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    Deal History
    12/02/13: The Mel Brooks Collection [Blu-ray] (2012) at Amazon.com $22.96

    Review of Blu-rayBlazing SaddlesMel Brooks scored his first commercial hit with this raucous Western spoof starring the late Cleavon Little as the newly hired (and conspicuously black) sheriff of Rock Ridge. Sheriff Bart teams up with deputy Jim (Gene Wilder) to foil the railroad-building scheme of the nefarious Hedley Lamarr (Harvey Korman). The simple plot is just an excuse for a steady stream of gags, many of them unabashedly tasteless, that Brooks and his wacky cast pull off with side-splitting success. The humor is so juvenile and crude that you just have to surrender to it; highlights abound, from the lunkheaded Alex Karras as the ox-riding Mongo to Madeline Kahn's uproarious send-up of Marlene Dietrich as saloon songstress Lili Von Shtupp. Adding to the comedic excess is the infamous campfire scene involving a bunch of hungry cowboys, heaping servings of baked beans and, well, you get the idea. --Jeff ShannonReview of Blu-raySpaceballs Mel Brooks's 1987 parody of the Star Wars trilogy is a jumble of jokes rather than a comic feature, and, predictably, some of those jokes work better than others. The cast, including Brooks in two roles, more or less mimics the principal characters from George Lucas's famous story line, and the director certainly gets a boost from new allies ( graduates Rick Moranis and John Candy) as well as old ones (Dick Van Patten, Dom DeLuise). Watch this and wait for the sporadic inspiration--but don't be surprised if you find yourself yearning for those years when Brooks was a more complete filmmaker (SCTVYoung Frankenstein). --Tom KeoghReview of Blu-rayYoung FrankensteinIf you were to argue that Mel Brooks's ranks among the top-ten funniest movies of all time, nobody could reasonably dispute the claim. Spoofing classic horror in the way that Brooks's previous film Young FrankensteinBlazing Saddles sent up classic Westerns, the movie is both a loving tribute and a raucous, irreverent parody of Universal's classic horror films (1931) and Frankenstein (1935). Filming in glorious black and white, Brooks re-created the Bride of FrankensteinFrankenstein laboratory using the same equipment from the original (courtesy of designer Kenneth Strickfaden), and this loving attention to physical and stylistic detail creates a solid foundation for nonstop comedy. The story, of course, involves Frederick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) and his effort to resume experiments in re-animation pioneered by his late father. (He's got some help, since dad left behind a book titled Frankenstein) Assisting him is the hapless hunchback Igor (Marty Feldman) and the buxom but none-too-bright maiden Inga (Teri Garr), and when Frankenstein succeeds in creating his monster (Peter Boyle), the stage is set for an outrageous revision of the Frankenstein legend. With comedy highlights too numerous to mention, Brooks guides his brilliant cast (also including Cloris Leachman, Madeline Kahn, Kenneth Mars, and Gene Hackman in a classic cameo role) through scene after scene of inspired hilarity. Indeed, How I Did It.Young Frankenstein is a charmed film, nothing less than a comedy classic, representing the finest work from everyone involved. Not one joke has lost its payoff, and none of the countless gags have lost their zany appeal. From a career that includes some of the best comedies ever made, this is the film for which Mel Brooks will be most fondly remembered. Befitting a classic, the Special Edition DVD includes audio commentary by Mel Brooks, a "making of" documentary, interviews with the cast, hilarious bloopers and outtakes, and the original theatrical trailers. No video library should be without a copy of . And just remember--that's Young Frankenstein. Fronkensteen--Jeff Shannon Review of Blu-rayHigh AnxietyAn affectionate homage more than a spoof of Alfred Hitchcock thrillers, Mel Brooks's hilarious movie is one of the funniest modern comedies around. Brooks plays a psychiatrist with a severe fear of heights who moves to the Bay Area to take over a psychiatric hospital after its former head mysteriously disappears. He must contend with the resident psychiatrist (Harvey Korman) and the twisted resident nurse (Cloris Leachman) as they plot against him, eventually framing him for murder. While on the run, Brooks teams up with the alluring daughter (Madeline Kahn) of the missing doctor to solve the mystery and confront his own fears. Containing some classic sequences and cowritten by Barry Levinson (, Rain ManWag the Dog), who