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History of the World: Part I (1981) – Mel Brooks countdown #11

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Concept: Be funny

After a string of critically acclaimed hits through the 1970s, Mel Brooks' next was a collection of historical sketches.

It opens with a 2001-style scene, except here the ape men are masturbating. In the next sketch, the first art critic pees over the first cave painting. It goes downhill from there, and not in a good way.

What's good: Erm…

Slave Gregory Hines, pouring wine into Madeline Kahn's cup: "Say when.." "Half past eight", comes the reply.

Albert Whitlock's matte paintings.

What's not so good: Everything else.

Music: John Morris has written some great soundtracks and Mel Brooks has written some great lyrics, but none are in this one.

Miscellany: It made money. It has a surprisingly high rating of 6.7 on IMDb. Both of these are amazing.

As with Monty Python's Life of Brian, this originated as a joke response to the question 'What film are you going to do next?' Spike Milligan appears in both, but only one is any good.

Overall: I remember going to see this at the cinema when it came out, full of anticipation. I'd seen and loved all his previous films, so this was clearly going to be great – look at the cast list!

It wasn't. Seeing again for the first time in over thirty years confirms I was right to hate it the first time.

The problem starts with the script. It's a series of sketches but it's a series of unfunny ones. Comedy had moved on, and as a sketch film, the Kentucky Fried Movie of a few years earlier crapped all over this.

The direction and production aren't much either (the budget was very unevenly spent with some parts clearly not getting any of it, which others got plenty for no effect, and the use of many of the same cast as in the hits remind us that they were better)

Who did all these? Ah, Mel Brooks himself.

TL;DR Mel Brooks' first stinker

Film: 1/5
DVD: 2/5

Trailer (itself desperately unfunny, which should have been a big clue) and nothing else.

Written by Ian

December 4th, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Posted in Cinema,Countdown,DVDs

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