Review: ‘History of the World – Part I’

Boisterous cinematic vaudeville show is comprised of five distinct sections: the 2001 parody Dawn of Man, The Stone Age, featuring Brooks' acid comment on the role of the art critic, and a brief 'Old Testament' bit, which together run 10 minutes; The Roman Empire, the best-sustained and, at 43 minutes, longest episode; The Spanish Inquisition, a splashy nine-minute production number; The French Revolution, a rather feeble 24-minute sketch; and Coming Attractions which, with end credits, runs six minutes and at least punches up the finale with the hilarious Jews in Space inter-galactic musical action number.

Boisterous cinematic vaudeville show is comprised of five distinct sections: the 2001 parody Dawn of Man, The Stone Age, featuring Brooks’ acid comment on the role of the art critic, and a brief ‘Old Testament’ bit, which together run 10 minutes; The Roman Empire, the best-sustained and, at 43 minutes, longest episode; The Spanish Inquisition, a splashy nine-minute production number; The French Revolution, a rather feeble 24-minute sketch; and Coming Attractions which, with end credits, runs six minutes and at least punches up the finale with the hilarious Jews in Space inter-galactic musical action number.

Although Monty Python’s Life of Brian went well beyond Brooks in the blasphemy department, many of the pic’s most successful gags poke holes in religious pieties. When Brooks as Moses comes down from the mountain, he’s carrying three tablets. Frightened by a lightning blast, he drops one of them and quickly switches to 10 commandments instead of 15.

The one interlude which really brings down the house has Brooks working as a waiter at the Last Supper and asking the assembled group. ‘Are you all together or is it separate checks?’

As the old ad line said, there’s something here to offend everybody, particularly the devout of all persuasions and homosexuals.

History of the World - Part I

Production

20th Century-Fox. Dir Mel Brooks; Producer Mel Brooks; Screenplay Mel Brooks; Camera Woody Omens, Paul Wilson; Editor John Howard; Music John Morris Art Dir Harold Michelson, Stuart Craig

Crew

(Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1981. Running time: 92 MIN.

With

Mel Brooks Dom DeLuise Madeline Kahn Cloris Leachman Gregory Hines Sid Caesar

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Film News from Variety

Loading