Where to start with Mel Brooks’ high-quality low comedy

The Essentials

1. Young Frankenstein (1974)
Blücher! While rarely mentioned among its decade’s greatest films, Young Frankenstein absolutely should be. This is an essentially perfect comedy, one that features remarkable visual beauty and even some pathos among the huge belly laughs.

2. Blazing Saddles (1974)
A safe choice for the funniest movie ever made, this is Brooks at his most deliciously vulgar and anarchic. It’s forever the standard for comic Westerns, but behind the jokes is an unflinching look at race.

3. Get Smart (1965-70)
Brooks would become less involved with this classic spy comedy after its first season, but the whole series is tremendous fun. Even if he hadn’t graduated to film, this effort would be enough to position Brooks as a force of major influence.

4. The Producers (1967 and 2001)
Brooks’ cinematic debut remains a masterpiece of low comedy, one that doubles as a thesis statement for his own success-despite-tastelessness. The onstage version is sweeter, but no less enjoyable.

5. Spaceballs (1987)
While not his most assured or out-and-out funniest film, Spaceballs perfectly demonstrates how enjoyable Brooks’ goofiness can be, even when he’s operating on auto-pilot (at ludicrous speed).

Read our full beginner’s guide to the works of Mel Brooks at