Blu-Ray Review: Comedy Fans Must Own ‘The Mel Brooks Collection’

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CHICAGO – “The Mel Brooks Collection” contains two undeniable masterpieces, four more films that I could watch repeatedly, two so-so entries, and one interesting dud. The range of material, the special features, and the collectible packaging make it a must-own for anyone who dares claim to be a hardcore comedy fan. Blu-Ray Rating: 5.0/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 5.0/5.0

Comedy is subjective but there’s nearly universal agreement on the fact that “Blazing Saddles” and “Young Frankenstein” are two of the funniest movies ever made. They simply never get old. They had been previously available on Blu-ray, but most of their partners in this new collection are debuting on the format.

The Mel Brooks Collection was released on Blu-Ray on December 15th, 2009.
The Mel Brooks Collection was released on Blu-Ray on December 15th, 2009.
Photo credit: Fox Home Video

Eight of the eleven films that Brooks directed are included, in chronological order: “The Twelve Chairs,” “Blazing Saddles,” “Young Frankenstein,” “Silent Movie,” “High Anxiety,” “History of the World, Part I,” “Spaceballs,” and “Robin Hood: Men in Tights”. Brooks produced and starred in the also-included “To Be Or Not To Be,” but did not direct. The only films he directed that are not included are the amazing “The Producers” and the awful “Life Stinks” and “Dracula: Dead and Loving It”. Missing “The Producers” makes the set feel somewhat incomplete but no one needs to sit through “Life Stinks” or “Dead and Loving It” ever again.

The Mel Brooks Collection was released on Blu-Ray on December 15th, 2009.
The Mel Brooks Collection was released on Blu-Ray on December 15th, 2009.
Photo credit: Fox Home Video

As for the actual films, they look good but not great. As is often the case with packages like this, they haven’t been as lovingly restored as they would if it was a stand-alone special edition of a single film. For example, “Spaceballs” (which is the third film that was previously available) doesn’t look much different than an upgraded standard-def DVD. Which is to say it looks great but not mind-blowing.

No, the charm of “The Mel Brooks Collection” is in owning most of the output of one of the most important filmmakers in the history of the genre. If you want to learn about comedy, this is a good place to start.

Special features include a 120-page hardcover book, multiple new special features, and trivia tracks. The complete list:

“Blazing Saddles”
Additional Scenes
Scene-Specific Commentary by Mel Brooks
“Back in the Saddle”
“Intimate Portrait: Madeline Kahn (Excerpt)”
Black Bart: 1975 Pilot Episode Of The Proposed TV Series Spinoff
Theatrical Trailer

Commentary by Mel Brooks
Spaceballs: The Documentary
In Conversation: Mel Brooks & Thomas Meehan
John Candy: Comic Spirit
Watch the movie in Ludicrous Speed
Still Galleries
Film Flubs
Storyboards-to-Film Comparison

“Young Frankenstein”
Commentary by Mel Brooks
Inside The Lab: Secret Formulas in the Making of Young Frankenstein
Deleted Scenes
It’s Alive! Creating A Monster Classic
Making FrankenSense of Young Frankenstein
Transylvanian Lullaby: The Music of John Morris
The Franken-Track: A Monstrous Conglomeration of Trivia - Trivia Track
Blucher Button
Isolated Score Track (DTS MA)

“High Anxiety”
Hitchcock and Mel: Spoofing the Master of Suspense
The “Am I Very, Very Nervous?” Test
Dr. Thorndyke’s Ink Blot Test
How Anxious Am I?
Don’t Get Anxious! The Trivia of Hitchcock - Trivia Track
Isolated Score Track (DTS MA)

“History of the World, Part 1”
Musical Mel: Inventing “The Inquisition”
Making History: Mel Brooks on Creating the World
The Real History of the World - Trivia Track
Isolated Score Track (DTS MA)

“Robin Hood: Men In Tights”
Funny Men In Tights: Three Generations of Comedy
HBO Special: Robin Hood: Men In Tights - “The Legend Had It Coming”
LaserDisc Commentary by Mel Brooks
Isolated Score Track (DTS MA)

“Silent Movie”
Silent Laughter: The Reel Inspirations of Silent Movie
Speak Up! Historical Hollywood - Trivia Track

“To Be Or Not To Be”
Brooks and Bancroft: A Perfect Pair
How Serious Can Mel Brooks Really Get?
Profiles of Mel Brooks, Anne Bancroft and Charles Durning
To Be Or Not To Be: That Is The Trivia! - Trivia Track
Isolated Score Track (DTS MA)

“Twelve Chairs” contains no special features.

‘The Mel Brooks Collection’ is released by Fox Home Video. It was released on Blu-ray on December 15th, 2009. content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

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