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The Twelve Chairs (1970) – Mel Brooks countdown #7

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Concept: An adaptation of a satirical novel on Soviet Russia.

Impoverished former aristocrat Ron Moody is called to the deathbed of his mother-in-law. Before she dies, she reveals that the family's fortune in jewels was hidden from the Bolsheviks by being sewn into one of the twelve chairs from the family's dining room set.

Unfortunately for Moody, she has just told this to her priest, Dom DeLuise, and he's already searching for them. Fortunately, Moody meets up with conman Frank Langella and he manages to get DeLuise to go off on a wild goose chase to Siberia.

But it has turned out that the set has been broken up, and they have their own wild goose chases to make…

What’s good: It's a classic plot that has been used many times.

The performances of Moody and, especially, Langella are good.

What’s not so good: For the first time in this countdown, there's nothing bad. But there's also nothing in the comedy that's great either.

Music: John Morris again. Its song 'Hope for the best, expect the worst', written by Brooks, sums up the attitude of the film.

Miscellany: In the original book, when they get to the last chair, the nobleman murders his conman partner in order to avoid having to split the loot.

Despite the success of his other 1970s films, it took many years before this one was shown in UK TV.

Incredibly, this has a lower rating on IMDb than History.

Overall: This is the least typical Brooks comedy and it's suffered because of that. While it's not a classic, and it looks like the people who love the book don't like it, it's better than his later comedies because the characters and story are stronger.

An early post here was on It's a Mad (etc) World and this is like a low budget version of that: the search for the hidden legacy consumes everyone.

TL;DR Brooks' most subtle film

Film: 3/5
DVD: 2/5


Written by Ian

January 8th, 2013 at 11:38 pm

Posted in Cinema,Countdown,DVDs

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