Mel Brooks’ SILENT MOVIE (1976) – Not Chaplin, but funny enough

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The following is my contribution to The Mel Brooks Blogathon, being hosted by The Cinematic Frontier from June 28-30, 2016. Click on the above banner, and read bloggers’ critiques of movies directed by the famous funnyman!

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Just about the time you roll your eyes at the hopelessness of the gags in Mel Brooks’s Silent Movie, a real gem comes along. As when a poster of Bernadette Peters in bosomy vamp mode is revealed, and some men seated at a table make the table rise without touching it. Or the gigantic prop fly that lands smack in the middle of Henny Youngman’s soup, inspiring the greatest one-liner in the history of silent movies.

Of course, the fact that Mel Brooks co-wrote, directed, and stars in this silent-film spoof is enough to tell you whether you’ll enjoy it or not. Surprisingly, this ramshackle farce has its basis in autobiography. At the time of this movie, Mel Brooks had just come off his Blazing Saddles/Young Frankenstein doubleheader, and 20th Century-Fox would probably have let Brooks film a spoof of the Yellow Pages at that point.

Thus comes the storyline of Mel Funn (Brooks), a washed-up movie director who comes up with the brilliant idea of making a silent movie. The studio director (Sid Caesar, who might have done better in Brooks’s role) agrees to the film as long as Funn can provide the appropriate big-name stars as box-office insurance. It doesn’t help that Funn’s studio is being threatened by the conglomerate of Engulf and Devour, and the studio needs a hit to make it back into the black.

Surprisingly enough, the big-name cameos provide some of the movie’s biggest laughs. Burt Reynolds takes a narcissistic shower and finds himself growing extra hands. Paul Newman pokes fun at his offscreen racing hobby by zooming around in a wheelchair. And famed mime Marcel Marceau finds his voice in the movie’s only line of dialogue.

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On the other hand, Marty Feldman and Dom DeLuise, who would seem an obvious choice as Mel’s crazy cronies, are a little joke that gets stretched a long way. Yet even when the movie isn’t as hysterical as it thinks it is, it causes you to smile throughout and to wish silent film was still a viable alternative for physical comedians, instead of an occasional novelty put to use by a hit filmmaker who could make any movie he wanted.

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Cartoon violence: Are we really better off without it?

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If you grew up in my (old, old) era, you remember Cracked magazine mostly as a rip-off of Mad. Well, they’re online now, at Cracked.com, and they’ve really upped their game, with some very incisive satirical writing.

Below is a link to a beautiful Cracked piece about how TV and theatrical cartoons have become uber-politically correct, and how, sadly, our society isn’t a whit better off for it:

http://www.cracked.com/funny-3621-cartoon-violence/

2nd Annual SEX! (now that I have your attention) Blogathon – Da Big Finish

Well, it’s been fantastic, bloggers — but let’s just be friends. I’m here to present

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If you happened to miss the first two days of the ‘thon, click below for the respective recap:

Day 1 Recap * Day 2 Recap

Our last few entrants struggled to the finish line of our blogathon of suggestively sexy movies, but they gave it everything they had and made it. (Click on the appropriate blog’s name to read his or her entry.)

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The Flapper Dame wonders how Tom Ewell can possibly keep his cool around Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch.

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Outspoken & Freckled conclusively proves why silent-screen siren Clara Bow is It.

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Flickers in Time says God only knows how Robert Mitchum got washed up on the same island as nun Deborah Kerr in Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison.

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Pop Culture Reverie echoes the sentiments of Patty O’Neill (Maggie McNamara) in The Moon Is Blue: “Don’t you think it’s better to be preoccupied with sex than occupied?”

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Another sexy silent film, Ernst Lubitsch’s Lady Windermere’s Fan, is herein examined by Silent Wierdness.

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Serendipitous Anachronisms finds surprisng sexiness in Edwardian Britain in A Room with a View.

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And last but hardly least, Dell on Movies found his inner soundtrack playing Salt-n-Pepa as he watched the film-noir classic Double Indemnity.

Thanks to all of our wonderful blog guests for their time and contributions, and thanks to the readers who pored over the entries. May everyone have a summer that is sizzling in only the best way! And that wraps things up! (Now, Adrienne, the show’s over. Don’t think you can sneak in on us that way…)

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2nd Annual SEX! (now that I have your attention) Blogathon – Day 2 Recap

Apparently, everyone was drenched in afterglow from the first day of our blogathon, because we received only two entries today. Hopefully, things will pick up tomorrow for the finale. In the meantime, we invite you to come hither and enjoy

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If you missed the first day’s entries, click here: Day 1 Recap. And now, here are today’s sex-symbol bloggers. (Click on the blogs’ names to link to their blogathon entries.)

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Love Letters to Old Hollywood examines the intricate intimacy between Grace Kelly and Cary Grant in Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief.

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And Reelweegiemidget examines what happens when friends become lovers in Rob Reiner’s When Harry Met Sally.

Come back to this blog, because we supposedly still have nine bloggers left to submit their entries for the last day! Raquel, would you please drop your arm to signal the race to the finish? Raquel? No, no, the other arm…

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2nd Annual SEX! (now that I have your attention) Blogathon – Day 1 Recap

Summer is starting off with a bang (ahem), as we get our first round of blogs featuring movies that suggest sex rather than overtly depicting it. Tap into our bloggers’ psyches as we present

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(If you want to read any of the entries listed below, click on the name of the respective blog to link to their entry.)

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Moon in Gemini discusses how sexual chemistry makes Montgomery Clift take a turn for the worst (and for Elizabeth Taylor) in A Place in the Sun.

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B Noir Detour details how Edward G. Robinson’s desire for Joan Bennett ends up bringing a dark shade into his life in the film noir Scarlett Street.

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Vivien Leigh’s sudden appearance in the lives of Marlon Brando and Kim Hunter adds to their sexual (and other) tensions, as Defiant Success points out in her critique of A Streetcar Named Desire.

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Thoughts All Sorts bypasses film criticism and just lovingly states why the passion between Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen in the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice gives a “tingly” feeling to moviegoers.

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Meredy.com shows us why Jean Harlow believes that, while blondes might have more fun, she’ll get further up the social scale as a Red-Headed Woman.

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Even high-society people can’t always get what they want, as Pfeiffer Pfilms and Meg Movies points out in his take on Michelle Pfeiffer and Daniel Day-Lewis’ doomed romance in The Age of Innocence.

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And lastly, Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell are unapologetic in their lust for, respectively, diamonds and muscular men, as your faithful correspondent points out in my genuflection to Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

And we still have two more days of fun, sexy movies to go! Keep this blog bookmarked and check back with us, as further entertaining reviews shake up the blog world!

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Happy Father’s Day!

The best gift anyone can ever give me on Father’s Day is Chuck Jones’ delightful 1951 cartoon A Bear for Punishment (embedded below). Jones said that he based the cartoon on his then-young daughter Linda’s well-meaning but inept attempts to honor him on Father’s Day.

The uncredited but superb voice work is provided by Stan Freberg (Junyer Bear), Bea Benederet (Ma Bear), and Billy Bletcher (Pa Bear; he also voiced the Big Bad Wolf in Disney’s Three Little Pigs cartoon). If this cartoon’s finale doesn’t leave you convulsed with laughter, see your doctor.