Madeline Kahn

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Eileen Brennan

Stockard Cahnning, Louise Fletcher, Madeline Kahn, Neil Simon, Eileen Brennan, Ann-Margaret, Marsha Mason and Peter Falk - The Cheap Detective (1978) directed by Robert Moore shown clockwise from lower left: Stockard Cahnning, Louise Fletcher, Madeline Kahn, Neil Simon, Eileen Brennan, Ann-Margaret, Marsha Mason center: Peter Falk - United States - Wednesday 26th July 1978

Eileen Brennan

Lesley Ann Warren, Martin Mull, Madeline Kahn, Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd and Eileen Brennan - Clue (1985) Directed by Jonathan Lynn Shown from left: Lesley Ann Warren (as Miss Scarlet), Martin Mull (as Col. Mustard), Madeline Kahn (as Mrs. White), Michael McKean (as Mr. Green), Tim Curry (as Wadsworth), Eileen Brennan (as Mrs. Peacock), Christopher Lloyd (as Prof. Plum) - United States - Tuesday 23rd April 1985

Blazing Saddles Review


Excellent
Blazing Saddles isn't the funniest Mel Brooks movie (that'd be The Producers), but it's by far the least politically correct. Oddly, by venturing into new realms of racist humor, Brooks finds comedy gold, because he's mocking a genre (the western) that's chock full of racist content. And Brooks realizes, as do we during the screening of this film, that history has been willing to look the other way if John Wayne is the racist, so why can't a Jew do the same thing?

Saddles starts out both funny and inappropriate from frame one, with Burton Gilliam's chastisement of an Asian railroad worker who's passed out on the construction line: "Dock that chink a day's pay for nappin' on the job!" And that railroad actually has something to do with the movie: Evil governor (Mel Brooks) and his cornies (led by Harvey Korman) want to build a railroad to get rich. There's a town in the way, though, and they residents won't sell, so Lamarr appoints a black sheriff (Cleavon Little) to convince the redneck residents to leave voluntarily.

Continue reading: Blazing Saddles Review

Young Frankenstein Review


Essential
Mel Brooks was just about at the top of his game back in 1974, when he directed both Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. Young Frankenstein tells the tale of an heir (Gene Wilder) of the original Frank, who inherits his creepy castle (shot in the original castle from the first Frankenstein movie) and starts work anew on his ancestor's experiments. Of course, this is courtesy of Mel Brooks, and it's perfectly parodied -- probably the best horror spoof ever made and a far cry ahead of Brooks' later Dracula: Dead and Loving It gag. Wilder and Peter Boyle (as the monster) are hysterical, but it's Teri Garr who steals the show as Frankenstein's buxom and considerably vapid assistant. The special edition DVD is especially recommended -- with a handful of outtakes and deleted scenes (though none are nearly as funny as what made the final cut).

High Anxiety Review


Good
One of the reasons we film critics have a soft spot for Mel Brooks's High Anxiety is that its endless parade of campy Hitchcock gags makes us feel smart. "Oh, that's from Vertigo. Hey, that's from North by Northwest. Did you hear that? He just said MacGuffin."

Of course, it's vitally important that you be in the mood to see a Mel Brooks movie when you see a Mel Brooks movie -- any Mel Brooks movie -- because if you're not, you'll just groan, roll your eyes, and walk away. But if you're feeling silly, Mel will make you laugh, and High Anxiety keeps the zingers coming from the very first moment, when the urgent strains of the powerful orchestra accompany Dr. Richard Thorndyke (Brooks) as he walks through the airport during the opening credits. The credits end, and Thorndyke comments, "What a dramatic airport!" Later, the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra will follow him around in a bus to add more drama to pivotal scenes.

Continue reading: High Anxiety Review

Young Frankenstein Review


Essential
Mel Brooks was just about at the top of his game back in 1974, when he directed both Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. Young Frankenstein tells the tale of an heir (Gene Wilder) of the original Frank, who inherits his creepy castle (shot in the original castle from the first Frankenstein movie) and starts work anew on his ancestor's experiments. Of course, this is courtesy of Mel Brooks, and it's perfectly parodied -- probably the best horror spoof ever made and a far cry ahead of Brooks' later Dracula: Dead and Loving It gag. Wilder and Peter Boyle (as the monster) are hysterical, but it's Teri Garr who steals the show as Frankenstein's buxom and considerably vapid assistant. The special edition DVD is especially recommended -- with a handful of outtakes and deleted scenes (though none are nearly as funny as what made the final cut).

Blazing Saddles Review


Excellent
Blazing Saddles isn't the funniest Mel Brooks movie (that'd be The Producers), but it's by far the least politically correct. Oddly, by venturing into new realms of racist humor, Brooks finds comedy gold, because he's mocking a genre (the western) that's chock full of racist content. And Brooks realizes, as do we during the screening of this film, that history has been willing to look the other way if John Wayne is the racist, so why can't a Jew do the same thing?

