I feel like most everybody has an “I remember” moment relating to the first time they saw a Mel Brooks film. That moment, I would put some money on, probably felt like a revelation. For me, this moment, or moments, came first with Blazing Saddles (1974) (holds up well), then Young Frankenstein (1974) (campier now than I first recall, but still fun nonetheless), and finally with The Producers (1967), which holds a special place in my beating Jewish heart. In fact, the opening sequence with a sex hungry Zero Mostel, who apparently clashed with Brooks during filming, is the stuff of legend. So, too, is anything featuring Führer loyal Franz Liebkind.

Though he misses Gene Wilder, Brooks, at 91, seems to be as energetic as ever. (Read our conversation with Brooks last year when he turned 90.) He still thinks the Holocaust is a place for jokes. He’s still making art. He’s been recognized by President Obama. May he live to be 120.

Happy birthday, Mel. What’s your secret?

P.S. Spaceballs is now 30 years old.





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