MEL BROOKS COLLECTION, THE (9 FILMS) - Blu-ray review

Mel Brooks has always been one of my favorite comedy filmmakers and it was a real treat to revisit nine of his films with "The Mel Brooks Collection" on Blu-ray.

DeanWink

Mel Brooks is one of the truly great comedic filmmakers in Hollywood. Born in 1926, the Jewish filmmaker has had a long and prosperous career that began with the 1968 film "The Producers" and has continued through the modern day although he hasn't been behind the camera in fifteen years. Brooks has always had a keen sense for parody and homage and has managed to make a number of great films that poke fun at genres, filmmaking styles and historical subjects in a way that has been rivaled by relatively few. He has had a long running relationship with many great actors that include Gene Wilder, Dom DeLuise, Cloris Leachman and Madeline Kahn. Since "Blazing Saddles" hit theaters in 1974, Brooks has pushed the envelope and entertained by straddling the line of political correctness and not being afraid to cross it for the sake of a good joke.

With the era of high definition upon us, Brooks may not be pushing out new material, but he has a strong catalog of pictures and has directed eleven pictures during his long career and been involved with a few other projects. Eight of the films contained in "The Mel Brooks Collection" are pictures that he personally directed and the ninth film stars the filmmaker and his late wife. The generation of fans buying Blu-ray players is a mix of young and old, but this is a generation controlled by younger audiences and the high definition format clamors for special effects blockbusters like "Transformers" or expensive parodies like "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra." Many that are enjoying pictures in 1080p were not even born when Brooks created his last great picture and "The Mel Brooks Collection" provides the opportunity for these younger audiences to be introduced to one of the great filmmakers that helped pave the way for pictures like "Airplane!," "Scary Movie" and "Hot Shots!"

The first title in "The Mel Brooks Collection" is Brooks' second directorial effort after his Academy Award winning 1968 debut "The Producers." The selection of this title over his first film seems unusual in that it is both a lesser known film and it is a rare adapted story by Brooks based upon the 1928 Russian novel of the same name. This film features Ron Moody as Ippolit Matveetvich Vorobyaninov, a very young Frank Langella as Ostap Bender and the late great Dom DeLuise as Father Fyodor. Brooks has a supporting role in the picture. The story has the three main characters trying to find twelve dinner table chairs as one of them has a wealth of diamonds sewn into it. The film has Ippolit and Ostap traveling together as Ippolit had previously owned the chairs and the charismatic Ostap can help him find them. Father Fyodor wants the riches for his own purposes.

"The Twelve Chairs" is a fun little film where Brooks' understanding of slapstick and timing is apparent very early in his career. The movie runs a long ninety-four minutes and at times it does seem to drag on as there is not a lot of plot to the story. It is entertaining, but more of a teaser to where Brooks' career would lead. The most noteworthy item of "The Twelve Chairs" is that it marked the debut of Langella, who earned some well-deserved attention for his performance in the film. He was thirty-two at the time and I was impressed by the then-young and dashing actor. Dom DeLuise was early in his career when he co-starred in "The Twelve Chairs" and would form a long friendship with Brooks after this film and starred in six of Brook's films. DeLuise passed six months ago and the large and funny actor is missed.

My personal favorite Brooks' film "Blazing Saddles" is the next film contained in "The Mel Brooks Collection" and is the identical disk to that available separately. This marked the second of three collaborations between Brooks' and star Gene Wilder, with the curly haired actor portraying the Waco Kid. Cleavon Little is best remembered for his role as the black Sheriff Bart and the legendary Slim Pickens as the evil dimwitted henchman Taggart, who is under orders from Hedley Lamarr (Harvey Korman) and Governor William J. Le Petomane (Brooks) to bring down Bart and the town of Rock Ridge to allow a railway to move through the town. Dom DeLuise and another familiar Brooks' star, Madeline Kahn, also have roles in the picture with Brooks' wife Anne Bancroft having an uncredited cameo in "Blazing Saddles."

"Blazing Saddles" is perhaps the greatest parody film ever made. It pokes fun at racial stereotypes and the Wild West in one masterful stroke. I'm not sure "Blazing Saddles" could be made today in the modern conservative world where suit-happy ‘victims' are waiting around every corner to be offended. The story, the acting and the comedy of "Blazing Saddles" are all top notch with Little, Wilder and Pickens all in fine form. Alex Karras may be best remembered for playing George Papadapolis in television's "Webster," but the ex-football player was amazing as Mongo. There are so many great moments and memorable lines in "Blazing Saddles" that I could talk about what I love for many paragraphs. "Blazing Saddles" is simply an amazing and classic comedy and the centerpiece of this box set.

