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Spaceballs (1987) Poster

(1987)

Trivia

Jump to: Cameo (1)  | Director Trademark (4)
The Millennium Falcon from the Star Wars saga makes a cameo appearance in this movie. Given a close look at the exterior shot of the Space Diner, and it can be spotted parked there among the other space vehicles. George Lucas got a chance to read the screenplay before production began, and loved it so much that he decided to have his special effects company, Industrial Light & Magic, help make this movie.
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Of all of the jokes in this movie, writer, producer, and director Mel Brooks says that the two he is most proud of are the running gag about merchandising ("Spaceballs: the Breakfast Cereal", "Spaceballs: The T-Shirt", et cetera) and Colonel Sandurz's renting "Spaceballs" before it was finished.
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The scene in which Dark Helmet is playing with his dolls was not in the screenplay. Writer, producer, and director Mel Brooks came up with the idea on the set one day and told this to Rick Moranis, who then improvised the entire scene.
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In a 2013 television interview (shorty before receiving the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award), Mel Brooks stated that he personally obtained George Lucas' full permission to parody any and all things Star Wars-related but, on one condition, that absolutely no merchandise of any kind be produced from this movie. This is the reason why all Yogurt and the Dinks do is merchandising (it is also why none of the merchandise seen in this movie was ever mass produced or publicly sold in any way).
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In the DVD audio commentary, writer, producer, and director Mel Brooks speaks about how difficult it was playing the character Yogurt. The gold-colored make-up gave him a terrible rash on his face and neck (necessitating the shooting of most of Yogurt's scenes out of sequence), and his knees were hurting constantly, since he had to walk around on his knees, even though he was wearing kneepads. Brooks also goes on to say that in spite of the difficulties, he enjoyed playing Yogurt tremendously, and that it was all worth it.
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During his scene, Michael Winslow did most of the sound effects. In the DVD audio commentary for the movie, Mel Brooks jokes that they saved around $1,000 by letting him do this.
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Rick Moranis suggested John Candy for the role of Barf.
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John Candy ad-libbed the line "Oh, that's gonna leave a mark" after standing up without undoing his seat belt.
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Every time Dark Helmet has his face covered, his voice is lower and more basal, similar to James Earl Jones when he played Darth Vader. He also speaks with an African accent. In the DVD commentary, Mel Brooks says that the idea of Dark Helmet's voice changing whenever his face was covered was actually Rick Moranis' idea. Curiously, Moranis' Dark Helmet voice bears resemblance to actor and stuntman David Prowse's actual voice, who physically portrayed Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy.
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Writer, producer, and director Mel Brooks came up with the idea for this movie when he discovered he had yet to spoof space movies, since he already destroyed Western movies with Blazing Saddles (1974), made fun of the horror genre with Young Frankenstein (1974), and gave silent movies the ax with Silent Movie (1976).
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The escape pod launch sequence is an unused clip from Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), provided to Mel Brooks by Lucasfilm.
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The castle on the planet Druidia is King Ludwig II's Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria. It has been modified by matte painting with additional ramps. Neuschwanstein Castle has been featured in many motion pictures, and it is the original inspiration for the castle at Walt Disney World.
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The Barf costume was operated by three people. John Candy operated Barf's tail using a hidden control in his paw, while two assistants each controlled an ear. Candy's costume was powered by a thirty-pound battery that he wore on his back.
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President Skroob's name is an anagram of Mel Brooks, the man who plays him.
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According to Mel Brooks, George Lucas loved this movie so much, and wrote him a letter after its premiere, saying he thought he was going to bust something from laughing so hard. Lucas also told Brooks had he not chosen to parody Star Wars, this movie would have succeeded as a great adventure movie. Brooks said he was extremely flattered by Lucas' compliments and support.
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In the scene where Dark Helmet is dressed in safari clothes searching for Lone Starr and the others with binoculars, he is on top of a floating vehicle. In reality, the vehicle was not floating, nor suspended on wires of any kind, but it was on top of a platform that was surrounded by mirrors that reflected the sand around it, to give it the appearance of floating.
