Mel Brooks

Putney Swope Boardroom

If there’s one movie I’d like to see referenced on Mad Men before it’s all over and done with, it’s Putney Swope. The cult classic, about an advertising agency run by an increasingly militant black man, opened in New York City on this day in 1969. That puts its initial release as just before the events of the most recent episode of AMC’s TV drama (the last before the season 7 hiatus), aired back in May. But the movie continued its remarkable success through the fall, giving Don Draper plenty of time to go see it. If he can take a few months to catch up with I Am Curious (Yellow), and if both the show and the character are hip enough to that art film’s existence, they’d have to be to Robert Downey Sr.‘s record-breaking hit, especially when it’s a satire of his very industry. Whether or not he’d recognize any similarity between his own work and what’s depicted on screen is another story. Putney Swope follows its title character (played by Arnold Johnson yet featuring dubbed vocals by Downey) as he goes from being an ad agency’s token black executive, specifically its music director, to head of the company, through a board vote gone wrong. He renames the place Truth and Soul, Inc., fires most of the old white guys who just put him in charge and ceases business with all clients who produce war toys, alcohol and cigarettes (Draper would be proud). He forms a new team that is all black save […]

read more...

Blazing Saddles

Coming off a successful career in television and two smaller pictures (The Producers in 1968 and The Twelve Chairs in 1970), Mel Brooks took a chance on a western comedy. This was before the days of Airplane! and The Naked Gun, decades before Scary Movie, and a generation of time (and quality) from Meet the Spartans and A Haunted House. Brooks broke all sorts of social and decency taboos with Blazing Saddles, from the subversive racial commentary to the orchestra of cowboy farts around a campfire. Blazing Saddles turns 40 this year, which makes it as good of a time as any to look back on the production with Mel Brooks himself. The commentary on the original Blu-ray release comes from the initial DVD release back in the late 1990s, but it still has a lot to say about this comedy classic.

read more...

BlazingSaddles02

Blazing Saddles could be the most difficult movie to celebrate with a Scenes We Love feature. Not only is it a laugh-a-minute comedy with too many classic moments to narrow down from, but more importantly it is such a politically incorrect work that it’s hard to showcase excerpts that don’t play too offensively out of context of the whole picture. I realized this long ago while listening to shock jock radio and hearing many of the most hilarious quotes from the movie turned into uncomfortable soundbites. Yet this movie, which turned 40 years old this month, is a masterpiece of satire, slapstick and silliness. It’s one of the most important American comedies ever made, not to mention possibly the funniest in the last half century. Like another classic that recently celebrated an anniversary — Dr. Strangelove, which also features Slim Pickens — it played the nation’s fears and flaws for laughs. With Blazing Saddles, co-writer/director/co-star Mel Brooks lampoons historical and contemporary intolerance, among many other things, as well as the Western genre. And it remains as relevant as any of the countless movies that have been influenced by it, from near-rip-off comedies like Three Amigos! to fellow subversive takes on systemic racism in 19th century America like Django Unchained. I invite further discussion of Blazing Saddles after this look at a number of my favorite bits, and I welcome mention of any additional scenes you love that I didn’t have room to include.

read more...

youngfrankenstein-commentary1

Later this year, Mel Brooks’ brilliant homage to the Universal monster movies Young Frankenstein turns 40. Having spawned a successful Broadway musical and inspired countless other spoofs, this send-up of the original Frankenstein films remains the gold standard against which many comedies are judged. Rightfully so. If only Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer paid more attention to what makes it good, we wouldn’t be plagued by so many terrible spoofs out there now. The Blu-ray of Young Frankenstein features Brooks’ frank commentary of the film, examining the contributions of co-writer Gene Wilder as well as many fond memories of the cast – most of whom are no longer with us. Brooks may have changed direction from filmmaking to work on the Broadway stage in recent years, but his expertise at making a timeless comedy is detailed here.

read more...

These 20, alongside hundreds of others, redefine what it means to be a movie veteran.

read more...

