April 19–July 2
Mel Brooks will be presented with the 41st AFI Life Achievement Award at a gala tribute on Thursday, June 6, in Los Angeles, to be broadcast on TNT later that month, with encore airings on TCM.
Brooks' career has spanned more than 60 years, from writing for television (for Sid Caesar on YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS and CAESAR'S HOUR, where his co-writers included Carl Reiner, Larry Gelbart, Neil Simon and Woody Allen; and on GET SMART, which Brooks created with Buck Henry), to acting on stage and screen, to directing and producing films (both his own work and that of other, strikingly different filmmakers, such as David Lynch and THE ELEPHANT MAN). With the enormous success of the Broadway adaptation of THE PRODUCERS, Brooks won a Tony to go with his previous awards in television, film and as a comedy recording artist, joining an elite company of artists who've earned the top award in each of four different entertainment arts—the “EGOT” (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony).
“Mel Brooks is America's long-reigning king of comedy—and as he taught us long ago, it's good to be the king,” said Sir Howard Stringer, Chair of AFI's Board of Trustees. “He's a master of an art form that rarely gets the respect it deserves, and it is AFI's honor to shine a bright light on laughter by presenting Mel Brooks the 41st AFI Life Achievement Award.”
AFI Member passes will be accepted at all films in the Mel Brooks series.
Long before “The Producers” became a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical sensation, Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel starred in Mel Brooks' original, outrageous, Oscar-winning farce. Down-on-his-luck theatrical impresario Max Bialystock (Mostel), reduced to romancing wealthy older ladies to fund his decreasingly successful plays, teams up with clever accountant Leo Bloom (Wilder), and together they devise a plan to extract a big payday from a sure-fire flop: “Springtime for Hitler.” Best Original Screenplay Oscar for Mel Brooks.
DIR/SCR Mel Brooks; PROD Sidney Glazier. US, 1968, color, 88 min. RATED PG
An old man (Mel Brooks), puzzled by the abstract animated short film screening before the feature he came to see, airs his opinions for all to hear. 1964 Oscar winner for Best Short Subject, Cartoons.
DIR/PROD Ernest Pintoff; SCR Mel Brooks. US, 1963, color, 4 min. NOT RATED
THE TWELVE CHAIRS
Fri, Apr 19, 7:30*
* Audience Giveaway!
Sat, Apr 20, 11:05 a.m., 6:00
Sun, Apr 21, 11:05 a.m.
Mon, Apr 22, 5:15, 9:40--just added!
Tue, Apr 23, 5:15--just added!
Wed, Apr 24, 6:30 (Montgomery College Show)
Thu, Apr 25, 5:15
One lucky ticketholder on Friday, April 19, will win "The Incredible Mel Brooks: An Irresistible Collection of Unhinged Comedy," a deluxe 5-DVD/1-CD book-styled box set, courtesy of Shout! Factory!
The set, valued at $90, features TV appearances, shorts, docs, tributes, songs and genuine rarities from throughout the comedy master's career. Must be present to win.
Former aristocrat Ippolit Vorobyaninov (Ron Moody, best known as Fagin in OLIVER!), still adjusting to life in the newfangled Soviet Union of the 1920s, is delighted to learn at his mother-in-law's deathbed that the family fortune wasn't entirely lost during the Bolshevik revolution, and a stash of jewels was hidden inside one of her home's twelve dining chairs. But Ippolit's quest to reclaim the family's wealth won't be easy—the ancestral mansion has been converted into an old-age home, and, with word about the jewels having leaked out, he must contend with a nosy Orthodox priest (Dom DeLuise), a greedy con artist (Frank Langella, in one of his earliest roles) and one of the family's aggrieved ex-servants (Mel Brooks) to find the chair first.
