Falls from grace are a common film motif, but I’ve yet to watch a dramatic disgrace that’s endured time as much as Life Stinks (dir. Mel Brooks, 1991).
The story follows Goddard (Mel Brooks), a billionaire who bets a dodgy rival that he can survive as a vagrant for thirty days (in exchange for coveted plots of land, one of which was occupied by a houseless encampment). He signs all of his assets over to his financial advisors, wears an ankle bracelet to track his whereabouts, removes his toupee, and takes on street life with nothing but the tailored suit on his back. Within the first twenty-four hours, he learns that being penniless isn’t nearly as easy (nor optional) as he believed. Molly (Leslie Ann-Warren), a fellow houseless person, is the first true friend he meets — and possibly the only one he’s had in his adult life; she shows him the ropes of survival in Skid Row, putting her hard-won belongings at risk in the process.
Life Stinks bears similarities to Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times (1936). Both films’ directors double as lead actors, and they’re concerned with lovemaking (in every sense) while in financial straits. The two scenes below are ripe for comparison: