Blu-ray Review: The Mel Brooks Collection

In Blu-Ray’s by Rebecca WrightLeave a Comment

Blazing Saddles / High Anxiety / History of the World Part 1 / Robin Hood: Men with Tights / Silent Movie / Spaceballs / To Be or Not to Be / Twelve Chairs / Young Frankenstein

20th Century Fox | 969 mins. | Not rated


When I was around eleven or so, I bought a cassette of the 2000 Year Old Man on sale for $5.99. Within minutes, I was hooked. Shortly thereafter, I rented Mel Brooks’ directorial debut, 1968’s The Producers; I watched it so many times, that thirty years later I can still recite nearly every line. Mel Brooks is a comic genius. In a career that that has spanned more than sixty years, Brooks has directed, produced and starred in a few flops and downright trainwrecks along the way (Did anyone like Love Stinks?), but his classics such as Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein have left a mark on film history that stretches way beyond the comedy genre.

Mel BrooksIt seems fitting that 20th Century Fox has released an impressive box set featuring nine of Brooks’ films. The collection features some of the auteur’s best work, as well as some of his flops; the eclectic mix will give Brooks fans, as well as those just learning about him, a real sense of his filmmaking style. While the set is missing his classic first film, The Producers, this is easily the most definitive Mel Brooks collection available.

The Twelve Chairs (3.5/5.0)

The follow-up to the Oscar winning The Producers, The Twelve Chairs revolves around former Russian aristocrat Ippolit Matveevich Vorobyaninov (Ron Moody), now a poor bureaucrat in the newly established Soviet Union. He is summoned to the deathbed of his dead wife’s mother, who confesses that she hid the family jewels in the cushion of one of the chairs in a 12-piece dining set at the palatial estate they occupied before the revolution. Consumed by greed, Ippolit sets off for his former house, unaware that Father Fyodor (Dom DeLuise), the Russian Orthodox priest who heard the old woman’s final confession, has gone apostate and is also searching for the jewels. Con-artist Ostap Bender (a young Frank Langella) teams up with Ippolit—he threatens to notify the police if Ippolit doesn’t cut him in on the action—and the two hunt down records of the chairs at the Bureau of Housing. As it turns out, the chairs have been dispersed throughout the motherland, requiring the duo to travel the entire country in search of them all. At the same time, Ostap sends Father Fyodor on a wild goose chase in Siberia, though the tenacious priest always seems to catch up. When the final chair is found, in the lavishly appointed Moscow Railway Workers’ Communal House of Recreation, our protagonists learn that life is measured by how you live it, not by what you have.

In true Mel Brooks fashion, The Twelve Chairs takes on the nature of greed and the political system of the Russian Empire (in the 1920’s), with his own brand of humor, with one clean swipe.

Blazing Saddles (5.0/5.0)

It runs neck-and-neck with Young Frankenstein, but for me, Blazing Saddles is Mel Brooks’ greatest film. If there’s anyone out there who hasn’t seen this brilliant satire here’s a bit of a synopsis: It’s 1874, and an expanding railroad operation has run into quicksand. State Procurer Hedley Lamarr (Harvey Korman) quickly hatches a plan to run the railroad through the small hamlet of Rock Ridge, where everybody’s last name is Johnson. Hoping to scare off the townsfolk so he can buy up their land on the cheap, he convinces cross-eyed, doofus Governor William J. LePetomane (Mel Brooks) to hire the country’s first black sheriff to police the town. Black Bart (Cleavon Little) rides into Rock Ridge on a horse with Gucci saddlebags and takes his place in the town’s sheriff office. Nearly comatose in the drunk tank is Jim (Gene Wilder), the one-time “Waco Kid,” a former gunslinger who lost his steady hand in a bout with the bottle. When Hedley assembles a rag tag crew of “rustlers, cutthroats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperadoes, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, half-wits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswagglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ass kickers, shit kickers and Methodists” to scare off the moronic townspeople, Bart and Jim devise a plan to save Rock Ridge.

For the few people who haven’t seen Blazing Saddles, I don’t want to give away all the hi-jinks. Suffice to say, this is Mel Brooks at his best.