The third film is the third film directed by Brooks and starring Gene Wilder and another classic and memorable line item in Brooks' filmography. "Young Frankenstein" is considered by many to be Brooks' shining achievement and another perfect parody by the director. Shot in black and white, "Frankenstein" parodies the classic Universal monster films and stars Wilder as Dr. "Fronk-en-steen," who tries to break the association between him and his grandfather, who was a famous mad scientist of the Mary Shelley stories. Another recently deceased Hollywood legend Peter Boyle stars as the "Fronk-en-steen" monster and bug-eyed Marty Feldman is memorable as "Eye-gor," who prefers a different pronunciation of his name. Teri Garr found fame after her role in the film and Gene Hackman, Madeline Kahn and Cloris Leachmen all have roles in the picture.

While I've always preferred "Blazing Saddles" over "Young Frankenstein," this is another great movie that I've always cherished and consider one of Brooks' shining achievements. The different take on the Mary Shelley story is perfect and I can't help but love Marty Feldman's take on the hunchbacked assistant as he asks Gene Wilder to "Walk this way." This film is chocked full of sight gags and ‘little touches' that make Mel Brooks' films so wonderful. Sadly, this was the last collaboration between Wilder and Brooks, but it was another memorable one. Boyle is best remembered for playing the Monster and he is great as is Madeline Kahn as the voluptuous, but uptight wife. Teri Garr looks amazing as the playful and sexy lab assistant. "Young Frankenstein" is another must-watch entry in this box set.

Mel Brooks' found some resistance when he wanted to shoot "Blazing Saddles" in black and white, but the director had a harder time selling the idea of making a modern "Silent Movie" and he did so in true Brooks' fashion by making a silent movie about making a silent movie. The 1976 film has Brooks starring as Mel Funn and he is a recovering alcoholic who wants to return to the spotlight by making a silent movie and travels with his companions Dom Bell (DeLuise) and Marty Eggs (Feldman) as he tracks down big stars to be a part of his risky venture that keeps Big Picture Studios from being taken over by business moguls Engulf (Harold Gould) and Devour (Ron Carey). The stars collected by Funn include Burt Reynolds, James Caan, Liza Minnelli, Anne Bancroft and Paul Newman; although he is rejected by French mime Marcel Marceau.

Silent films had given way to "talkies" in the early Thirties, but "Silent Movie" is great homage to the nearly forgotten days when music and cue cards were how sound and dialogue was presented to the audience. Brooks' uses classic slapstick in the vein of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin to tell his story and while you can read lips to get an idea of the dialogue, the sight gags, physical comedy and acting by the primary trio is more than enough to enjoy and "get" the story behind "Silent Movie." Feldman and Brooks are especially capable of giving a performance based on their physical talents and Brooks' proves that he can do humor without words. There is a lot going on during this film and "Silent Movie" looks and feels like a Mel Brooks film and you hardly realize that dialogue is absent after a few minutes of immersion into the experience.

"High Anxiety" is a Mel Brooks' film I had rarely heard of and never watched until earlier this year when it was recommended to me by an attractive young lady who loves the filmmaker. On her recommendation I picked up a copy of the film on DVD and found his homage to the great Alfred Hitchcock to be another good entry in Brooks' filmography. I wouldn't call it one of his best films, but it is very entertaining and has Brooks starring as Dr. Richard Thorndyke. Thorndyke takes a job as director of the Psycho Neurotic Institute for the Very, Very Nervous. Unfortunately, Thorndyke should be a patient and not an administrator as he is nearly paralyzed by his anxiety over heights. Familiar Brooks' collaborators Madeline Kahn, Harvey Korman, Cloris Leachman, Ron Carey and Dick Van Patten all have roles in the film.

The film is intended to honor and parody Hitchcock and while its largest target is the classic "Vertigo," dozens of Hitchcock's pictures are referenced in story, sight gag or spirit. Fans and aficionados of Hitchcock will appreciate the deep respect Brooks has for Hitchcock and have fun looking for clues and hints based on Hitchcock's works. There are a few other notable films parodied in "High Anxiety," but most deal with Hitchcock. The story and humor in "High Anxiety" are both very good and the acting is solid. The film's strength is its honoring Hitchcock and aside from that it is an average picture by Brooks, which is still far better than many a filmmaker.

