A absorbing spoof, Mel Brooks’s Robin Hood: Men in Tights alien the apple to Dave Chappelle and acclaimed the virtues of form-fitting legwear. Here’s aggregate you charge to apperceive about the arrow-slinging comedy, which accustomed in theaters 25 years ago.
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In 1974, Mel Brooks’ smash-hit brand parodies Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein became two of the accomplished grossing movies of the year—with Blazing Saddles assault out The Towering Inferno and The Godfather: Allotment II for the top spot. Having anchored a abiding career for himself in Hollywood, Brooks took a breach from cinema so he could accompany a new TV project. The banana abutting armament with Norman Stiles and John Boni to co-create ABC’s Aback Things Were Rotten, a fast-paced, gag-driven ball that put a abusive circuit on Robin Hood. Starring Get Smart alum Dick Gautier in the advance role, the actualization relied heavily on anachronistic pop ability references; in one episode, for example, a actualization alleged Lord McDonald of the Golden Archers advisers a T-shirt account “Over 1,000,000 Dispatched.”
When Things Were Rotten premiered on September 10, 1975. After three months of blah ratings and alloyed reviews, the actualization was canceled aloof 13 episodes into its run. Brooks would, of course, booty addition ache at the allegorical hero of Sherwood Forest aback Robin Hood: Men in Tights was appear 18 years later. Incidentally, that 1993 ball starred a accustomed face: Dick Van Patten, who plays an abbot in the film, had portrayed Friar Tuck in Aback Things Were Rotten.
Despite its absorbing assuming at the box office, Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) didn’t win accepted praise. Abounding took affair with the movie’s inconsistent emphasis and Costner’s backward attack at an English accent. Aback 11-year-old Jordi Chandler saw it, he told his father, Evan, that the flick adapted to be parodied. As it happened, Evan Chandler was a Beverly Hills dentist whose admirers included Hollywood biographer J. David Shapiro. During an appointment, the DDS pitched the abstraction of a Robin Hood bluff cine to Shapiro, who admired the concept. Together, they put calm a cine that was after awash to—and heavily revised by—Brooks.
Madeline Kahn fabricated a name for herself by starring in several of Brooks’s comedies, including Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, High Anxiety, and History of the World, Allotment 1. Kahn’s ancestors has declared that she was offered the allotment of Latrine—Prince John’s berserk soothsayer—in Robin Hood: Men in Tights, but angry the role bottomward over bacon concerns. On the added hand, Brooks himself says he didn’t casting Kahn because the actualization wouldn’t accept abundant awning time. Regardless, Tracey Ullman concluded up landing the part.
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Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves had an all-star casting that boasted Costner, Morgan Freeman, and Alan Rickman. Sean Connery additionally fabricated a abrupt actualization as King Richard, a allotment he reportedly capital to reprise in Men in Tights. According to James Robert Parish’s It’s Good to Be the King: The Seriously Funny Life of Mel Brooks, Connery told the administrator “that he would echo his role of the monarch—but this time in drag. However, arresting as this banana anticipation was, he capital a $1 amateur salary, which he planned to accord to Scottish charities.” Unable to allow this king’s ransom, Brooks casting Patrick Stewart instead. For bigger or for worse, the cross-dressing bend was scrapped entirely.
From The Producers’s “Springtime for Hitler” to a Sinatra-esque lounge cardinal in High Anxiety, Brooks’s comedies are loaded with songs that the filmmaker either wrote or co-wrote himself. Robin Hood: Men in Tights connected this agreeable tradition. The allegorical administrator bound the lyrics for Maid Marian’s song, the titular “Men in Tights” number, and both versions of the “Sherwood Forest Rap.” Meanwhile, their melodies were provided by artisan Hummie Mann. However, neither man can booty any acclaim for “The Night is Young and You’re So Beautiful,” which Robin (Cary Elwes) belts out during a adventurous arena with Marian (Amy Yasbeck). Famously covered by Dean Martin, that amative carol was accounting way aback in 1937 by Dana Suesse, Billy Rose, and Irving Kahal.
Early on in the Men in Tights casting process, Brooks alleged Elwes at his home to altercate the project. “He absolutely alleged me at home and I anticipation addition was affairs my leg so I afraid up on him,” Elwes told Den of Geek in 2014. “He alleged aback and he said ‘don’t adhere up, it’s absolutely me!’ I apologized, but I couldn’t accept he was calling me.” In abbreviate order, Elwes was casting as the film’s hero. Once he came aboard, Elwes helped Brooks accept an amateur to ball Ahchoo, Robin’s sidekick. In the end, the allotment went to an alien 19-year-old amateur alleged Dave Chappelle. “We absolutely casting [him] together,” Elwes recalled. “We saw a lot of actors and aback Dave came in, he was aloof so amazing and we knew appropriate again and there [that] this guy was a star.”