Young Frankenstein (5.0/5.0)

Gene Wilder (who also served as co writer), stars as Dr. Frederick, a brilliant neurologist who wants to escape the legacy of lunacy left by his grandfather Victor, the infamous grave-robbing mad scientist. Having inherited the family estate, Frankenstein travels to Transylvania to check out his new digs, where he meets Igor (Marty Feldman), buxom blond lab assistant Inga (Teri Garr), and housemaid Frau Blücher (Cloris Leachman), whose very name sends horses whinnying uncontrollably. What follows is a clever mishmash of plot points from director James Whale’s 1930s films Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein, as well as the numerous sequels and other classic monster movies of the time. After the sound of a mysterious violin leads him to a secret library, Frankenstein finds his grandfather’s book—entitled How I Did It—which holds the secret to reanimating the dead. Unable to resist the temptation, Frankenstein digs up a fresh corpse, sends Igor to fetch a brain (he grabs the one labeled “abnormal”), and brings the monster (Peter Boyle) to life. Of course, the monster escapes and wanders around, having comical interactions with a little girl and, later, Gene Hackman in a cameo as a blind hermit. When Frankenstein finally captures the monster and presents him to the suspicious public, a mob is formed.

This is just another brilliant film in the Mel Brooks cannon.

Silent Movie (4.0/5.0)

Only Mel Brooks would make a film about the making of silent movie. The fact that the movie is completely without dialogue (with one exception), and still manages to be a hoot is darn near amazing. Brooks stars as Mel Funn, a recovering alcoholic who wants to resurrect his career by making a silent movie. He travels with his companions Dom Bell (Dom DeLuise) and Marty Eggs (MartyFeldman) as he tracks down big stars to be a part of film that he hopes will keep Big Picture Studios from being taken over by moguls Engulf (Harold Gould) and Devour (Ron Carey). The stars rounded up by Funn include Burt Reynolds, James Caan, Liza Minnelli, Anne Bancroft and Paul Newman; although he is rejected by French mime Marcel Marceau.

High Anxiety (3.0/5.0)

While this send-up of Hitchcock’s suspense-thrillers got the seal of approval from the Master of Suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock, High Anxiety isn’t as consistently funny as several of Brooks’ other films. Richard H. Thorndyke (Mel Brooks)  has just been appointed head of the Psycho-Neurotic Institute for the Very, Very Nervous in Los Angeles; Thorndyke should be a patient and not an administrator as he is nearly paralyzed by his anxiety over heights. Given the good doctor’s condition, he couldn’t have chosen a more difficult job; his predecessor died under mysterious circumstances and the asylum’s staff, which includes the sadistic Nurse Diesel (Cloris Leachman) and the bondage-loving masochist Dr. Montague (Harvey Korman), are clearly hiding something. When Thorndyke travels to a psychiatric conference in San Francisco, he is approached by Victoria Brisbane (Madeline Kahn), the blond daughter of one of the Institute’s wealthy patients, and is framed for murder by a heavy breathing, braces-wearing assassin (Rudy De Luca). Desperate to clear his name, the doctor must unravel the mystery while dealing with the sadomasochism- loving nurse Diesel (brilliantly played by Cloris Leachman), Harvey Korman as her subservient co-conspirator, and getting shat on by flocks of diarrheic pigeons, among other things.

History of the World Part I (4.0/5.0)

Here, Brooks takes on history, as only he can; as is to be expected, nothing is sacred. The funnyman explains that there were originally fifteen commandments, but one is dropped as he portrays Moses and it is finally revealed why everybody was sitting on the same side of the table in the “Last Supper” painting. Brooks plays Comicus—a stand-up philospher—who is invited to “Caesar’s Palace” to perform. On the way, he meets Josephus (Gregory Hines), an Ethiopian slave, and Miriam (Mary-Margaret Humes), a vestal virgin in the service of Empress Nympho (Madeline Kahn). When Comicus bombs in front of Caesar (Dom DeLuise), the three have to get out of Rome quickly, with a unit of centurions in pursuit. Thankfully, Josephus spots some marijuana growing by the roadside, rolls a huge joint that would put Cheech and Chong to shame, and blazes a trail of smoke that leaves the centurions in a literal and mental haze. After escaping, Comicus ends up working at a restaurant in Judea, where he regularly interrupts Jesus (John Hurt) and his disciples during Da Vinci’s The Last Supper.

Fast forwarding 1,700 years—this is only part I—the film ends during the French Revolution. Brooks takes on two more roles in this segment—As lusty King Louis, Brooks pushes his face into the cleavage of a busty courtesan and then turns to the camera to give his now famous line, “It’s good to be the king.” He also plays Jacques, le Garcon de Pisse (Piss boy).

