Career Appreciation for May – Mel Brooks

Along with Daily Trivia, the month of May brings back the other Film Misery staple – Career Appreciation. Throughout the month I will be celebrating the career of one person in the world of film by reviewing their films, making lists, and conducting polls. This year I am changing things up a bit by creating a pattern with Career Appreciation. Throughout the year it will go in this four month rotating order: American director, Foreign director, Actor/Actress, and technical person (i.e. cinematographer, composer, etc.).

This month we will be adding to the plethora of praise that has already been heaped on the legendary comedy director Mel Brooks. The writer/actor/director/producer/composer extraordinaire has directed eleven films, acted in over twenty, and has one of the most recognizable voices in the business. He is one of only a handful of people who have won the infamous EGOT (to quote “30 Rock”) – Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. Last month he was awarded the 2,406th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in my opinion an award that was long overdue.

Mel Brooks is currently 83 years old and he remains remarkably active in show business. It was just announced today that he will be producing a genuine horror film (genuine in that it’s not a horror-spoof) entitled Pizza Man. He has also recently helped adapt his horror-spoof Young Frankenstein into a musical and is in the process of adapting his western-spoof Blazing Saddles into a Broadway show. He frequently makes appearances on television shows (including an incredibly memorable Season 4 of “Curb Your Enthusiasm”) and his classic films continue to feel new with each re-watching.

In Eric Lax’s Woody Allen: A Biography, he compares the comedic styles of Woody Allen and Mel Brooks – the two most prominent Jewish comedians of their time. Lax describes Allen as a rifle and Brooks as a shotgun shooting at a target. Allen takes his time, aims and fires his jokes right at the bull’s eye. There are fewer of them, but when they show up, they are really funny. Brooks on the other hand throws out so many jokes that not all of them can be funny – only a few hit the bull’s eye and the rest range from close to completely off-target. I like the analogy, but I prefer not to look at them as guns shooting a target. Instead Brooks’ comedy acts like shotgun pellets in that it’s sometimes incredibly difficult to find them at first.

Mel Brooks comedy is not what you would call “subtle” and I don’t think that he would refute that claim. However, with each successive viewing of his films there are new gems to discover – from some of the most quotable lines in movie history to incredibly obscure cinematic references. I look forward to discovering more of these moments throughout the month of May.

The Mel Brooks movies that I will be reviewing this month are…

  • Silent Movie
  • Blazing Saddles
  • The Producers

…probably in that order. I will also be posting a Mel Brooks quiz possibly by the end of this week.

For now head on over to the Career Appreciation page and vote for your favorite Brooks film!

  • Perhaps this will give me an excuse to check out “Blazing Saddles”. It’s the only “classic” Brooks film I haven’t seen. I loved “The Producers”, liked “Silent Movie”, and didn’t much care for “Young Frankenstein”. I’m sure the latter film is good, but I just didn’t get it (since I’m not a big fan of old horror movies).

  • Brandon Cooley

    I will probably check out Young Frankenstein.

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