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The film concerns about history of the world in various parts, from the
dawn of human being until the distant future in French Revolution and
narrated by Orson Welles. The first part during the Stone age with a
sympathetic cavemen(Sid Caesar, Ron Carey) inventing the music. The
second about Roman Empire with a filthy emperor Nero(Don DeLuise) with
flatulence,a lecherous empress(Madeleine Khan) a slave(Gregory Hines)
and of course, Mel Brooks. The following , the Spanish Inquisition ,
again with Mel Brooks as Torquemada making a spectacular dances,
including a beautiful swimmers. The third part about French Revolution
with a lascivious Luis XVI(Brooks),a conspirator count of
Monet(recently deceased Harvey Korman) and a gorgeous Mademoiselle
Mel Brook's direction keeps things moving with laughs, he directed this sometimes hilarious, but mostly crude and bad taste spoof of history with ridiculous episodes, as how to test eunuchs or the lasciviousness of Luis XVI's court. The jokes come with machine-gun rapidly , though don't always work, there are so many of them that this comedy ends up with enoughs laughs for quite entertaining. It's a stupid movie but also funny and remains like a laugh-filled amusement. The movie hasn't the thematic unity of 'The producers, Blazing saddles and Young Frankestein', the Mel Brooks's best . The stars race around like maniacs and appear several famous uncredited, actors and directors, such as Hugh Hefner as Roman entrepreneur, Paul Mazursky as roman officer, Barry Levinson as column salesman, Art Metrano as Leonardo and John Hurt as Jesus in a bemusing sketch about the 'Last supper', among others. The film is classified 'PG', parents guide, as displays objectionable material, for occasional adult content, crude language and profanity. If it weren't in such bad taste and dirty humor , it would be perfect for the children.
While Mel Brooks seems best known for BLAZING SADDLES and YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, HISTORY OF THE WORLD:PART 1 still is my favorite. Lots of hilarious moments in here. I continue to bust up whenever I watch it! "The Spanish Inquisition" turns out a little too corny, but at least its worth looking at for the effort. LOL. Anyways, be sure to watch the un-edited version and get ready to roll. ***
Mel Brook's biggest indulgance as a film maker was also his biggest flop.
There are several possible reasons ... The seminal and hysterical
"Airplane!" had been released a couple of years previous to this.
"Airplane!" is generally considered to have done to film parody what "Star
Wars" did to sci-fi. In contrast, Mel's vaudavillian style burlesque
may have been too old fashioned (despite the littering of swear words and
However, I'm afraid there is only one real reason this filmed failed to
make any money. It wasn't funny. Attacking history with his shop worn
shtick may have been too great a task. Also, Mel is credited as writing,
producing and directing this picture single handedly. Perhaps he spread
himself too thin this time.
The film gets off to a funny enough start with a lampooning of Kubrick's
ultra dull epic "2001: A Space Odessy" by having a load of primates
masterbating. We are then given a narrated documentary of stone age man.
There are some gags, but nothing great.
Then there is a wonderfull Brooks moment as he plays Moses, dropping one
of the stone tablets with the 15 commandments on it. Then there is a long
sketch about the Roman Empire and things get deeply dull. Despite Madline
Khan, this section has few laughs. If there were any, the atmosphere is
murdered by a repulsive performance by the ever unfunny Dom De Luise.
funny, but here he manages to be stomach churningly awful. Because you can
see it in his eyes. He THINKS HE'S FUNNY!!!!
The Spanish Inquisition suffers for the same reason. Mel is in the full
grip of meglomaniac narcasism. You think he's parodying big show tunes and
dance numbers with that cheesy grin? He's trying not to laugh at his own
comic genious, leaving the rest of the audience out of the joke. On the
side we get a hysterically funny snippet of two imprisoned Jews relating
their woes in the form of song.
The French Revolution segmant is the most consistantly funny. Harvey
Korman makes a brilliant appearance with a great character name. There are
load of great gags. You get the impression that the cast, including
have finally got the balance needed to make the oddball script work. The
legendary Spike Milligan upstages Brooks with his small role in the film.
