Mel Brooks’ Farcical Take On The History Of The World

By Linda Speckhals
Source: (IMDb).

In 1981, Mel Brooks wrote, directed, produced, and acted in History of the World, Part I. Although the film received mediocre reviews, for the most part, it performed relatively well at the box office, grossing $31.7 million. Brooks’ earlier films had been very successful, and this one did not live up to the earlier films. Roger Ebert gave the film only two stars and said that it is "a rambling, undisciplined, sometimes embarrassing failure from one of the most gifted comic filmmakers around. What went wrong? Brooks never seems to have a clear idea of the rationale of his movie, so there's no confident narrative impetus to carry it along." Despite the overall negative reviews of the film, several critics have noted its humor, with one, Jonathan Rosenbaum, arguing that the film is a guilty pleasure and that “the wonderful stuff is so funny that it makes most of the awful stuff tolerable.”

The film was inspired in 1979 when a grip who had worked on High Anxiety asked Brooks about his plans for his next film. Brooks responded by saying that he was planning “the biggest movie ever made. It's called 'History of the World.''