Brooks’ faithful stable of actors are on board for this funny romp through history: Kahn and DeLuise are joined by Harvey Korman, Cloris Leachman, Ron Carey and Sid Caesar. Jackie Mason has a funny cameo in the film as does Hugh Hefner and “Golden Girl” Bea Arthur; Orson Welles serves as the narrator.

To Be or Not To Be (3.5/5.0)

The only film in this collection Mel Brooks himself did not direct, To Be or Not to Be is a remake of the 1942 film from Ernst Lubitsch. Co-starring his wife, the late, great, Anne Bancroft, To Be or Not to Be is an assault on Nazi occupied Poland during World War II. Brooks is Frederick Bronksi, a showman and entertainer who is “world famous in Poland,” and who owns a theatre in Warsaw with his unfaithful actress wife Anna (Bancroft). Whenever Frederick goes on stage to perform his “Highlights from Hamlet” act, Polish R.A.F pilot Lieutenant Sobinski (Tim Matheson) sneaks out of the audience to rendezvous with Anna in her dressing room. This becomes a nightly routine, and Frederick, unaware of the real reasons for Sobinski’s departure, thinks he’s bombing with the crowd. But then the real bombing begins as German forces invade Poland and the theatre gets censored for its “Naughty Nazis” sketch. While Frederick first suggests that the troupe should do what any good theater group would—hide in the basement until the war is over— they quickly get pulled into a dangerous charade, with actors impersonating Nazis, and Frederick donning one disguise after another. When Hitler attends a command performance at the Bronski Theatre, Frederick and the rest of the group use some inventive diversions to escape unnoticed and take off in the mustachioed dictator’s plane, with a cargo hold filled with all the “gypsies, fags, and Jews” without which the theatre couldn’t exist.

While many will likely feel that To Be or Not to Be is one of the weaker titles in the set, I’ve always been a fan of the film. It’s a pleasure to see Brooks and Bancroft working together, and they, along with the rest of the cast, manage to keep the laughs rolling in despite the serious underlying message of the film.

Spaceballs (4.0/5.0)

Spaceballs is another one of Brooks’ superb parodies, but one can’t help but think the timing was a bit off. Released in 1987, the Star Wars craze had largely run its course; the film might have done better at the box office if it were released in 1983. Star Wars is the main target, but Star Trek, Dune, Space 1999, Planet of the Apes, and Alien are lampooned.

Planet Spaceball is running out of oxygen and President Skroob (Mel Brookshas a plan to suck all the air out of the peaceful planet of Druidia. Skroob orders his powerful minion Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis) to kidnap Vespa (Daphne Zuniga), a Druish princess, and force King Roland (Dick Van Patten) to give up the combination to the planet’s airlock With his daughter’s Mercedes spaceship caught in the tractor beam of Spaceball One, King Roland conscripts the renegade Captain Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) and his half-man, half-dog companion Barf (John Candy) to rescue her, and agrees to pay them a tidy sum upon her return. This works out just swell for Lone Starr, who is indebted to the greasy Mafioso Pizza the Hutt (Dom Deluise) Lone Starr and Barf have no trouble rescuing the princess, but their space- cruising Winnebago runs out of gas and crashes into the desert planet below. Here they meet Yogurt the Wise (Mel Brooks), a master of The Schwartz and merchandising expert who hints at Lone Starr’s patronage and also shows off the Spaceballs lunch box, t-shirt, and flamethrower. When Dark Helmet recaptures the princess, transforms Spaceball One into the Mega Maid, and prepares to suck the atmosphere out of Druidia, Lone Starr must learn to use The Schwartz if he wants to save Vespa and fulfill his own destiny.

Spaceballs has always been a personal favorite of mine, because it parodies the movies I grew up loving. While it’s not quite as spot on funny as Blazing Saddles, the characters, and the attack on the merchandising of Star Wars, make me laugh every time I watch it.

Robin Hood: Men in Tights (3.0/5.0)

I consider1993’s Robin Hood: Men in Tights the weakest film in the set. While the film found fairly solid success at the box office, critics were generally unkind to the release. The film stars Cary Elwes as Robin Hood and Richard Lewis as Prince John as they battle for the heart of Maid Marian (Amy Yasbeck). Robin Hood is supported by blind Blinkin (Mark Blankfield) and Achoo (Dave Chappelle) as well as Little John (Eric Allan Kramer), Will Scarlett O´Hara (Matthew Porretta) and Rabbi Tuckman (Brooks). The Sheriff of Rottingham (Roger Rees) carries out the dirty work for Prince John.

