Mel Brooks: The first movie I made for Fox was Young Frankenstein. It was supposed to be made for Columbia. And we almost had a deal. Mike Grosskopf Microscope was the producer and he was doing a wonderful job. You got to interview him because you’ll he’ll tell you that the first thing I said to him when he came to W’s hotel to say, Jane thinks I should be the producer. And I slammed the door. I mean, we’re just left wondering what happened. Then I slowly opened it and I said, Mike, I don’t recognize you. I only remember you in a bathing suit. And it’s true. I remember Mike from Charlie Cash’s house in Ocean Beach and Fire Island. And he was one of the guys hanging around. And we were all singing until 4:00 in the morning and we were having a wonderful time. That’s right. And I remember Mike was an agent and now he’d become a producer. And I remembered he had done a wonderful Doug Trumbull thing called Silent Running. Wonderful. So I said, make sure you you’ll be the producer. So he he had made a deal already with Columbia, practically. I’m getting I’m right. I’m moving back now. And story. And we practically had to deal with Columbia. I want the two million to make the movie. I, I was pretty good at casting out what things would call you. And they were ready to pay one million, 750 to make this movie. I said, well, maybe I could do it, maybe I can. I said, I don’t wanna give it up. I had made two movies and I was starving. I had made the producers with Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder, which didn’t make a nickel pretty damn good movie. And then I had made the 12 chairs, which made me buy. I’m saying this casually, but it may be the best movie I’ve made. Twelve chairs, because it’s that wonderful, incredible mixture. Of history, heart and bizarre comedy. It’s really could be one of my best pictures ever. Anyway, the third movie coming up on the list. Was was the third movie actually was was a hit was Blazing Saddles and riding the crest of that wave. I thought I could probably get some more money to live as a writer director with Young Frankenstein. Gene Wilder’s idea, he was a part of Blazing Saddles. He was sitting down, he was writing something. And I said, What are you writing? And he told me. And I said, I like it. I like it. Young Frankenstein. I like it. So tell me. He wants nothing to do with his family because he thinks they’re all cooks, they’re all nuts that they get that they actually think that they could reanimate dead tissue. And so that’s why you’ve made the main character, Frankenstein. He wants nothing to do with the Frankenstein. I said it’s good. That good. That’s the basis of a really good movie. I actually gave him first credit. I never give anybody first credit for writing. That’s the one thing I do well. I’m a I’m a I’m a writer. I’m also a fairly good director, never recognized by anybody, including the DGA, for being a director. But again, I’m coming out this in this fall issue whenever you’re going to see it on the cover of the DGA. So finally, after a dozen movies and saying finally learning to say action before, because I used to say God and they say, wait a minute, we haven’t done anything, that’s our action. And then cut up. So I finally became a director. Anyway, getting back to Young Frankenstein, I loved the movie. We made this deal with Colombia on a handshake and they were gonna give us one million, 750000 to shoot it. And the guys are gonna be all very nice. But as I was leaving, I said, oh, I just popped my head into the meeting room again and said, oh, by the way, I don’t know if we discussed this, but I’m going to make it in black and white as a tribute to James Whale Bones. Oh, come back. Deal breaker. Deal breaker. I know with sirens going off in the office, I said they said you can’t make it in black and white. Peru just got color. I said, wait a minute. I said, I’m gonna make it. I said satire means that everything is real except what you want to be funny. So if you make everything crazy, if you make Frankenstein and color already, it’s it’s it’s too silly. And you can’t get the very similitude news quality of James Whale’s Frankenstein. So I’ve got to do it in black and white. So they said, wait a minute, we got an idea. We’ll make it. We’ll make it with color stock. And then we’ll defuse the color. We can do that and it’ll be in black and white. I said no, because standing when you get to Peru, you got to color it again. I don’t want you to do that. So I’m not going to give you that opportunity to recolor it. And they said, well, we will get back to you tomorrow. And they did. And they said we simply can’t make it in black and white and we’ll make it. So meanwhile, that night, Mike Rascoff gets to Alan Ladd, Alan Ladd Jr., the son of Alan, the wonderful actor Alan Ladd, who is just taken over at the studio chiefdom of 20th Century Fox. And they since they were pals together and agents, he gives the script of Young Frankenstein to Larry. We’ll call him Larry. To Alan Ladd, Julian Reed and Alan Legen called Mike. This is the story. I hope it’s true at 3:00 in the morning and says, I love it. And it should be in black and white. And I want to do it. And he should have two million dollars to make it. So now Mike is praying that the answer from Columbia the next day is we can’t do it, you know, because we won’t give you that amount of money. And we certainly will not do it in black. So I we get our phone call. Mike gets a phone call from Stanley