With permission from Paco Martínez Soria, in the world of humorous cinema there is only one person who can say “I’m a kid!” and that person is Mel Brooks.

Seeing him today, brimming with health despite his wrinkles, it is easy to forget that this actor, director, producer and screenwriter was born in Brooklyn in 1926. And that, before deciding to make us laugh from the screen, he harnessed his hilarious arts in vaudeville and the Jewish theaters of the ‘borsch belt’.

Given the immortal size of comedy (not in the literal sense, although we would like to), we have started to remember the reasons why we have him on an altar … and we have come up with quite a few. Review them with us and surely you end up exclaiming “It’s good to be Mel!”

He laughed at the Nazis in his face

It was 1944, and the young man Melvin Kaminsky he was a bit fed up with being a soldier in World War II. Not so much because his recruitment would have deprived him of his potential careers (comedian, jazz drummer … and psychologist) or because he had to deactivate mines or fight in the Battle of the Bulge. It was, in his words, that “war is not hell: war is noisy.”

As if the explosion of the howitzers weren’t enough, in addition, the Nazi soldiers in the trench opposite did not stop playing propaganda recordings at an absurd volume. Something to which Brooks reacted drastically: After obtaining a sound equipment, he worked as a combat DJ, spinning songs by Jewish musicians like Al Jolson and dressing them with jokes of his vintage.

Thus, Mel has always vindicated his right to make humor at the expense of Nazism and fascism, as in The Producers and I am or I am not. As he well remembered when asked about it, his Jewish religion and the fact that he had fought copper with the Third Reich, enable him to do so well.

It is 2,000 years old (very well worn)

In the US, if you like comic TV and stand up, the name of Mel Brooks must always be pronounced next to that of Carl Reiner. Our hero and the daddy of Rob Reiner (Misery, The Princess Bride) They met working as screenwriters, to later form one of the most popular comedic duos of the superpower.

One of the Brooks-Reiner duo’s specialties was parodic interviews. And one of them, The 2,000-year-old man it has remained a classic in its own right. In it, among other things, Brooks gave us the secret of longevity: “Avoid fried foods, walk often and be very lucky.”

About romance with Anne Bancroft

In 1961, on the verge of divorcing Florence Baum, his first wife, Brooks met a beautiful, intelligent, Italian-born actress with a love of challenges who, in the words of Arthur Penn, It would have allowed him to play a player for the NY Yankees. “We hit each other with glue,” he recalled from their first meeting.

The Brooks-Bancroft relationship, formalized in 1964, was very balanced: while he made the world laugh, she gave us chills with movies like The miracle of Anna Sullivan (for which he won the Oscar in 1963) or, of course, The graduate. After Anne’s death, Mel recalled her saying that the secret to her happiness was “being able to put up with each other 24 hours a day.”

Su ‘bromance’ con Gene Wilder

In 1963, during his courtship with Anne Bancroft, Mel Brooks met an actor who acted with her in Mother courage and her children. Although the work of Bertolt Brecht It has very little comic, that interpreter complained that the stalls burst into laughter when he saw him appear. Brooks’s diagnosis? “Look in the mirror, and blame it on God.”

That young man, whose name was Gene Wilder, took note, and was recycled into one of the most successful comedic actors of all time. As for Mel, his advice paid off: Thanks to him, he had an exceptional talent for Producers, Warm Saddles Y Young Frankenstein, three of his best films.

His good taste for girls

If, in general, actresses have it crude to gain respect in Hollywood, let alone if they want to earn that respect by working on comedy. Luckily for him, and for them, Mel Brooks knew how to see talent beyond genre, and in his cinema there was always room for two titan of laughter: Madeline Kahn Y Cloris Leachman.

The dichotomy between the two is fully expressed in Young Frankenstein: while Kahn looks naive No, wallowing in the straw, Leachman takes advantage of his stern face to play the heartbreaking Mrs. Blücher. And, yes, you too have neighed when you read that name.

Created the best spy gadgets

James Bond? An amateur! If you want to meet the most effective secret agent of all time, check out Super agent 86, the series created by Brooks and Buck Henry in 1965. Its protagonist Maxwell Smart (Don Adams) He’s the only superspy licensed to make us laugh.

With a supporting cast headed by Barbara Feldon (the Agent 99, the real brain of the operation), Super agent 86 It is not only full of immortal gags, but also essential instruments in the arsenal of any agent, such as the cone of silence (very effective!) and, above all, that slipper of which they took good note Francisco Ibáñez and certain agents of the TIA.