Released around the same time as Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, a lot of the jokes are at that films expense. However, Brooks does take a few shots at The Adventures of Robin Hood, and other related films. While Men in Tights offers its share of laughs, the satire isn’t as pointed and the story is missing the “edge” that made so many of Brooks’ films particularly memorable.

The Video

The Twelve Chairs (3.0/5.0)

The Twelve Chairs makes its Blu-ray debut with an uneven 1.85:1, 1080p/AVC- encoded transfer. There are two or three instances of slight but noticeable print damage, and white specks are intermittently present throughout the film, though they’re not too distracting. The film’s grain structure is intact—levels vary quite a bit between daytime and darker scenes— and there’s no evidence of DNR or edge enhancement. Other technical issues like banding or macroblocking are also absent. Clarity waxes and wanes. There are a few spectacularly sharp scenes, where facial detail is readily apparent and clothing texture well-reproduced, but there are also plenty of soft, shots. There are also scenes of intentional blurriness, like Ippolit’s flashback sequence, where it almost looks like Vaseline has been smeared around the edges of the frame to give a dreamy effect. Color depth is solid and black levels deep—though there’s a bit of crush here and there—giving the image good sense of contrast.

Blazing Saddles (4.0/5.0)

This 2.40:1 1080p VC-1 transfer is impressive for a Blu-ray released in 2006. Colors are strong and well-saturated throughout (check out the curtains during Lili’s anti- burlesque show), black levels are deep and un-crushed (see Hedley’s suits), and while not razor sharp by today’s standards, Blazing Saddles shows an extraordinary amount of clarity for a film that’s 35. The print has a few specks and flecks, and I noticed some extremely heavy grain in the wagon train sequence that stands out from the film’s otherwise warm and well-dispersed grain field. This is, however, no fault of the transfer and all goes back to the source material.

Young Frankenstein (4.0/5.0)

Young Frankenstein comes to blu-ray with a stunning 1.85:1, 1080p/AVC- encoded transfer. There are a few specks on the print, but nothing that should interfere with the viewing experience. The film’s black and white gradation is superb, with deep inky blacks making up the rampant chiaroscuro shadows, a smooth gradient of grays, white highlights that are bright but never overblown, and spot-on contrast. The film’s grain hasn’t been tampered with and there’s no evidence of edge enhancement. Young Frankenstein isn’t the sharpest film to begin with, but you’ll definitely notice an appreciable upgrade in clarity, texture, and detail from prior DVD releases of the film.

Silent Movie (3.5/5.0)

Silent Movie makes its debut on Blu-ray with a 1.85:1, 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer. Like the previous films in the collection, there are a few white specks here and there and some slight brightness flickering from time to time, but Silent Movie has certainly never looked better. The film’s color scheme is bright and modern. Saturation is strong, with colors that are deep and stable. Just check out Anne Bancroft’s vivid red dress against the green tablecloths in the Rio Bomba Club. Black levels are satisfyingly deep, and the film’s presence is aided by strong but never overheated contrast. There are a few scattered soft shots, but the film looks pretty crisp for its age, especially in close-ups. Grain levels fluctuate a bit from scene to scene, but there’s been no digital scrubbing and there are no compression artifacts or other technical issues to distract.

High Anxiety (3.5/5.0)

While High Anxiety’s 1.85:1, 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer is better than average, it doesn’t seem on par with many of the other titles in this set. The opening scenes in the airport are somewhat soft, with heavy, grain, but the picture seems to improve as the film goes on. While the colors here aren’t as bold as those in Silent Movie, they’re not bad. The image is strong, with deep blacks, good contrast, and a decent sense of clarity. As with the previous films, there are no real technical troubles and few distractions.

History of the World Part I (4.5/5.0)

With its colorful costumes and colossal set pieces, History of the World Part I has always been a visual stunner. Here on Blu-ray, the film looks absolutely astounding, sporting a 2.35:1, 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that provides superlative color reproduction, newfound clarity, and an image with a strong sense of depth and presence. Out of all the films in The Mel Brooks Collection, the transfer for History of the World Part I impressed me most. The film’s color scheme is bright and vivid, with bold flashes of color in nearly every frame. Facial texture is expertly reproduced and, aside from a scattered handful of slightly out-of-focus shots, the image is crisp and almost perfectly resolved. With inky blacks, deep colors, and a weighty contrast, the image takes on an appearance that’s surprisingly dimensional considering the film’s age. There’s little to no print damage or debris, and I only counted a couple of white specks throughout. The film’s grain structure is thin but intact, and there are no compression issues or other digital anomalies.

