The sad funny man, Dom Deluise

Dom Deluise, the funny fat man (aren’t they often?) has died.  My first exposure to him was as a young teen when I watched a T.V.-censored The End with Burt Reynolds, Sally Field and a psychotic Deluise as a mental institution escapee who just doesn’t get that Burt doesn’t want to kill himself.  He stole every scene he was in and it’s a testament to Reynolds who also directed that he allowed Deluise to take over as he did.  This experience lead my sister and I to trek up to the local theatre to see Deluise in his new movie, Fatso, which turned out to be a bittersweet dramedy about a lonely fat man looking for love, not what we expected from ‘that crazy fat guy’.  It was still very moving and funny, although this review is from a 30-year-old memory as I haven’t had a chance to see it since.  I saw Dom Deluise in subsequent movies like the Cannonball Runs and assorted lesser Mel Brooks movies but he never made the impact on me like he did in those first exposures.  As he turned to more B fare in his later years and gained much more weight, I will admit I just felt sorry for him.  The manic energy he displayed in his earlier work seemed to hold a sad sense of desperation in the later years.  I suggest that if you want to see Deluise at his peak, try Blazing Saddles, Silent Movie or what I consider an under-rated comic masterpiece, The End (Robby Benson’s turn as a young priest still has me on the floor to this day).

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4 thoughts on “The sad funny man, Dom Deluise

  1. If you like Dom Deluise, you need to find the under-rated Mel Brooks film “The Twelve Chairs,” with Ron Moody and a young, pre-Dracula Frank Langella. Deluise is fantastic in it as a corrupt Russian monk. The film is set in post-revolution Russia, and the premise is that the family of Moody’s character had sewn a fortune in jewels into the seat of one chair out of a dining-room set. The various characters are trying to track it down, but the set has been broken up and scattered all over Russia. The film is quite funny, but also more than a little bittersweet, even at some points quite sad. I can see why it wasn’t a big hit. But it’s worth seeing.

    1. I saw The Twelve Chairs many years ago, and I agree that it is under-rated Mel Brooks. In fact, (and I may draw a lot of ire for this), I don’t think Mel Brooks has made a truly funny movie since the early eighties. He peaked early (Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein) and it’s been all downhill hill since (yes, even Spaceballs and Robin Hood Men In Tights were almost painful to watch for me).

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