History and religion are not safe from Brooks and "History of the World, Part 1" has Brooks explaining some of the many mysteries in history. Brooks' 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 portrays stand up comedian and bullshit artist Comicus on his take of the Roman Empire where DeLuise is Caesar. John Hurt is Jesus and Gregory Hines is a tap dancing slave, while Kahn is Empress Nympho. Music is a strong part of any Brooks' film and he has a song about the Spanish Inquisition and the film ends with a satirical look at the French Revolution where Brooks' brings his numerous roles full circle as Jacques, le Garcon de Pisse (Piss boy).

"History of the World, Part 1" is a formulaic and familiar picture by Brooks with many faithful actors starring in this ensemble film. Kahn and DeLuise are joined by Korman, Leachman, Carey and Cid 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 and while I won't place "History of the World, Part 1" as one of the best Mel Brooks movies, it contains every characteristic element that defines one of Brook's comedies. He guns for history and important biblical events and makes a few good jokes at their expense. It would be a lot of fun for Brooks to revisit history with "History of the World, Part 2," but his take on the Roman Empire and Jesus was a fun romp through history.

The only film in the collection to not be directed by Brooks is "To Be or Not to Be." This is the only film of the set where he co-stars with his wife Anne Bancroft and "To Be or Not to Be" is Brooks assault on Nazi occupied Poland during World War II. Brooks and Bancroft are Frederick and Anna Bronski. They are entertainers who perform in a small theater in Poland, but are renown for their acting and singing. They must work to stop Professor Siletski (Jose Ferrer) from handing a list of Polish rebels to Colonel Earhart (Charles Durning) of the S.S., but problems arise when Siletski is killed and Frederick must portray the dead professor in his best performance ever. Tim Matheson co-stars as a young pilot who falls in love with Anna and Christopher Lloyd is good as S.S. Captain Schultz.

The film is a remake of a 1942 film that starred Jack Benny and Carol Lombard. Directed by Alan Jackson, this remake is a fun and entertaining picture, but far more serious in tone than most of Brooks' films. It isn't as much parody as it is flat out comedy. The film does not feel like your typical Mel Brooks' picture, but is noteworthy as it is the only time he headlined a film with his late wife. "To Be or Not to Be" is considered to be very faithful to the original and doesn't contain the parody bits that are trademarks of Brooks' films, but the Jewish filmmaker suits the subject matter well and "To Be or Not to Be" is given credit for acknowledging the Nazi persecution of homosexuals as Sasha (James Haake) is an important character in the film. "To Be or Not to Be" is entertaining and worthy of its place in the collection, but is one of the weaker titles of the set.

Brooks returned to writing and directing with the 1983 "Star Wars" parody "Spaceballs" that starred Rick Moranis, Bill Pullman and the late John Candy in one of his final roles. The film was not a quick success at the box office, but it has since become a cult classic and is similar in style and tone to "Blazing Saddles" as the film breaks the fourth wall and is rooted firmly in parody. Pullman is galactic cowboy Lonestar and his sidekick is a Chewbacca-inspired walking hairball named Barf. They find themselves saving Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga) from the Spaceballs led by Lord Dark Helmet (Moranis) and must travel the galaxy to avoid capture and to save Vespa's homeworld of Druidia. Vespa travels with her companion droid Dot Matrix (Joan Rivers). They are aided by Scwhartz master Yogurt (Brooks) as the group is chased by the Spaceballs and Pizza the Hut (Dom DeLuise).

"Spaceballs" is one of my favorite Mel Brooks' films because it parodies the movies I grew up loving and it too is part of my childhood as I wasn't old enough to drive when it hit theaters and John Candy and Rick Moranis were big stars at the time. The movie may not have the level of writing of "Blazing Saddles" or "Young Frankenstein" and it may be too deep in its parody to feel as solid as the other pictures, but "Spaceballs" is a funny film that I can enjoy watching countless times as it pokes fun at "Star Wars," "Aliens," "Star Trek" and other pictures. The film also poked fun at the marketing machine surrounding the "Star Wars" films. Michael Winslow, John Hurt, Dick Van Patten and Jim J. Bullock were all recognizable faces at the time and have supporting roles in the picture. Brooks was starting to show his age during this film, but he could still deliver the laughs.

As far as I'm concerned, "Robin Hood: Men in Tights" is the last Mel Brooks picture written and directed by the great comedy filmmaker. The 1995 "Bram Stoker's Dracula" parody that was shot in the style of the classic Hammer Studios horror films was woeful and the final film directed by Brooks; perhaps it was so bad that Brooks abandoned directing as a result. "Men in Tights" found a good level of success in ticket sales, but it was furthered the landslide in critical opinion that began with "Spaceballs." 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.