To Be or Not To Be (3.0/5.0)

To Be or Not To Be comes to Blu-ray with a 1.85:1, 1080p/AVC- encoded transfer. Throughout much of the film, the image is soft and a little hazy. The film’s grain structure also has an indistinct, somewhat smeary quality, which leads me to think that that some slight DNR has been applied. Faces still maintain some texture and never look like claymation figures or wax models. Both black levels and contrast are strong, though there’s a bit of black crush on occasion, especially in the Nazi uniforms. The print itself is very clean, with no debris or damage and very few specks.

Spaceballs (4.0/5.0)

This is the same disc that was released in June of this year, and it’s as impressive as ever, with a 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer. Pizza the Hutt’s face is disgustingly reproduced, with oozing rivers of melted cheese over his wet and doughy skin. Dark Helmet’s faceplate is sharp and the uniforms of the film’s “storm troopers” show off previously unseen texture and detail. This goes for nearly the entire film; aside from a couple of noticeably softer shots, Spaceballs is a crisp and even occasionally stunning on Blu-ray. While many of the film’s interiors are intentionally drab—see the almost completely beige palette of Lone Starr’s Winnebago or the matte gray halls of Spaceball One—the color reproduction here is fantastic, particularly in bright flashes like King Roland’s crimson cloak, the pastel pink of Prince Valium’s leggings, and the glittery gold of Yoghurt’s skin. Black levels and contrast are spot-on, flesh tones are warm and consistent, and with the exception of a few heavily grainy effects shots, the film’s grain is thin and unobtrusive.

Robin Hood: Men in Tights (3.0/5.0)

Robin Hood: Men in Tights comes to Blu-ray with a 1.85:1, 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer. While not reference quality, the image is nicely sharp and clean with vivid color without the greens of the forest being too intense and with the flesh tones wonderfully natural and appealing. Thankfully, there is no evidence if DNR or other serious digital anomalies.

Audio

In the interest of brevity, and since all nine of these films are dialogue heavy with a few songs, I will give a general description of the soundtracks. There aren´t a lot of sound effects and most of the mixes are front heavy with clean soundtracks. Blazing Saddles is a Warner Bros. release and utilizes a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix for its score. The remaining films all use Fox´s preferred DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix. Each has a number of other audio features, but it is notable that each title contains the original score in another format. Most films have an English Mono mix, but To Be or Not To Be and Men in Tights have a Dolby Surround mix, Spaceballs and High Anxiety have stereo mixes. Each mix is clean and the musical scores sound great. Silent Movie has only sound effects and music, but it is still a solid sounding mix. Dialogue is very clear throughout each title. The Twelve Chairs is the oldest title and is largely confined to the center channel, but it still sounds quite impressive. This box set pays the films of Mel Brooks proper respect in the sound department.

The Special Features

A Word about the Packaging:

The Mel Brooks Collection comes in a sturdy cardboard case, sized to accommodate the included 119-page book. An interior cardboard case is used to house the nine discs; I can easily see the case falling apart or getting beaten up with too much use, so you’ll want to be gentle when flipping through the pages. On the plus side, the hardcover book is excellent, with chapters devoted to each film in the collection.

The Twelve Chairs (0.0/5.0)

  • Trailers: Includes high definition trailers for High Anxiety, History of the World Part I, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Silent Movie, To Be or Not to Be, Young Frankenstein.

Blazing Saddles (3/5)

These are the same features released on the 30th Anniversary DVD, and they are all presented in standard definition.

