At present, there are a meager three films with heavy input from Mel Brooks available for Netflix streaming, and one documentary episode about the writer-director. As always, however, the Netflix lineup is changing and acquiring new titles, so stay vigilant.
To Be or Not to Be
This 1983 historical comedy, produced by (and starring) Mel Brooks, pits a troupe of Warsaw actors against the Nazi occupation. Using a combination of wit, dramatic antics, and underground tunnels, the resistance movement takes their fight to the stage. The director of this film, Alan Johnson, also worked on some of Brooks’ other classics (including Young Frankenstein).
What happens when a pair of sabotage-minded Broadway producers decide to write a lighthearted musical about Adolf Hitler? The answer, of course, is overnight success and an even bigger problem. Anybody familiar with Broadway has probably heard of the 2001 production of The Producers, which came close to becoming the theatre’s longest-running show. The original version of the story, however, came from this 1968 film, which Brooks both wrote and directed. This is a true comedy classic, if only for the Springtime for Hitler scene.
If you’re a Mel Brooks addict, this is the comedy for you. Brooks wrote, directed, produced AND starred in the production, which is considered one of the best suspense parodies of all time. Brooks played Dr. Richard Thorndyke, whose odd experiences lead him to near-madness in Los Angeles. Every aspect of the film is a finely-tuned play on the conventions of the thriller genre, and to lend some credibility to the project, Hitchcock himself even worked on the screenplay.
Mel Brooks: Make a Noise
This film is not technically by Mel Brooks in any way, but it’s one of the best explorations of Mel Brooks’ career as a creator and entertainer. This episode of American Masters delves into the personal and professional life of the comedy legend, and it also stands as the first documentary to have the cooperation and involvement of Mel Brooks. If you’re in the mood to find out about the man behind the laughs, then consider streaming this episode.
Netflix may eventually acquire some of Mel Brooks’ better-known works, but if you’re in serious need of a Brooks fix, you can head to Amazon and find your favorites. Films such as Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs, Robin Hood: Men in Tights and many more are available through Amazon’s Prime service or standard streaming. In addition, you can find DVD copies of films (including History of the World Part I) if you’re looking for a more permanent fix.
What’s your favorite Mel Brooks flick? Let us know in a comment!