This series is an Aero Theatre exclusive!
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.
The event run Jan 23-30, and Mr. Brooks won't attend every day. Details behind "the cut":
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 pair’s production "Springtime For Hitler" inadvertently becomes a so-bad-it’s-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 screening.
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 Hitchcock’s 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
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 Vespa).
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 ("That’s 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 Helsing.
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 Steve Haberman.