appears briefly as a too-touchy bellhop in a Psycho-shower-scene takeoff, is a thoroughly enjoyable romp from one of the masters of comedy today. High Anxiety--Robert LaneReview of History Of The World Part 1 Blu-rayMel Brooks's 1981, three-part comedy--set in the Stone Age, the Roman Empire, and the French Revolution--is pure guilty pleasure. Narrated by Orson Welles and featuring a lot of famous faces in guest appearances (beyond the official cast), the film opens well with Sid Caesar playing a caveman, then moves along to the unlikely but somehow hilarious juxtaposition of Caesar's soldiers (the other Caesar, not Sid) with pot humor, and ends on a dumb-funny note in the French bloodbath. This is a take-it-or-leave-it movie, and it works best if you're in a take-it-or-leave-it mood. --Tom KeoghReview of Blu-rayRobin Hood Men In TightsIt's not Blazing Saddles, but there are some chuckles to be found in Mel Brooks's 1993 spoof of the Robin Hood legend. Cary Elwes is Robin (with a lighthearted jab at Kevin Costner's bad English accent in ), while Richard Lewis plays an angst-ridden King John, and Roger Rees a snotty Sheriff of Nottingham. Comic David Chappelle has some good moments as the only black member of Robins's noble thieves, and Brooks does his own spin on Friar Tuck: Rabbi Tuchman. The song-and-dance sequences featuring a chorus line of the Merry Men ("We're men / men in tights") is vintage Brooks, but otherwise the film can't get any traction. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves--Tom KeoghReview of One of Mel Brooks's weaker vehicles, this 1976 feature finds a movie producer (Brooks) deciding that the public is ready for the silent film form again. Reasonably ambitious and promising, the film ultimately doesn't do for silent cinema what Brooks did for atmospheric horror (by reviving it while parodying it) in Blu-raySilent Movie. Lots of famous faces pass through Young FrankensteinSilent Movie, to varying effect. Perhaps the best joke in the movie is the one performer who actually has a line of dialogue: mime Marcel Marceau. --Tom KeoghReview of No filmmaker seems to take such glee at poking fun of the Nazis as Mel Brooks. In Blu-rayTo Be Or Not To Be, a remake of a 1942 Jack Benny comedy, Brooks and an all-star ensemble cast have a splendid time working as a makeshift Polish underground in World War II, using as their cover their theatrical company. Brooks stars as Frederick Bronski, a legend-in-his-own-mind leading man, and Anne Bancroft, Brooks' real-life wife, is his glamorous--and amorous--spouse. It's a joy to see the two spar, snuggle, and softshoe together. Bancroft, in her early '50s, is so gorgeous and seductive it's perfectly believable that she's beguiling to men of all ages--from a hunky young flier played by Tim Matheson to a wizened Nazi collaborator played by Mel Ferrer. As one would expect in a Brooks film, there's lots of silliness, but the script is leavened with real drama and fleshed out by a superb cast, including Charles Durning as a semi-clueless Nazi official. There are witty blink-and-you'll-miss-them moments, too; early in the film, Bronski is barking orders to his theater staff, including one crew member who's named Sondheim, apparently solely so that later Bronski can bark, "Sondheim, send in the clowns!" Also not to miss is the production number "Naughty Nazis," in which Bronski, as a misunderstood Hitler, sings, "All I vant is peace... a little piece of Poland, a little piece of France...." No wonder he's "world famous in Poland"! Extras include a behind-the-scenes making-of featurette, and interviews with Brooks, Durning, and the lovely Bancroft, all the more bittersweet viewed after her 2005 death. To Be or Not to Be--A.T. HurleyReview of Blu-rayTwelve ChairsMel Brooks's 1970 comedy (his second work as a film director) is based on an old Russian folktale, and was first filmed in Yugoslavia in 1927. The story concerns an old woman who reveals on her deathbed that she has hidden jewels inside one of 12 chairs that were formerly in her home but are now scattered. Ron Moody plays the poor Russian nobleman seeking them, and Dom DeLuise is his rival. After Brooks's wild and even controversial first film, The Producers, The Twelve Chairs seems relatively tame; but it is still a funny and slightly exotic work owing to its director's longtime interest in classic cinema. --Tom Keogh Contains the films Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs, Young Frankenstein, High Anxiety, History Of The World Part 1, Robin Hood: Men In Tights, Silent Movie, To Be Or Not To Be and The Twelve Chairs.

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