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A full face mask resembling a wrinkled bulldog was originally constructed for the character Barf, but Mel Brooks quipped that "If they were going to hide John Candy behind a mask, he might as well hire someone else for half the price." A nose and upper lip piece was tried next, which Candy approved, but again Brooks did not. They finally settled on animatronic ears connected to a hairpiece, a small nose application, and a patch over one eye, just like the dog "Petey" from the "Our Gang" shorts.
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According to writer, producer, and director Mel Brooks, this was one of the most expensive movies he had ever made, at $25 million with Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995) a close second at $22 million. By contrast, The Producers (1967) cost less than $1 million to produce.
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Six complete Dot Matrix suits were built for Lorene Yarnell Jansson to wear, and all of them were used up, due to breakage on-set. For the interior scenes, the feet were outfitted with roller skates, but for the desert exteriors, she was given flat-bottomed shoes. Dot's face was somewhat inspired by Joan Rivers, who had already been contracted to provide the voice.
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Spaceballs merchandise shown in this movie includes: bedsheet, flamethrower, lunchbox, cornflakes, towels, Yogurt doll, toilet paper, shaving cream, place mat, action figures. As part of the fair-use agreement between Mel Brooks and George Lucas, no legitimate Spaceballs merchandise ever existed in the real world. The lunchbox and coloring book are simply The Transformers (1984) products with a Spaceballs logo stuck on them.
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In the DVD audio commentary, writer, producer, and director Mel Brooks speaks about the various Jewish-related jokes (for example, "Druish Princess", et cetera) and how he felt ashamed for putting those jokes in the movie in the first place, but also felt proud for leaving them in.
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The scene where Mega Maid sucks the atmosphere off the mountain on the planet Druidia is a parody of the Paramount Studios logo.
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The filmmakers had to replace the original title of this movie, "Planet Moron", when they heard about the British science fiction spoof Morons from Outer Space (1985). Mel Brooks, Ronny Graham, and Thomas Meehan went through all of the letters of the alphabet to search for a word to add to "Space", which Thomas Meehan suggested. Mel Brooks spilled a drink and shouted, "Balls!" and Ronnie Graham said, "Spaceballs!", which became the movie's new and final title, and they came up with the idea that the villains, the Spaceballs, would wear ball-shaped helmets. Ironically, in Morons from Outer Space (1985), the name of the game of sport that the morons from outer space played in their spaceship was "Spaceball". Two years after that movie was released, Mel Brooks' science fiction comedy launched into theaters.
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Sir John Hurt claimed that Mel Brooks talked him into self-parodying his role from Alien (1979) by making it sound like it would be a brief walk-on cameo. Only when Hurt came to the set did he realize that the entire scene was an elaborate spoof of the chestburster scene from Alien (1979). Hurt figured that he ought to have asked for a salary.
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The alien that pops out of Sir John Hurt's chest and starts singing "Hello My Baby", and dancing with the hat and cane, is a parody of Michigan J. Frog from Looney Tunes.
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Spaceballs: The Book, the novelization by R.L. Stine, reveals the names of the Dinks to be: Rinky Dink, Blinky Dink, Stinky Dink, Pinky Dink, Finky Dink, and Winky Dink.
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James Caan was the original choice to play Lone Starr. Unfortunately, he was struggling with addiction issues at the time. A then unknown Bill Pullman won the role, as Caan was deemed too expensive to insure.
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When Dark Helmet asks how many assholes they have on-board, only one person on the bridge doesn't stand and raise his hand.
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The soundstage used for Yogurt's temple was the same one used for the Yellow Brick Road scenes in The Wizard of Oz (1939)
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George Lucas' Industrial Light & Magic constructed the puppet of the chestburster for this movie. The main effects unit for this movie was Apogee Incorporated. This was the company headed by John Dykstra that split off from Industrial Light & Magic in 1978 when Lucasfilm moved to Marin County. Thus, this movie marked the first time since Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) that the two units shared work on a single project.
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The box for Spaceballs: The Breakfast Cereal says it contains "100% sugar".
