Mel Brooks Turns 95: All of His Movies Ranked, From 'Blazing Saddles' to 'Spaceballs' (Photos)

Which of his 11 films reigns supreme?


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11. “Dracula: Dead and Loving It” (1995)

A nice chuckle here and there, but offered too little, too late (the Francis Ford Coppola-directed “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” was out three years prior to this). Forgive the pun, but it kinda sucks.

10. “Life Stinks” (1990)

Brooks starred as a crass CEO forced onto the streets for 30 days, which seemed like a slam dunk but proved to be a major box office disappointment. He and Lesley Ann Warren (as a fellow homeless love interest) have a sweet chemistry, but the foundation is a about as wobbly as a cardboard home.

9. “History of the World, Pt. 1” (1981)

Like any multipart comedy, there will be guffaws and groaners. This one has perhaps a bit too much of the latter, but contains some really fun cameos, including Bea Arthur and John Hurt (above) as Jesus.

8. “High Anxiety” (1977)

It was a big swing to parody Hitchcock, and Brooks nearly succeeds because of his keen appreciation for suspense flicks. But it’s still minor Brooks, and his genre targets hit the bull’s-eye more often in other projects.

7. “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” (1993)

Better than its reviews at the time might suggest, this spoof benefits from a bevy of classy clowns in supporting roles (including Dave Chappelle, Richard Lewis and the late Roger Rees) and Cary Elwes in ripping lead form assuming a dry-witted Robin Hood that, in the character’s words, can “speak with an English accent.”

6. “The Twelve Chairs” (1970)

Probably Brooks’ least-seen directorial effort, his take on the much-adapted 1928 Russian novel about a treasure hunt involving a mismatched trio (Ron Moody, Dom DeLuise and an on-the-rise Frank Langella) is a true curio for fans. Uneven for sure, but undeniably containing the visual vocabulary that Brooks would later use to unforgettable effect in subsequent films.

5. “The Producers” (1967)

Time and the innate wokeness of existence (not to mention an entire musicalization) has dulled some of the film’s sharper edges, and it’s not quite as funny as you remember. But Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder remain one of the best odd-couple pairings in movie history, the musical scenes still zing and — for a first feature, no less — Brooks’ way with words is undeniably impressive. (He won an Academy Award for his screenplay, a rarity for screen comedies.)

4. “Silent Movie” (1976)

Brooks aficionados often wonder why this blast of a movie never really gets its due but perhaps now it can. Not only a sharp Hollywood satire but incredibly creative within the silent-film confines it establishes, and including a first-rate assembly of great, comically expressive cut-ups that sock across every joke. And the idea to give Marcel Marceau the film’s sole spoken word is simply genius.

3. “Spaceballs” (1987)

Endlessly rewatchable, delightfully daffy, and surprisingly prescient about nerd culture and the overmerch-ificiation of movies, this “Star Wars” goof is even more popular now than when it was released. It also features the longest pronunciation of the word “air” even committed to film.

2. “Blazing Saddles” (1974)

Many have wondered if this salty saddles-and-spurs jab (about a Black sheriff comically battling racism and idiocy in the Old West) to is able to weather the modern day storm of reevaluation and scrutiny, and happily, it does. And this is due to Brooks’ supremely intelligent delegations: casting Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder in the lead roles, nabbing Richard Pryor (once tapped for Little’s role but rejected by the studio for his rascally reputation) as a key screenwriter, and making the sure the targets of ridicule are placed squarely where they always should be. Also: best fart scene ever.

1. “Young Frankenstein” (1974)

As the incomparable Madeline Kahn famously sang in the film, “sweet mystery of life, at last I’ve found you!” Brooks’ supreme masterwork has an extraordinary cast working at the peak of their powers with not one laugh line dropped (“He vaz my husband!” … “What knockers!” … the list goes on and on). The knowing, glorious black-and-white filmmaking would be justly appreciated even if the movie did not contain a single laugh. But as we all know, it contains enough of them to bring the dead back to life. 

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