History of the World: Part I (1981) Poster

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It's Good to Be a King
Claudio Carvalho10 April 2015
Divided in six segments ("The Stone Age"; "The Old Testament"; "The Roman Empire"; "The Spanish Inquisition"; "The French Revolution"; and "Previews of Coming Attractions"), "History of the World: Part I" is an uneven parody of historical moments, but still worthwhile watching. This film is written, directed and produced by Mel Brooks, who is also the lead actor performing five roles. It is also the debut of Gregory Hines, who died so young. Narrated by Orson Welles, the film has a great cast and cameo appearance of many famous people.

Last but not the least, there is no sequel and Part I is another Mel Brook's joke, since Sir Walter Raleigh wrote The History of the World Volume 1 but was beheaded before writing the Volume 2. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "A História do Mundo: Parte I" ("The History of the World: Part I")
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OK; What do you expect???
deemo316 October 2004
I'm kind of surprised at some of the reviews of this film. Mainly the "very poor" and "putrid" ones. This is Mel Brooks having the time of his life. The marketplace scene is hilarious. "Plumbing! Pump s**t right out of your house! Plumbing!

It's a wild romp through early history, with a few side steps into vaudeville and Broadway. I disagree that this film is not a classic. There are enough funny lines to quote out of this film to keep the average frat house laughing through three or four kegs of Bud.

"Boy, when you die at the palace, you REALLY die at the palace!"

Madeline (The Queen): "What happens to the slaves?"

Queen's Maid: "If they're captured, they're hung."

Madeline (The Queen): "Not necessarily."

So I suggest that you take of the Jeffrey Lyons face, sit down with some chips and brews, and watch this movie if you haven't already done so. Slapstick? You bet. Silly? Of course. As I asked before. It's Mel Brooks. What do you expect????

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Witty AND Clever
Elswet3 March 2006
Although it is aged around the edges, History of the World is one of my favorite comedies. Admittedly, I have a good 100 in my "favorites" list, but HotW is definitely in the top 25. It is pure enjoyment and while sometimes raucous, it is never raunchy. Tactless, but never dumbed down, and that makes for the best kind of comedy.

In true Brooks fashion, this work takes you from a parody of life to a satirical pop-culture vehicle. Unfortunately, the many late 1970's pop-culture references throughout the dialog is what dates this work. Otherwise, it would still be fresh, today.

Led by Mel Brooks's polished stylized direction, this work is not only hilarious, but is clever in its irony. It never takes itself too seriously, and delivers with every scene.

If you liked Wholly Moses, you will LOVE this!

It rates a 6.4/10 from...

the Fiend :.
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I'm Still Awaiting Part II and "Hitler on Ice"
theowinthrop9 July 2006
Mel Brooks did not invent the comedy spoof movie, but his best work ("Blazing Saddles", "Young Frankenstein", "Dracula, Dead And Loving It", and "High Anxiety") certainly make the most of it - even if some of it gets rather too dirty (literally dirty - "caca" dirty). "History Of The World" is a funny film, but it is not one of his best films. It looks like it was based on bits and pieces of ideas that could have been built up into separate movies: a film about the stone age, a film about the Roman Empire, a film about the French Revolution. I am sure that Brooks was inventive enough to have created three film spoofs, but for some reason he decided to just concentrate on pasting these mini-spoofs together.

It has wonderful moments in it - some are thrown away. The four desperate refugees from the Roman Empire, followed by centurions, pray for a miracle. Suddenly they see an old man - Brooks dressed like Moses (from an earlier sequence in the film). A river is parted like the Red Sea with "Moses" arms in the air. The refugees flee thanking God and Moses. In a moment we see there is a robber in back of "Moses" holding him up (hence his arms in the air), and when the robber leaves the old man starts cursing him.

Similar stuff is throughout the film (typical of Brooks' inventiveness). After fleeing Rome, Brooks has reached Palestine and is the waiter serving the "Last Supper". Besides having a problem when he keeps saying "JEEZUS" causing John Hurt (who is Christ) to ask, "Yes?", there is the problem of the painting being done by Da Vinci (Art Metrano), and how Brooks manages to get into the background of the masterpiece - holding his tray like a halo behind Hurt).

Brooks uses a number of his regulars in the film: Madeline Kahn as the Empress Nympho, Dom DeLuis as the Emperor (one could call him "piggy" after one particular comment about his eating habits), Harvey Korman as the foppish Count du Monet, Sid Caesar as a caveman who is full of awe. He was also lucky to have Gregory Hines, usually a dancer but here a strikingly breezy comic, and Orson Welles doing the narration properly (note his voice's confusion at the start when describing the first heterosexual marriage, followed by the first homosexual one).

