Mel Funn: Hello, Mr. Marceau? Je suis Funn. How would you like to be in the first silent film to be made in Hollywood in over 50 years?
Marcel Marceau: No!
Studio Chief: What did he say?
Mel Funn: I don't know. I can't speak French.
Silent Movie is a comedy movie directed by Mel Brooks, his fifth film directing and the movie following Young Frankenstein, which was released in 1976. The story for the film was written by Ron Clark, and the screenplay was written by Mel Brooks, Ron Clark, Rudy De Luca, and Barry Levinson. As the title of the film suggests this is indeed a silent film, with only a single exception. A wonderful piece of comedy that works due to the wonderful usage of the silent film's techniques and the acting of the main crew: Mel Brooks, Marty Feldman, and Dom DeLuise. It was rated PG and has a runtime of 87 minutes.
The studio that Mel Funn works for, Big Picture Studios, is in quite a rut. Their profit is so low that it no longer fits on the graph. What the company needs is a movie that can pull them out of this, or they'll have to sell themselves out to Engulf & Devour, a creditor company. Mel Funn and his two buddies, Marty Eggs and Dom Bell, have a script. Mel has gotten a wonderful idea to make a silent film! Of course, the studio head rejects is for the fact that the audiences wouldn't go for that sort of slapstick. However, Mel gets another great idea! What if he got the most popular actors and actresses of the time to star in it! Burt Reynolds, James Caan, Liza Minnelli, Anne Bancroft, Marcel Marceau, and Paul Newman all starring in the first Hollywood silent film since around fifty years ago! The studio boss is impressed with the idea and gives them the go! However, Engulf & Devour have ideas of their own.
An amazing and fun piece of work, it's enjoyable to see Brooks return to the silent film. Many of the things in the story also refer to reality. Sid Caesar plays the studio chief, because Mel Brooks used to work under him. Engulf & Devour is a reference to Gulf & Western, which bought 80 different companies between 1965-1970. Another amusing facet is that the slogan for Big Picture Studios is "Ars est pecunia" which means "Art is money," a reference to MGM's "Ars gratia artis"("Art for art's sake").
Mel Brooks - Mel Funn
Marty Feldman - Marty Eggs
Dom DeLuise - Dom Bell
Bernadette Peters - Vilma Kaplan
Sid Caesar - Studio Chief
Harold Gould - Engulf
Ron Carey - Devour
Carol DeLuise - Pregnant Lady
Liam Dunn - Newsvendor
Fritz Feld - Maitre d'
Chuck McCann - Studio Gate Guard
Valerie Curtin - Intensive Care Nurse
Yvonne Wilder - Studio Chief's Secretary
Arnold Soboloff - Acupunture Man
Patrick Campbell - Motel Bellhop
Harry Ritz - Man in Tailor Shop
Charlie Callas - Blindman
Henny Youngman - Fly-in-soup Man
Eddie Ryder - British Officer
Al Hopson - Executive
Rudy De Luca - Executive
Barry Levinson - Executive
Howard Hesseman - Executive
Lee Delano - Executive
Jack Riley - Executive
Inga Neilsen - Beautiful Blonde #1
Erica Hagen - Beautiful Blonde #2
Robert Lussier - Projectionist
Burt Reynolds - Himself
James Caan - Himself
Liza Minnelli - Herself
Anne Bancroft - Herself
Marcel Marceau - Himself
Paul Newman - Himself
Sivi Aberg - Beautiful Blonde #3
Ray Stewart - Movie House Manager