PINTOFF, Ernest - THE CRITIC - 1963 USA
From Jonathan Hodgson
The film was reportedly inspired by an actual incident. In 1962 Mel Brooks attended a screening of an animated short by Norman McLaren. It featured surrealistic, abstract imagery. During the screening of this short, Brooks overheard another audience member "mumbling to himself", an old immigrant man who was voicing his disappointment at the lack of a plot. Brooks was inspired to create a film out of this experience.
Brooks contacted Ernest Pintoff, who had experience producing animated works such as Flebus. They agreed to create a short film based on two points: the visuals of the film had to be fashioned in a style similar to that of McLaren, and Brooks would have no specific warning of the content. He intended to improvise his monologue. Pintoff and animator Bob Heath completed the visuals as agreed, then Brooks watched the result and improvised his monologue for the accompanying soundtrack. He used a Russian Jewish accent and attempted to find lines appropriate for an old man "trying to find a plot in this maze of abstractions." Henry Jenkins points that the comments themselves belong to a recognizable narrative mode, the stream of consciousness.