THE TWELVE CHAIRS (1970)

Dir. Mel Brooks

Between his more famous films The Producers (1968) and Blazing Saddles (1974), Mel Brooks, who appears at this screening, directed this madcap, surprisingly warm-hearted farce. Ron Moody and Frank Langella, in just his second film, star as a faded Russian nobleman and a handsome young beggar who reluctantly join forces to search for a fortune in jewels hidden from the Bolsheviks in one of 12 chairs. The classic novel by Ilya Ilf and Yevgeni Petrov has been filmed at least 18 times, with versions set everywhere from Cuba to Hollywood, but Brooks' version is one of the most faithful, albeit with Yugoslavia standing in picturesquely for the Soviet Union. The director seizes every opportunity to insert classic vaudeville and burlesque humor into his satire of the Soviet Union, with Dom DeLuise on hand as the comic villain, a priest trying to get to the loot first. He also captures the growth of an unlikely friendship between aristocrat and beggar, allowing his leading actors to bring a little heart to the manic comedy.

In attendance: Mel Brooks.

THE TWELVE CHAIRS
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