Mel, however, is in much better form and as the film comes to an end some
will feel not totally cheated.
There is a trailer for the film's sequal with probably the best gags.
The film is episodic, which is fine. But too often, Mel Brooks streches what is nothing more than a funny three minute sketch into a feeble twenty minutes. Mel Brooks fans will manage to watch the film and be amused. I'm a fan, however, and thought it a supreme waste fo time.
There's a little something to offend everyone in this hilarious history lesson, with some personal research by Mel Brooks. To me, it's funnier than, say SILENT MOVIE or HIGH ANXIETY, but not as good as BLAZING SADDLES or maybe YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN. My personal feeling is that HISTORY OF THE WORLD-PART 1 succeeds as being so hilarious due to the fact that it is so incredibly crude. It's a miracle that it gets shown on TV (even in a censored version). I own the book written by Mel Brooks in 1981. It is a telling of the movie complete with MANY photographs taken from the film. Sometimes, I think that the film gets mean-spirited, and that is when it isn't funny anymore. Mel Brooks is the undisputed comedy genius of the latter half of this century. Without a doubt, he has made more people laugh than any one else. His comedy is unique because while it is in bad taste, he somehow makes us feel good. Even in his first film, he makes us laugh at something in bad taste. This is where he is different from other, run-of-the-mill comics like Adam Sandler or Eddie Murphy, or SNL or anything like that- because Brooks' really knows what is funny. From his earliest effort to his latest, he remains a genius. But as for HISTORY OF THE WORLD. It seems to be his most popular movie with today's generation. BLAZING SADDLES is still popular, though. Of course, THE PRODUCERS, THE TWELVE CHAIRS, SILENT MOVIE, HIGH ANXIETY, TO BE OR NOT TO BE, and LIFE STINKS were all aimed at older audiences, his films like BLAZING SADDLES,YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, HISTORY OF THE WORLD, SPACEBALLS, ROBIN HOOD: MEN IN TIGHTS and DRACULA: DEAD AND LOVING IT will always be popular with the younger audiences.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Mel Brooks' blackout sketches, mostly involving cave men, ancient Rome,
the Inquisition, and the French Revolution, with a lot of other stuff
thrown in. The various shreds are so impulsively but personally patched
together that one wonders how he could have gotten such a cast, mostly
familiar old timers.
The style of the humor isn't what anyone would call fresh. A shot of a street in ancient Rome has a black guy walking along with a boombox against his ear. Ha ha. Facing the guillotine, Brooks is asked if he has any last requests. "Yes -- NOVACAINE!" "It hasn't been invented yet." "I'll wait!" And Brooks from time to time glances at the camera and makes comments on the shenanigans.
A lot of the humor is Jewish. During a parody of Esther Williams' movies we not only see seven girls in bathing suits (and caps) slowly emerge from the pool wearing sparklers on their heads, but as they go up and up we see that they're standing on a menorah. A drowning man shouts and the underwater bubble of his breath rises to the surface and pops and it says, "Oy, gewalt!" Maybe I should quit because otherwise I'll give away all the gags and some of them depend on the principle of fundamental surprise. Many of them also depend on vulgarity, in more than one language. It's about as politically correct as you can get. I don't know that even in a good-natured comedy that skewers politicians, racism, Judaism, Hollywood, and Holy Mother Church you could get away with calling someone a "fag" today. Or how about this. Gregory Hines' intact heterosexuality is revealed and someone shouts, "The jig is up!" "And gone," exclaims Hines, diving out the window.