A anatomy of baptize in Southern California’s Santa Monica mountains that was aforetime accepted as Basin Canterbury was renamed Basin Sherwood in 1921, aback a Robin Hood cine starring Douglas Fairbanks attempt a few scenes on its shores. Subsequently, this aforementioned basin was activated as a accomplishments for assertive alfresco sequences in 1938’s The Adventures of Robin Hood, and Robin Hood: Men in Tights did some filming there as well.
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“If you put the name Robin Hood on a marquee, again it’s bounden aloft you—nay, it behooves you—to accept horses and brand fighting,” Brooks declared in the HBO making-of documentary Robin Hood: Men in Tights: The Legend Had it Coming. “The actors came in every weekend and they formed Saturdays and Sundays aloof on their brand fights,” Brooks said. These sessions were overseen by angry coordinator Victor Paul, who additionally did achievement assignment on big-budget activity films like Die Hard and Armageddon. The bladed weapon specialist begin that Elwes was decidedly accessible to alternation because The Princess Bride brilliant already had affluence of angry acquaintance beneath his belt. “All I had to do was advise him the routines, he knew how to fence,” Paul said in the documentary.
However, Elwes wasn’t absolutely as accomplished at archery. Appropriate afore the training montage, we see Robin hit a bull’s-eye from a few yards abroad while his amusing men attending on. At the 2013 Motor City Banana Con, Elwes afford some ablaze on the scene—which angry out to be a rather boastful moment for him. “I was absolutely appreciative of the actuality that I got a bull’s-eye cutting the bow and arrow because there was a lot of burden from Mel to get that in a few takes. He said ‘Okay, you’ve got three takes. Get a bull’s-eye, let’s go!,'” Elwes aggregate during a Q&A session. “And I’m like ‘Really, Mel? I’ve alone got three? Really?’ And I got it on the third one, acknowledge god.”
Richard Lewis, who played the aberrant Prince John, opened up about his adventures on the set in a 2013 PBS documentary blue-blooded Mel Brooks: Make a Noise. Apparently, as assembly came to a close, Lewis’s bloom took a aciculate about-face for the worse. “I was about done with the film, I had one arena left, [and then] I got Hepatitis A,” the amateur recalled. Stricken with a 106-degree fever, Lewis was hospitalized. Amazingly though, this development didn’t stop Brooks from aggravating to complete his villain’s final arena on schedule.
Completely undeterred, the administrator alleged Lewis’s hospital allowance and appear an busy plan to lay Lewis in a stretcher, drive him to the set, and prop the anchored aerialist up adjoin some copse so that he could bear a brace of lines. “You’ll do your two lines, we’ll backpack you appropriate aback into the stretch, you’ll be aback [at the hospital] in 20 minutes,” Brooks told him. “Mel,” a weary Lewis responded, “I’m dying. I anticipate I’m dying. I accept a 106 fever. I’m jaundiced.” He again afraid up on Brooks, who proceeded to alarm him aback “about 15 times with the aforementioned riff” in Lewis’s estimation.
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When it came to the blur critics, “most of them reamed it,” according to Lewis. “It was disappointing.” Leading the choir of derision was Gene Siskel, who counted Robin Hood: Men in Tights amid his affliction films of 1993. “Movie comedy, I think, is aggressive to canyon Mel Brooks by,” the backward analyzer opined. “When comedies don’t assignment and everybody in the admirers knows it, that is about as low as it gets … [Brooks] has acutely absent his way.”
Still, like abounding of Brooks’s after pictures, Robin Hood: Men in Tights has boring developed a band afterward over the years. It has alike accustomed some aside acclaim from a added abreast Robin Hood: In 2016, Russell Crowe alleged Men in Tights “the best absorbing version” of the ballsy character’s around-the-clock story.
Along with Bruce Springsteen, Dave Brubeck, Robert De Niro, and opera accompanist Grace Bumby, Brooks was alleged one of the 2009 Kennedy Center honorees. Aback asked to animadversion on this development, Brooks told The Washington Post, “I achievement you never acquisition my accolade on eBay, because you never apperceive … You run out of banknote and wherewithal.” Seated abreast President Barack Obama and the First Lady, Brooks was presented with a assortment of his acclaimed songs. Amid added acts, this star-studded caricature featured Martin Short’s booty on the Blazing Saddles affair while Richard Kind led a animated arrangement of the Spanish Inquisition cardinal from History of The World, Allotment 1. Jack Black additionally took the date in abounding Robin Hood regalia to advance a choir in singing “Men in Tights.” All the while, a blithe Brooks could be apparent face the lyrics to every song from the audience.
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