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September 15, 2010


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He'll always be Kid Twist to me.

Grant L

Had forgotten he was also Engulf (of Engulf & Devour) in Mel Brooks' last great one, Silent Movie. He made a lot of his few scenes, especially the one where a smidgen of compassion in one of his yes-men makes him literally rabid...RIP.

Roy Edroso

Gould gliding along and tapping his nose is one of the few things I remember from The Sting.


Speaking of being smarmy, I wonder if "inestimable" is actually the word you're after there.

Mr. Peel

When he turned up in the Jamie Lee Curtis-Lindsay Lohan FREAKY FRIDAY I couldn't help but think, 'Holy cow! He's still alive!'

Several months back I watched the Goldie Hawn-Chevy Chase vehicle SEEMS LIKE OLD TIMES, which hasn't aged all that well but his performance as the judge is the closest anyone in the movie comes to capturing the right kind of 30s screwball vibe and he's very funny in it. Plus he was Rhoda's dad. It was and will continue to be hard for me not to smile when he turns up in something.


He was one of those guys who was always around. I saw him in God knows how many TV shows as a kid, and then I'd start seeing him LOVE & DEATH and THE STING, and the guy just seemed like he was everywhere. I was perfectly happy that he was.

Kent Jones

"I couldn't help but think, 'Holy cow! He's still alive!'" I had the same feeling when I saw STUART LITTLE. In which he doesn't say a word. I was happy to see his face, but saddened to think that he'd been incapacitated by a stroke or something. But then I saw that he did voice work for an animated movie a few years later. So: what were they thinking when they cast an actor with such a beautiful vocal instrument and then stripped him of his dialogue?

Of course he didn't speak in SILENT MOVIE either. But..."Mel Brooks' last great one?" You're kidding, right? That's before HIGH ANXIETY, HISTORY OF THE WORLD PART I, SPACEBALLS, my beloved LIFE STINKS, and DRACULA: DEAD AND LOVING IT. I even liked the ROBIN HOOD movie. And the TO BE OR NOT TO BE remake - I know somebody else got the credit, but it's a Brooks film.


Always liked him. He did a lot of good stage work too, including as part of the original cast of John Guare's "House of Blue Leaves."

Grant L

Kent, I think it's just a matter of the particular wording and my particular feelings. Loved Mel from an early age, still love him, and would place most of the titles you mention in the range of good to very good with reservations. But for me Silent Movie was the last great one because it was the last to be consistently funny and inventive throughout, with few or no dull, sloppy (sloppy for him, anyway) or misguided patches or gags so lame I just feel sorry for him. I'll still happily sit down and watch most any of his - especially High Anxiety, History of the World or Life Stinks (though not Robin Hood or Dracula).

Kent Jones

Understood. But DRACULA has some great stuff in it - like the scene where he guides Mina through the wrong doors and into walls, or driving the stake through Lucy's heart. And the actual "Life stinks!" moment in LIFE STINKS is one of the most hilarious scenes he ever put on film. The scene where he gets pushed into the dumpster and pissed on isn't far behind. And that movie has real gravity, too.

Grant L

Agreed, and I also get tickled by the bit where he's trying out the dance that the street kid taught him. My first and last viewing of Dracula was quite awhile back and so it might be time to revisit.

Also, it's a shame that When Things Were Rotten hasn't turned up on video. I only got to see one episode when it originally aired, but it was pretty prime.


DRACULA's his most underrated film. It was a return to the "old" Mel; i.e., not dumbing down the jokes for the kids, as he did in SPACEBALLS and ROBIN HOOD.

There's a rumor about that ROTTEN is on its way to DVD. Can anyone confirm?

Kent Jones

Okay, but..."You went over my HELMET?" And the establishing shot of the spaceship in SPACEBALLS is hilarious.


I must admit that I hate SPACEBALLS, but I think HIGH ANXIETY is very underrated. I think the funniest moment in any Mel Brooks film is in that one, when Harvey Korman runs downstairs, thinking he's in time for his fruit cup. Please note, the thing that tips this moment from amusing to gut-busting is when Korman dips his spoon down, and starts to raise it back to his mouth, even though his fruit cup is no longer there.

Evelyn Roak

I fully support SPACEBALLS. And re: the opening/establishing shot, on the commentary track (which, recorded for the laserdisc, is outstanding--hilarious) Mel Brooks comments as the ship passes and passes that he wanted to make the entire film that shot for 90 minutes.

Kent Jones

Regarding HIGH ANXIETY. I wonder if anyone has ever seen Cheryl Crawford, the co-founder of The Group Theatre and The Actors' Studio, on camera. I saw her in a documentary and I was flabbergasted. Let's just say that she bears a VERY strong resemblance, visually and vocally, to Nurse Diesel.


Twist: "You get that nose in Duke Boudreau's?"

Eirie nods a reluctant, "Yeah."

Twist: "You got moxie, Eirie. Get yourself a suit."


Dang, I unfortunately bought into the critical slamming that attended most of Brooks' 80s and beyond output and skipped most all of it, not wanting to see how the mighty had fallen. I know better than that now, always preferring to make up my own mind, but I have a lot of backtracking to do.

I still bust a gut just thinking about Gregory Hines' greeting to Oedipus in HISTORY OF THE WORLD PART 1 though.

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