The disjointed style is a minor problem in enjoying the film. Judging from the final scenes from the sequel, Brooks could have done a Viking movie, a skating film about Nazism, and a space musical about the Jews. Alas, only those scenes were ever shot. A second part might not have been a great film either, but it would have been quite as amusing.
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Pretty good movie
Carl Christensen3 January 2001
This was actually a lot better than I expected. I'm more from a Monty Python humor background and some of the Mel Brooks humor is pretty campy and dated in a Marx Bros sense but it was still pretty darn good. It's hard not to like a guy who turns the Spanish Inquisition into a musical. I guess there's something for everyone to like (and be offended by).
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Mel Brook's best film, yet.
LisN2me22 June 1999
Classical comedy satire..Mel Brook's best film. Once you've seen this film, you will not forgot it. The punchlines keep rolling from the beginning of the film, and even past "the big ending". There is not much of a plot, but that is to be expected in a movie that contains a bunch of skits. If you like Monty Python, then you should love this movie. This movie is not for everyone, especially if you are easily offended. However the opening scene should tell you if you would have a problem watching the rest of the movie. This movie does currently rank in my top 10 comedies of all time.
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"He's definitely a eunich."
DarthBill28 April 2004
Marred only by overlength, this is one hilarious bit of cinema as Mel Brooks satirizes the stone age, the 10 Commandments, Rome, the Last Supper, the Inquisition, and Louie the 16th (sorry I couldn't get the name right). Of course, the stone age also happens to make fun of "2001 A Space Odyssey". Also funny is at the end with the whole "Jews In Space" bit. I love that stuff.

Personally I thought the best bits were set in Rome, what with the gags about Vestal Virgins, innuendo between the queen and the late Gregory Hines, the "Stand Up Philosopher", Ethiopia, getting the Roman guards high, and of course, the Last Supper. This is not to say the Inquisition Musical number is not worth a look.

"Jesus!" - Mel Brooks

"What?" - Jesus Christ
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Silly jokes, slapstick and sight gags galore
ma-cortes16 June 2008
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 Rimbaud(Pamela Stephenson).

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.
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One Of My Favorite Comedies
treeskier80218 June 2007
History of the World Part I (man, I wish they had done a part II!) is one of my all-time favorite comedies. In fact, this is my favorite Mel Brooks film.

One of my favorite scenes is Mel Brooks as the King of France, playing chess with real people. He yells through a loudspeaker, Pawn jump Queen, Rook jump Queen, Bishop jump Queen...everybody JUMP Queen, (well you get the idea!) Then you see him on the very top of the pile. This gets me in stitches every time! In the same skit, Harvey Korman exclaims to the King, "you look like the pee (sic) boy." In which, Brooks says "and you look like a bucket of turd (sic)." Of course, Brooks is also playing the pee (sic) boy, which is why there is a resemblance.

The movie is a series of skits from the times of the caveman up to the French Revolution. The Roman Empire skit is also hilarious.

Brooks' comedies are brilliant and this is one I highly recommend. I believe that ratings should be subject to what the film is trying to accomplish. This film wants you to laugh and have fun, and that is exactly what I do every time I see it. This is a film I can enjoy over and over again. Rating 10 of 10 stars.
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Great movie? No. Great laughs? YES!
mdnrules4 July 1999
If you're trying to kill time on a Sunday, watch this movie. It's the perfect example of Mel Brooks comedy.

Everyone has their favorite and least favorite part. My favorite was "The Inquisition" song. My least favorite? Probably the French Revolution part, which dragged out for a while.

