Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
The Schmooze

8 Best (and Worst) Mel Brooks Movies

Melvin James Kaminsky is finally getting the tribute he deserves.

A monthlong retrospective at the Bell Lightbox, home of the Toronto International Film Festival, is honoring the director better known as Mel Brooks.

“It’s Good to Be the King” salutes the 88-year-old’s “triumphant bad taste and transcendently-awful-cum-pricelessly-hilarious jokery,” according to program notes.

Though Brooks hasn’t directed a film since 1995’s “Dracula: Dead and Loving It,” he’s hardly been taking it easy; this year alone, he’s voiced characters in animated hits like “Dora the Explorer” and “Mr. Peabody and Sherman.”
But for many fans, Brooks’s 1960s and ‘70s will always represent the heyday of his work.

With that in mind, and to celebrate “It’s Good to Be the King,” here is our ranking of Mel Brooks movies, going from worst to best.

8. Spaceballs (1987)

“May the Schwartz be with you”? Not funny. A diminutive sage called “Yogurt”? Less funny. John Candy as “Barf”? Sad, actually. This drove home the feeling Brooks the director had run out of gas.

YouTube video

7. Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995)

The last film Brooks directed did not see him off on a high note. Everyone seems tired, from star Leslie Nielsen to Brooks’ wife, Anne Bancroft, as “Madame Ouspenskaya,” to Brooks himself, behind the camera.

YouTube video

6. History of the World Part I (1979)

The source of the retrospective’s title, and possibly Brooks’s most vulgar offering — an appraisal he’d take as a compliment, no doubt. The Spanish Inquisition can-can line remains a career highlight, as does Brooks’s appearance as Moses.

YouTube video

5. High Anxiety (1977)

This Dead-on Hitchcock sendup/tribute actually has a couple of chilling moments along with laughs that almost hurt. And Cloris Leachman’s Nurse Diesel remains one of Brooks’ immortals.

YouTube video

4. Young Frankenstein (1974)

“Abby.” “Abby Who?” “Abby…. Normal.”

“That’s “Fronk-en-steen.”

“ Hallo. Vould you like to have a roll in ze hay?

Need we say more?

YouTube video

3. Silent Movie (1976)

In case anyone mistook Brooks’ silliness for stupidity, this film set them straight; it’s an affectionate, skillful, and very funny hat-tip to the golden era of silent film. And this is the one where Marcel Marceau says “No” — the only word in the movie.

YouTube video

2. Blazing Saddles (1974)

“Lozem geyn!” is still a favorite line at family gatherings. This one still feels fresh, 40 years later. And there’s a whiff of social commentary underneath the “rude, crude, and lewd Western farce,” as TIFF calls it.

YouTube video

1. The Producers (1967)

A musical called “Springtime for Hitler,” “A Gay Romp with Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgaden.” Chorines belting lines like “Don’t be stupid, be a smarty / Come and join the Nazi Party!” Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder. Does it get any better?

YouTube video

Engage

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.