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Comedy
6 Great Mel Brooks Movie Moments, In Honour Of His Lifetime Achievement Award
June 7, 2013
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There's a real art to making great comedy - and Mel Brooks is one of the truest artists out there.

Last night, the American Film Institute (AFI) honoured Brooks with a Lifetime Achievement Award. The ceremony went down in Hollywood, with lots of film legends showing up to pay tribute.

Martin Short kicked off the festivities with a medley of song-and-dance routines from Brooks' films, and a backhanded compliment:

"The word genius is used a lot in Hollywood, so I might as well call Mel one," he said.

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Martin Scorsese handed out the award, as Woody Allen, Steven Spielberg, and Clint Eastwood looked on via video, and Robert DeNiro, David Lynch and many others were in attendance.

People were appropriately unserious during most of the ceremony. Larry David said he was so intimidated by Brooks' talent that he "spent years doing nothing," and Jimmy Kimmel said "We are going to miss you so much, Mel. You were one of the greats. Rest in peace, my friend."

The 86-year-old swore at Kimmel in his acceptance speech, and added "I'm not going to die."

But he also said some heartfelt things about the role film has played in his life:

"Movies," he said, "rescued my soul. No matter what was bad or wrong, it could be wiped out on Saturday morning.''

In honour of Mel's years making comedy look easy, here are some great moments from his films.

Spaceballs

In 1987, Mel Brooks released 'Spaceballs', a science fiction parody loosely based on 'Star Wars', with nods to 'Alien', 'Star Trek' and the 'Planet of the Apes' films thrown in.

It wasn't a critical hit at the time, but it's found a huge fan base on video, and with good reason - from the crew of villains literally "combing" the desert to the epic confrontation between Lone Star and Dark Helmet (above), it's a ridiculous and ridiculously entertaining take on the genre.

Check out the 1:13 mark when the crew gets involved in the laser sword fight for an example of the unexpected absurdity that makes Brooks' films so great.

Blazing Saddles

Resorting to bodily functions to get laughs is usually a cinematic faux pas.

But 'Blazing Saddles' gets away with it for a couple of reasons. For one thing, it was the first-ever fart scene in a movie.

For another, it's just so unnecessary and over the top that you have to go with it. Baked beans are to blame.

Silent Movie

Several decades before 'The Artist' would bring silent cinema back to the big screen, Brooks released 'Silent Movie', a feature-length parody of the genre.

It featured a lot of cameos from celebrities, many of whom played themselves. But arguably the best of all was the famous French mime, Marcel Marceau.

No one speaks a word in the entire film, with one hilarious exception: Marceau himself.

The Producers

Is there a less appropriate subject for a stage musical than a sympathetic retelling of the life of Adolf Hitler?

Probably not - and that's part of what makes 'The Producers', the story of a theatre producer and an accountant who set out to create a surefire failure of a stage show in order to defraud investors, such a brilliant comic success.

The scene above is part of the musical within the movie - 'Springtime for Hitler'.

The movie came out in 1968, and Roger Ebert remembers riding an elevator with Brooks later that year. A woman recognized him and told him 'The Producers' was vulgar. His response?

"Lady, it rose below vulgarity."

History of the World, Part I

Some things you might not know about the French Revolution: back then, people didn't speak French, just English with a silly accent. Street vendors sold apple cores, rats, and of course, "nothing" to their fellow poor people.

And the whole Revolution started with a bunch of coughing.

Robin Hood, Men In Tights

Robin Hood has been brought to the screen many times, but very few adaptations include an extended homage to 'The Godfather'.

The movie was also Dave Chappelle's first role (he plays the son of Isaac Hayes' character, Asneeze. And Chappelle's character is named Ahchoo, obviously), and a brief cameo from Patrick Stewart as King Richard.

Via BBC

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