Tag Archives: Mel Brooks

Celebrating the Oscars

Zero Mostel_Answer

Celebrating the Oscars

Zero Mostel_Question

Classic Movie Night: The Producers (1968)

The Producers

Classic Movie Night: The Producers (1968)

The Producers (1968)

The Producers_1_J

The Producers_2When Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) meets Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder) it is the beginning of a Broadway friendship, and the creation of a scheme that will bring them both financial success.  Max Bialystock is at the end of his rope, he is a seedy Broadway producer with a comb over that would make Donald Trump jealous.  His one success in life is his ability to get elderly women to give him money.  Leo Bloom is a nervous accountant whose neurosis drive him into literal hysterics.  During this chance meeting, Leo mentions that a well-financed Broadway flop would make more money than a hit.  With Bloom’s help Bialystock will produce a Broadway flop, pocket the money, and then fly off to Brazil.

The Producers_3The first step is to find a script.  Immediately, they set out to find the worst play ever written.  Hope is all but lost when Bialystock finds “Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp with Adolph and Eva in Berchtesgaden”.  Meeting Franz Liebkind (Kenneth Mars), the author of the play in person Franz appears equally obsessed with his carrier pigeons as he is with Hitler and Nazi Germany.  His play, an homage to Hitler, will be his vehicle to show the world the true Hitler that he knew and loved.  Liebkind describes his Fuehrer as good-looking, a good dresser, he had more hair than Winston Churchill, told funnier jokes, and he could dance the pants off Churchill.  Hitler was also a better painter, “he could paint an entire apartment in one afternoon…two coats!”  With the Liebkind contract in hand and Nazi armbands on their sleeves, Bialystock and Bloom are ready to raise capital for their play.  Bailystock now “launches himself into little old lady land.”  What follows is a hilarious montage of little old ladies handing over checks to their precious “Bialy,” when finished Bailystock has sold 25,000% of the play to his old lady investors.

The Producers_4Next, Bailystock must assemble the rest of the group to round out the worst production in history.  Roger DeBris (Christopher Hewett) will be the director of the play.  As Bialystock describes him, he is the only director whose plays close “on the first day of rehearsal.”  This will be DeBrise chance to enter dramatic theater, with a little music put in.  On the day of auditions, Bailystock and Bloom have been unable to find the perfectly terrible Hitler, this is after seeing singing Hitlers and dancing Hitlers.  In walks flower power hippie, Lorenzo Saint DuBois “LSD” (Dick Shawn) singing a psychedelic song accompanied by his female band.  Bailystock has done everything he can to ensure the failure of the play.  However, on opening night the worst Broadway play in history becomes a comic hit.

“How could this happen?  I was so careful.  I picked the wrong play, the wrong director, the wrong cast.  Where did I go right?”  -Max Bialystock

“How could this happen? I was so careful. I picked the wrong play, the wrong director, the wrong cast. Where did I go right?” -Max Bialystock

The Producers_6The Producers was the directorial debut for Mel Brooks and the first collaboration between Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder: The Producers (1968), Blazing Saddles (1974), and Young Frankenstein (1974).  Two of these films, The Producers and Young Frankenstein, Brooks adapted into musicals.  In 2005, Brooks again adapted the musical version of The Producers into a new film.  The story line was updated with a few minor changes, but the premise and the characterization of Bialystock and Bloom (played by Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick respectively) still remains true to the original.

The Producers_7Comedies about Adolph Hitler and Nazis have not always proven to be successful.  The trauma of World War II makes it difficult for comedies or satires to be successful about such a historic tragedy.  Chaplin’s The Great Dictator (1940) and To Be or Not To Be (1942) starring Jack Benny and Carole Lombard where Hollywood failures.  Both of these films where ahead of their time using satire to criticize Hitler and the Nazis, both being produced and released during the Second World War.  Despite being comedies both films had important messages about the Nazis, and their domination and oppression.  By the 60’s, shows like Hogan’s Heroes were popular on network television, and audiences where able to laugh at satirical depictions of the war.  This paved the way for Brooks’ comedy generous.  One of things I’ve always enjoyed about Mel Brooks productions is that nothing is ever sacred.  He is willing to find and make the most out of every comedic scene, with characters that are over-the-top and are able to make light of social stereotypes.

