There is only one Mel Brooks, and having him as a guest on the current episode of my podcast Maltin on Movies is a source of great pride. My daughter Jessie and I had met him several times before—I even hosted a tribute to him at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences—but when we left his office after this recording we were in a stupor. Gobsmacked, as the Brits would say. I think I was hyperventilating.

After all, he’s Mel Brooks. I was a kid when I first saw him with Carl Reiner doing The 2,000 Year Old Man routine on the Hollywood Palace. I committed their record album to memory (as did Jessie, when she was old enough to get the jokes). I stayed through a second showing of Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove—no great chore, I admit—in order to get another look at The Critic, the uproarious animated short he made with Ernie Pintoff.

Radio City Music Hall

Mel Brooks is appearing at Radio City Music Hall on September 1. Be there!

The idea of sitting and chatting in a friendly, informal fashion with this comedy legend, who looms so large in our lives, put Jessie and me into a state of Nirvana.

I think our enjoyment comes through in the conversation. We covered some familiar territory, talking about Gene Wilder, The Producers, Blazing Saddles, and Young Frankenstein…but we also touched on other topics, small and large.

He also told us the funniest movie he’s ever seen. Curious? Listen to the episode HERE.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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May 2024