22 November 2008 | notevenwordshere
This is a silent review
In the land of Mel Brooks, Blazing Saddles is often deemed king. Equal successes like Young Frankenstein and The Producers are the king's notorious sons, while Spaceballs is his court jester. And I think it's safe to say Robin Hood: Men in Tights and History of the World Part I would be the beheaded wives unable to bear him children.
But, to stretch this metaphor so thin you can see the blood running through the blue veins of its translucent skin, there's the wise old man, an adviser -- he is, in fact, the king's ailing father. Such is Silent Movie, and such is its role in the kingdom.
Making a silent film in 1976 was a gutsy move, which Brooks parodies by making the plot of Silent Movie about a director trying to make a silent picture. With only one word of dialogue -- spoken, ironically, by Marcel Marceau -- the film relies heavily on the forgotten arts of vaudeville and slapstick. Brooks is not foreign to these tricks; in fact, they have always been the primary source of laughter in all his movies. Sight gags and outrageous behavior are his fodder, and he uses them abundantly here: the Coke machine battle; the board room's reaction to Vilma Kaplan's picture; the heart monitor/Pong machine; and more.
Silent Movie is full of laughs, far more than any director has the right to expect. The reason is because Mel Brooks (who is teamed up here with the very funny duo of Dom DeLuise and Marty Feldman) will try anything for a laugh, no matter how silly. Even if we're not laughing, we're chuckling; and if we're not chuckling, we're smiling at the audacity.
To return brazenly to that thin metaphor I hatched earlier would be a kind of critical suicide. Yet I might as well. Blazing Saddles may be king, and Silent Movie may be the wise adviser. And Young Frankenstein and The Producers may be princes. But royalty usually serves a god. That god is Mel Brooks -- and with every movie of his that I see, I realize just how much I love going to his church.