TCM Celebrates The AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Mel Brooks

Mel Brooks

film director, screenwriter, composer, lyricist, comedian, actor and producer

 

Click on the picture above for more information from TCM

Click on the picture above for more information from TCM

TCM Mel Brooks Tribute Schedule:

Wednesday, July 24th

AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Mel Brooks (2013) 8:00PM (ET)

The Twelve Chairs (1970) 9:30PM (ET)

Carson on TCM: Mel Brooks (9/21/1983) 11:15PM (ET)

Excavating the 2000 Year Old Man (2012) 11:30PM (ET)

AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Mel Brooks (2013) 12:30AM (ET)

Young Frankenstein (1974) 2:00AM (ET)

The Producers (1968) 4:00AM (ET)

The Dick Cavett Show: Mel Brooks (2006) 5:30AM (ET)

The Producers

Classic Movie Night Recommendation:

Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Thursday, June 6th  

8:00PM (ET)

PhotoFancie2013_06_02_14_08_361

“It’s a perfect night for mystery and horror, the air itself is filled with monsters.”  –Mary Shelly

“It’s a perfect night for mystery and horror, the air itself is filled with monsters.” –Mary Shelly

This 1935 sequel to the Universal horror film Frankenstein (1931) is a re-imagination based on the original Frankenstein story written by Mary Shelly.  To tie the two films together, Bride of Frankenstein begins with a prologue featuring authoress Mary Shelly (Elsa Lanchester) in the company of Lord Byron (Gavin Gordon) and her husband Percy Shelly (Douglas Walton).  From the onset, there is the comparison of good and evil.  The beautiful, gentle, and supposedly afraid of the storm Mary Shelly is the one who conceived the original dark story about a monster created from the dead.  Also, in the prologue there is a quick glimpse of Una O’Connor as a servant.  This is an additional nod to foreshadow that we will see this actress and another from this introduction later in the imaginative world of Frankenstein.  We are then taken to the original film and reminded of the birth of the monster, his violence against humans, and presumed demise.  However for this dark and stormy night, Mary Shelly has a continuation to her story that she will tell her companions.

“To a new world of gods and monsters!”  –Professor Pretorius

“To a new world of gods and monsters!” –Professor Pretorius

Baron Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) battles within himself over his obsessions of creating life and the consequences that befell his last attempt.  Yet, there is Doctor Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger) who urges Frankenstein to continue with his work.  Pretorius is a devil figure, working against all things that are natural and good.  He has been working on his own experiments creating miniature beings.  Pretorius is obsessed with man-made life and the ability for this life to multiply and continue.  He suggests to Frankenstein the creation of a mate for the monster.

The miniature creations of Dr. Pretorius where filmed life size, then added to the scene with the use of mattes.

The miniature creations of Dr. Pretorius where filmed life size, then added to the scene with the use of mattes.

PhotoFancie2013_06_02_14_12_036Unable to convince Frankenstein to proceed with the plans for a mate for the monster, the monster conveniently kidnaps Elizabeth.  Elizabeth (Valerie Hobson) the new bride of Frankenstein is the perfect replacement for the monsters mate.  If he cannot have a bride of his own, he will take Frankenstein’s.  Henry now begins the exhausting work of creating a female monster.  Like the conception of the Karloff version of the monster, the look of the female monster has created a lasting image that continues to be used for future characterizations of the bride of Frankenstein.  Elsa Lanchester seen in the beginning of the film as Frankenstein authoress Mary Shelly is now seen again this time as the bride.  However, the question remains…will love be the cure for the savage beast?

The monster is compared to Christ.  He is tied up, reflecting Christ’s crucifixion.  The monster can also be heard stating that bread and wine are good, as if having his version of the last supper.

The monster is compared to Christ. He is tied up, reflecting Christ’s crucifixion. The monster can also be heard stating that bread and wine are good, as if having his version of the last supper.

