After his successes with Mel Brooks on Young Frankenstein and Silent Movie, underrated British comedy legend Marty Feldman would try his hand at that most fascinating and diverse of cinematic genres: The parody. His target: Beau Geste and the many classic desert-adventure movies spawned from it. The end product, though, is far from the 'comedy classic' advertised on the box.
1) The cast: Feldman is in his usual great form, and has assemble a cast of notables, including Michael York as Beau, Spike Milligan, Peter Ustinov, Terry Thomas and James Earl Jones (who, later, plays a caricature of Terry, complete with big teeth and a suit), who all deliver the goods and know they are in a farce.
2) The score: John Morris does the music, as he had done for Brooks, and provides a score that captures all the tropes of classic desert-adventure themes. And the opening 'Legion' theme and ending song are good too, and provide a couple of chuckles.
3) Production values: Despite being in a spoof, Feldman, much like Brooks, successfully brings in good production values (the gorgeous desert and country locations, as well as the costumes)that further add to the farce and make this feel like a film from that 'desert' genre.
1) The humour: NO, I'M NOT SAYING THIS ISN'T FUNNY, but it's only funny 50% of the time, with the slapstick providing most of the laughs while the wordplay, oddly, gives alot less than you'd expect. The opening scene of Feldman destroying the classic Universal logo should indicate whether the humour, which stands between the spectacle and wordplay of Brooks with the rapid-fire jokes of, strangely, the ZAZ team, is for you or not.
2) The direction: While not a bad director, there is really nothing special about Feldman's directing. Unlike Brooks, he doesn't try to imitate the style or shots of the films he's spoofing, and really, anyone could've done this.
It's worth owning if you're a fan of spoofs or of Feldman, and it's taken a LONG time for this to finally recieve a DVD release of any sort, but, aside from aficionados, you're better off with Young Frankenstein.