Entertainment & Arts

Mel Brooks given AFI lifetime achievement honour

Mel Brooks
Image caption Brooks is the 41st recipient of the AFI award

Comic film director Mel Brooks has been honoured with a lifetime achievement award from the American Film Institute.

Robert DeNiro and David Lynch were among those who attended the Hollywood ceremony to pay tribute to the 86-year-old, whose films include Young Frankenstein and The Producers.

Accepting the award from director Martin Scorsese, Brooks said: "Movies saved my life."

Woody Allen, Clint Eastwood and Steven Spielberg applauded Brooks via video.

Actor Martin Short opened the good humoured ceremony at the Dolby Theatre with a song-and-dance routine set to a medley of melodies from Brooks' films.

"The word genius is used a lot in Hollywood, so I might as well call Mel one,'' Short said.

Also in attendance, Larry David blamed Brooks for his idle years as an aspiring comedian.

"Mel Brooks didn't get me into comedy, he kept me away from it," David said, recalling how he was intimidated by Brooks' talent.

"I spent years doing nothing because of him," he added.

Past recipients of the prize include Scorsese, Elizabeth Taylor, Kirk Douglas, Spielberg and George Lucas.

"We are going to miss you so much, Mel," joked comedian Jimmy Kimmel.

"You were one of the greats. Rest in peace, my friend," he added. Brooks responded, directing an expletive at Kimmel during his acceptance speech, adding, "I'm not gonna die."

He went on to thank the institute for recognizing him and sharing his lifelong love of film.

"Movies," he said, "rescued my soul. No matter what was bad or wrong, it could be wiped out on Saturday morning.''

Scorsese included Brooks in the same category as the Marx Brothers and Laurel & Hardy.

"Mel has made his own tradition of greatness, and it's that tradition - drawing from the past, honouring it, toying with it, vamping on it, extending it to places wise men, very funny men previously feared to go - that's what we're celebrating here and honouring tonight.

"Mel has always made his own way, and he brought us all along for the joyride,' Scorsese added.

In 1969, Brooks won an Oscar for writing The Producers, a comedy about two schemers who figure out how to make money by producing a sure-fire Broadway flop - a musical about Adolf Hitler.

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