For me the scene that works best is the one in which Brooks is Louis XVI, shooting down peasants as they are flung through the air like clay pigeons. He's in a ridiculous "King" costume and wears a villainous black mustache and a beauty spot. Strolling through the garden, he gooses Marie Antoinette, winks at the camera and says, "It's good to be da king." And when he's forcing a beautiful blond virgin to meet him later that night, in order to save her imprisoned father, he adopts this smug, conspiratorial tone as he tells her, "You do it. You KNOW you do it. You WANNA do it. We all do it." And he smiles wickedly at us and reminds us again that, "It's good to be da king." I said this was a good-natured comedy and what I mean is that it doesn't depend in any way on anger. There isn't even an undertone of nastiness. We see a sketch from what we used to call "coming attractions" -- "Hitler on Ice" -- and Hitler performs gracefully. The humor lies in the absurdity of the concept. Any value judgments about the subject are taken for granted.
Some of it looks quite a bit like Woody Allen, but it may be a case of independent invention. What it reminds me of at times are the "Road" films of Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. Now THAT'S good-natured comedy, although Brooks idea of fun is of course more urban, if not more urbane.
The bloated pompous baritone of Orson Welles introduces each new segment with portentous comments -- "The first weapon was the spear." Welles, like Brooks, is obviously kidding around too. Everybody is kidding around and the result is quite a lot of fun, despite the occasional wince.
This may well be one of the worst movies ever made - surely the worst Mel Brooks movie. It starts out with masturbating monkeys and goes downhill from there. Nothing rises above the level of grade school potty humor. What a waste of a terrific cast! Mel Brooks was never known for subtlety, but in "Young Frankenstein", "Blazing Saddles" and especially "The Producers", there are many bits of brilliant adult satire to balance out the groaners. "History' is all groaners. You can actually feel your brain melting while watching this thing. You can almost detect the actors trying to rise above the material, without success. Skip it.
I had watched this as a kid, a popular but not highly-regarded Brooks
effort. It is wildly uneven but, also, undeniably funny at times (even
if most of the gags are, unsurprisingly, of the vulgar kind).
Brooks managed to rope in Orson Welles to provide indifferent narration over his lampoon of various historical eras (the film's one-liners, too, read better than they play). Still, "The Stone Age" (featuring Sid Caesar) offers a nice parody of the "Dawn Of Man" sequence from Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968) while the brief but hilarious "The Old Testament" sees Brooks himself as Moses accidentally lose a third of God's original 15 Commandments! "The Roman Empire" the longest segment features Brooks veterans Dom De Luise and Madeleine Kahn, the film's single best joke (the Senators' spontaneous reply, in unison, to a fellow members' concern over the plight of the city's poor), plus wonderful conclusion involving John Hurt as Jesus Christ. "The Spanish Inquistion" is, again, brief but surely one of the film's highlights with its tastelessly inspired depiction of this infamous period as a Busby Berkeley-ish production number (though Brooks' typical Jewish jokes seem baffling in this context). Just as Monty Python had done the definitive parody of the Roman Empire with LIFE OF BRIAN (1979), "The French Revolution" follows on from the "Carry On" gang's DON'T LOSE YOUR HEAD (1966). The results are just as middling (involving the inevitable impersonation of the King by a commoner) but highlighting two established presences in Brooks' films, Harvey Korman and Cloris Leachman. Easily the funniest bit from this segment is the King's outrageous shooting practice.
Still, at the end of the day, Brooks can't avoid repeating himself: the "Walk This Way" gag from YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974) turns up here as well; Brooks' lecherous French king is virtually a copy of his Governor characterization in the Western spoof BLAZING SADDLES (1974); and the surreal nick-of-time escape at the very end, which also derives from the latter film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Parodying creation, the caveman film, the biblical epic, the crusaded
and the French Revolution, Mel Brooks got most of it right. There are
only a few groaners, a few eye raisers and many genuine laughs, a few
of them worthy of a Danny Thomas spit take.
Utilizing humor styles perfected the year earlier with "Airplane!" while utilizing his familiar style of delicious bad taste, Brooks uses much of his regular crew of funny people. With dry narration by Orson Welles, Brooks goes all out to satirize the genre of phony Hollywood history. The highlights are the Roman Empire sequence with a delightfully hysterical performance by Madeline Kahn as an unnamed Roman empress, with a deliberately grotesque performance by Dom De Luise as the Emperor. Historical timing would show it as Tiberious as the scene moved to Judea on the night of the last supper. Ironically, John Hurt who played Caligula in TV's "I Claudius" plays Jesus in a cameo.
