Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Twelve Chairs

Mel Brooks made this right after The Producers, and it wasn’t a roaring success. But I’ve always liked it. It’s much different from any of his other films, telling the old Russian tale of a set of dining room furniture, one chair of which contains a fortune in jewels concealed against the depredations of the Bolsheviks. Ron Moody of Oliver! fame is a fallen Russian aristocrat, basically a stupid, pampered man, who, once he sets his sights on finding that chair, needs to be restrained on a strong leash from simply tearing up everything in sight. Frank Langella becomes his traveling companion, a streetwise fellow who has lived by his wits for a long time. Along the way they pick up a greedy priest, Dom DeLuise … or rather he picks them up and sticks like a limpet. You know this old tale can’t end well, and it doesn’t, but as the song under the opening credits explains, “Hope for the best, expect the worst. You could be Tolstoy, or Fannie Hurst.” Words to live by.