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Happy Birthday, Mel Brooks
by Betty Jo Tucker

Mel Brooks celebrated his 96th birthday on June 28, 2022. As an avid Brooks fan, I want to thank him for all the pleasure he’s given me through his movies, especially Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, High Anxiety, To Be or Not To Be, and The Producers (both the original and the musical re-make). The musical pleased me the most because it boasts so many great musical treats.  

Oh, how I wanted to see The Producers on Broadway! I never made it to New York, but thanks to the magic of movies, my family and I enjoyed this highly entertaining film version on a special Christmas Day. Happily, cameras didn’t cut away during any musical routines, so we were treated to each terrific number from beginning to end.

Outrageous musical numbers evoke most of the laughs in this movie funfest. Here’s an excerpt from my review. Eat your heart out, Rockettes, because here comes a little old ladies’ chorus line (“Along Came Bialy”) to rival your success. Watch out, real-life producers, for an actor named Gary Beach (“Heil Myself”). Never, and I mean never, hire him if you want your play to flop! And stop spinning in your grave, Florenz Ziegfeld. Those “Springtime for Hitler and Germany” showgirls are all in good fun.     

I am in awe of Brooks’ talent as a comedian, writer, producer, director and composer. He’s received three Oscar® nominations -– for the adapted screenplay of Young Frankenstein, for the Blazing Saddles lyrics, for The Producers (1968) screenplay -– and won the golden statuette for the latter. He also earned an Oscar® for The Critic, a very funny short film in which he did the hilarious narration. 

My favorite Mel Brooks movie scene? There are so many, it’s hard to choose. But the one I love the most is his Frank Sinatra-like singing of “High Anxiety” in the film of the same name, which is a brilliant send-up of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. But I also enjoy Brooks and his talented late great wife, Anne Bancroft, singing and dancing to “Sweet Georgia Brown” in To Be or Not To Be. What a wonderfully funny and rousing routine!

I hope you had a very happy 96th birthday, Mel Brooks. And may you have many more. Thanks again for your great movies.  

Humor is just another defense against the universe. --- Mel Brooks

Life literally abounds with comedy if you look around you. --- Mel Brooks

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