History of the World: Part I (1981) Poster


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The vestal virgins (who took the oath of chastity) in Caeser's palace in "The Roman Empire" segment are all Playboy playmates. The film's closing credits declare that the "Vestal Virgins [were] portrayed by Playboy playmates & models". Hugh M. Hefner (Playboy's patron) appears as the pipe-smoking entrepreneur talking about his invention, the "centerfold".
Gregory Hines replaced Richard Pryor. Just like in Mel Brooks' earlier Blazing Saddles (1974), Pryor was originally cast but had to pull out of the picture. Pryor's part eventually was taken by Hines in his screen debut. Just before filming was to begin, Pryor had his infamous drug-related accident, catching fire and getting severely burnt.
The film is responsible for popularizing the catch-phrase "It's good to be the king". The expression is repeatedly said by Mel Brooks during "The French Revolution" segment.
When the Court Spokesman is whispering "Remember thou art mortal", that actually happened. When a Roman general entered Rome after a successful campaign, he had a servant riding in his carriage with him, whispering that in his ear.
The tune used in the 'Jews in Space' segment was later recycled into the 'Men in Tights' number from Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993).
At the beginning of the French Revolution segment, the street sign reads "Rue De Merde", which is French for "Shit Street".
At the beginning of the French Revolution segment, the sign we see outside of Mademoiselle De Farge's hotel reads "Serving the Scum of Paris for 300 years". The French Revolution takes place in 1789 (according to the Piss Boy ("Garçon de Pisse") posing as King Louis, played by Mel Brooks). The previous segment depicting the Spanish Inquisition takes place in 1489 (according to Orson Welles' introduction), which is exactly 300 years earlier.
The scene where the showgirls rise out of the water (the Inquisition routine) is actually being played in reverse. The shot was of the girls being lowered.
Debut feature film of actor Gregory Hines and actress Mary-Margaret Humes.
The film makes quite extensive use of matte paintings for backgrounds. Every segment (except "The Stone Age" and "The Old Testament") features backgrounds that are nothing more than paintings, especially in the segments' establishing shots and in numerous wide shots. Such paintings were used for the harbor and for many of the city shots in "The Roman Empire", the castle in "The Spanish Inquisition" and both the city and the countryside in "The French Revolution."
The person responsible for the matte paintings, Albert Whitlock, was drafted to appear in front of the camera. He is the gentleman with the prominent English accent selling used chariots.
John Hurt did this movie because he had just gotten through doing two seriously dramatic films, and said that he wanted to have some fun and do a comedy. Hurt previously started in the title role in the Mel Brooks produced The Elephant Man (1980). That movie later became the subject of a comedy itself with "The Elephant Man" musical segments in The Tall Guy (1989).
This is the second Mel Brooks film in which Harvey Korman's character has to correct someone on the pronunciation of his name. The first one was Blazing Saddles (1974).
Appearing in this movie was Brooks regular Madeline Kahn who had previously appeared in Brooks' Blazing Saddles (1974); Young Frankenstein (1974) and High Anxiety (1977).
Mel Brooks plays five roles in this movie. Brooks plays Moses, Comicus, Torquemada, Jacques and King Louis XVI. This is the most parts Brooks has ever done in a theatrical movie.
Mel Brooks cast Mary-Margaret Humes as the Vestal Virgin Miriam for the Roman Empire segment after first seeing her picture on a Sunset Boulevard billboard.
The movie's closing credits were designed like the opening credits of another 20th Century Fox production of a "Star Wars" film, of which at the time the picture was made, there had only been two, Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) and Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980). The credits directly followed the "Jews In Space" segment which is said to have anticipated Mel Brooks later "Star Wars" spoof Spaceballs (1987) which was made and released about six years after this picture.
The movie's title is is a play on "The Historie of the World, Volume 1" by Sir Walter Raleigh. According to Wikipedia, "The History of the World was a book about the ancient history of Greece and Rome, written by Sir Walter Raleigh while prisoner in the Tower of London; he had only managed to complete the first volume before being beheaded". According to the British Explorers website, "whilst in the Bloody Tower he [Raleigh] wrote the "History of the World"...which was first printed in 1614. It was composed of five volumes but only reached as far as the second Macedonian War in 130 BC".
The background music in the Viking funeral sequence is recycled from John Morris' score for Brooks' The Twelve Chairs (1970).
The scene of the Viking Funeral uses footage from The Vikings (1958).
The musical number in "The Spanish Inquisition" segment was choreographed in the style of an old MGM musical featuring an Esther Williams water-ballet in a swimming-pool.