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Mel Brooks tried to get either Tom Cruise or Tom Hanks for the role of Captain Lone Starr.
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Pay close attention to Pizza the Hutt's sidekick, Vinnie. You will notice that, as an excellent example of make-up artistry, and an incredible use of shading techniques, Vinnie's metallic look was successfully achieved without any silicone prosthetics whatsoever, relying solely on make-up.
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In the scenes on the desert planet, musical references were made to Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), both Sir David Lean movies with Sir Alec Guinness (Obi-wan Kenobi) in prominent roles.
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Tesla Motors has used Spaceballs' starship speeds (Light Speed, Ridiculous Speed, Ludicrous Speed, and Plaid Speed) as inspiration for naming their acceleration modes. In homage to this movie, Tesla has Ludicrous Mode for acceleration beyond its Insane Mode, and Plaid Mode, and over top Ludicrous.
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Contrary to rumor, that is not an uncredited Michael York playing an ape. In a 2016 talk at the National Press Club, York said he has unsuccessfully tried to get the credit off his on-line résumés, but has since given up on that.
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When President Skroob meets Charlene and Marlene (the Gallup twins), he orders them to chew their gum. This is a reference to the Doublemint television commercials featuring twins.
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Along with Caddyshack II (1988), Beetlejuice (1988), and Big (1988), this movie is notable for containing "fuck" in a movie rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America during the early years of the PG-13 rating. Interestingly, the original video label erroneously states that this movie was rated PG-13.
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One of the Dinks was played by Tony Cox, who also played an Ewok in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983).
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When initiating the metamorphosis of Spaceball One into the giant maid, Dark Helmet leans towards Colonel Sandurz and asks "Ready, Kafka?" This is a reference to the novella "Die Verwandlung" by Austrian-Hungarian author Franz Kafka, a story about a man who transforms into a giant insect. The most common English translations of said piece are titled "Metamorphosis". The same novel is quoted in Mel Brooks' The Producers (1967).
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After King Roland gives the combination to the air shield of planet Druidia, and the light goes out and on again, the doctor is seen making out with the nurse. Dark Helmet then orders him to go the golf course and "work on his putts". This is a pun, as "putz" in Hebrew and Yiddish is slang for penis.
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Tim Russ played the Spaceball trooper in the "comb the desert" scene who says "We ain't found shit!" He later played Tuvok on Star Trek: Voyager (1995). Star Trek (1966) is parodied in this movie. He also has a guest spot on The Orville (2017) season two, episode eleven, "Lasting Impressions".
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It took Mel Brooks six months to write the screenplay.
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"Mr. Rental", the instant-cassette machine on Spaceball One, features VHS tapes of Friday the 13th (1980), Rocky (1976), and over a dozen of their "sequels" on the bottom shelf (the spines are fake). The middle shelf features authentic VHS copies of Mel Brooks' films (as of 1987 - the most recent, obviously, being "Spaceballs"). The top shelf features the same tapes from the middle shelf, except with the spines facing forward.
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In 2015, it was rumored Mel Brooks had expressed in making a long awaited sequel with Bill Pullman and Daphne Zuniga returning. But some cast members won't be returning such as John Candy, Joan Rivers, and Dick Van Patten, who have sadly died, and it is uncertain if Rick Moranis will return as Dark Helmet. Moranis has retired from acting, and has not acted since 2006. The sequel may be a parody of Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015).
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Steve Martin was the original choice for Colonel Sandurz.
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Lone Starr says he was born "somewhere in the Ford Galaxy". This is a double allusion to a model of car produced by the Ford company, the Ford Galaxie 500, and Harrison Ford of the Star Wars saga.
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"The Schwartz" is more than just a replacement (and nearly rhyming) name for The Force. Schwartz is the name of Mel's legal representative for this movie. This gave the phrase "May the Schwartz be with you" far more significance to the entire production than just a catchphrase for this movie.
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Princess Vespa's name is a joke in and of itself. Vespa is the Italian word for a wasp and is also a scooter. In North American slang, the term W.A.S.P. can connote a white vainglorious person of high breeding. "W.A.S.P." stands for "White Anglo-Saxon Protestant".