Schneider or somebody in Columbia who says we can’t we won’t do it. They come to us with another project. Oh, we certainly will. Whatever. And then gets Cherry Gizem hand on the phone and yelling and cheering. And we go down to Larry’s office and we plan to do Young Frankenstein and we get these incredible people like Peter Boyle on Martin Feldman. Genius. Madeline Kahn. Best actress, comedian. Singer that ever lived all these. We get all these wonderful Terry Ghar, a beauty and talented and. And then the craziest man of all, Cloris Leachman, who really glued the movie together with with half her intensity, her insanity. She really loved Victor Frankenstein. God knows what went on late at night in that laboratory between them. So anyway, we make Young Frankenstein for 30, in fact, in black and white. And it’s and it does well, it does very well that I come to Larry a few movies later and I say to him, I would I have an idea for a movie. And I say to him, it’s called Silent Movie. And he says, really a silent movie. I said, yes. Nobody talks if they speak, it’s on title cards and it can be very funny. And it’s a salute. Like we salute Jane. Oui, oui, oui. It was a tribute to James where when we did Young Frankenstein and this is a tribute to Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd and to how, you know, I’ll do all the great, you know, the Keystone Cops, all the great, great, silent, silent movies. But it’ll be funny, just like Young Frankenstein was funny. I won’t do anything. That’s just a salute. It’ll be funny so that he said. So young Frankenstein, you take away color and now you’re coming to me and you said you want to make a movie, you want to take away sound. So he said he said this is happening what he said. So he said, would you be coming to me in a movie or two from now saying you just want to take away film. And you just want us. You just want to make ducks with your hand like this. Let’s say you say you want to make ducks, and that’ll be the movie. Many, many ducks will be the name of the movie. I said I will never make ducks. I promise you, this is the end of my bizarre fight against real film and it’ll just be like a silent movie. It’ll be the end. And now the movie won the Academy Award. Hazanavicius Michel. His name is Michel. Michel Hazanavicius won the Academy Award for the Best Picture. And he made a wonderful picture. And I never even. And he said it. We I have a luncheon thing on Friday and with Larry Alan Ladd Junior and Microsoft aforementioned microscope. These are all alumni from 20th Century Fox, from the Camelot period at Fox. When we went down to that, his office and he and he listened and usually said, make it greenlighted. Almost everything that Paul Mazursky was part of the Friday night, what would do? Mike would do or I. I would do. And so at Friday, we have Grosskopf if Paul Mazursky, who made some fabulous movies for 20th Century Fox and we also have. Dick Donner, Richard Donner, who made The Omen for Larry. And he’s just a wonderful film and Lethal Weapon, of course. And so it’s it’s it’s taken. And Larry and Jay Kanter, who was one of the greatest agents ever. And Jay is there, who is kind of a very important deciding person at Fox for us making films. Jay Kanter at one time as a as an agent handled. I’ll just give you two or three. Marlon Brando. Grace Kelly. Marilyn Monroe. I mean, that’s it. You’re not going to you’re not going to handle anybody bigger than that triumvirate. And anyway, the sweetest, most self-effacing, humble guy that ever lived. And and we all we all meet. Did I get him right like this, Larry? There’s Dick Donner. There’s Mazursky and there’s Jay Kanter. And that’s our Friday meeting. Well, we invited Hazanavicius Hazanavicius, who’s the guy who did the artist. The French guy who did The Artist. And we. He was very happy and very pleased to be part of the team. He knows his movie history. And he said to me, Without you I have no artist. Without you making a silent movie first, without you making I mean, black, black and white young Frankenstein because his the artist was in black and white. And it was, you know, but I didn’t tell him that you actually stole a plot that I did when I wrote for Sid Caesar. We did a sketch in which silent movies were being made. And Sid Caesar was a great big silent movie star. He was like the chick. And he made love to you. He was wonderful. And then somebody interrupted the scene and Carl Reiner said, we’re in the middle of shooting up to do it. And the guy said, Sound, sound is come to Hollywood. Look, all movies will be made in sound. And Carl said, this is we’re going to remake this movie and we’re gonna make it in sound. And citizens said, oh, this is wonderful. But for the first time, we’re going to talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. And it was it was historical.

Mel Brooks
Interview Description:
Selections from the documentary's second interview with comedy legend Mel Brooks.
Robert Trachtenberg
Interview Date:
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
"Mel Brooks , Mel Brooks: Make a Noise" American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). July 11, 2012 ,
(1 , 1). Mel Brooks , Mel Brooks: Make a Noise [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET).
"Mel Brooks , Mel Brooks: Make a Noise" American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). July 11, 2012 . Accessed March 23, 2023


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