Film: Silent Movie

Silent Movie is a 1976 Comedy directed by Mel Brooks. Advertised as "the first silent film in forty years", its All-Star Cast includes Brooks himself, Dom De Luise, Marty Feldman, Sid Caesar, Anne Bancroft, Liza Minnelli, Burt Reynolds, James Caan, Marcel Marceau and Paul Newman.

It tells the story of director Mel Funn, attempting, with the help of his friends Dom Bell and Marty Eggs, to direct the first silent film in forty years, by hiring stars Anne Bancroft, Liza Minnelli, Burt Reynolds, James Caan, Marcel Marceau and Paul Newman to play in it, in order to prevent a hostile takeover on his producer's company, Big Pictures Studio, by the evil conglomerate Engulf & Devour. Hilarity and over the top Slapstick ensue.

The movie officially holds the Guinness World Record as the sound film with the least spoken dialogue— a single one-syllable word, produced at the funniest possible moment from the least likely person. Let's just say, the whole movie may or may not be just an elaborate and clever setup to the funniest verbal joke involving a famous French mime ever.

Unrelated to Scary Movie or the Seltzer and Friedberg "Movie Movies", although the naming convention is broadly similar. For the medium this film tips its hat to, see Silent Movie.

This Film Provides Examples Of:

  • Adam Westing: Most of the celebrities portray over the top versions of themselves. Burt Reynolds is a complete narcissist who has a mirror he stares at in the shower and winks at. Paul Newman is ready to race against anyone despite being in a wheelchair.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Ha ha! Ashtrays INSIDE by the elevators IN A HOSPITAL! That's funny! Actually, what's funny is that wasn't a joke - it was standard realistic set dressing for a hospital set in the 1970's.
  • Aside Glance: Burt Reynolds does this when confronted by Funn, Bell, and Eggs in the old Totem Pole Trench guise.
  • Based on a Great Big Lie: For a gag—"This was a true story."
  • Bilingual Bonus: If you can lip read.
  • Big Eater: The fact that people are buying the giant chocolate bars and trash cans full of popcorn at the theater.
  • Big "NO!": The only spoken line of the film.
  • Cake Toppers: The fantasy-segue into a gown-and-tails dance number atop a wedding cake.
  • The Cameo: Besides the big movie star cameos, other parts are filled with old comedians like Harry Ritz, Charlie Callas, and legendary Borscht Belt standup Henny Youngman (the "there's a fly in my soup" guy).
  • Celebrity Paradox: The movie theater has a poster for Young Frankenstein, starring Marty Feldman.
  • Chekhov's Gun: A faulty Coca-Cola vending machine which is later used as an improvised grenade launcher.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Marty. Unusual because he's also a Casanova Wannabe.
  • Clown Car: In the hospital Marty is swept away by about 20 doctors and nurse getting off a small elevator.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Over the phone, Mel Funn pitches his silent movie to Marcel Marceau and asks if he'll be in it. Marceau gives an emphatic "Non!" and immediately hangs up. The others ask Funn what Marceau said, and Funn replies, "I don't speak French."
  • Droste Image: When the newspaper vendor is wiped out by a bundle, a headline says "Newspaper Vendor Struck Down By Bundle Of Papers Again", and the picture shows...that same paper, with that same headline.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin
  • Femme Fatale: Vilma Kaplan was hired by Engulf & Devour to seduce Mel. She gets a Sex Face Turn and falls in love with him, though.
  • Funny Background Event
  • Fun with Subtitles: The DVD has separate audio tracks for English, French and Spanish, and subtitles.
    [No Audible Dialog]
    [No Audible Dialog Continues]
    • Also, the text dialogue shown on-screen doesn't always match what the actor is mouthing. See Getting Crap Past the Radar for just one example of this.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Let's just say that if this movie was made today, it would probably not get away with a PG rating, especially since PG-13 is now a rating.
    • When a title card says "You bad boy", Mel Brooks is obviously saying "You son of a bitch".
  • Gigantic Gulp: Mel Funn at one point drinks from a bottle of wine almost as big as he is.
  • Heart Beats out of Chest: Spoofed when Mel sees his girlfriend perform on stage, because it's actually some kind of frog in his jacket.
