Mel Brooks: Make A Noise
Mel Brooks is having quite a year. Last month his film The Twelve Chairs screened at the TCM Classic Film Festival, it was announced last week that Martin Scorsese will present him with the American Film Institute’s 41st Life Achievement Award in Hollywood on June 6 (the ceremony will air on TNT Saturday, June 15, at 9 p.m. and as part of an all-night tribute to Brooks on TCM Sunday, July 24, at 8 p.m) and last night a new documentary on the filmmaker entitled Mel Brooks: Make a Noise premiered on PBS as part of their American Masters series. I was fortunate enough to get a sneak peek at the DVD release of the documentary, which is available today form Shout! Factory.
Mel Brooks has always held a special place in my heart because the first date my parents ever went on was to see Young Frankenstein and they were both apparently rolling in the aisles with laughter. So, in a way, I have Mel Brooks to thank for my entire existence (thanks, pal, I’ve had a good time so far!). This documentary and Shout! Factory’s subsequent DVD release are must-haves for fans of Brooks. I’ll go over a few of my favorite parts of the doc in a bit, but first I’ll discuss some of the tech specs. The doc is just over 90 minutes long and the DVD release includes closed captioning (example below), as well as some deleted segments and outtakes.
I really love that so much of the doc consists of a new interview with Mel Brooks himself. I always love hearing artists talk about their work and Brooks is not shy to discuss why he does what he does. The doc also includes a few archive interviews with the filmmaker in the 70s and 80s, as well. The doc covers his entire career, from his first Oscar to his Tony win for the musical version of The Producers (making him one of only a handful of EGOTs – Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony winners).
Several of those interviewed (new interviews include Carl Reiner, Joan Rivers, Barry Levinson, Tracey Ullman, Steven Weber, Cloris Leachman, David Lynch and more. There’s also archive interviews with his wife Anne Bancroft and Gene Wilder, who though not dead, doesn’t do interviews anymore), mention Brooks’s surprising intellect. His thoughts on Frankenstein (see above) struck me as particularly interesting.
I also got a big kick out of seeing Mel Brooks age as the documentary progressed. I always think it’s so funny how much we always look like ourselves, and yet don’t at the same time.
The doc goes into the forming of Brooks Films and the kind of projects he was producing in the 80s (including David Lynch’s multi-Oscar nominated The Elephant Man).
I also loved the docs exploration of Brooks’s working relationship with women and his respect and love for women in general. It was clear for those interviewed that Brooks let the actresses he worked with really shine and it’s a shame more directors haven’t been able to strike that balance, especially when it comes to “funny” women.
Lastly, I just wanted to touch a bit on Brooks and Anne Bancroft. In an archive interview, she talks about how they first met and how they wound up married and she’s so happy and it seems so perfect (and I don’t mean that in the storybook kind of way; the real ups-and-downs kind of way). People like them and stories like these keep me believing in true love.
Disclaimer: This review is based on review disc given to me by Shout! Factory, though the opinions are all my own.