90. Mel Brooks
YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, THE PRODUCERS, BLAZING SADDLES, HISTORY OF THE WORLD PART 1
More than just a comedy director, Mel Brooks is king of the spoof. When it comes to Broadway there’s The Producers. For the western there’s Blazing Sadles. Sci-Fi gets Spaceballs, horror gets Young Frankenstein and a director like Hitchcock gets High Anxiety. Brooks has a similar comedy background to Woody Allen. At different times both wrote for comedy legend Sid Ceasar, both counted classic French cinema amongst their favorite, and both were proclaimed, “America’s two funniest filmmakers” by Siskel and Ebert in 1980. Yet where Allen grabs tight to the absurdity in existentialism, Brooks goes for the absurdity of mainstream pop culture. The truly amazing thing about Brooks work is how bitingly satirical it is while seeming to be merely innocent and goofy. Through all of the above films he examines racial slurs, interracial sex, dives further into sexual politics, and makes goofy musicals about Adolph Hitler. Another mark of his brilliance as a director comes from the fact that he repeatedly worked with comedy legends, and kept them funny, and he directed two performers to Oscar nominations: Gene Wilder (The Producers) and Madeline Kahn (for Blazing Saddles). Actors like Wilder, Kahn, Dom DeLuise, Harvey Korman, Cloris Leachman, and Dick Van Patten all came back time and time again. Brooks is known to have an eye for talent. Aside from giving Dave Chappelle his film debut, he also produced unlikely films such as The Elephant Man and The Fly. Yet fortunately or unfortunately the lasting gift Brooks has given the world will always be found in films like Airplane!, Austin Powers. Date Movie, Meet the Spartans and the Scary Movie franchise.
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