Tag Archives: Madeline Khan

History of the World: Part I (1981)

<strong class="MovieTitle">History of the World: Part I</strong> (1981)

(On TV, April 2018) Ugh. There was a time in my life when I rather liked Mel Brooks’ later phase (i.e.: Anything past the mid-seventies) satirical comedy. I still think fondly of Spaceballs despite a strong suspicion that I like it because of Star Wars more than anything else. A recently re-watch of Robin Hood: Men in Tights, however, had me severely downgrading the film. With History of the World: Part I, I have to face the facts: More of Brooks’s wild comedy is a miss rather than a hit. Oh, I still like bits and pieces of it. The fourth-wall-breaking is fun, the Busby-Berkley-inspired music number is a really good and I really can’t fault Madeline Khan in anything. But the rest of the film … oy vey. It really starts on the wrong foot with a caveman sequence going straight for lower-common denominator stuff, and much the rest of the film seldom rises above that level. Jokes are regularly run into the ground, the humour is usually puerile and the production values (at the notable exception of the musical number) look as if few people actually cared. It shoots in all direction but only manages to hit a few targets. I’m not sure what happened in the late seventies for Brooks’s stuff to fall so flat, but we’re stuck with the results.