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The voice of the self destruct countdown is that of Screenplay Supervisor Julie Pitkanen.
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The license plate on Princess Vespa's Mercedes reads "SPOILD ROTTN 1".
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WILHELM SCREAM: When Barf holds up the curved tubes, deflecting the shots of four of the bad guys back at them, the fourth one screams a Wilhelm as he is shot in the rear.
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The call-sign for Lone Starr's (Bill Pullman's) Winnebago is Eagle 5. Pullman used the same call-sign in his role as President Thomas J. Whitmore in Independence Day (1996).
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Writer, producer, and director Mel Brooks often pokes fun at Nazis in his movies. In this movie, the stunt double that plays Princess Vespa looks like Adolf Hitler.
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Colonel Harland D. Sanders was the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Dark Helmet said, "What's the matter, Colonel Sandurz? Chicken?"
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Mel Brooks' History of the World: Part I (1981) ended with a joke suggesting the sequel will be called "Jews in Space".
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During the self destruct sequence, when the "cancel self destruct" door is opened, the "Authorized by" line at the bottom has the name ALBIEZ. Peter Albiez was one of the special effects staff.
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The blasters used by the Spaceball stormtroopers are actually Calico M100 carbines with a scope attached.
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The name Dot Matrix was taken from a type of computer printer which was very popular with personal computers in the 1970s and 1980s, prior to the invention of ink-jet and laser printers.
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In R.L. Stine's novelization, when Lone Starr, Barf, Princess Vespa, and Dot Matrix meet Yogurt in the temple, Barf asks Yogurt if he was the leader of the Red Eye Knights, and the possessor of the Force. Yogurt replies that it was not him, but Sir Alec Guinness, who played the elder Obi-wan Kenobi in the Star Wars saga.
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The starship in the movie's beginning takes one minute and thirty-two seconds to cross the screen. She also has a "We Brake for Nobody" bumper sticker on her.
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The twins Charlene and Marlene are a nod to the Bettys. A set of twins on Quark (1977), a television series about a garbage ship in space. They were also a reference to the Doublemint chewing gum television advertisements of the mid to late 1980s.
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Daphne Zuniga later appeared in the sequel The Fly II (1989), which Mel Brooks' production company Brooksfilms produced. It was Brooks who suggested to director Chris Walas that Zuniga play the lead.
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(At around thirteen minutes) Joan Rivers, as the voice of Dot Matrix, says her famous line, "Can we talk?"
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The song that the Dinks sing in the desert is the "Colonel Bogey March", which has been used in countless movies and television series, most famously The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957).
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If you look closely, you will see that the coloring book for "Spaceballs: The Coloring Book" is actually a "Transformers" coloring book. Optimus Prime can be seen on the cover.
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In the novelization, the joke about the radar being jammed, and Lone Starr giving Dark Helmet the raspberry, enlarged with the line: "Lone Starr. He knows I'm allergic to raspberries."
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The "floating" vehicle Dark Helmet rides in during the desert scene is a Volkswagen "Thing", an updated version of the World War II Kubelwagen.
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The Spaceball whom Dark Helmet zaps in the groin with his Schwartz ring as discipline is called Sergeant Rico. A nod to Juan Rico, the main character of Robert A. Heinlein's science fiction novel "Starship Troopers".
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Dark Helmet's tie-in resembles a male's genitals.
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At the end of the opening scroll of insight, it says "If you can read this, you don't need glasses."
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The song Princess Vespa sings in her prison cell is "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen", a spiritual from the late 1800s.
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Jim J. Bullock played the narcoleptic Prince Valium. Valium is a trademark of the drug diazepam. As Valium was prescribed as a sleep medication, the expression "I have a date with Prince Valium" was slang for a person taking the medication and going to bed, and the reference for the character constantly yawning and falling a sleep.
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Only one "f" word is used in this movie, and it said by Dark Helmet when he, President Skroob, and Colonel Sandurz attempt to abort the self destruct sequence.
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In one scene, Barf is seen eating Stovetop Stuffing out of a container while listening to the rock band Bon Jovi.