Hey, Mel, do your audience a favor and make "History of the World: Part II". I can just see him harassing Thomas Edison, Jimi Hendrix, Ed Sullivan, Adolph Hitler, and others.
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Like The Line In The Inquisition Song, "What A Show!"
Joe King16 January 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The "Part I" in the title of the film was kind of an inside joke about sequels and film series. After all, if they have a "Rocky II," "Rocky III," "Rocky IV," "Rocky V," etc., how come there was never a "Rocky I?" Mel Brooks delivers a critique of today's religion and politics but with characters and situations set ages ago. After all, the proverbial question set by characters from thousands of years ago, "But what about the poor?" The "F Word" reply given in unison by the chorus of ancient politicians was really a social commentary on contemporary politics. Mel Brooks' musical extravaganza on "The Inquisition" was not just a commentary of a dark, violent, regrettable page of history on the Catholic Church, but a commentary on a few aspects of today's religious issues. Some people in the audience may have felt that some of the religious humor was too disrespectful, with characters in the scenes like Moses, Jesus, priests, nuns, etc. The rule of thumb on that is that you can have Biblical and religious characters in your humor, as long as you're making fun with them, rather than at them. After all, when was the last time you thought about God? Anytime people start talking and thinking about religion, their beliefs or disbeliefs, it's good. It's thought provoking. It would be too "in your face" to use contemporary public figures to make commentary like that. After all, this is a Mel Brooks motion picture for the movie theater where you pay for a ticket and expect quality -- not an episode of "Saturday Night Live" that keeps recycling old jokes with new faces. That's why it's good taste to make your comedic critique with characters and situations set hundreds or thousands of years ago as Mel Brooks did in the first place. "The History Of The World -- Part I" is a delightful comedy. If you haven't seen it yet, it's worth your while.
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An uneven romp ...
ListerUK20015 December 2001
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 humour may have been too old fashioned (despite the littering of swear words and dirty jokes). 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 comic 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. Never 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 plus 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 a load of great gags. You get the impression that the cast, including Brooks, 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.
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A Little Something to Offend Everyone...
Matt Barry4 December 1999
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.
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Isolated, mildly funny moments can't make this movie work.
nycritic5 September 2004
Warning: Spoilers
A pity that a director like Mel Brooks, responsible for such classics like "The Producer", the one-two 1974 punch of "Young Frankenstein" and "Blading Saddles", and the less successful but still entertaining "High Anxiety" fell flat on his face with this clunker.

While it starts out with the promising Orson Welles voice-over (spoofing his own "War of the Worlds" narration as a nifty in-joke) in the first segment (which also spoofs the ape men sequence from Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey"), the rest quickly plummets in one un-funny after un-funny succession.

Sid Caesar gives all he has for his short bit as the lead caveman (and granted, the entry works). Moses fails to deliver and whatever comic intent there is shatters just like his extra table of commandments. Only the Bea Arthur scene works in the Roman Empire segment -- even Madeline Kahn's presence can't save what is a badly written part -- and here the movie completely sinks into incoherence with unrelated "funny" scenes added as supposed hilarity, for example, when a man carries a very dated boom box and listens to "Funkytown". The Last Supper sequence is fairly descent and somewhat brings back "History..." a little luster, but the Spanish Inquisition, a segment obviously intended as a nod to Hollywood musicals from the 1930s, is quite arguably the worst sketch in the entire movie. The French Revolution begins well, bringing Harvey Korman, Cloris Leachman, and Andreas Katsoulas, all Brooks veterans, back on film in small but memorable parts, but not long after this segment begins that it goes down, down under and never bothers to recover itself.

The fact that Mel Brooks also decided to play five roles here makes it the more irritating. One can only guess he did so due to his own star power (or maybe he believed he could do an Alec Guiness). His entry as the King in the last sequence is so cringe-inducing ["It's good to be the king!"] that it's a relief when that bad joke is over and THE END appears on the horizon with a title montage reminiscent of the all-caps title LAND OF THE GIANTS.

I personally am glad of his success with his own revival of "The Producers." His recent appearance at the season finale of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" only cements his reputation even more as he spoofs his revival using Larry David, of all people as the lead, in order for it to flop. It only furthers to show he can make a fantastically funny visual story (or appear in one) when he chooses to, but this movie is only for die-hard fans.
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My favorite Brooks film
QKnown10 November 1999
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. ***
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History Of The World Part I (Mel Brooks, 1981) **1/2
MARIO GAUCI4 August 2007
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.
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Not a classic, but far from a clunker.
mark.waltz28 November 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Parodying creation, the caveman film, the biblical epic, the crusades 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 Tiberius 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.
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Just not as funny as it should be
abum1906 September 2006
There are a few inspired bits, but nothing to rest a whole movie on, and that's exactly what Brooks has attempted to do- base an entire movie on a few cheap tricks that don't really deliver in the first place.

Brooks' best work (Young Frankenstein, The Producers) had both inspired bits and strong stories to keep them going. History of the World: Part I has only a little of the former and none of the latter. The reason the movie doesn't fail completely is because there are glimpses of genius hidden in it- the Spanish Inquisition scene, for example, or both the performances of Madeline Kahn and Cloris Leachman. The Pissboy joke fits in that category too.

But that's pretty much it. A few of the jokes, like the 10 Commandments one, have been replayed over and over in the popular consciousness that it's just not funny on screen. It was worth seeing, if only because it's a Mel Brooks movie and it reinforces how great his better movies are, but I don't care to see it again.
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succeeds on sheer chutzpah!
Ed6 March 2012
Mel succeeds admirably in his outrageousness almost throughout the film despite occasional signs of the feebleness of the "Jesus-yes?" dialog in the Last Supper and the overextended French Revolution scene.

