One of our favorite websites, Open Culture, has a great post today about The Critic, an Oscar-winning short film that is narrated, hilariously, by Mel Brooks. I’d seen it before—the movie is from 1963, and has been available on YouTube for several years—but never knew the story behind it. Open Culture provides the details:
One day in early 1962, Mel Brooks was sitting in a New York City theater watching an avant-garde film by the Scottish-born Canadian animator Norman McLaren when he heard someone in the audience expressing bewilderment. “Three rows behind me,” Brooks told Kenneth Tynan for a 1978 New Yorker profile, “there was an old immigrant man mumbling to himself. He was very unhappy because he was waiting for a story line and he wasn’t getting one.”
Brooks enlisted Ernest Pintoff, who produced an Academy Award-nominated short called The Violinist, to help him make the film. Pintoff hired the artist Bob Heath to do the animation, Brooks ad-libbed the voiceover, and voilà: an Oscar-winning movie that today works perfectly on YouTube. Enjoy.
Previously: Did You See This? When Philip Glass Wrote for Sesame Street