Mel Brooks Noise

Everyone loves Mel Brooks because he’s amazing and wonderful. He should be given the key to every city and a parade in his honor every day. Short of that, PBS is delivering a documentary meant to celebrate the brilliant comedian who made the funniest movie of all time (Blazing Saddles). Thanks to Pop Candy, we can now watch a slew of famous faces trying to explain what Brooks is all about. We also get to see a limo speeding to a sound stage just in time to stop the show. Hopefully Brooks will interrupt every segment with a song about himself:

read more...

Guardians of the Galaxy

What is Movie News After Dark? According to everything that has happened in tonight’s entry already, it appears to be quite inquisitive. All of your questions and more will be answered. Tonight’s lead story is also tonight’s leading non-story about leading men. Who will be the leader of Guardians of the Galaxy, the next big Marvel Studios project that supposedly has James Gunn in the directors chair. Deadline offers up a list of guys who you’ve seen on the big screen recently, courtesy of Tammy’s brother Joey’s cousin Suzie who knows a guy, but not that well. So there’s that.

read more...

Culture Warrior

Tomorrow, the Sacha Baron Cohen-starring, Larry Charles-directed The Dictator opens. Unlike the previous two docu-prank collaborations between Charles and Cohen, the humor of the fully staged Dictator doesn’t so much rely on the reactions of ‘real people’ to an idiosyncratic foreigner as it uses its fish-out-of-water arc to chronicle the pseudo-enlightened changes that its eponymous character experiences (this is all based on the film’s advertising – I have yet to see it). With its riches-to-rags narrative, The Dictator seems to be the newest iteration of a long tradition in Hollywood comedy: the story of the redeemable asshole. It’s rather appropriate that the teaser trailer for Anchorman 2 will be premiering in front of The Dictator.  Will Ferrell has made the redeemable asshole into something of an art form in his collaborations with Adam McKay. Ferrell’s often narcissistic, privileged, ignorant, and empathy-challenged creations should, by any measure of any other genre (audiences are far less tolerant of asshole protags in, say, dramedys) be reviled by audiences. But we ultimately find something redeemable, even lovable, in Ferrell’s jerks, even if this surface-level redemption overshadows the fact that they never quite achieve the level of self-awareness that would actually redeem one from assholedom. These are characters we would likely avoid in nearly any real-life circumstance, but yet we go see movies about them learning life lessons which add up to little more than common knowledge for the rest of us. The redeemable asshole is often a white male who is conniving, manipulative, entitled, […]

read more...

The legendary Cloris Leachman is a salty woman with brass buttons. Her latest conquest is the suspense thriller – working alongside, seriously, Tara Reid in The Fields. Kevin Carr sits down the Oscar winner to discuss what scares her, her work with Mel Brooks and why she owns a porn shop in an upcoming movie. Plus, Eric D. Snider and Rob Hunter go head to head Movie News Pop Quiz-style, and the discussion turns to spoiler sensitivity. Download Episode #130

read more...

So I was watching the film The Descendants, and I couldn’t help but to laugh my ass off when the grandfather points to Nick Krause’s dumb-ass character and says “I’m going to hit you.” – Then, without any room for discussion he proves to be a man of his word. It got me thinking about some of the other great comedic punches out there, and soon enough I was assigning my wonder into list form. Violence and comedy together at last!

read more...

Twenty-five years after its initial release, David Cronenberg’s The Fly is thought to be a modern classic, a highly effective mixture of science, romance, and terror that pulled in a much greater audience than the horror fans looking for a cheap thrill. Cronenberg has always been a director poised on horror as a higher art, a filmmaker who understands the grotesque and how much it is apparent in real life. Some, myself included, call The Fly his master work, and Cronenberg, a very intelligent speaker about all things, not just his own work, has much to offer the viewers of his film and the listeners of the commentary he provides that film. So here, without any further ado or buzz or flitting around your head or what have you, the things we learned from David Cronenberg’s commentary on The Fly.

read more...