  • Hello, Nurse!: Bernadette Peters. Yummy.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: After being driven off the wagon, Brooks is actually able to lift Marty Feldman into the air when the latter tries to stop him.
    • Although we later see the bottles he drinks from, which contain dozens of gallons and must weigh hundreds of pounds, so he might just have Addiction Powered super-strength.
  • Idea Bulb: With a real light bulb.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: When meditating on how it will be difficult to get the studio to approve a silent movie.
  • Letting the Air Out of the Band: Over a still photo of New York City, the orchestra plays "San Francisco," only to have the conductor (famous movie maestro Lionel Newman) cue them out, instruments trailing off in the process. With a tap of his baton, the orchestra switches to "We'll Have Manhattan."
  • Mistaken for Gay: Funn, Eggs, and Bell are subjected to this twice by the same duo of women. That said, they were essentially dry humping each other in public the first time.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Bernadette Peters as Vilma Kaplan.
  • Murphy's Bed: Various gags during the motel scene; the trope is also lampshaded by a sign at the motel itself.
    Featuring Murphy Beds: Charming to the unsophisticated.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Averted; not only do the various celebrities in the movie cameo as themselves, but they are portrayed in a caustically self-parodying way; Burt Reynolds in particular is presented has an immense Narcissist, who stops before mirrors to strike poses and has a giant billboard with his name and photo on his house.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: The only copy of the movie is the one which is to be shown at the preview, so when the Big Bad steals it, it leads to The Chase and the Final Battle.
  • Of Corsets Sexy: Bernadette Peters again.
  • Off the Wagon: Mel does a spectacular plunge off the wagon after finding out that Vilma is a spy.
  • Parody Name: Engulf & Devour is named for Gulf + Western, which had bought Paramount Pictures a decade prior.
  • Running Gag: That poor newspaper vendor.
  • Silence Is Golden: Of course. The first major Silent Movie release since Modern Times in 1936, and the last until The Artist in 2011.
  • Silent Movie: Not only is it named that, it (almost) is one.
  • A Simple Plan / Zany Scheme: Parodied; the absurd strategies Mel and his friends use to contact the stars and get them to play in the movie always work. When they use a straight approach, it always fails.
    • Though it appears that Burt Reynolds at least only agrees to do the film so they'll stop bugging him.
  • Something Else Also Rises: When the Engulf & Devour boardmembers are shown a photograph of Bernadette Peters (again, Yummy), as the woman who would be sent to seduce Funn, the table they're sitting at rises several inches.
  • Take That The company "Engulf and Devour" is a jab at Gulf+Western, a conglomerate which at the time owned Paramount Pictures. (Unsurprisingly, Paramount didn't do Silent Movie.)
  • Title Drop: All over the place. After all, it is about Mel Broo.. I mean, Mel Funn, trying to make a silent movie.
  • Tempting Fate: The Studio Chief, when he initially rejects Funn's movie idea.
    Studio Chief: Don't you know that slapstick is DEAD?!
    *The chief immediately slips, falls under his desk, and is propelled by his chair into an object on the other side of the room*
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Inverted, as not only the characters do notice the numerous Funny Background Events, but they clearly show signs of being surprised and bemused by what they see.
  • Vanity License Plate: Mel's simply says "FUNN".
  • Vengeful Vending Machine: The three protagonists encounter a Coca Cola vending machine that fires out cans of soda like grenades. They later use it as a weapon against the villains.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: A rather disturbing male version of this trope when Marty pulls a wad of cash out of his underwear.
  • Video Credits: For the celebrity cameos only.
  • Visual Pun: The prime source of most of the humor outside of pure Slapstick. Of note are the "they're gonna flip!" and sneak preview scenes.
  • Wacky Racing: With electric wheelchairs, in a hospital.
  • Wheelchair Antics: Mel and his boys are pursuing Paul Newman through a hospital Newman's in. All chairs are motorized, but only Newman actually needs his.
  • Worst News Judgment Ever: Banner headlines whenever Funn signs an actor for his movie.