DIR/SCR Mel Brooks, from the novel by Ilya Ilf and Yevgeni Petrov; PROD Ronald H. Gilbert, Michael Hertzberg. US, 1970, color, 94 min. RATED G
Sun, Apr 28, 11:00 a.m.; Mon, Apr 29, 7:20
Brooks' spoof of the Western was a tremendous hit, establishing the template for his 1970s and '80s genre satires, and the inspiration for countless followers. Coveting the land around the frontier town of Rock Ridge, nefarious railroad magnate Hedley Lamarr (Harvey Korman) resorts to scare tactics, recruiting a gang to terrorize the town, and using his political influence to stick Rock Ridge with rookie sheriff Bart (Cleavon Little), the town's first black resident. Despite long odds, the wily new sheriff flips the script with help from newly deputized drunk “The Waco Kid” (Gene Wilder) and Dietrich-esque saloon singer Lili Von Shtupp (Oscar-nominated Madeline Kahn)—“A wed wose. How womantic.”
DIR/SCR Mel Brooks; SCR Norman Steinberg, Andrew Bergman, Richard Pryor, Alan Uger; PROD Michael Hertzberg. US, 1974, color, 93 min. RATED R
Sat, May 4, 7:30; Sun, May 5, 4:20; Mon, May 6, 9:30; Wed, May 8, 9:20
History repeats first as tragedy, then as farce, and that's where Mel Brooks comes in, with the most artful of all his spoofs, filmed in glorious black-and-white and recreating in exacting detail the look of James Whale's Universal originals. After years of trying to live down his family's reputation, Gene Wilder's "Dr. Fronk-en-steen" returns to the family castle and embraces his destiny: to succeed where his grandfather failed and build a better monster (Peter Boyle). He's abetted in this effort by hunchback “Eyegor” (Marty Feldman) and peasant girl/new love interest Inga (Teri Garr); Cloris Leachman is delightfully creepy as the castle keeper Frau Blücher (cue horse whinny), and Madeline Kahn sizzles as Wilder's jilted fiancée Elizabeth.
DIR/SCR Mel Brooks; SCR Gene Wilder, based on characters from the novel “Frankenstein” by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley; PROD Michael Gruskoff. US, 1974, b&w, 106 min. RATED PG
HISTORY OF THE WORLD: PART I
Sat, May 11, 2:15; Sun, May 12, 2:15; Wed, May 15, 9:20; Thu, May 16, 5:10, 9:30
“It's good to be the king.” Having fun with Hollywood's version of history, from prehistoric cave dwellers to the Roman Empire to the Spanish Inquisition to the French Revolution, Mel Brooks achieves epic spoofery by riffing, zinging and punning his way through this omnibus of period pieces. Brooks is especially good here as “stand-up philosopher” Comicus, grand inquisitor/song-and-dance guy Torquemada (“Let's face it, you can't Torquemada anything”), and both French King Louis XVI and his doppelganger, the lowly pissboy Jacques. Also making their mark in comedy history are Harvey Korman, Dom DeLuise, Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman and Gregory Hines. Notable cameos abound. Narrated by Orson Welles!
DIR/SCR/PROD Mel Brooks. US, 1981, color, 92 min. RATED R
Fri, May 24, 9:45*; Sat, May 25, 11:30; Sun, May 26, 7:10
* Audience Giveaway!
Five lucky ticketholders on Friday, May 24, will win MEL BROOKS: MAKE A NOISE on DVD, courtesy of Shout! Factory
. This AMERICAN MASTERS documentary about comic legend Mel Brooks features the celebrated funnyman sharing numerous stories from his decades-long career that includes success on television, film and Broadway. A number of celebrities discuss his talent and influence, including Matthew Broderick, Cloris Leachman, Tracey Ullman and Brooks' longtime collaborator and friend Carl Reiner. Must be present to win. MEL BROOKS: MAKE A NOISE airs on PBS on May 20.
Newly arrived at the Psychoneurotic Institute for the Very, VERY Nervous, Dr. Richard H. Thorndyke (Mel Brooks) discovers some very suspicious goings-on between his colleagues Dr. Montague (Harvey Korman) and Nurse Diesel (Cloris Leachman). When he's framed for murder, Thorndyke must confront his own psychiatric trauma—he suffers from “high anxiety”—in order to clear his name. Lovingly poking fun at the Master of Suspense, Brooks works in a host of Hitchcock references, quoting from SPELLBOUND, VERTIGO, PSYCHO and THE BIRDS, among others. With Madeline Kahn, Ron Carey, Dick Van Patten and co-screenwriter Barry Levinson as a high-strung bellboy (“That kid gets no tip!”).