But in most of the film, real outrage rears its head over man's inhumanity to man especially in the Inquisition scene and, though perhaps less so, in the Roman scene. Even his trademark Hitler spoofs, such as the "Hitler on Ice-coming attraction" here show his own obsessive and strong reaction to that horrible period in history.

Some of the jokes have cobwebs such as the "Alms for Oedipus" beggar and Gregory Hines response "Hey there, m.f! But it works because it's carried off with energy.

In the long run, the film is probably more serious than it seems on first glance and has more bite than the really feeble attempts to follow such as "Spaceballs", "Robin Hood" or "Dracula".
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"It's Good to be the King"
Isaac585516 August 2007
Though it's not considered a classic like BLAZING SADDLES or YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, there are a lot of laughs to be found in Mel Brooks' HISTORY OF THE WORLD PART I, a zany,if inconsistent look at Biblical times, the Stone Age, Ancient Rome, the Spanish Inquisition, and the French Revolution as seen through Brooks' demented brain. The film is not as all encompassing as its title implies, but Mel gives his own twisted vision to these particular times in earth's history, which includes Mel himself in four different roles, including Moses and his own version of Louis XIV (It's Good to be the King). Mel gathers his usual nutty repertory company together and laughs are provided by Sid Ceasar (very funny as a caveman), Madeline Kahn and Dom DeLuise (hysterical as Cleopatra and Ceasar), Gregory Hines, Cloris Leachman, and Harvey Korman as Count De Money ("That's De Monay!!!). As always in his films, music is key and the Spanish Inquisition is presented here as a mammoth production number that is guaranteed to either amuse or offend,depending on your mood. Hard-core Brooks fans will love it, others be warned...there's something to offend everyone here.
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hit and miss jokes
SnoopyStyle7 November 2013
Mel Brooks hams it up big time. He's starring, writing, and directing this crazy Brooks version of history. It's a big hit and miss constant stream of broad jokes. At a lot of times, this feels dated like a vaudeville act from an age long gone.

The biggest and best laughs have to be Madeline Kahn as Empress Nympho during Roman times. No No Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes. You've gotta love it.

Although Gregory Hines is fine, I can't help but wonder what if Richard Pryor could be in this. It's a disappointment. And that's a big part of the disappointment in this movie. There is a lack of up and comer new comedians. This is mostly a reunion of old timers. With the rise of SNL and that comedic scene, the times are passing it by.
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Often funny, sometimes very funny, slapdash comedy.
Robert J. Maxwell18 May 2007
Warning: 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.
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Beginning of the Decline And Fall of the Mel Brooks Empire
secragt6 November 2003
While Mel Brooks worshipers will protest and HOTWPO has isolated moments of inexplicable hilarity, this is the first somewhat weak Mel Brooks effort, and a harbinger of the distressing mediocrity that would shadow most of his work to follow. A lot of it has to do with the disjointed approach of picking random moments in history which don't link up together. The Roman section is longer and generally funnier, but there is still a sense Mel had a couple sight gags and punchlines in his head and tried to cobble together a third of a movie around them. It goes on way too long (as does the movie) and the viewer winds up waiting for the end of the World.

Compare the filmography of the first half of Brooks' career (The Producers, The Twelve Chairs, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Silent Movie and High Anxiety) with the second half (HOTWPO, Spaceballs, Life Stinks, Robinhood (Men In Tights) and Dracula -- Dead And Loving It). All of the movies from the first half are critically praised, genuinely funny and worthy of repeated viewings. Few of the movies from the second half hold up. Something happened to Mel or his audience, but perhaps we may never find out because it has now been 8 years since Mel last directed (the disappointing "Dracula -- Dead And Loving It.") While he enjoyed a comeback with the Broadway success of The Producers, that source material dates back 35 years. It is doubtful that at his age and with the weak track record of his last films that the once-hilarious Brooks will ever be allowed to direct a major movie again. 5 / 10
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How do I say this? Booooooooring
TheOtherFool16 July 2004
You can admire Mel Brooks and his kind of humour (and I actually do), but History Of The World was such a disappointment! And I was so looking forward to it...

We see a couple of stages in history, like Moses and his 15... erm 10 Commandments (the best joke of the movie) and some scenes from the Roman era as well as the Spanish Inquisition.

Not enough (good) jokes, way too long, this is not the standard one would expect from Brooks. Let's just hope and pray Part II will indeed never come...

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VADigger5 September 2009
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.
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