Thursday, June 6, 2013

#1,025. Silent Movie (1976)

Directed By: Mel Brooks

Starring: Mel Brooks, Marty Feldman, Dom DeLuise

Trivia: The pregnant woman in the first scene is Dom DeLuise's real-life wife, Carol Arthur

Only Mel Brooks would have attempted something like this: a totally silent comedy that pays tribute to the films of Hollywood’s infancy. 

But then, only Mel Brooks could have possibly pulled it off. An homage to the days when slapstick was king, Silent Movie is a very funny motion picture.

Movie director Mel Funn (Brooks), a recovering alcoholic, is trying to revive his career. Along with his partners Eggs (Marty Feldman) and Bell (Dom DeLuise), Funn has written a screenplay for what he’s convinced will be his next box office smash: a silent movie! 

The head of the studio (Sid Caesar) isn’t impressed, but green-lights the project when Mel promises to get the biggest stars in Hollywood to appear in it. If the movie is a hit, Mel will save not only his career, but the studio as well, which, due to its financial woes, is in danger of being swallowed up by the huge East Coast conglomerate Engulf & Devour.

As the film’s main characters, Brooks, Feldman, and DeLuise form one of the most unusual trios in comedy history. Throughout the movie, each manages to generate a few hearty chuckles on their own (like when DeLuise has a painful run-in with a Coca-Cola vending machine), but it’s their scenes together that will have you laughing the hardest.  The sequence when the trio surprises Burt Reynolds in the shower is a classic, as is the one where all three, wearing very heavy suits of armor, visit the studio's commissary to try and convince Liza Minnelli to appear in the picture (somehow, Marty Feldman’s helmet gets turned around while it’s still on his head). Even without dialogue, these three keep the laughs rolling through much of the movie.

Having spent most of his career telling jokes, Silent Movie gave Brooks a chance to show us a few instead, proving he’s just as adept at physical comedy as he is one-liners and funny anecdotes.

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