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The Mel Brooks Collection Blu-ray Review

Posted December 12th, 2009 by Brandon A. DuHamel

MelBrooksCollection 501x338 The Mel Brooks Collection Blu ray Reviewunited states flag orb icon1 The Mel Brooks Collection Blu ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; 2.35:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4; VC-1
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English Mono (Dolby 2.0); English Stereo (DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0); French Mono (Dolby 2.0); French Dolby Digital 5.1; French DTS 5.1; German DTS 5.1; Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1; Italian DTS 5.1; Portuguese Mono (Dolby 2.0); Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish Mono (Dolby 2.0); Spanish (Castilian) DTS 5.1; Spanish (Latin American) DTS 5.1; Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Cantonese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, French SDH, German, German SDH, Hungarian, Hungarian SDH, Italian, Italian SDH, Mandarin, Norwegian, Portuguese, Portuguese SDH, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish (Castilian) SDH, Spanish (Latin American), Spanish (Latin American) SDH, Swedish
  • Region: A
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 9
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • Release Date: December 15, 2009
  • List Price: $139.99
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Overall
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The Collection
rating The Mel Brooks Collection Blu ray Reviewrating The Mel Brooks Collection Blu ray Reviewrating The Mel Brooks Collection Blu ray Reviewrating The Mel Brooks Collection Blu ray Reviewrating 0 The Mel Brooks Collection Blu ray Review
Video Quality
rating The Mel Brooks Collection Blu ray Reviewrating The Mel Brooks Collection Blu ray Reviewrating The Mel Brooks Collection Blu ray Reviewrating The Mel Brooks Collection Blu ray Reviewrating 5 The Mel Brooks Collection Blu ray Review
Audio Quality
rating The Mel Brooks Collection Blu ray Reviewrating The Mel Brooks Collection Blu ray Reviewrating The Mel Brooks Collection Blu ray Reviewrating The Mel Brooks Collection Blu ray Reviewrating 0 The Mel Brooks Collection Blu ray Review
Supplemental Materials
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Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

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The Collection

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Mel Brooks has spent his career crafting brilliant spoofs and parodies that have inspired countless comedians over the years. But beyond being just a savant of comedic talent, Brooks has always had a keen social sensibility. Many of his films throughout the years have been more than simple parodies, but social commentaries carefully designed to turn a mirror on society. Starting with his first feature film, The Producers, Brooks’ brand of dark humor was not always easy for everyone to understand. The film, which featured a big production called Springtime for Hitler, was so controversial it found difficulty finding distribution.

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One might find it difficult to fathom that The Producers could be any more shocking than what was to come from Brooks and one of his collaborators, Richard Pryor, on 1974′s Blazing Saddles. The satire on the western genre would turn its attention on prejudice and racism, and its rather prolific use of the word “nigger” is sure to be offensive to all those who cannot see the point of the film in its entirety, that is to point out the insanity and ignorance of people’s prejudices. In To Be or Not to Be, he used the backdrop of the Nazi invasion of Poland to once again show the follies of man’s inhumanity to man — and he got in some great digs at Hitler while he was at it as well, donning the full Nazi regalia and doing wonderfully humorous impersonations of Hitler whilst playing a buffoon.

Some things Brooks shows in all of his films is an overwhelming knowledge of film history and a true reverence for the masters who came before him. One can take films like High Anxiety or Young Frankenstein and play find the reference. In the former, Hitchcock references abound, and Young Frankenstein is an ode to horror films of all sorts.

This Mel Brooks Collection on Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox will finally allow Brooks fans to see 9 of the filmmaker’s best works in the wonder of high definition. The Mel Brooks Collection contains The Twelve Chairs, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Silent Movie, High Anxiety, History of the World — Part I, To Be or Not to Be, Spaceballs, and Robin Hood: Men in Tights. They are gathered together in a sturdy slipcase with a quality, 120-page hardcover coffee table book that is a great read. The book offers up information on Brooks’ career, each of the films, and production stills.