While it isn't as strong as the more classic parody of films, "Men in Tights" is fairly equivalent to "Spaceballs," but relies more heavily on pulp culture references and homages Brooks' own films. Elwes and Lewis were the only big names out of the primary cast, but supporting roles and cameos are handled by more familiar faces such as Tracey Ullman, Patrick Stewart, Dom DeLuise, Isaac Hayes and Dick Van Patten. The movie has a lot of very humorous moments, but it is a picture that will be appreciated by members of my generation and not hold up nearly as long as "Blazing Saddles" or "Young Frankenstein." The picture showed that Brooks' still had a knack for comedy, but he was slowly becoming more of a parody of himself and his pictures felt as if they were trying to keep up with the Zucker Brothers and Jim Abrahams.

Video:

Whereas I could rate each film on its visuals for the box set, I feel that would be a bit excessive and I'll just give a general score. "The Mel Brooks Collection" features films that date from 1970 to 1993. With the newest entry now being fifteen years old, my expectations were not overly high for rich and detailed transfers and after watching the entire collection, my expectations were met and in some cases exceeded. "Blazing Saddles" is presented in 2.40:1 widescreen and "History of the World – Part 1" is presented in 2.35:1. The remaining seven titles are all shown in 1.85:1 widescreen. Colors are rich and solid and most of the titles do not look their age. "Men in Tights" and "Spaceballs" certainly look the best, but "Blazing Saddles" looked very good for a film that is now 25 years old. "Silent Movie" and "Twelve Chairs" are among the weakest looking, but they still look quite good. "Young Frankenstein" is a black and white film and it looks excellent with good contract, black levels and shadow detail. The source prints were clean and the transfers don't show any glaring flaws and in general viewers should be quite pleased with this box set.

Audio:

Aside from a few sequences in "Spaceballs," the Mel Brooks Collection is about funny men, music and dialogue. There aren't a lot of sound effects and most 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 n 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 very clean and the musical scores that are key elements to any Mel Brooks films sound great. "Silent Movie" has only sound effects and music, but it is still a busy and solid sounding mix. Dialogue is very clear throughout each title. "The Twelve Chairs" is the oldest title and felt confined to the center channel, but while it is the weakest title audibly, it still is far from disappointing sounding. The box set pay the films of Mel Brooks proper respect in the sound department.

Extras:

"The Mel Brooks Collection" arrives with six films not previously available on the Blu-ray format and three titles that are available as single discs. Judging by the way the discs' special features are handled, the six films may be released individually later as they promote each other. The packaging itself is similar in size to Fox's release of the "Planet of the Apes" films with a very large cardboard slipcase holding two books. The first book holds the discs with two sitting on a page side-by-side and the bonus hardcover book. The 120-page book is a nice read with some very good photographs and information about the legendary filmmaker and his movies. It is an attractive package and while I would have preferred something a little smaller, I now have something else to sit with the "Planet of the Apes" box set.

The Twelve Chairs

Unlike most of the other titles in the "Mel Brooks Collection," "The Twelve Chairs" does not have any bonus materials that directly relate to itself. It does contain the Mel Brooks Trailers, as does every other title. This is collection of trailers for six of the collections films. They are "High Anxiety," "History of the World Part 1," "Robin Hood: Men in Tights," "Silent Movie," "To Be or Not to Be," and "Young Frankenstein." Each disc will contain either all six trailers of just five of them; omitting its own trailer from the list. The "Mel Brooks Trailers" serves a purpose of advertising the other films for those that have purchased some of these titles individually and not as part of the large and pricey box set for the newer Blu-ray releases. I would have liked a short little retrospective feature of trivia for this film, but it is mostly ignored.

Blazing Saddles

The second film fares a little better with supplements. This disc is the same disc previously sold separately. Therefore, the supplements are a little nicer than other titles. It includes the excellent Commentary with Mel Brooks that has the filmmaker talking about the joys of making this classic film. It is a solid commentary track. Back in the Saddle (28:21) is a retrospective making-of feature that looks at the classic film and its crude humor that pushed the envelope at the time in this western parody. The Black Bart TV Pilot (24:26) starring Lou Gossett Jr. is included for the unaired pilot based on the film. This is a great supplement. The featurette Intimate Portrait: Madeline Khan (3:40) is a retrospective look at the strong voiced star of many of Brooks' films. A decent collection of Deleted Scenes (9:40) with some funny moments and extended scenes is included along with the Theatrical Trailer.

