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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Satire > Musical > Silent > The Mel Brooks Collection (20th Century Fox/MGM Blu-ray Box Set)

The Mel Brooks Collection (20th Century Fox/MGM Blu-ray Box Set)


After a very successful DVD release, Fox has decided to issue their Mel Brooks Collection on Blu-ray and adds a ninth title, Spaceballs (1987).  You can read more about that set and the individual films at this link:





We have already covered three of the nine releases in this set on Blu-ray (one in the defunct HD-DVD format), so links to those reviews are listed where applicable.  Otherwise, technical coverage and additional comments follow:



The Twelve Chairs (1970)


Picture: B     Sound: C+     Extras: C-     Film: B-


Brooks' somewhat comic look at Communism in 1920s Russia boasts a solid performance by Ron Moody, early interesting performance by Frank Langella and better than usual Dom DeLuise going after the title objects.  The film was released by the short-lived Universal Marion Corporation and is the first of their films ever to make it to High Definition.



Blazing Saddles (1974)


Picture: B     Sound: B-     Extras: B     Film: B


NOTE: The Blu-ray and HD-DVD have the same picture and sound performance.




Young Frankenstein (1974)


Picture: B     Sound: C+     Extras: B-     Film: B-





Silent Movie (1976)


Picture: B     Sound: C+     Extras: B-     Film: B-


A send-up of Hollywood in 1976, the film has Brooks and Fox attacking rival Paramount Pictures (owned then by corporate conglomerate Gulf + Western) battling against greedy corporation “Engulf & Devour” headed by Sid Caesar. Who worships the dollar bill sign and wants to save his movie studio.  Brooks is Mel Funn, the man who could have that hit.  With great cameos, some great humor and Marty Feldman & Dom DeLuise at his side, maybe the most underrated of Brooks’ comedies.



High Anxiety (1977)


Picture: B     Sound: C+     Extras: B     Film: B


Brooks best film to date is a brilliant send-up of all of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thrillers that is more thorough than most serious imitators and rip-offs of The Master Of Suspense as Brooks plays Dr. Richard Thorndyke, a none-too-well psychiatrist who is supposed to take over a hospital when he needs to check into one.  Then there are the series of murders taking place and larger plot that must be stopped.  The great cast also includes the late, great Madeline Kahn, Harvey Korman, Cloris Leachman and other actors who pull off this laugh riot.



History of the World: Part I (1981)


Picture: B     Sound: C+     Extras: C     Film: C


Running out of genres to send-up, Brooks tries to send up historical and Biblical Epics, but is years too late and the film never really adds up despite Orson Welles’ narration and is as bad as so many such spoofs since.  He also started losing his touch and what little was funny is less so as this was not good to begin with and has not aged well.



To Be or Not to Be (1983)


Picture: B     Sound: C+     Extras: C+     Film: C+


Included in this set despite Brooks not directing this remake of the 1942 classic, it has its moments thanks to Director Alan Johnson and Co-Writers Thomas Meehan and Ronny Graham.  Brooks and real-life wife Anne Bancroft take the Jack Benny and Carole Lombard as a performing couple who must help morale as The Nazis invade Poland in 1939.  Worth seeing and deserving of overall revisionist thinking in its favor, Charles Durning also stars.



Spaceballs (1987)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: C+     Film: C+





Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)


Picture: B     Sound: B-     Extras: C-     Film: D


Despite owning Life Stinks, MGM did not include it in this set and Fox & MGM decided not to ask Columbia/Sony to loan it the painfully bad Dracula: Dead and Loving It, but they just had to include Robin Hood: Men in Tights, a horrid recycling of his cult 1975 TV series When Things Were Rotten.  Instead of sending up all of Robin Hood like the series, this one starts by targeting the hit Kevin Costner version, then gets lost in some of the worst jokes and gags Brooks ever brought to the screen.  A really horrible bore, this was one Blu-ray too many in this set, but completists and fanatics will enjoy it.



All are presented in 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition images except Saddles, Spaceballs and World, which are 2.35 X 2 scope.  The older films tend to have a more solid look, while the later films have a little more detail, yet also have more softness via the newer (and weaker) film stocks used to shoot them.  All also have DTS-HD Master Audio (MA) lossless 5.1 mixes, but are simple stereo films at best and the sound is usually confined to the front speakers throughout.  Still, the films (especially to 1983, give or take my issues with Saddles transfer) are improvements over their DVD counterparts and sometimes look the best they have since their theatrical releases.  Extras are the same as the DVD set, but the slidecase box has two books: one with the Blu-rays, the other with a hardcover book on Brooks and his films that makes for a fun read.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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