The other day, I was listening to the classical music station KUSC-FM, and they were playing Brahms Hungarian Dance #4. My friend Rich Capparela was the show's host, so I sent him off an email to let him know (in case he didn't), that the music was used by Mel Brooks for the great opening-credit song, "Hope for the Best, Expect the Worst," for his movie The Twelve Chairs, which I posted here a while back.
I wanted to send Rich a link to the song, so I did a search to track it down again. And I came across this. It's from the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors tribute to Mel Brooks. If you haven't seen this, it's a joy -- a nine-minute montage of some of the wonderful Mel Brooks songs in his movies and stage musical. The particular treat for me is that it's introduced and lead into by Frank Langella, who was the star of The Twelve Chairs -- a movie I dearly love, which is among the lesser-known of Mel Brooks' portfolio. But an equally big treat in this production number is that they included "Hope for the Best, Expect the Worst" in it, a song which I suspect most people don't know.
It's fun too to seeing Brooks occasionally singing along with the performers..
(By the way, when they get to The Producers and -- well, you know what song -- the performer who joins in the song mid-way through and sings his own number is Gary Beach. He's no doubt the least-known of all the people in the number, but he won a Tony Award for this part, playing the director Roger DeBris in the Broadway production of the show.)
And to the credit of whoever put this together, the song they end with is surprisingly not the one you'd expect, for the Big Finish, but a small song from the stage show of The Producers which, I think, is the perfect choice. And from Mel Brooks' reaction, that appears to be the case. Along with a nice, "choreographic" touch at the very end.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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