Saddles starts out both funny and inappropriate from frame one, with Burton Gilliam's chastisement of an Asian railroad worker who's passed out on the construction line: "Dock that chink a day's pay for nappin' on the job!" And that railroad actually has something to do with the movie: Evil governor (Mel Brooks) and his cornies (led by Harvey Korman) want to build a railroad to get rich. There's a town in the way, though, and they residents won't sell, so Lamarr appoints a black sheriff (Cleavon Little) to convince the redneck residents to leave voluntarily.

Continue reading: Blazing Saddles Review

What's Up, Doc? Review


Good
What ever happened to joyously screwball comedies? Sure, once in a while a chaotic free-for-all like Rat Race will come along, but for the most part, fast-paced Marx Brothers-style farces are gone with the wind. One of the last pure examples may be What's Up, Doc?, Peter Bogdanovich's 1972 tribute to the great comedies of the '30s and '40s. This wacky sendup of every comedy cliché is what my mother would call a hoot from beginning to end, with Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'Neal leading a big and crazy supporting cast through all sorts of wacky gyrations.

When four people carrying identical luggage all check into a San Francisco hotel at the same time, you know right away that the movie will be driven by a big suitcase screwup. Uptight scientist Howard Bannister (O'Neal) is carrying a bunch of ancient rocks that he thinks emit interesting musical tones. Judy Maxwell (Streisand), a petty thief and mooch who is hanging around the hotel mainly to steal room service sandwiches, is carrying underwear. Another guest carries a load of diamonds, and the fourth has a stack of secret government papers. When everyone grabs the wrong bag, the comedy commences.

Continue reading: What's Up, Doc? Review

The Muppet Movie Review


Excellent
Like most movies of its year, The Muppet Movie looks (and is) really dated. But it's worth it to willingly suspend disbelief at how dated it is --- to appreciate the good-natured humor and comedic flair of Jim Henson. Henson tried to entertain both kids and adults, and though both audiences were probably easier to please in the days before all comedy became irony-soaked, Henson was one of the first to add sly postmodern touches. And while the movie promotes the annoying myth of Hollywood as the dream factory, magic store, etc. it more than makes up for it by borrowing comedians from several generations, from then-new comics like Steve Martin and Elliott Gould to veterans like Bob Hope and Orson Welles(!), for an endless string of cameo appearances.

The plot loosely follows the odyssey of Kermit the Frog from his swamp home to Hollywood in search of celebrity. The desirability of fame and stardom is never questioned. The Hollywood worship becomes pretty maudlin at the end, thanks mainly to songwriter Paul Williams, whose songs are palatable at first ("Rainbow Connection" was a hit) but become too much before the end of the movie.

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Paper Moon Review


Extraordinary
Has the Depression ever been this much fun?

Tatum O'Neal's celebrated (and Oscar-winning) turn as the daughter of a traveling grifter (played by dad Ryan O'Neal) is reason number one to watch the film, but dad's not too shabby, either. Their story is a pretty simple one: Con man Moses (Ryan) finds himself the sole caretaker of otherwise orphaned daughter Addie (Tatum). He can't pawn her off, but soon finds her pulling her own weight as she helps size up rubes as part of his scam: selling "deluxe" Bibles to the widows of the recently deceased. Eventually dad and daughter move on to bigger crimes and more amusing hijinks, including a stint with dad falling for a bawdy lounge singer (Madeline Kahn) and the duo nearly getting busted for bootlegging whisky.

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Judy Berlin Review


OK
Judy Berlin has the unmistakable characteristics of a Woody Allen film (though it's not one). Its cerebral humor, rash characters, and ensemble cast are gelled with a very Allenesque theme: that life has simply passed by the small, predominantly Jewish community of Babylon, Long Island. First time director Eric Mendelsohn, who reportedly worked with Allen on several films, shoots in black and white, and effectively paints a dreary reality for the people of the small suburb.

As the story goes, it is the second day of school and the fall is in full swing. David Gold (Aaron Harnick) has returned to his parent's home after spending time working in the film business in California. He runs into old high school classmate Judy Berlin (Edie Falco - from HBO's Oz and The Sopranos), an outspoken yet dimwitted aspiring actress on her way to Hollywood that very evening. The story follows their respective families as Judy and David spend the day reminiscing while a solar eclipse darkens the town.

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High Anxiety Review


OK
Mel Brooks does the best of his second-tier works (outside the holy canon of The Producers, Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein) in this send-up of Hitchcock flicks. The story tries to ride closely to Spellbound and Vertigo, but ventures into virtually all of Hitch's major works, including the most notable scenes from Psycho, The Birds, and North by Northwest. Not an easy feat, but it's funny as often as it's not.

Judy Berlin Review


Weak

A sardonic yet adoring, antic allegory about a menagerie of neurotic Long Island oddballs following and/or abandoning their dreams, "Judy Berlin" is a strange little film that got left behind like a red-headed step child at last year's Sundance Film Festival.

Its creator Eric Mendelsohn won Best Director in Park City, but went home without a distribution deal -- which is the undeclared movie meat market's unspoken parting gift for award winners.

Then along came indie house Shooting Gallery, which has made this movie the flagship release for a touring series of six pictures the distributor feels went unfairly unnoticed during their festival tours.

Continue reading: Judy Berlin Review

Madeline Kahn

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