Thursday, March 2, 2017

Sometimes One Thing Leads To The Same Thing Part 1

This post contains bad, foul, filthy and unacceptable language - the words that “will curve your spine, grow hair on your hands and maybe, even bring us, God help us, peace without honor.”

This is not a post for children.  Kids, take a hike.
This is also not a post for those adults who are offended by this type of language.  Do yourself a favor, and go read some of my cute stuff before moral outrage can kick in.
Just about everything else on this blog is clean…Stupid sometimes, but clean.
End of Warning.

It is time for the George Awards to address what must have been immediately noticed by fans of cinematic Dick Jokes and Funny Sex Scenes as an egregious omission.

I realized as soon as I started the barest seeds of the ideas for this year’s awards lists, that Mel Brooks’s films would easily dominate, if not completely fill both of them.

Therefore it’s time to bestow a second Lifetime Achievement George Award upon Mel Brooks, as we review applicable comedy highlight (or filthy lowlight- to those with a less developed sense of fun) moments throughout his works.

With Mel, sometimes it the situation, sometimes it’s the reaction…and often it’s the whole package of foolishness.

1968- The Producers
The film, and Mel's movie career, opens with Zero Mostel as Max Bialystok being simultaneously beaten up by and fooling around with little old lady Estelle Winwood as "Hold Me! Touch Me!"  It’s a tossup between which is the punch line, Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder) needing to be told to say, “Oops!” and following it up with, “I'm terribly sorry I caught you with the old lady.”

Or the exchange between Mostel and Winwood in between the Wilder moments:

Hold Me- “And after that we'll play the abduction and cruel rape of Lucretia
... And I'll play Lucretia.”
Zero- “And I’ll be rape.”

1970 The Twelve Chairs

Much calmer than most of Brooks’s later outings, but there is the character defining introduction of charming conman Ostap Bender played by Frank Langella.  What begins as some mutual ravishing between him and a previously alone at home wife, quickly transforms into a tirade against her befuddled husband (and a proto-CPR lesson) for allowing her to over work herself into a faint.

“Out with the good air, in with the bad air.”

1974 Blazing Saddles

This is where the man hits his stride, aided by the equally beautiful, musical, and comedic Madeline Kahn for the first of many instances in this list.

In her role as the Teutonic Titwillow, Lilly von Shtupp, she delivers the classic, “Hey there, handsome. Is that a ten-gallon hat, or are you just enjoying the show?” perfectly.

And I’m pretty sure the rest of her, “I’m Tired” number belongs on at least one of these lists.

But it’s her romantic twist with Cleavon Little’s Sherriff Bart…

Of, “Excuse me while I whip this out,” fame…

That shines in the darkness.

Lili von Shtupp- “Tell me, schatze,
is it twue what they say about the way you people are... gifted?”
*zipper sound*
“Oh, it's twue. It's twue. It's twue, it's twue!”

Sadly, a deleted line would have won this year’s all time George Award, I’ve seen or heard several versions around the gag of him letting her down that she’s sucking on his elbow/arm.  The shnitzengruben was a nice touch though.

1974 (again) Young Frankenstein

In my almost worthless opinion, this is the greatest comedy ever made. Not a moment of the film is wasted. It’s a perfect combination of two comic geniuses’ styles, Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder.

Of course, one of the most famous lines in the film is Teri Garr’s (Inga’s) innocently shocked realization about Gene Wilder’s (Doctor Frankenstein’s) upscaling anatomy.  Her and Marty Feldman’s (Eye-gor’s) reactions give the scene an extra boost.

Doctor *reading*- “For the experiment to be a success,
all of the body parts must be enlarged.”
Inga- “His veins, his feet, his hands,
his organs
vould all have to be increased in size.”
Doctor- “Precisely.”

Inga- *expression of stunned discovery* -
“He vould have an enormous schwanzschtücker!”
Doctor- *comic pause*
“That goes without saying.”
Inga- “Voof.”
Igor- “He's going to be very popular.”

There’s also a magnificent aftermath moment, where Cloris Leachman as Frau Blucher (*whiiiiny*) finds the Doctor and Inga “working” and informs them of his fiancée’s arrival. She appears to be ignoring the state they’re in until the magnificent deadpan delivery of her final line:

“I suggest you put on a tie!”

However, the crowning moment for both these lists needs to be yet another George Award to Madeline Kahn (Elizabeth) for a bit that included a callback to the “Voof” above.

Her operatically trained singing voice reacting to the Monster’s passionate embrace belted out a song that even Mel Brooks didn’t know was coming and knocked him out of the director’s chair with laughter.

Sweet mystery of life, at last I've found you!”

It’s a testament to how funny that woman was, based on how many years of watching her perform it took before I noticed how attractive she was.

1976 Silent Movie

The power of Mel is pretty conclusively demonstrated that he was able to have a hit with a silent comedy full of big named stars in the mid Seventies that saved a studio…that was about a director (played by Mel) making a silent movie full of big named stars to save a studio.

Due to the nature of the film types he was spoofing, the Dick and Sex jokes quota is on the low side for Mr. Brooks in this one. 

It’s still award worthy, though.  I give you the table raising reactions of the Board of Director of Engulf and Devour, led by Harold Gould and Ron Carey, and including a large number of Mel’s collaborators, raising the table to Bernadette Peters playing Vilma “Ba-ba Loooooooooooooo!” Kaplan.

1977 High Anxiety

While it doesn’t truly count, Madeline Kahn’s shocked transitioning to titillated performance makes it worth mentioning Victoria Brisbane’s reactions to the “obscene phone call” caused by Braces (Rudy Deluca again) trying to strangle Dr. Richard Harpo Thorndyke (Brooks)

“How did you,
ummmm... get my room number?
I am not going to listen to any more of this!
I mean, I've had just about enough!
What are you wearing?
Jeans? You're wearing jeans?
I bet they're tight.”

The crowning George Award moment for this film (for this year’s lists anyway) has to be when Doctor Thorndyke’s keynote address on penis envy is interrupted by a psychologist forced to bring his two young children to the seminar.

Thorndyke- “As I was saying, in a world of
predominantly male-oriented psychology,
it was only natural to arrive at the term, pee...
Peepee envy.”
Other doctor hilariously playing along –“Are you saying there's absolutely no validity to...
peepee envy?”
Thorndyke, “It has no more validity than if a man envied a woman's...

The scene wanders through “cocky-doody” as more of the professional scientists join in until Brooks reaches the magnificent conclusion:

Thorndyke – “Let me backtrack for a second.
The female erogenous zone.”
Befuddled but still helpful scientist- “You mean the balloons?”
Thorndyke –“No. Lower, much lower.
Where the babies come out.
The woowoo.”
Befuddled but still helpful scientist- “The woowoo?”
Thorndyke- “Yes. The woowoo.
Perhaps the most significant psychological feminine component
...known to mankind.”

Click here eventually for the big one leading off part 2.

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