Video Quality

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Each film in The Mel Brooks Collection has been given a nice upgrade on Blu-ray to 1080p/24 with an AVC/MPEG-4 encoding with the exception of Blazing Saddles, which is the sole offering in the set from Warner and is encoded in VC-1, also at 1080p/24. One would assume that the picture quality would get progressively better with each film as they get more current, but that is not necessarily the case with this set as some of the older films look cleaner and more detailed than the more recent films in the set. What the set does provide on each disc, however, is a nice, natural film-like presentation that preserves the grain and a lack of any compression artifacts or noticeable post-processing artifacts.

The Twelve Chairs (1.85:1; AVC/MPEG-4; 1080p/24)

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The Twelve Chairs shows the most source damage out of all of the films in the collection, which is to be expected given its age. It does, however, have many moments of solid detail reproduction and strong, natural flesh tones.

Blazing Saddles (2.35:1; VC-1; 1080p/24)

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Blazing Saddles’ VC-1 encoding looks much cleaner than the previous film in the collection, The Twelve Chairs, but it never has any moments of striking foreground detail that The Twelve Chairs has, offering a bit softer and smoother overall grain structure. It does provide some solid flesh tones and good white levels with a nice balance of blacks and contrast.

Young Frankenstein (1.85:1; AVC/MPEG-4; 1080p/24; black and white)

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Apart from a few moments where the image softens and grain jumps, Young Frankenstein is a solid transfer, with sharp detail that is most likely a consequence of its black and white imagery. Contrast is superb, with no evidence of clipping, blacks are inky and stable and grain is nicely preserved. There are some minor instances of source damage like scratches and dirt that show up, but they are not a distraction at all.

Silent Movie (1.85:1; AVC/MPEG-4; 1080p/24)

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Silent Movie offers another very strong transfer in the collection with natural flesh tones, deep black levels and extended shadow delineation. Detail is sharp and the transfer looks very film-like with a consistent level of grain.

High Anxiety (1.85:1; AVC/MPEG-4; 1080p/24)

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Due to High Anxiety’s production, it probably offers the least “pop” in high definition out of all of the films in the collection. Its purposely-soft detail and pale color palette don’t offer much bang, but the transfer looks organic with a natural level of grain and no evidence of compression artifacts.

History of the World — Part I (2.35:1; AVC/MPEG-4; 1080p/24)

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History of the World — Part I arrives on Blu-ray with a strong transfer that looks clean and detailed with deep stable blacks and strong shadow delineation. There is fine layer of grain offering a film-like quality, but occasionally grain level jumps just a tad and background detail softens.

To Be or Not To Be (1.85:1; AVC/MPEG-4; 1080p/24)

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Much of To Be or Not To Be seems to have been shot with a soft filter effect, so don’t expect the greatest amount of detail to come from this AVC/MPEG-4 1080p transfer. It does offer natural flesh tones and strong shadow details, but background details are often soft and there is some noise in dark areas.

Spaceballs (1.85:1; AVC/MPEG-4; 1080p/24)

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Spaceballs looks a bit inconsistent on this Blu-ray release. There are moments, particularly in close-up shot, where the detail is strong and the image looks clean, but some shots looks soft and grungy. On the positive side, blacks are absolutely inky and white levels are perfect. Flesh tones are also spot on, but for one of the more current films in the collection, Spaceballs looks a bit disappointing in comparison to its older counterparts.

Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1.85:1; AVC/MPEG-4; 1080p/24)

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Robin Hood: Men in Tights also looks a bit disappointing on Blu-ray, showing some obvious flicker on portions of the screen and an overall softness to the image. Grain remains intact, but it is inconsistent and often looks a bit more noisy than film-like. On the positive side, flesh tones are once again accurate for this transfer and shadow detail is strong.

