would you believe...
Donald Kaos Trump
Brooks, who views Trump’s anti-Muslim travel ban as poorly planned and poorly executed – his parents came to the US as kids – does not revile the new president in the kneejerk way most movie people do. “Trump doesn’t scare me,” he says. “He’s a song-and-dance man. Pence [the vice-president] and Bannon [Trump’s scheming henchman, a kind of Dick Cheney without the radiant, cherubic charm], those guys make me nervous.” He adds: “We are not talking about Athenian democracy here.”
When asked if he was ever tempted to make a “serious” film the way Allen did with Interiors and a few other exquisitely lugubrious affairs, Brooks mentions Gene Hackman’s unexpectedly hilarious turn as a daft, blind monk who befriends the hapless monster in Young Frankenstein. He pours hot soup into the monster’s lap, smashes his wine glass and sets his thumb on fire. When the hideous creature races off, bellowing in pain, Hackman cries out: “Where are you going? I was going to make espresso.” This may be the funniest line in all of Brooks’ oeuvre.
So why didn’t Hackman make more comedies? “I talked to Gene about that. He had a sensationally sly gift. But it’s all baggage. Once they (Hollywood) see what you can do, that’s all that they’ll let you do. I could produce The Elephant Man as part of Brooksfilms. But Mel Brooks couldn’t direct The Elephant Man. I had baggage.”
Brooks made staggering amounts of money from films with tiny budgets. But money was not always easy to raise, because his films were quirky, goofy. He recalls his duplicity when trying to bankroll Young Frankenstein, which earned $86.3m on a budget of $2.8m.