History of the World Part I (1981)
The Stone Age
- Brooks sets the tone for the film right from the start as the deep, rich voice of Orson Welles narrates a bit about the dawn of man. The theme from 2001 is heard as several early apes rise to their feet... And promptly begin to play with themselves until they pass out.
- Welles narrates the rest of the segment which is basically a spotlight for the great Sid Caesar to play a caveman. The segment is quite funny though a little repetitious.
- This is basically just a brief joke about Moses (played by Brooks) originally bringing down fifteen commandments, only to drop one of the tablets, leaving him with ten. Still funny as hell.
- This is the main bulk of the film, taking up about half of the total running time. It's also the highlight of the movie as we get tons of sight gags, Dom Deluise as the emperor with the hilarious Madeline Khan as his wife, Gregory Hines in a very funny supporting role and to cap things off, Brooks' character getting to an Abbot and Costello routine with Jesus played by none other than John Hurt. It's real great stuff.
- What you could call our obligatory musical interlude, this is basically nine minutes of wonderfully tasteless humor that distills the Spanish Inquisition into a huge Busby Berkeley number complete with nuns doing a water ballet routine. It's... Well, it's something to behold.
- Not quite as funny but still worth the effort is the last segment which features more funny work from Brooks and some very funny stuff from Harvey Korman and Cloris Leachman. It's a little more plot driven than the other segments but it still packs in the laughs.,
Other sci-fi epics are spoofed as well with funny jabs at Planet of the Apes, Star Trek and Alien (cue another John Hurt cameo). Add to that an astonishing amount of visual gags (Brooks must have seen what the Airplane guys were doing and decided to ramp things up a bit) and you get maybe the most jam-packed comedy Brooks ever did. It's not his most incisive (that would be Blazing Saddles) or the funniest (that would be Young Frankenstein) but it's still hilarious.
Not much else to say, just that Mel Brooks is one of the best comedy directors of all time.