Proven by science to be the funniest movie of all time, Blazing Saddles gives the entire western genre a spanking while Cleavon Little asks where all the white women are at. I love that the opening of the trailer plays it perfectly straight, as if any minute John Wayne or Robert Ryan are going to ride into frame, chew on some tobacco and spit out a line worth remembering. Instead, we get Mel Brooks in dressed as a Native American. Most know that Richard Pryor was supposed to star in this flick, but no one would finance the film with him in the lead. However, most don’t realize that workhorse actor Gig Young actually started the production as The Waco Kid but got too drunk (it’s called method acting) to continue, so Brooks fired him, and Gene Wilder came in the next day to take over. This movie, even more than most, could have been completely different than the one we all know and love. Can you imagine this movie with Pryor and Young leading the charge?

read more...

Thanks to the talents of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, the label “spoof” has lost all respect in the cinematic world. Often credited as “two of the writers of Scary Movie” (both as a joke and warning sign), Friedberg and Seltzer devolved the spoof film using an arsenal of pop culture references, bathroom humor and non sequiturs. Keeping it classy was never the goal. While their rampage through genre and cultural phenomena may never end, spoofing doesn’t have to live with shame either. Plenty of filmmakers have figured out ways to satirize the movie world and tell their own stories at the same time — it’s the movie-going public that’s afraid to use the dreaded s-word. Let’s suck it up and admit the truth: these ten films are hilarious, well-made and spoofs through and through:

read more...

Everyday, come rain or shine or internet tubes breaking, Film School Rejects showcases a trailer from the past. Today’s trailer delivers hooks us on the classic tale of science reaching far past its limits and the neighbors with pitchforks and torches that result. Fortunately, in this 1974 comedy classic, the result of creating an undead monster is a little top hat and cane musical number. Think you know what it is? Check out the trailer after the jump.

read more...

Culture Warrior

Had Leslie Nielsen never been cast in Airplane!, he still would have had a decent working career. He certainly never would have gone down as one of the great entertainers, but the man would have had work. After all, he did have a few noticeable (if not entirely notable) dramatic roles in genre fare ranging from Forbidden Planet (1956) to Prom Night (1980, the same year as Airplane!). But Nielsen did co-star in Airplane!, delivering one immortal line after another, which later catapulted his persona into legendary synonymy with contemporary cinematic parody. Jim Abrahams and the Zucker brothers may have been the minds behind what exactly the movie parody came to be, but Nielsen was undoubtedly the face and the voice. There is a reason that Leslie Nielsen happened.

read more...

As the only literate Reject, it’s my duty to find the latest, the greatest and the untouched classics that would make great source material for film adaptations. I read so you don’t have to. This week, Print to Projector presents the story of a political theory, a governmental style, and the greatest nation on the planet with the bald eagle as its official bird. This Daily Show guide to everything you could ever possibly want to know about the United States of America packs in the infographics and the Judge Judy references that the people demand. It’s time someone made it into a movie.

read more...

We take a look at the hundred-year history of Robin Hood in film and discover that Sean Connery seems to be the common thread.

read more...

Mel Brooks returns to comedy, and he’s got his eye set on the entirety of civilization. Plus, he’s finally getting a writing partner to hop in front of the camera. Are we ready to see our ancestors mocked?

read more...

Welcome to Print to Projector, where we feign literacy in order to suggest what we’d like to see slapped onto the big screen. In our inaugural entry, we take a look at a buddy comedy featuring Jesus Christ.

read more...

bluray-header

Strap in, friends, as we’ve got another turbulent (and potentially expensive) week of selections in This Week in Blu-ray.

read more...
NEXT PAGE  
Some movie websites serve the consumer. Some serve the industry. At Film School Rejects, we serve at the pleasure of the connoisseur. We provide the best reviews, interviews and features to millions of dedicated movie fans who know what they love and love what they know. Because we, like you, simply love the art of the moving picture.
Fantastic Fest 2014
6 Filmmaking Tips: James Gunn
Got a Tip? Send it here:
editors@filmschoolrejects.com
Publisher:
Neil Miller
Managing Editor:
Scott Beggs
Associate Editors:
Rob Hunter
Kate Erbland
Christopher Campbell
All Rights Reserved © 2006-2014 Reject Media, LLC | Privacy Policy | Design & Development by Face3