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This movie "predicted" Disney buying Lucasfilm Limited, the production company behind the Star Wars film franchise, which this movie parodied. When the Dinks find and rescue Lone Starr, Princess Vespa, Barf, and Dot Matrix in the desert, Lone Starr says "When did we get to Disneyland?"
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After production on this movie was completed, Daphne Zuniga signed on for The Fly II (1989), which writer, producer, and director Mel Brooks suggested to director Chris Walas that she play the female lead Beth Logan. The Fly II (1989) was produced and released by Twentieth Century Fox, which was the production company behind Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), which this movie parodied.
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The planet Druidia being surrounded by a planet-enclosing shield was re-used for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), which, in that movie, the planet Scarif is protected by a planet-enclosing shield.
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Tom Berenger was considered for the role of Captain Lone Starr. He appeared with Daphne Zuniga (Princess Vespa) in Last Rites (1988).
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Most of the instant cassette tapes are Mel Brooks' movies.
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In the famous "longest starship in science fiction movies" scene, where Spaceball One is first seen, the background music is reminiscent of the theme from Jaws (1975).
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Dark Helmet parodied the infamous "I am your father" scene by claiming a tenuous connection to Lone Starr, who is based on Han Solo and Luke Skywalker. In Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015), Han Solo is revealed to be the father of the new Dark Side villain, Kylo Ren.
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The pinball machine visible behind John Hurt in the diner scene is Bally's "Night Rider" from 1977.
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Scarif's planetary shield with single access gate in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) is reminiscent of Druidia's air shield.
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Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) is a parody of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford). Ford starred in Presumed Innocent (1990). Pullman replaced Ford in the television sequel, Innocent (2011).
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Lone Starr's spaceship is called Eagle 5.
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The Ford Galaxy, mentioned by Lone Starr, is a reference to the Ford Galaxie, a well-known line of cars marketed by the Ford Motor Company, and a predecessor to the modern Taurus. Coincidentally, the company began marketing the Ford Galaxy minivan in Europe in 1995.
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The combination to the air shield of planet Druidia is 1-2-3-4-5. President Skroob (Mel Brooks) had the same combination on his luggage.
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Filming began on October 28, 1986.
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Writer, producer, and director Mel Brooks based the many characteristics of Princess Vespa after Dohlman Elaan, ruler of the planet Elas in the original Star Trek episode Star Trek: Elaan of Troyius (1968).
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Bill Pullman appeared in The Accidental Tourist (1988), directed by Star Wars co-writer Lawrence Kasdan.
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Michael Winslow did all the sound affects himself during his part and no sound effects were used
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John Hurt previously cameo-ed in another Brooks comedy, History of the World: Part I (1981), in which he played Jesus Christ.
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John Hurt and Dom DeLuise who provided cameo appearances also appeared in theatrical animated feature films directed/made by Don Bluth, DeLuise appeared in The Secret of NIMH (1982) as Jeremy the Crow, the An American Tail films as Tiger the Cat, the All Dogs go to Heaven films as Itchy Itchiford the Dachshund, and A Troll in Central Park (1994) as Stanley, whilst Hurt appeared in Thumbelina (1994) as the Mole.
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The table Princess Vespa is strapped to while being threatened with a nose job is a type of bed normally used in a chiropractors office.
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Toward the end of the film, where Lonne Starr tries to self-destruct the Mega Maid, the second guard asks the question, "Is that you, Mylar?" While shaving. Behind him are two towels; both labeled with the two guards respective names: Mylar and Velcro.
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Cameo 

John Hurt: Parodying his own role from Alien (1979) in the space diner scene.
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Director Trademark 

Mel Brooks: [phony sequel] Plug for the hypothetical sequel "Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money".
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Mel Brooks: [cast] Mel Brooks cast himself as President Skroob and Yogurt, and cast Dom DeLuise as the voice of Pizza the Hutt.
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Mel Brooks: [music] The music for this movie was done by John Morris.
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Mel Brooks: [villain] President Skroob has a mustache.
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See also

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

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