DIR/SCR/PROD Mel Brooks; SCR Ron Clark, Rudy De Luca, Barry Levinson. US, 1977, color, 94 min. RATED PG
TO BE OR NOT TO BE
Sat, Jun 1, 1:00; Tue, Jun 4, 9:15; Thu, Jun 6, 9:00
Mel Brooks and real-life wife Anne Bancroft take on the roles originated by Jack Benny and Carole Lombard in this remake of Ernst Lubitsch's 1942 classic. After the Nazis overrun Poland at the outbreak of WWII, Warsaw actors Frederick and Anna Bronski (Brooks and Bancroft) and their troupe put their actorly wiles to work to outwit the Wehrmacht. With Christopher Lloyd, Tim Matheson and Charles Durning in an Oscar-nominated performance as Colonel Erhardt, the role played so memorably by Sig Rumann in the original (on Bronski's acting: “What he did to Hamlet, we are now doing to Poland.”).
DIR Alan Johnson; SCR Thomas Meehan, Ronny Graham, based on the 1942 Ernst Lubitsch film; PROD Mel Brooks. US, 1983, color, 107 min. RATED PG
Fri, Jun 7, 5:00; Sat, Jun 8, 11:00 a.m.; Wed, Jun 12, 4:45
“May the Schwartz be with you!” In Mel Brooks' parody of George Lucas' STAR WARS saga (with a bit of STAR TREK, ALIEN and PLANET OF THE APES thrown in for good measure), mercenary Winnebago captain Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) and his loyal mawg sidekick Barf (John Candy) are hired to find runaway “Druish Princess” Vespa (Daphne Zuniga) before evil lord Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis) does. Hiding out on the moon of Vega, they meet the diminutive, wizened Yogurt (Brooks again), who schools Lone Starr not only on harnessing the power of “the Schwartz,” but also on merchandising, “where the real money from the movie is made. God willing, we'll all meet again in SPACEBALLS 2: THE SEARCH FOR MORE MONEY.”
DIR/SCR/PROD Mel Brooks; SCR Thomas Meehan, Ronny Graham. US, 1987, color, 96 min. RATED PG
84 CHARING CROSS ROAD
Fri, Jun 14, 7:15; Sat, Jun 15, 11:05 a.m., 8:15; Sun, Jun 16, 8:45; Mon, Jun 17, 9:20; Tue, Jun 18, 5:00
New York writer Helene Hanff (Anne Bancroft) and London book shop proprietor Frank Doel (Anthony Hopkins), united by their love of literature, carry on a decades-spanning transatlantic relationship exclusively via letter writing. Bancroft won the BAFTA Best Actress award for her performance as Hanff; husband Mel Brooks executive produced this adaptation of James Roose- Evans' play, which was, appropriately, a hit both on Broadway and in the West End. Co-starring Judi Dench and Mercedes Ruehl.
DIR David Hugh Jones; SCR Hugh Whitemore, from the play by James Roose-Evans and the memoir of Helene Hanff; PROD Geoffrey Helman. UK/US, 1987, color, 100 min. RATED PG
THE ELEPHANT MAN
Fri, Jun 28, 4:45; Sun, Jun 30, 4:45; Mon, Jul 1, 5:05; Tue, Jul 2, 5:05
“I am not an animal! I am a human being! I...am...a man!” John Hurt gives a moving and powerful performance as John Merrick, a young man in Victorian England afflicted with grievous physical deformations caused by a hereditary condition. Having eked out a miserable existence for many years as a circus freak dubbed “the Elephant Man,” Merrick is rescued by Dr. Frederick Treves (Anthony Hopkins), who restores Merrick's dignity and provides him material comfort he's never known before...but his altruism contains shades of professional exploitation as well. Nominated for eight Academy Awards.
DIR/SCR David Lynch; SCR Eric Bergren, Christopher De Vore, from the memoir of Sir Frederick Treves and the book by Ashley Montagu; PROD Mel Brooks, Jonathan Sanger. UK/US, 1980, b&w, 124 min. RATED PG
Sat, Jun 29, 2:40; Sun, Jun 30, 12:00; Tue, Jul 2, 7:15