooks can. The list of co-stars is impressive (many of whom starred in multiple Brooks movies): Gregory Hines, Dom DeLuise, Madeline Kahn, Harvey Korman, Cloris Leachman, etc.

Like all Mel Brooks productions, the movie is highly laughable and highly quotable. Every time I put this one on, I know that I will have a good time. Though I bristle at the extreme sexism in the French Revolution section (even when I know it is satire), I love Madeline Kahn’s character during the Roman era. It is Kahn at her best.

The other section that I look forward to every time is the Inquisition. As he did in The Producers, he mocks and takes the power away from the haters while making the viewer laugh.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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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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