The inquisition sequence is a parody just like "Springtime For Hitler" to show the atrocities against the Jewish population. It is semi- successful as long as you realize the point Brooks was making and the real history behind it.
Some great art direction makes the French Revolution sequence better than it actually is although the cameos by several familiar faces is also of help. With Cloris Leachman standing out as the Dickens character Madam De Farce, that segment is raised a notch, just as the Roman Empire sequence was with its cameo by Bea Arthur.
As for the coming attractions at the end, it now seems pointless, not only because there never was a sequel, but because it really isn't funny. So a in all a mixed bag, but middle of the road Brooks is certainly better than no Brooks.
After 30 years, I finally got to see the entirety of Mel Brooks' History of the World, Part I and I gotta say, I found most of it funny though I can understand why many critics were offended by much of it. There are quite a few scatological jokes from Dom DeLuise burping and farting in the Roman sequence to Harvey Korman's peeing in the French Revolution segment. And then there's Mel Brooks, who not only produced and directed this, but also single-handedly wrote it and stars in most of the sketches. Seeing him doing the Spanish Inquisition as a Busby Berkeley-Esther Williams number was perhaps the most irreverent thing he ever did especially when the nuns doff their uniforms to reveal their one-piece swimsuits and bathing caps! Gregory Hines made his film debut here and is a hoot whether doing his dance steps in order to keep him from trouble or making a giant joint to distract the Roman guards! Madeline Kahn and Cloris Leachman also contribute their funny selves to good effect and then there's longtime Brooks associate Sid Ceasar playing a cave man in the Stone Age segment also being his usual funny self. Really, all I'll say now is if you are a die-hard Brooks fan, I highly recommend History of the World, Part I.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie did middling box-office (as did all Mel Brooks movies from
this point on), but for my money, it's one of Brooks's funniest. Having
made his reputation with the 2000-Year-Old Man, it seems inevitable
that Brooks would eventually take on the spectrum (or sphincter, as he
might put it) of world history. And in the age of the Farrelly
Brothers, Brooks' ideas about bad taste seem almost quaint.
It begins with a lot of black-out gags (the first such gag amounting to, Ape Man = Onan) and takes off from there. The first sustained sequence, The Roman Empire, probably goes on a bit too long, and it "introduced" a buxom actress named Mary-Margaret Humes who, justifiably, went right back to obscurity shortly after the film's release. But there are also many enjoyable moments: Gregory Hines's mellow film debut, Madeline Kahn's ecstatic song tribute to her well-endowed male slaves, and most of all, the Last Supper sequence at the end--completely messed up time-wise (it puts Jesus and Leonardo da Vinci in the same shot), but all the more hilarious because of it. (John Hurt plays Jesus, and as in Brooks' "Spaceballs," his straight-faced seriousness just makes the insanity around him that much funnier.) The next sequence is one of Brooks' best: The Spanish Inquisition as a Marx Brothers-style musical number, with Mel Brooks as a socko Torquemada, beating out a rhythm on his victim's shackled knees. This sequence alone justifies Brooks's existence as a comedy director.
The sequence depicting The French Revolution, has two main objectives in mind: show off as much of (1) British comedienne Pamela Stephenson's bust and (2) Brooks's wee-wee humor as humanly possible. Nevertheless, it has its moments, with Cloris Leachman as Madame Defarge, and Brooks as a randy king.
The final short sequence, a trailer for Brooks's non-existent "History Part II," is worth the bother just for one of those moments that makes me laugh for no discernible reason: a scene from "Hitler on Ice," showing Brooks' favorite nasty German as an Ice Capader. This ersatz trailer is enough to make me wish Brooks had really made a sequel. I doubt it would have turned out any worse than "Spaceballs."
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