Young Frankenstein

"Young Frankenstein" is another film that was previously released onto Blu-ray and has more features than the titles newly released for this collection. This is the best-featured title of the box set. This title features a Commentary by Mel Brooks as well and it is another good listen. The Franken-Track: A Monstrous Conglomeration of Trivia is the title's pop-up trivia track. Inside the Lab: Secret Formulas in the Making of Young Frankenstein allows BonusView-enabled (Profile 1.1) machines to view the information contained in this feature in Picture-in-Picture mode. However, Fox has kindly provided the eleven pop-ups as separate selections under this menu heading as full screen videos.

There are a number of stand-alone features including two sets of deleted scenes. The set seven of Deleted Scenes SD (16:27) and seventeen additional Deleted Scenes HD (25:01) provide production scenes, alternate takes and unfinished footage. The SD scenes contain the funnier moments. It's Alive! Creating a Monster Classic (31:16) looks at the making of the film and its importance as a cult classic. Brooks, Cloris Leachman and others provide recollections about the film in another very nice new entry for the Blu-ray release. Making FrankenSense of Young Frankenstein (41:52) is the older making-of feature that will be familiar to those with the DVD releases of the film. Transylvania Lullaby: The Music of John Morris (10:29) is a short bit that concentrates entirely on the score by John Morris.

An Isolated Score Track is provided on the disc to listen to the Morris score. The Blucher Button is an odd little inclusion that simply delivers the sound of an unsettled horse. And if you thought the horse sound was the final extra, you would be wrong! A short set of Outtakes (5:01) are included in standard definition and culled from previous releases. They add to the value of the disc and they are humorous, but short. The Mexican Interviews (6:38) is a series of archival footage where Marty Feldman is interviewed in one short segment and Gene Wilder and Cloris Leachman are interviewed in another. It was great to see Marty Feldman interviewed here, regardless of the rough Mexican accent of the interviewer. Some TV Spots, Production Photographs and five Trailers complete the very nice set of bonus materials.

Silent Movie

One true special feature is included with "Silent Movie." This is the making of documentary Silent Laughter: The Reel Inspiration of Silent Movie (24:46). It was recorded a few years ago when DeLuis was still alive. It features interviews with the cast and filmmakers as they discuss the process of making a silent movie in 1975. It is a good little feature and points out many of the parallels between the film and its own story. Speak Up! Historical Hollywood Trivia Track provides graphical overlays detailing trivia based on the film and subject matter. For instance, "Silent Movie" was the first of its kind made in 45 years. Three trailers are provided for "Silent Movie," the Theatrical Trailer, Spanish Trailer and Portuguese Trailer as well as the Mel Brooks Trailers.

High Anxiety

"High Anxiety" benefits from a few nice extras. Hitchcock and Mel: Spoofing the Master of Suspense (29:20) has Brooks talking about his love of Alfred Hitchcock and how he wanted to made his homage to the master of the thriller. This retrospective making-of feature includes Hitchcock's daughter Mary Stone and it takes the tone of honoring Hitchcock and discuss "High Anxiety." Up next is The "Am I Very, Very Nervous?" Test. This is an interactive game that asks questions while watching the film. It's goofy and answering correctly is not always the best path, but it keeps score and shows a "nervous meter" as you play and watch. Don't Get Anxious! The Trivia of Hitchcock is a pop-up trivia similar to that found with "Silent Movie." The Isolated Score Track is a nice addition and has the Hitchcock-themed music in a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix. The film's Theatrical Trailer and Mel Brooks Trailers are also included.

History of the World Part 1

This film is nearly identical in features to "High Anxiety" and begins with Musical Mel: Inventing the Inquisition (10:40). This was recorded in the same sessions as the other tracks and has the filmmaker talking about his love of musicals and of music as well as the genesis of this Mel Brooks' musical. It shows clips of Mel singing in other films and looks more at "High Anxiety" than it does "History of the World Part 1." Making History: Mel Brooks on Creating the World (10:04) is another part of the interview session used for these films and has Brooks talking about history and this film. The Real History of the World Trivia Track is another graphical pop-up trivia track. The Isolated Score Track for this musical is provided in DTS-HD Master Audio and the Theatrical Trailer and Mel Brooks Trailers are thrown in.

