Forty years ago, Francis Ford Coppola released The Godfather II and The Conversation. It’s hard to imagine another director having two memorable movies come out in the same calendar year, but Mel Brooks did it, too. And in the same year. Blazing Saddles came out in February, Young Frankenstein in December. They are arguably his two best movies and they surely put him over the top as a Hollywood star. The next year he gave what I think is the best print interview of his career. So in the afterglow of Valentine’s Day, when love and laughter are still paramount, please enjoy an American legend in his prime.
This article originally appeared in the February 1975 issue of Playboy. To read every article the magazine has ever published—from 1953 until today—visit the complete archive at iplayboy.com. For more Playboy, check out PlayboySFW.kinja.com. —Alex Belth
“The rich,” according to a Spanish proverb, “laugh carefully.” They have a lot to lose. The poor, on the other hand, need to laugh in order to forget how little they have to laugh about—which may be why the Depression was the last golden age of comedy in American movies. Will the current economic recession bring on another comedy boom? Movie producers think so; the 1975 production docket is packed with laugh-it-up scripts. Film producers also acknowledge that the strongest creative impulse behind the boom is the maniacal imagination and energy of one of the very few moviemakers since Charlie Chaplin who is unarguably a comic genius—Mel Brooks.