When Mel Brooks fans recount the list of their favorites among the master’s comedies, this one is often unjustly overlooked. Thirty-five years before The Artist, movie director Mel Funn (Brooks) gets the idea to save Hollywood by making a wordless movie, which the real Brooks then proceeds to do as Funn and his associates (Marty Feldman and Dom DeLuise) chase down a bevy of reluctant real-life celebrities (Paul Newman, James Caan, Burt Reynolds, Liza Minnelli, and Anne Bancroft, a.k.a. Mrs. Brooks) to cajole them into co-starring. (Fittingly, the only audible line of dialogue comes from celebrated French mime Marcel Marceau, who’s response to Funn’s plea is an emphatic “Non!”) Along the way, Brooks delivers some trenchant showbiz satire (at a time when oil giant Gulf & Western had reduced Paramount Pictures to just another division of a multinational corporation, Brooks names the movie studio’s parent company Engulf & Devour), as well as some inspired slapstick and sight gags. At the dawn of the videogame era, he offers an unforgettable sight gag when he turns hospital patient Sid Caesar’s oscilloscope into a game of Pong. So give Brooks credit for brilliantly spoofing the past and the future at the same time.
Next 200 Cigarettes