UCR: Movies and Culture

Mel Brooks got his start in the early days of television, writing jokes along with other pioneering comedians like Carl Reiner and Neil Simon.

The experience served him well as he made the leap from behind the scenes – his 2000 Year Old Man sketch with Reiner is a comedy classic – and later to movie director. He took those experiences with him every step of the way, informing his work with the broad sweep of stage shows coupled with a knack for parody, as you'll see in our below list of Mel Brooks Movies Ranked Worst to Best.

His best films of the nearly dozen he's directed over the years found inspiration in his past – Universal monsters, Hollywood westerns, silent movies – as well as in the barrier-breaking present. His bawdy Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein couldn't have been made in an earlier era. The Producers, about a deliberately over-the-top musical on the life of Adolf Hitler, was still ahead of its time, even in 1967.

There were plenty of misses with those hits. His two most recent movies – both from the '90s – are stuck in the past, and even his greatest work includes more than a few misfired jokes. Then again, when you're hurling hundreds of them at viewers in the course of 90 or so minutes, that's bound to happen.

But that never stopped Brooks from trying new things (see Life Stinks) or borrowing from the best (the Alfred Hitchcock homage High Anxiety). Most of these films are worth revisiting – recommended so you can pick up on the dozens of mile-a-minute jokes you probably missed the first time around. Many of them are essential works of film comedy, as you'll see in our list of Mel Brooks Movies Ranked Worst to Best.