In addition all the things Mel Brooks is - a famous comedian, EGOT-winner, writer, actor and director - you may be surprised to know that Mel Brooks also composes much of the music that appears in his work. And within his special brand of absurdist comedy, there have been several musical "moments" in his films that have become classics themselves.
Of them all, we've selected the best five musical film moments from the legendary Mel Brooks. See if you agree!
Honorable Mentions: (The "Men in Tights" theme, "High Anxiety," the chest-bursting alien from "Spaceballs" and "Prisoners of Love" from "The Producers").
#5. "Hope for the Best, Expect the Worst" - (from "The Twelve Chairs")
Visually, the opening of "The Twelve Chairs" isn't played for comedy, as we just see a bustling, yet poverty-stricken town hustling around an open market. But listen to the words, let alone the title itself, for Mel at his song-writing best. A personal favorite? How about "Live while you're alive, no one shall survive." Yes, this is classic Mel Brooks.
#4. "The French Mistake" - (from "Blazing Saddles")
Dom DeLuise appeared in several Mel Brooks films, but his cameo in "Blazing Saddles" as an "eccentric" director is one of the highlights of the film. The Broadway-style "French Mistake" number is funny enough, but the scene evolves into a full-out brawl between cowboys and gay dancers, a few of whom get thrown into a pool and decide to synchronize-swim. Just a wonderful, hilariously over-the-top Mel Brooks moment.
#3. "The Spanish Inquisition" - (from "The History of the World: Part I")
Perhaps the very best overall musical number from all of Mel's films, here is Mel doing what he does best: Sending up a historical anti-semetic figure by making them look as ridiculous as possible. His Torquemada (you can't "Torquemada" anything) performs a musical number in the dungeons of Spain while tormenting and torturing Jews as part of his schtick. The scene grows into a Mel Brooks parody of a Busby Berkeley musical, when the "Nuns" are called in, who quickly disrobe and begin another synchronized-swim (Mel must have been fond of such scenes). It's absurd, laugh-out-loud hilarious, and it becomes funnier and funnier because it just keeps going on and on. But don't let the theatrics distract from some of Mel's best lyrics: As he sings to his Jewish prisoners that he's trying to convert, "A fact that you're ignoring: It's better to lose your skullcap than your skull." It was Mel's most biting, daring song since...well, just wait for #1 on this list.
#2. "Puttin' on the Ritz" - (from "Young Frankenstein")
It's hard to believe that this scene was almost cut from the film, and thank heavens that Gene Wilder was able to insist to Mel that it stay in. Young Dr. Frankenstein, in an effort to show off his newly-created monster, performs for the townsfolk by singing the Irving Berlin classin "Puttin' on the Ritz." Peter Boyle absolutely steals the show, giving an incredibly memorable delivery of the song's lyrics. When most people think of musical moments of Mel Brooks, this is always at the top of that list.
#1. "Springtime for Hitler" - (from "The Producers")
There's no more iconic Mel Brooks scene than in his first feature, "The Producers," when Max and Leo finally get to see their surefire-failure, "Springtime for Hitler," performed on stage. Mel Brooks ridicules Adolf Hitler himself, making a mockery of one of the most brutal men ever to walk the Earth. It was daring, shocking, biting, and down-right funny as hell...or in other words, it was pure Mel Brooks.