  • Back in the Saddle (28:21) Mel Brooks, writer Andrew Bergman, producer Michael Hertzberg, and several cast members provide plenty of insight into the making of controversy surrounding the film. Of Particular interest, was Richard Pryor’s initial involvement in the script.
  • Commentary by Director Mel Brooks: This is a rather odd commentary, as it has very little to do with what you’re actually watching a lot of the time. However, if you enjoy Brooks telling stories, take a listen.
  • Intimate Portrait: Madeline Kahn (3:40, excerpt) A brief clip from Lifetime’s Intimate Portrait series on the actress Madeline Kahn.
  • Black Bart: 1975 Pilot Episode of the Proposed TV Series Spin-off (24:32) Starring Lou Gossett, Jr., this is surprisingly unfunny.
  • Deleted Scenes (9:40)
  • Theatrical Trailer (2:14)

Young Frankenstein (5.0/5.0)

  • Commentary by Mel Brooks: This commentary has Mel Brooks at his best. Full of insights and stories, this commentary makes a great pairing with the also-included trivia track.
  • Inside the Lab: Secret Formulas in the Making of Young Frankenstein This all-new picture-in-picture feature allows Mel Brooks and a series of screenwriters, and actors to comment on the movie’s creation and legacy. Brooks starts with a ringing endorsement for Blu-ray—He says before Blu-ray he looked like Quasimodo, but now he looks like Daffy Duck—and the eleven segments that play intermittently throughout the film focus mostly on comparisons to earlier Frankenstein movies.If your Blu-ray player is BonusView-enabled, then this picture-in-picture special feature can be viewed while watching the film. If you don’t have BonusView capabilities, or if you just want to watch the clips separately, you can select them from a menu.The standard definition clips include: Sources of Inspiration (5:23), Transylvania Station (3:52), Grave Robbing (1:18), Stealing a Brain (2:27), the Creation (2:51), Inspector Kemp (2:31), The Monster and Helga (1:54), Harold the Hermit (2:36), Puttin’ on the Ritz (2:54), Storming the Castle (2:08), and The Monster’s Bride (2:21).
  • Deleted Scenes The menu gives you the choice of standard definition deleted scenes and high definition deleted scenes. “Deleted Scenes SD” (SD, 16:27 total) includes seven excised clips, and “Deleted Scenes HD” (1080p, 25:01 total) features seventeen cuts and alternate takes.
  • It’s Alive! Creating a Monster Classic (1080i, 31:16) “It’s the best movie I think I’ve made,” says Mel Brooks, introducing this new making-of documentary. In five parts, the features covers the genesis of the story, cast, the happy atmosphere on set, the film’s tone and timing, and its status as an immortal comedy.
  • Making FrankenSense of Young Frankenstein (SD, 41:52) This older documentary covers a lot of the same ground as the above, but is definitely worth watching because of the presence of Gene Wilder, who leads us through the making of the film.
  • Transylvanian Lullaby: The Music of John Morris (1080i, 10:29) This new documentary focuses on Morris’ work on Young Frankenstein.
  • The Franken-Track: A Monstrous Conglomeration of Trivia Turn this feature on to view near-constant pop-up video-style trivia while watching the film.
  • Production Photographs (SD, 36:15)
  • Mexican Interviews (SD, 6:38 total) Includes interview with Marty Feldman, Gene Wilder, and Cloris Leachman.
  • Blucher Button: Hit this button to hear a horse whinny.
  • Outtakes (SD, 5:01)
  • TV Spots (SD, 3:21)
  • Trailers (SD, 7:07)
  • Isolated Score Track (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)

Silent Movie (2.0/5.0)

  • Silent Laughter: The Reel Inspirations of Silent Movie (1080i, 24:46) An excellent new documentary that examines the influence of silent film stars, especially Buster Keaton, on the creation of Brooks’ own Silent Movie. Features interviews with Brooks, writer Alan Spencer, author Jeffrey Vance, etc.
  • Speak Up! Historical Hollywood Trivia Track A trivia track that can be engaged throughout the film; deals with how Silent Movie draws from and is inspired by the silent classics of the early 20th century.
  • Trailers: Includes the theatrical trailer (1080p, 1:56), the Portuguese trailer (SD, 1:37), and the Spanish trailer (SD, 1:37).
  • Mel Brooks Trailers Includes high definition trailers for High Anxiety, History of the World Part I, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, To Be or Not To Be, and Young Frankenstein.

