One of Mel Brooks's best films, THE TWELVE CHAIRS was made before he discovered that nothing succeeds like excess. Based on a Russian novel from the 1920s that was translated into English by Doris Mudie and Elizabeth Hill and retitled Diamonds to Sit On, this fast-paced period piece is
well-made, funny, and a pleasure to watch from start to finish. Shot on location in Yugoslavia, it begins as Moody, a onetime nobleman's son now reduced to working as a clerk for the government, is told by his dying mother that the family fortune was hidden in one of a set of a dozen chairs l0
years previously. In an attempt to claim the money, Moody returns to the family's former home and makes the mistake of telling his story to Langella, a beggar with big ideas. Now that Langella knows the secret, he is cut in as a partner when he promises to help Moody. DeLuise, a Russian Orthodox
priest who heard the old woman's final confession, is now also searching for the jewels.
Brooks plays a small role as the onetime valet of Moody's father who is now acting as the janitor in the family's old house. He does a drunk routine that is a marvel of timing and understatement (which is rare for Brooks). Unfortunately, DeLuise is out of his class opposite Moody and Langella.
Moody's work proves that his brilliance in OLIVER was anything but a fluke. Langella plays it straight, which is perfect in the script by Brooks. All in all, THE TWELVE CHAIRS is a charming movie about larceny in Communist Russia, with a few moments of questionable taste that make it less than
apporopriate for the kids.
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- Rating: GP
- Review: One of Mel Brooks's best films, THE TWELVE CHAIRS was made before he discovered that nothing succeeds like excess. Based on a Russian novel from the 1920s that was translated into English by Doris Mudie and Elizabeth Hill and retitled Diamonds to Sit On, t… (more)