To Be Or Not To Be

Starting with Brooks and Bancroft: A Perfect Pair (14:46), "To Be or Not To Be" is another decent collection of bonus offerings culled from the same interview session with Brooks as the other titles. "Brooks and Boncroft" talks about the married couple working on the film and provides a basic overview of the film. Brooks fondly recalls working with his late wife. The question How Serious Can Mel Brooks Really Get? (2:46) is asked through a retrospective interview promotional clip interviewing Brooks during the making of the film. Retrospective video Profiles are provided for Mel Brooks (2:36), Anne Bancroft (2:08) and Charles Durning (2:33). These were recorded with "How Serious" and provides a promotional look at the three actors. To Be or Not To Be That is the Trivia! is the disc's graphical pop-up trivia track. The disc also contains an Isolated Score Track in DTS-HD 5.1 audio as well as Trailers and the Mel Brooks Trailers. The trailers includes the films Theatrical Trailer and a Portuguese Trailer.

Spaceballs

"Spaceballs" wasn't released long ago onto Blu-ray and while that was a 2-disc set, the Blu-ray is repackaged as part of the "Mel Brooks Collection." The Commentary by Mel Brooks is a very good commentary track. Brooks is pretty comfortable with recording a commentary and this may be a little more serious in tone than what was expected, but the director recounts some very good stories from the making of the film as well as provides his thoughts on the elements parodied. Under the "Set Up" tab two other ‘features' can be found. Mawgese Mono features the entire film recorded in "Mawgese. Well, not really as a title card states that the two Mawgs destroyed the studio and only 0:33 seconds remain. The Dinkese Mono track is another joke track with the same clip and runs for just 0:28 seconds.

The included Spaceballs: The Documentary (30:04) is a look at the making of the film that was recorded in recent years and contains interviews, graphical text screens and scenes from the film that talks about the picture and Brooks' personal recollections are very good. In Conversation: Mel Brooks & Thomas Meehan (20:30) finds the filmmaker and the film's co-writer as they chat about working on the picture. The short John Candy: Comic Spirit (10:02) featurette shows scenes from some of Candy's films and is a short but sweet remembrance through the words of his co-stars from "Spaceballs." The extremely odd Watch the Movie in Ludicrous Speed (:29) features bookends of the scene featuring Rick Moranis where the ludicrous speed quote comes from and then flashes the film by in its entirety in about twenty seconds.

The remaining supplements are more minor, but still should please fans of the film. Three Still Galleries are included. One for The Behind the Movie Photos another for The Costume Gallery and the third for The Art Gallery. You skip through these using the remote. Trailers are included for the Exhibition Trailer with Mel Brooks' Introduction (2:12) and the Theatrical Trailer (2:30). The six Film Flubs show brief clips from "Spaceballs" with visual errors. Finally, the Storyboards-to-Film Comparison (6:41) shows scenes from the film playing alongside their storyboards. The hand-drawn storyboards are typically not detailed and they are animated, but it is a nice inclusion.

Robin Hood: Men in Tights

"Men in Tights" is the ninth and final disc in the box set and the bonus materials are culled from those created for the set and older items. Funny Men in Tights: Three Generations of Comedy (13:49) includes Dick Patten, Dom Deluise and Mel Brooks as they look back at the film. This matches up with the other featurettes created for the Mel Brooks Collection. The HBO Special - Robin Hood: Men in Tights - The Legend Had it Coming (26:14) is hosted by Carey Elwes and takes a long look at the making of the picture that was previously included on the DVD release. The LaserDisc Commentary by Mel Brooks is a very nice inclusion of the old commentary track from the defunct format. I fondly remember listening to this on my LaserDisc player years ago. An Isolated Score Track in DTS-HD 5.1 sound, the Theatrical Trailer and the Mel Brooks Trailers are thrown in to finalize this release.

Closing:

Mel Brooks has always been one of my favorite comedy filmmakers and it was a real treat to revisit nine of his films with "The Mel Brooks Collection" on Blu-ray. The nine chosen pictures are classic and nicely presented in high definition with 1080p resolution and 5.1 channel sound. While the pictures may not translate well to today's technology, the movies themselves are still as entertaining as they were decades ago when they were new. Each movie is a good way to spend an hour and a half and while "The Twelve Chairs" is light in features, the rest have some good special features that are worth taking a look at. Fox has given the filmmaker their top treatment with a very large and attractive box set that does carry a steep price tag, but the price of admission is well worth it for fans of the Jewish funnyman. "Blazing Saddles" and "Spaceballs" continue to be my favorite two Brooks' films and they are available separately, but I think the better deal is this large collection.

Ratings

Video
8
Audio
7
Extras
6
Film Value
8