Mel Brooks


Mel Brooks (born Melvyn Kaminsky; June 28, 1926) is an American director, writer, actor, comedian, producer and composer. He is known as a creator of broad film farces and comedic parodies. Brooks began his career as a comic and a writer for Sid Caesar’s variety show Your Show of Shows (1950–54) alongside Woody Allen, Neil Simon, and Larry Gelbart. Together with Carl Reiner, he created the comic character The 2000 Year Old Man. He wrote, with Buck Henry, the hit television comedy series Get Smart, which ran from 1965 to 1970.

In middle age, Brooks became one of the most successful film directors of the 1970s, with many of his films being among the top 10 moneymakers of the year they were released. His best-known films include The Producers (1967), Starring Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder in their first of 3 collaborations; The Twelve Chairs (1970), Blazing Saddles (1974), with Clevon Little, Wilder, Slim Pickens, Harvey Korman, Alex Karras, David Huddleston, Madeline Kahn, and Dom DeLuise; Young Frankenstein (1974), with Wilder, Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman, Terri Garr, Cloris Leachman, and Kahn; Silent Movie (1976), with DeLuise, Feldman, Bernadette Peters, and Sid Caesar, with cameos by Anne Bancroft, Liza Minnelli, Burt Reynolds, James Caan, Marcel Marceau, and Paul Newman as themselves; and High Anxiety (1977).

Later films include History of the World, Part I (1981), Spaceballs (1987), with John Candy, Rick Moranis, Bill Pullman, and Daphne’s Zuniga; Life Stinks (1991), with Lesley Anne Warren; Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993), and Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995), with Leslie Neilson. A musical adaptation of his first film, The Producers, ran on Broadway from 2001 to 2007. He was also an uncredited producer on David Lynch‘s The Elephant Man (1980) and David Cronenberg‘s The Fly (1986).

In 2001, having previously won an Emmy, a Grammy and an Oscar, he joined a small list of EGOT winners with his Tony Award wins for The Producers. He received a Kennedy Center Honor in 2009, a Hollywood Walk of Fame star in 2010, the 41st AFI Life Achievement Award in June 2013, a British Film Institute Fellowship in March 2015, a National Medal of Arts in September 2016, and a BAFTA Fellowship in February 2017. Three of his films ranked in the American Film Institute’s list of the top 100 comedy films of the past 100 years (1900–2000), all of which ranked in the top 15 of the list: Blazing Saddles at number 6, The Producers at number 11, and Young Frankenstein at number 13.

Brooks was married to the actress Anne Bancroft from 1964 until her death in 2005. Bancroft appeared in Brook’s Silent Movie, and the two co-starred in To Be or Not to Be (1983), the only film Brooks ever starred in that he didn’t write or direct (although he was a producer on the film). Their son Max Brooks is an actor and author, known for his novel World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War (2006).

Each review will be linked to the title below.

(*seen originally in theaters)

(**seen rereleased in theaters)

  • The Producers (1967)**
  • The Twelve Chairs (1970)
  • Blazing Saddles (1974)**
  • Young Frankenstein (1974)**
  • Silent Movie (1976)
  • High Anxiety (1977)
  • History of the World: Part I (1981)
  • To Be or Not Be (1983) actor only
  • Spacecballs (1987)**
  • Life Stinks (1991)
  • Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)*
  • Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995)

Other notable New Hollywood filmmakers: