Friday, July 18, 2014

The Directors Project: #31 - Mel Brooks

Scene from Cinema Paradiso
With the many lists and essays written on the subject of film, there has been one thing that The Oscar Buzz has tried to understand: Who is my favorite of the film world? For 10 weeks this summer, I will be exploring this with a countdown of the Top 50 names based on a numerical ranking of ratings from various sources, the following is a list of directors who rank above everyone else. With occasional upsets, this is intended as both a discussion opener as well as a better understanding of me as a film critic and fan. Please enjoy and leave any comments you have regarding the entry's selection.


Years Active: 1949-present

Films as Director: 11

Oscar Wins: 1 (Best Original Screenplay - The Producer)

Who: In terms of mainstream comedy, few directors have been as influential to the modern understanding as Brooks. Making some of the most iconic spoofs, his mixture of romanticized Old Hollywood with toxic satire helped to create a subversively unique genre that he remains the king of. With an impressive string of films, he not only delivered comedy, but helped to turn in great performances by the likes of Gene Wilder and Madeline Kahn and even more impressive soundtracks that have lead to two of his films being adapted to Broadway musicals. He is the only person on this list of The Directors Project to be part of the rare EGOT group, or someone who has won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. Despite waning in quality films post-80's, he remains an engaging comedian who can entertain with countless stories and great conversation skills.

Scene from Silent Movie
-- Blazing Saddles (1974) --

Flickchart Ranking: #203 (700 points)
IMDb Rating: 6 (60 points)
Perks: None
Total: 760 points

-- The Producers (1967) --

Flickchart Ranking: #222 (700 points)
IMDb Rating: 6/10 (60 points)
Perks: None
Total: 760 points

-- Silent Movie (1976) -- 

Flickchart Ranking: #415 (450 points)
IMDb Rating: 6/10 (60 points)
Perks: None
Total: 510 points

-- Young Frankenstein (1974) --

Flickchart Ranking: #434 (450 points)
IMDb Rating: 6/10 (60 points)
Perks: None
Total: 510 points

-- High Anxiety (1977) --

Flickchart Ranking: #848 (200 points)
IMDb Rating: 6/10 (60 points)
Perks: None
Total: 260

-- History of the World: Part 1 (1981) --

Flickchart Ranking: #875 (150 points)
IMDb Rating: 7/10 (70 points)
Perks: None
Total: 220 points

OVERALL TOTAL: 3120 points

Scene from Blazing Saddles
If there is a single director who should be considered primer for studying comedy, Brooks would likely be the universal answer. Most of his films between the 60's and 80's remain unprecedented classics that took comedy, satire, and bad tastes and mixed it in a strangely wonderful way. His films are surprisingly timeless and kinetic despite the countless dated references and dedication to source material. He is a wunderkind of comedy unlike any other director out there. There may be better, but he made the spoof accessible and a form of art that has sadly never been matched again. He is a must for anyone wanting to get into classic comedies and needs a place to start. Especially as a fan of Frankenstein, his take on it in Young Frankenstein is inspired and Silent Movie remains an ignored gem of slapstick mastery. 

UP NEXT: Revolutionizing the movie editing process, this director is one of Britain's current masters of satire with a loving trilogy that didn't so much reference as incorporate its source material lovingly.

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