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Blast from the Plast Movie Review – “History of the World: Part I” (1981)

April 1, 2012

In honor of April Fool’s Day, I thought I’d review a foolish film of sorts, that picks fun at world history. Naturally, the only man whose got the comedic chops to parody history itself is Mel Brooks, this is “History of the World: Part I”. Now, I could’ve easily picked, “Blazing Saddles”, “Young Frankenstein”, or even “The Producers” for this review, but as terrific as those films are, I feel that “History of the World: Part I” is such an overlooked comedy, and perhaps the most heavily underrated film by Brooks.

“History of the World: Part I” seems to return to the roots of old sketch comedy stylings that Brooks was known for; “Your Show of Shows” & “Caesar’s Hour” are the most notable of Brooks sketch comedy work. Mel reunites with his favorites (naturally), such as Dom DeLuise, Sid Caesar, Ron Carey, Harvey Corman, Cloris Leachman, and Madeline Kahn. Gregory Hines joines the Brooks train as a black slave living his days in Ancient Rome, and it’s certainly one of the best supporting characters in the entire film, and for a special treat, Brooks managed to cast the great film artist of all time, Mr. Orsen Welles as the Narrator.

From the dawn of man to the distant future, mankind’s evolution (or lack thereof) is traced through the eyes of Mel Brooks. Often ridiculous but never serious, we learn the REAL truth behind the Roman Emperor, how to test Roman eunuchs, we also learn what REALLY happened at the Last Supper, the REAL circumstances that surrounded the French Revolution, and what kind of shoes the Spanish Inquisitor wore. From crude sexual situations to laugh out loud musical numbers (while torturing Jews), Mel Brooks madcap comedy epic should get any history lovers feelings pumping with hate and anger, ‘That’s not right! Curse you Mel Brooks!’

Brooks brilliant sneaks in such wonderful hidden jokes that embrace it’s punchline. The two sequences with Moses are priceless, getting a glimpse of our forefathers was spot on, even in todays age. But, this is an ensamble flick, everyone equally has there moments of insane double entendre’s, slapstick humor, and burps & farts (point goes to Mr. DeLuise). I’ve never found this movie boring nor neglectful as some critics foresaw the films full potential. It’s just like any othe Mel Brooks comedy. Memorable lines, memorable characters, and memorable gags, and with all the shit we get in todays society, sometimes, that’s what we need…but done with class. Brooks was all about the class in his humor, even if it borderlined gross out for just a second.

Best segment remains to be the eight minute musical enterlude about the Spanish Inquisition, as looney as that scene gets, Brooks actually makes some valid historical points about that era in history. In fact, much of the segments point out the seriousness of the time they take place in, but still have it’s subtlty hidden within the comedy. IN MEL WE TRVST ALL THE WAY! It’s good to be the King.

GRADE: A

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