The French palace in "The French Revolution" segment was not French but actually English. The facility used to double for the gigantic French maison-chalet was historic Blenheim Palace in Oxford, England. Authorisation to film there came from, as billed in the film's closing credits, with the permission of England's Duke of Marlborough.
John Cleese turned down the role of Count DeMonet due to scheduling conflicts.
The character name of Swiftus Lazarus, played by Ron Carey, was a spoof of the name of Hollywood agent Swifty Lazar.
The movie feature such regular Mel Brooks alumni regulars and stock-players as Dom DeLuise, Madeline Kahn, Harvey Korman, Sid Caesar, Cloris Leachman, Ron Clark and Howard Morris.
The Red Sea parting by Moses (Mel Brooks) scene used the Universal Studios' attraction.
Well known for his distinctive voice work, as well as an actor and director, this movie was the final feature film where Orson Welles was billed as a narrator.
This movie's first two segments are The Dawn of Man and The Stone Age. This picture was released around the same time as the serious prehistoric drama Quest for Fire (1981) (Quest for Fire (1981)) as well as the prehistoric comedy Caveman (1981). These three movies were all first-released in 1981.
Parts of history that are spoofed and parodied in this movie include The Dawn of Man; The Stone Age; Moses and the Ten Commandments; The Roman Empire; The Vikings; The Spanish Inquisition; World War II and The French Revolution. The only segment in this film which is not history-related is the Jews in Space sketch.
Final feature film of actor John Myhers.
Appearing in this movie was Andréas Voutsinas who had previously appeared in both Brooks' The Producers (1967) and The Twelve Chairs (1970). This was the first Brooks movie for Voutsinas in just over a decade or eleven years.
Mel Brooks performed a number of duties on this picture. Brooks acted in five roles, was writer, producer and director, as well as composer and lyrics writer for the songs "Jews In Space" and "The Inquisition", being also the performer of the latter.
Debut American / Hollywood movie of New Zealand born Australian and later British actress-comedienne Pamela Stephenson.
"Garçon de Pisse" is French for "piss-boy".
The mispronounced name that the Count de Monet (Harvey Korman) was mistakenly called was the "Count da Money".
The lavish castle dungeon set featured in "The Spanish Inquisition" segment reportedly cost around US $1 million to construct.
The picture was nominated for Worst Picture at the Hastings Bad Cinema Society's 4th Stinkers Bad Movie Awards in 1981.
Appearing in this movie was Sid Caesar who had previously appeared in Brooks' Silent Movie (1976).
Mel Brooks came up with the name for this film because he was tired of people asking him what his next movie would be. Publicity for this picture stated
Of all the episodes in this movie, the Roman Empire segment is the longest, running at forty-nine minutes.
The movie is an "episodic comedy in the spirit of Monty Python" according to Paul Brenner at Allmovie stating also that "the French revolution section is a broad parody of The Man in the Iron Mask story".
Appearing in this movie was Brooks regular Dom DeLuise who had previously appeared in Brooks' The Twelve Chairs (1970); Blazing Saddles (1974) and Silent Movie (1976).
Appearing in this movie was Harvey Korman who had previously appeared in Brooks' Blazing Saddles (1974) and High Anxiety (1977).
Appearing in this movie was Cloris Leachman who had previously appeared in Brooks' and Young Frankenstein (1974) and High Anxiety (1977).
The movie feature such regular Mel Brooks alumni regulars and stock-players as Dom DeLuise, Madeline Kahn, Harvey Korman, Sid Caesar, Cloris Leachman, Ron Clark, Howard Morris and Andréas Voutsinas.
Star Billing: Mel Brooks (1st), Dom DeLuise (2nd), Madeline Kahn (3rd), Harvey Korman (4th), Cloris Leachman (5th), Ron Carey (6th), Gregory Hines (7th), Pamela Stephenson (8th), Shecky Greene (9th), Sid Caesar (10th) and Orson Welles (11th).
Average Shot Length ~6.0 seconds. Median Shot Length = ~5.7 seconds.
Mary-Margaret Humes receives an "introducing" credit.
The name of the white horse was "Miracle".


Bea Arthur:  Uncredited, as a dole office unemployment clerk in "The Roman Empire" segment.
Hugh M. Hefner:  As an entrepreneur in "The Roman Empire" segment revealing a new concept, "The Centrefold".
John Hurt:  As Jesus Christ in "The Last Supper" part of "The Roman Empire" segment.
Barry LevinsonMel Brooks' co-writer on Silent Movie (1976) and High Anxiety (1977) as Column Salesman in "The Roman Empire" segment.
Jackie Mason:  As Jew #1 in "The Spanish Inquisition" segment.
Henny Youngman:  As a Chemist in "The Roman Empire" segment.
Albert Whitlock:  Uncredited, the special effects fxpert as a Used Chariot Salesman in "The Roman Empire" segment.
Paul Mazursky:  As Roman Officer in "The Roman Empire" segment.
Royce D. Applegate:  In the "Coming Attractions" segment.
Andrew Sachs:  As Gerard in "The French Revolution" segment.

Director Trademark 

Mel Brooks:  [sequel]  At the end of the film, a trailer is shown for "History of the World: Part II". There never has been a movie called this. The Part 1 in this movie's title is a joke.

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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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