This week the Nerds celebrate another Mel Brooksuary by talking about Mel Brooks’ first feature film as well as the stage & eventual screen musical that followed over 30 years later.
To celebrate the beginning of yet another Mel Brooksuary, The Nerds chat about Robin Hood: Men in Tights whilst under the influence of an underhanded Scandinavian spirit.
Nerds on Film
Episode No. 71 — Mel Brooksuary: Peruvian Death Squad Allegories
Nerds on History’s Eric Bricmont is a guest this week as NoF measures their respective Schwartz’s via a discourse on Spaceballs.
Content:After a rousing conversation about whether we like sci-fi parodies, we got to the meat and potatoes of the episode, Mel Brooks’s Spaceballs. Throughout the episode we shared lots of fun information, such as:
- The film was Bill Pullman’s first film. He had been seen by Brooks in a theatre production in LA prior to casting.
- Brooks was originally looking for a big star to lead the film, and tried to get Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks to take the role of Lone Star before casting Pullman
- The scene where Barf tries to get up with his seatbelt still on was an accident. John Candy improvised “Oh! That’s gonna leave a mark” and they kept it.
- “Spaceballs: The Book”: R.L. Stine of Goosebumps fame wrote the novelization.
- The scene with Dark Helmet playing with the action figures also wasn’t in the script. Brooks came up with the idea on set one day, told the idea to Moranis who then improvised the entire scene.
- Vespa is the Italian word for WASP. (hehe)
- Brooks and George Lucas had a “Fair Use Agreement” that would not allow for Spaceballs merchandise like that depicted in the film to be produced.
- Brooks was conflicted about the Jewish (Druish) jokes in the movie. He was ashamed they were in there but proud that he left them in.
We were surprised to learn that while our guest Eric, while not a heavy film nerd, has seen Spaceballs at least a dozen times, and can speak adamantly about it.
It’s no secret that I love Mel Brooks. I spend every January, starting on New Year’s Day watching his movies all month long. I call it “Mel Brooksuary” (which inspired our very own Sean to try his own “Denzel Marchington”). I could spend this entire blog telling you why Brooks is a brilliant filmmaker that turned the parody genre into an art form. I could tell you about how he was a WW2 vet that diffused landmines and blasted the Nazis with pop music just to piss them off, or how he’s one of eleven people to ever EGOT, or how he belongs to an elite group of renowned comedy writers that all wrote Your Show of Shows together (including Carl Reiner, Neil Simon, and Mel Tolkin).