The monster (Boris Karloff) in the film is often compared to Christ, the embodiment of God as man.  However, the monster is the creation of man, and with that there are consequences.  The movie sensors at the time warned that there was to be no reference made to man acting as God.  The film is careful with these references, but the film is filled with Christian images and symbolism.  Much of this film is about the monster desperately seeking human contact.  However, he is most often met with fear and anger which agitates the monster to harm and kill.  The monster though un-godly is a sympathetic figure in the film, much of this is due to the ability of actor Boris Karloff to display emotions from beyond the make-up.

PhotoFancie2013_06_02_14_21_398One thing to note is the uncertainty of the setting and time period of the story.  The costuming of the villagers and look of the village suggests the location is somewhere in Eastern Europe.  However, contrasts such as the costumes of the villagers and the residents of Frankenstein castle and the fact that horse driven carriages are used yet there is access to telephones leaves the time period unknown.  According to the scripts the time period was to be set in the present, but it seems the setting for this film is some unreal world set within Mary Shelly’s imagination.

“I have prayed many times for God to send me a friend.”  –Hermit

“I have prayed many times for God to send me a friend.” –Hermit

As a Mel Brooks fan, something must be said about the monster encountering and befriending the blind hermit (O.P. Heggie).  The calm sincerity of the scene with the blind hermit allows for another dimension of exploration into the monsters loneliness.  Unable to find companionship, the monster finds solace with another lonely individual.  However, what the hermit lacks in sight he retains in an inner sight.  He does not fear the monster because of his appearance.  But, takes the monster in as a gift from God, the friend he has always prayed for.  Having seen both Mel Brooks’ film Young Frankenstein (1974) and 2007 musical version with the same title, this scene was recreated by Brooks into a perfect comic re-imagination.  So perfect, that while watching this original scene you can almost chuckle thinking of the parody.

Bride of Frankenstein will be shown on Thursday as part of an evening of films TCM is calling their “Creature Features:”
Bride of Frankenstein (1935) 6:00PM (ET)
Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956) 7:30PM (ET)
Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) 9:00PM (ET)
It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955) 10:30PM (ET)
King Kong (1933) 12:00AM (ET)
Cyclops (1957) 2:00AM (ET)

Follow the link for more images from Bride of Frankenstein.  Pinterest Board: Classic Movie Night Recommendation

Images from: Bride of Frankenstein. Dir. James Whale.  Universal 1935.  DVD.

Classic Movie Night: The Producers (1968)

The Producers (1968)

The_Producers_(1968)

When Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) meets Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder) it is the beginning of a Broadway friendship of a Broadway “odd couple,” and the creation of a scheme that will bring them both financial success.  Max Bialystock is at the end of his rope, he is a seedy Broadway producer with a comb over that would make Donald Trump jealous.  His one success in life is his ability to get elderly women to give him money.  Leo Bloom is a nervous accountant whose neurosis drive him into literal hysterics.  During this chance meeting Leo mentions that a well-financed Broadway flop would make more money than a hit.  With Bloom’s help Bialystock will produce a Broadway flop, pocket the money, and then fly off to Brazil.

The first step is to find a script.  Immediately, they set out to find the worst play ever written.  Bloom is beginning to lose hope when Bialystock finds “Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp with Adolph and Eva in Berchtesgaden”.  Franz Liebkind (Kenneth Mars), the author of the play appears equally obsessed with his carrier pigeons as he is with Hitler and Nazi Germany.  His play, an homage to Hitler, will be his vehicle to show the world the true Hitler that he knew and loved.  Liebkind describes his Fuehrer as good-looking, a good dresser, he had more hair than Winston Churchill, told funnier jokes, and he could dance the pants off Churchill.  Hitler was also a better painter, “he could paint an entire apartment in one afternoon…two coats!”  With the Liebkind contract in hand and Nazi armbands on they walk out of the apartment, ready to raise capital.  Bailystock now “launches himself into little old lady land.”  What follows is a hilarious montage of little old ladies handing over checks to their precious “Bialy,” when finished Bailystock has sold 25,000% of the play to his old lady investors.