It is much more cultured than it seems

“What a novelty!” The reader will now exclaim. “Now these smart guys will tell us about the influences of classic cinema in the work of Mel Brooks, such as his tributes to Hitchcock on Maximum anxiety ”. Well no. “And how did you launch the career of David Lynch signing him for The elephant Man?”. Neither.

Mel Brooks’s culinary side goes much further, including a nod to a whole James Joyce in the name of Leo Bloom, Gene Wilder’s character in The producers. But we prefer to focus on The Critic, short film from 1963 in which he shares his profound reflections on a short of abstract animation. His conclusion: “I don’t know much about psychoanalysis, but I think this is a dirty movie.”

Can pronounce “Frankenstein”

And how is it pronounced? Well, of course, “Frónkonstin”. Also, we remind you that “Igor” is pronounced “Áigor”. No problem.

You know what the Far West sounded like

Of course, now we are going to talk about Hot saddles (1974). A film that, beyond the song of Frankie Laine and the cameo of Count Basie and his orchestra, made western history revealing what John Ford never dared to bring our ears.

Because, as every genre fan knows, tough cowboys always dine on beans during their camping nights. And, what does that diet lead us to? Well, at the moment that you can see above, and that makes us regret that Mel Brooks has never directed an advertisement for Litoral fabadas.

He is a man of few words

This epigraph may come as a surprise, given that Mel Brooks is a great master of chitchat. But in 1976 our hero proved it by producing a silent movie (the first to come out of a Hollywood studio in nearly half a century) and making it a hit.

The latest madness which is how the film was titled in Spain, brought together a cast of bluebells that, in addition to Brooks, Bancroft and Marty Feldman, had Paul Newman, Liza Minelli, Burt Reynolds Y James Caan, all of them parodying themselves with relish. In addition, the film gave a role to Marcel Marceau, the great French master of mime … to pronounce the only word that sounds in the entire film.

He is a chess king

Surely, The crazy history of the world (1981) is not going to help anyone improve their grade of selectivity, but that does not matter: scenes like the musical number of the Inquisition or his look at the Roman Empire overrule any picky historian.

Of all the milestones in this movie, our favorite is that game of chess in the Gardens of Versailles. In addition to proposing interesting news to fans or giving a new meaning to the expression “lady’s gambit”, this moment gave us a phrase for the story with that “It’s good to be king.” Expression that, in Spain, has resonances of the most emeritus.

He’s a king of hip hop

As we have already pointed out, Mel Brooks has a very fine ear for music. But did you know that he was the first white artist to hit the gold record rapping in the US? You are right.

When hip hop was barely sticking its foot out of the ghetto, Mel dazzled the world with his flow in It’s Good to be King Rap, great song in which he demonstrated to have learned the teachings of Grandmaster Flash, Melle Mel and other pioneers of the genre.

In 1983, coinciding with the premiere of I am or I am not (his remake of To be or not to be, the classic of Ernst Lubitsch), Brooks again tried his luck with Hitler Rap. And, not content with such audacity, he surrounded himself in the video clip with hotties and young ladies with peaked caps and mustaches. It takes courage…

Goes faster than anyone

How fast? Well, how is it going to be: at absurd speed!

Review Spaceballs: The Crazy History of the Galaxies to find out more about this astronautics prodigy capable of breaking down the visible spectrum into a flirty Scottish plaid pattern.

It’s a toy

Always with an aftertaste between sour and spicy, Mel Brooks’s humor doesn’t quite fit in with Pixar’s upbeat whiteness. Or so we thought, because it turns out that our man has his own character in the world of Toy Story.

From Toy Story 4, Mel has lent his voice to an affable pachyderm whose name is, of course, Melephant Brooks. Here you can see him giving life lessons to the peace boy from Teni without losing patience.

Know how to take care of yourself in times of pandemic

As author of World War Z, Max Brooks He is one of the world’s leading experts on apocalypse, and an ideal person to record an announcement on sanitary measures against the coronavirus. What we never would have suspected is that his father, Mel Brooks, would also be in that ad …

Nonagenarian now, the old titan dedicated himself to nodding before sending his son home, which was not a plan to walk around with the one he was falling. But, for many, seeing him on screen made our day: if Mel Brooks has taught us anything, it is to laugh in the jaws of catastrophe.

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