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Mel Brooks Collection, The (1970 - 1993) Print E-mail
Monday, 28 December 2009
Article Index
Mel Brooks Collection, The (1970 - 1993)
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ImageThere are few names in the motion picture industry that are highly recognizable by the masses.  For more than 30 years Mel Brooks has been entertaining the world with classic parody films such as “Spaceballs,” “Blazing Saddles” and “History of the World: Part 1.”  And now, MGM/Fox has presented us with the chance to own the nine Mel Brooks masterpieces, and on Blu-ray no less.

This will primarily be about the films’ audio and video qualities, however, first a little about each film. (The Twelve Chairs, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Silent Movie, High Anxiety, History of the World - Part I, To Be Or Not To Be, Spaceballs, Robin Hood: Men In Tights.)

The Twelve Chairs (3/5)

After successfully writing for television, Mel Brooks made his first leap into features with “The Producers.”  (This is not included in the Blu-ray collection.)  MGM’s first Brooks release is “The Twelve Chairs from 1970.  When viewed today, after so many outrageously funny films from Brooks, “The Twelve Chairs” is fairly tame.  There are several instances in the film in which the viewers zone out.  This is likely to be due to the simplistic story of the film.  The film is based on a Russian novel about jewels that are hidden in one of twelve chairs.  The chairs used to be part of the family, but had since been scattered across the nation.  That is it.  This is definitely a funny film, but may be a bit dated for many.

Blazing Saddles (5/5)

Four years after his sophomore film, Brooks released his timeless classic, “Blazing Saddles.”  This is without a doubt his best known work and for good reason.  However, I fear that the film is slipping when it comes to viewers.  What made this film work was the time in which it was created.  Nearly all of the dialogue and action was risqué for the time.  Children that see the film now can’t find the humor in it as they have seen much worse things since the film’s inception.  In fact, some might find the film’s language offensive, due to the racial slurs.  Still, this film remains an important part of cinematic history.  Everyone should give it a chance.  It may not appeal to you all, but if it doesn’t then you probably won’t care about owning this Blu-ray collection anyway.

Young Frankenstein (5/5)

1974 was a huge year for Brooks.  Immediately following “Blazing Saddles” came Brooks’ second classic, “Young Frankenstein.”  When comedy and parody is thought of, it is “Young Frankenstein” that comes to mind for most.  However, once again, the film seems to be fading from viewers new generations.  Kids today need to view these films and understand their significance, instead of thinking that films like “The Hangover” are the end all be all of comedy.  There is one fact that should clear all this up.  The Library of Congress has declared this movie to be culturally and historically significant.  That must count for something.

Silent Movie (4/5)

1976 saw the first silent film in more than 40 years of cinema.  Fox finally gave into Brooks’ pleading to make the film.  Thankfully they did, because this film is slapstick comedy at it’s best.  Brooks pays tribute to all the silent film geniuses of the past, including Charlie Chaplin.  The antics in the film are hit and miss, but they will keep you laughing, even if they are really lame.
High Anxiety (3.5/5)

Next, in 1977 comes “High Anxiety.”  Brooks based this entire film on Hitchcock films.  Therefore, in order to get the most out of this film you will need to be familiar with Hitchcock’s creations.  If you are not, then I recommend at least becoming familiar with “North By Northwest,” “Vertigo” and “Psycho.”  The former has recently been released on Blu-ray if you are so inclined.  Still, Brooks delivers are great film, even if it is not as surprising as his previous works.

History of the World: Part I (4.5/5)

Four years after “High Anxiety” Brooks comes out with a film that has proven to stand the test of time.  This is largely due to the fact that we have moved into the 1980s, a decade which remains familiar to many generations.  One of the most memorable portions of this film is the opening, which parodies “2001: A Space Odyssey.”  As Brooks parodies Hollywood’s portrayal of different historical periods, the laughs keep on coming.

To Be Or Not To Be (3/5)

This 1983 Mel Brooks film is definitely the odd one out.  It is likely to be the film that is skipped over by the large majority of owners of the collection.  The film is a remake of a WWII film that focuses on the Polish and the Nazis.  This film suffers from an imbalance in tonality.  I would have to advise skipping this disc.

Spaceballs (4.5/5)

(For information on this title please visit the standalone Blu-ray release review of the film by clicking here .)

Robin Hood: Men In Tights (4.5/5)

This 1993 film is Brooks’ second to last film.  His last film to date, “Dracula: Dead and Loving It,” is not included in this collection.  “Robin Hood: Men In Tights” is probably the easiest film to share amongst several different generations.  The story of Robin Hood has been around for quite some time and it was only a matter of time before someone parodied the legend.  Mel Brooks is that man.  While many will find the humor to be sub par or generic, there are laughs abound that can be shared during family night.

Continue to Page 2 for Information on the Video Transfers…

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