Next, Bailystock must assemble the rest of the group to round out the worst production in history.  Roger De Bris (Christopher Hewett) will be the director of the play.  As Bialystock describes him, he is the only director whose plays close “on the first day of rehearsal.”  This will be DeBrise chance to enter dramatic theater, with a little music put in.  On the day of auditions, Bailystock and Bloom have been unable to find the perfectly terrible Hitler, this is after seeing singing Hitlers and dancing Hitlers.  In walks flower power hippie, Lorenzo Saint DuBois “LSD” (Dick Shawn) singing a psychedelic song accompanied by his female band.  Bailystock has done everything he can to ensure the failure of the play.  However, on opening night the worst Broadway play in history becomes a comic hit.

“How could this happen?  I was so careful.  I picked the wrong play, the wrong director, the wrong cast.  Where did I go right?”  -Max Bialystock

temp

The Producers was the directorial debut for Mel Brooks and the first collaboration between Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder: The Producers (1968), Blazing Saddles (1974), and Young Frankenstein (1974).  Two of these films, The Producers and Young Frankenstein, Brooks adapted into musicals.  In 2005, Brooks again adapted the musical version of The Producers into a new film.  The story line was updated with a few minor changes, but the premise and the characterization of Bialystock and Bloom (played by Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick respectively) still remains true to the original.

temp

Comedies about Adolph Hitler and Nazis have not always proven to be successful.  The trauma of World War II makes it difficult for comedies or satires to be successful about such a historic tragedy.  Chaplin’s The Great Dictator (1940) and To Be or Not To Be (1942) starring Jack Benny and Carole Lombard where Hollywood failures.  Both of these films where ahead of their time criticizing Hitler and the Nazis, being produced and released during the Second World War.  Despite being comedies both films had important messages about the Nazis, and their domination and oppression.  By the 60’s, shows like Hogan’s Heroes were popular on network television, and audiences where able to laugh at satirical depictions of the war.  This paved the way for Brooks’ comedy generous.  One of things I’ve always enjoyed about Mel Brooks productions is that nothing is ever sacred.  He is willing to find and make the most out of every comedic scene, with characters that are over-the-top and are able to make light of social stereotypes.

Follow the link for more images from The Producers.  Pinterest Board: Classic Movie Night Recommendation

Image Source 1     Image Source 2     Image Source 3     Image Source 4     Image Source 5     Image Source 6

Rediscover ‘I Am Suzanne!’ ‘The Desert Song’ at TCM film fest

By Susan King

April 25, 2013, 4:16 p.m.

The TCM Classic Film Festival is screening several vintage blockbusters this weekend in Hollywood, including “The Great Escape,” “My Fair Lady” and “Giant.”

But peppered among these classics are films that don’t have such high profiles, including Ernst Lubitsch’s final film “Cluny Brown,” from 1946; Mel Brooks’ 1970 comedy “The Twelve Chairs”; and the offbeat 1973 Al Pacino-Gene Hackman buddy drama “Scarecrow.”

“My hope is that any given time there is a big Hollywood blockbuster, there is a small movie screening that few people have seen,” said Charlie Tabesh, TCM’s senior vice president of programming.

Read more at the LA Times.

2013 TCM Classic Film Festival Adds More Stars and Screenings: Mel Brooks, Mickey Rooney, SNL’s Bill Hader to Present | Thompson on Hollywood

2013 TCM Classic Film Festival Adds More Stars and Screenings: Mel Brooks, Mickey Rooney, SNL’s Bill Hader to Present | Thompson on Hollywood.

2013 TCM Classic Film Festival Adds More Stars and Screenings: Mel Brooks, Mickey Rooney, SNL’s Bill Hader to Present | Thompson on Hollywood

2013 TCM Classic Film Festival Adds More Stars and Screenings: Mel Brooks, Mickey Rooney, SNL’s Bill Hader to Present | Thompson on Hollywood.

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