Few filmmakers have provided as many laughs per
minute as Mel Brooks, who as writer, director, producer, and actor has been
responsible for many of the screen's all-time great comedies. His work is marked by an
unusual combination of vulgarity and sweetness, as well as a willingness to do anything
for a laugh. Equally adept at slapstick, verbal wit, and social satire, Brooks brings high
and low culture together in classics like THE TWELVE CHAIRS, SILENT MOVIE, and HISTORY
OF THE WORLD PART I. These and other favorites will be
screening at the Aero with Mr. Brooks in attendance.
Wednesday, January 23 7:30 PM
THE PRODUCERS, 1968, Rialto, 88 min. Mel Brooks
directorial debut is one of his finest. This outrageous look at two Broadway producers --
conniving con man Zero Mostel and sheepish, going-along-for-the-ride Gene Wilder
-- deciding to get rich by selling shares in what they believe will be a guaranteed
flop, is certainly one of the funniest comedies of the 1960s. The pairs production
"Springtime For Hitler" inadvertently becomes a so-bad-its-good hit, and
their grandiose designs on big time wealth comically crumble. Watch for Dick Shawn
as acid-casualty actor, LSD, who becomes a surprise star as the jive-taking Fuehrer and Kenneth
Mars as the humorless, ex-German soldier playwright.
THE TWELVE CHAIRS, 1970, MGM Repertory, 94 min.
Brooks' second film as director is a handsomely mounted period piece, but the classical
source and lush location photography don't get in the way of the laughs. Ron Moody
plays an impoverished Russian aristocrat in search of a dining chair with jewels hidden in
the seat, and Dom DeLuise is his rival in pursuit of the treasure. Frank
Langella adds big laughs as a con artist who partners up with Moody in this hysterical
portrait of mendacity. Director Mel Brooks to introduce the
Thursday, January 24 7:30 PM
SILENT MOVIE, 1976, 20th Century Fox, 87 min.
Quite simply one of the funniest movies ever made, this is a non-stop barrage of ingenious
sight gags and inspired goofiness. Director Mel Brooks plays a washed-up film
director who sees a new silent film production as the way to save both his career and
Hollywood, and he enlists the aid of pals Dom DeLuise and Marty Feldman to
make his dream project happen. The result is a fitting tribute to the classics of
Hollywood's past as well as a demonstration of Brooks' comic gifts at their peak.
HIGH ANXIETY, 1977, 20th Century Fox, 105
min. Director Mel Brooks spoofs Hitchcocks SPELLBOUND, but there are
countless other references as well, including nods to NORTH BY NORTHWEST, VERTIGO, THE
BIRDS, PSYCHO and more. Brooks stars as Dr. Richard Thorndyke, the newly-arrived
administrator of the Psychoneurotic Institute, suddenly beset by all manner of madmen and
mayhem. Many memorable laughs as well as co-stars Madeline Kahn, Harvey Korman,
Cloris Leachman and Dick Van Patten.
Friday, January 25 7:30 PM
SOLD OUT Double
BLAZING SADDLES, 1974, Warner Bros., 93 min. Director
Mel Brooks third film as director was his biggest hit to date and took
his politically-incorrect humor (with a screenplay co-written by Richard Pryor) to new
levels of profane, cosmic hilarity. A corrupt fatcat politician decides to appoint a black
sheriff to cause havoc in a western town, but is surprised when new lawman, Bart (Cleavon
Little) becomes a force to be reckoned with. Able support is supplied by Gene
Wilder as The Waco Kid, Madeline Kahn as Lili Von Shtup, Harvey Korman
as Hedley Lamarr, plus Brooks himself, Slim Pickens, John Hillerman, Alex
Karras, David Huddleston and George Furth.
HISTORY OF THE WORLD PART I, 1981, 20th
Century Fox, 92 min. Mel Brooks is at his most inventive in this collection
of sketches that provides a comedic survey of man's past, including the inquisition (which
provides the basis for one of the funniest production numbers of the director's career)
and the stone age. Orson Welles narrates this parody of sweeping Hollywood epics,
and the cast is comprised of comedy legends: Dom DeLuise, Madeline Kahn, Cloris
Leachman, Harvey Korman, Sid Caesar, and Henny Youngman, among others. Discussion in between films with director Mel Brooks.
Saturday, January 26 7:30 PM
SPACEBALLS, 1987, MGM Repertory, 96 min. Bill Pullman,
John Candy, and Rick Moranis head up the cast in Mel Brooks'
hilarious riff on STAR WARS, which is as much a satire on that movie's impact on the film
industry (with particularly sly jabs at corporate merchandising), as it is on STAR WARS
itself. Brooks is a riot in two roles (including the Yoda-inspired "Yoghurt"),
and Daphne Zuniga rounds out the cast in the Princess Leia part (here, Princess
ROBIN HOOD MEN IN TIGHTS, 1993, 20th
Century Fox, 104 min. Mel Brooks is simultaneously politically incorrect and
affectionate towards his characters in this raucous parody of Robin Hood movies, THE
GODFATHER, and whatever other sources Brooks can cram into the fast-paced narrative. Cary
Elwes is very funny in the title role, and he gets top-notch comic support from Richard
Lewis, Dave Chappelle, and Brooks himself. Like all of Brooks' work, it's
outrageous without ever becoming mean-spirited, a difficult comic balance that the
director sustains throughout the film.
Sunday, January 27 - 7:30 PM
YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, 1974, 20th Century
Fox, 105 min. Director Mel Brooks hilariously abby-normal homage to 1930s
monster movies -- one of the strangest, funniest, most brilliantly conceived comedies
since the heyday of the Marx Bros. Gene Wilder (who co-wrote the script) stars as
Dr. Frankenstein ("Thats Frankensteen.") struggling to breathe life into
tap-dancing monster Peter Boyle, with demented help from hunchback assistant Marty
Feldman, lusty Teri Garr, neurotic girlfriend Madeline Kahn and Frau
Blucher herself, Cloris Leachman. "The biggest problem we had in doing Young
Frankenstein was that we had to do so many takes because we couldn't stop laughing."
-- Teri Garr.
DRACULA DEAD AND LOVING IT, 1995,
Warner Bros., 88 min. Mel Brooks teams with THE NAKED GUN's Leslie Nielsen
for a comic match made in heaven. Nielsen brings his usual flair for parody to the title
role, and Brooks is at his most infectiously silly as the vampire's nemesis Van
Wednesday, January 30 7:30 PM
LIFE STINKS, 1991, MGM Repertory, 92 min. Mel Brooks
moves from genre parody to social satire in this tale of a greedy billionaire (played by
Brooks himself) who bets another tycoon that he can live for a month on the streets
without a penny. Brooks the actor lives among the homeless of Los Angeles without his
usual resources and comforts, and Brooks the director uses this premise for moments of
both reliably side-splitting comedy and genuine sweetness. Discussion
in between films with Director Mel Brooks, screenwriter/actor Rudy de Luca and writer