Posted by: ckckred | July 26, 2012

Silent Movie: Silence is Golden

Silent Movie mocks the 20s idea of Tinseltown while paying homage to the genre

Way back in January I saw The Artist, a silent film which won Best Picture at the Oscars last year.  After seeing it, I decided to look back on some old silent movies and soon discovered Mel Brooks made one called Silent Movie.  I immediately decided to give it a try and was delighted by the movie.

Silent Movie is a very, very funny film full of non-stop gags.  Brooks is known for making movies with laughs from beginning to end, and Silent Movie is no exception to this.  Silent Movie isn’t a parody of silent films but rather a homage.  Many of the jokes bare resemblance to the gags of Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton.

The movie is about a director named Mel Funn (Brooks).  Funn has fallen off course in Hollywood and is trying to make a comeback.  With the help of his two friends Marty Eggs (Marty Feldman) and Dom Bell (Dom DeLuise), Funn tries to make a silent film with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars.  The Studio Chief (Sid Caesar) agrees to Funn’s project, who desperately needs a hit because the company Engulf and Devour is taking over the studio.

Much of the film revolves around Funn and his friends going to big stars and asking them to be in their movie.  This may sound a odd for a silent movie, but the encounters all have something some slapstick humor around them.  For example, the trio goes to meet James Caan in his unstable trailer, which results in Dom balancing fruit to prevent the trailer from flipping.  And there’s a wheel chair chases scene with Paul Newman that rivals the pursuit in Bullitt.

Credit must be given to Brooks, who’s film takes a cynical look at the idea of Hollywood.  Many of the jokes don’t revolve around dialogue, but slapstick humor.  Usually if a movie is full of physical gags it falls apart quickly, but Brooks succeeds in doing this for Silent Movie.  He proves that you don’t need sound to tell a good joke, something which most comedians these days don’t understand.

I saw the Blu-Ray restoration, and let me tell you it looks fantastic.  If I didn’t now it was made over thirty years ago, I could have mistaken it debuted recently.  The film looks so vibrant and the camerawork is stunning.  Some Blu-Ray restorations aren’t very high quality, but Silent Movie is an exception.

If there’s one problem I had with the movie, it’s that it was filmed in color.  I would have liked if it had been filmed in black and white to bare more resemblance with those old silent films, but no matter.  Silent Movie is a hilarious film that is sure to make you laugh.

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Responses

  1. I must have been eleven when I saw this, and I remember four things:

    – [“F-gs!”]
    – “No!”
    – [“You son of a b–ch!”] intertitled as “You bad boy!”
    – Truly loving it.

    I’d rank it with High Anxiety, his Hitchcock lampoon, as some of Mel Brooks’s most overlooked and underrated. I must revisit this one. It’s definitely not as reverent to the silent age as The Artist, but it isn’t meant to be either. Nice one, ckckred.

    • I need to see some more of Mel Brooks’ work. I remember on one season of Curb Your Enthusiasm Larry David gets a part for the Broadway play of The Producers, and Mel Brooks appeared in many episodes. Though The Artist is closer to the silent age than it, Silent Movie is not a film to be missed, and I’m glad you like it as well.

      I have a copy of High Anxiety at home, so i’ll be sure to see it soon. Thanks for commenting!

      • I’ve seen six of Mel Brooks’s films: The Producers, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Silent Movie, High Anxiety, and Spaceballs. I’d say they’re all pretty good, but I’d especially recommend Young Frankenstein and Spaceballs. Spaceballs is monstrously underrated, I must say, so if you are feeling the Schwartz is with you and the Force is not, you’ll laugh very, very hard.

        I just took your recommendation for Silent Movie. About to post about it; I won’t disclose anything too heavy.

      • I really do like Brooks. I have a complete collection of his works, and will be sure to watch more. I’ve seen The Producers and Young Frankenstein, but still need to watch Spaceballs, Blazing Saddles, and High Anxiety.


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