(Credits: Far Out / TCM)
Pure and simple comedy movies come few and far between these days, with many of them being bundled together with other genres such as horror films or romance flicks. But, back in the 20th century, comedy was rife, and there was no better filmmaker with a funny bone than Mel Brooks, the icon behind such classic spoofs as Blazing Saddles, Space Balls and Young Frankenstein.
Rising to fame in the late 1960s, Brooks emerged with The Producers, an iconic comedy that lampooned the world behind the stoney face of Hollywood studios. Starring the likes of Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder and Dick Shawn, the film would become one of the most seminal comedies of the late 20th century and was even a personal favourite of The Beatles’ George Harrison.
In the following decade, Brooks dominated the scene, creating a number of iconic movies, starting with The Twelve Chairs in 1970. Undoubtedly underrated, The Twelve Chairs would be forgotten by his later cinematic successes, Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, which were both released in 1974. Although Spaceballs and Robin Hood: Men in Tights would follow in 1987 and 1993, respectively, Brooks would never get back to his success in the 1970s.
In an interview with the DGA back in 2012, Brooks discussed his career and talked about his biggest influences, telling fans about his favourite movie of all time in the process.
“Comedy was always very important to me and the kids in Williamsburg,” he told the publication, “There were three different brothers who formed my sense of comedy timing. There were the Marx Brothers and the Ritz Brothers, and then there were the Three Stooges. Those groups of men formed my sense of how many seconds it took from setup to explosion, from straight line to punch line. They were all perfect at what they did.”
In respect to his all-time favourite, Brooks adds: “When people say to me, ‘What’s your favourite movie?’ I don’t immediately say Les Enfants du Paradis, which sounds good to say, or La Strada sounds great; Battleship Potemkin sounds even better. ‘Wow, this guy must be an intellectual. Look at the movies.’ But my favourite movies have always been either Frankenstein or Fred Astaire [pictures].”
Clearly a lover of classic horror, Brooks’ pick of James Whale’s Frankenstein makes a lot of sense, especially considering the director’s ‘70s flick Young Frankenstein, which lovingly parodied the original. Elsewhere, whilst Brooks doesn’t specify which Fred Astaire films he loves, the actor and dancer had an extensive filmography of classics.
Check out the trailer for the original Frankenstein movie below.