High Anxiety (2.5/5.0)

  • Hitchcock and Mel: Spoofing the Master of Suspense (1080p, 29:20)
    Featuring interviews with Mel Brooks, Hitchcock’s granddaughter Mary Stone, and many others, this new documentary pulls out many of the Hitchcock references in High Anxiety and reveals the amiable relationship between the Brooks and Hitchcock.
  • The “Am I Very Very Nervous?” Test
    Turn this feature on, and while you’re watching the film multiple-choice questions will pop up to gauge just how nervous you are.
  • Don’t Get Anxious! The Trivia of Hitchcock Like the title implies, this pop-up trivia track focuses mostly on the Hitchcock references in the film.
  • Theatrical Trailer (1080p, 2:41)
  • Mel Brooks Trailers Includes high definition trailers for History of the World Part I, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Silent Movie, To Be or Not To Be, and Young Frankenstein.
  • Isolated Score Track (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)

History of the World Part I (2.5/5.0)

  • Musical Mel: Inventing “The Inquisition” (1080p, 10:40) “What do you do to the Spanish Inquisition to make it palatable? You make it a musical,” says composer John Morris, introducing Mel Brooks’ musical styling’s. While the main focus is on the big Spanish Inquisition song and dance number, Broadway director Susan Stroman, choreographer Alan Johnson, producer Stuart Cornfeld and others discuss his music.
  • Making History: Mel Brooks on Creating the World (1080p, 10:04) This has not only Mel Brooks discussing the making of the movie but also members of the cast and crew rendering opinions about the finished work.
  • The Real History of the World Trivia Track Played along with the film, the pop-up windows contain the historical facts that have been distorted for the sake of comedy.
  • Mel Brooks Trailers
    Includes high definition trailers for High Anxiety, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Silent Movie, To Be or Not To Be, and Young Frankenstein.
  • Theatrical Trailer (1080p, 3:04)
  • Isolated Score Track (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)

To Be or Not To Be 2.0/5.0

  • Brooks and Bancroft: A Perfect Pair (1080p, 14:49) There aren’t too many Hollywood marital success stories, but the pairing of Brooks and Bancroft was one of the greats. Here, many of their friends and co-workers comment on what made them so special together.
  • How Serious Can Mel Brooks Really Get? (SD, 2:46) In this vintage featurette, Brooks talks about doing his first legitimate part and how much he depended on his much more versatile wife for suggestions and encouragement.
  • Profiles (SD) Includes three short archival interviews with Mel Brooks (2:39), Anne Bancroft (2:03), and Charles Durning (2:33).
  • To Be or Not To Be: That is the Trivia! Another pop-up trivia track.
  • Trailers Includes the theatrical trailer (1080p, 3:21) and the Portuguese trailer (SD, 3:24).
  • Isolated Score Track (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)

Spaceballs (3.0/5.0)

  • Commentary by Mel Brooks: Another fairly funny commentary. He offers lots of stories and some interesting production details.
  • Spaceballs: The Documentary (SD, 30:04) “A funny effect is a real effect with some extension,” says Mel Brooks, who introduces the importance of the film’s special effects in selling the comedy. In addition to examining the visual effects, this documentary includes interviews with a lot of the cast and crew, and clips from the film.
  • In Conversation: Mel Brooks & Thomas Meehan (SD, 20:30) Here, Mel and writing collaborator Thomas Meehan discuss about process of writing the film.
  • John Candy: Comic Spirit (SD, 10:02) A tribute to the late, comic, featuring interviews with his biographer, several members of the Spaceballs cast, and some archive interviews of John Candy himself.
  • Watch the Movie in Ludicrous Speed! (1080p, 00:29) See the whole film in thirty seconds!
  • Still Galleries: Features an art gallery, a costume gallery, and a gallery of behind-the-scenes photos.
  • Trailers Includes the Exhibitor Trailer with Mel Brooks Introduction (SD, 2:12), and the film’s theatrical trailer (SD, 2:30).
  • Film Flubs (SD) There are six short clips here, each one, pointing out one of the film’s flubs.
  • Storyboard to Film Comparison (SD, 6:41)

Robin Hood: Men in Tights (2.5/5.0)

  • LaserDisc Commentary with Mel Brooks: Funny as usual, he does provide an occasional production detail.
  • Funny Men in Tights: Three Generations of Comedy (1080i, 13:49) Between the old guard of Dom DeLuise and Dick Van Patton, and newcomers like Dave Chappelle, Men in Tights features three generations of comedic talents. This retrospective takes a cheery look back on the making of the film and features interviews with a few of Brooks’ regulars.
  • Robin Hood: Men in Tights – The Legend Had it Coming (SD, 26:14)
    This vintage HBO special includes lots of behind-the-scenes action, plenty of cast interviews, and a look at the creation of some of the film’s action sequences.
  • Mel Brooks Trailers Includes high definition trailers for High Anxiety, History of the World Part I, Silent Movie, To Be or Not To Be, and Young Frankenstein.
  • Isolated Score Track (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)



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