Audio Quality

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Each disc in the Mel Brooks Collection has been given a new DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix with the exception, again, of Blazing Saddles, a Warner title, that has only been provided with a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. All of the mixes are pretty much of the same quality, so I will not bother to break them down individually other than to mention that the first two films in the collection, The Twelve Chairs and Blazing Saddles, offer the least favorable sound quality, with the former having the most amount of clipping in the dialogue, and the latter being cleaner in its sound, but sounding very harsh and tweaked in the high frequencies of its score.

Each mix offers only some mild ambience in the rear channels to open the soundstage a bit, but Spaceballs is the only one that has a more active surround mix with some hefty bass and discrete panning of sounds around the room. All discs outside of The Twelve Chairs also offer clean dialogue free of any clipping and all have good dynamics.

Supplemental Materials

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Mel Brooks fans might want to consider picking up this collection just for the excellent 120-page hardcover coffee table book packed with information on the films and production stills that is included in the collection. But in addition to that, there is an excellent selection of supplements provided on each disc as well:

The Twelve Chairs

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BDDefinition TheTwelveChairs f 1080 600x337 The Mel Brooks Collection Blu ray ReviewThe Twelve Chairs is barebones, with only trailers for the Mel Brooks films provided as supplements.

Blazing Saddles

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The best supplement on here may be the audio commentary by Brooks himself. There are some interesting video supplements provided, but unfortunately none of them are in high definition.

  • Commentary by Mel Brooks
  • Back in the Saddle (1.33:1; 480i/60; 0:28.21) — A Journey through the making of the film with the filmmakers and actors dissecting its precedent-setting crude humor.
  • Black Bart TV Pilot (1.33:1; 480i/60; 0:24.26)– 1975 pilot episode of the proposed TV series spinoff with Lou Gosset, Jr.
  • Intimate Portrait: Madeline Kahn (1.33:1; 480i/60; 0:03.40) — A sentimental tribute to the comedic actress.
  • Deleted Scenes (1.33:1; 480i/60; 0:09.40)
  • Theatrical Trailer (2.35:1; 480i/60)

Young Frankenstein

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  • Isolated Score Track (DTS-HD Master Audio)
  • Commentary by Mel Brooks
  • Inside the Lab: Secret Formulas in the Making of Young Frankenstein — This feature can either be viewed as a BonusView picture-in-picture commentary on compatible players or selected watched as separate featurettes.
  • Deleted Scenes SD (1.33:1; 480i/60)
  • Deleted Scenes HD (1.85:1;1080p/24)
  • It’s Alive! Creating a Monster Classic (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 0:31.16) — The Cast and filmmakers discuss the classic film, its place in popular culture and what they believe makes it so successful.
  • Making FrankenSense of Young Frankenstein (1.33:1; 480i/60; 0:41.52 — Gene Wilder talks about coming up with the story for Young Frankenstein and the film’s producers discuss getting Mel Brooks and Wilder together to collaborate on the film.
  • Transylvanian Lullaby: The Music of John Morris (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 0:10.29) — This featurette focuses on Brooks’ longtime musical collaborator, the Julliard graduate, composer John Morris, who scored many of Brooks’ films, including Young Frankenstein.
  • The Franken-Track: A Monstrous Conglomeration of Trivia
  • Blücher Button
  • Outtakes (1.33:1; 480i/60; 0:05.01)
  • Mexican Interviews:
    • Marty Feldman
    • Gene Wilder and Cloris Leachman
  • TV Spots (1.33:1; 480i/60)
  • Production Photographs (1.78:1; 480i/60)
  • Trailers (1.33:1; 480i/60):
    • Showrama Trailer
    • Trailer A
    • Trailer B
    • International Trailer
    • Re-Release Trailer

Silent Movie

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Silent Movie is a little thin on the supplements, but the trivia track is excellent.

  • Silent Laughter: The Real Inspirations of Silent Movie (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 0:24.46) — Writer Ron Clark tells of his inspiration to do a silent movie in the mid-seventies. Mel Brooks also speaks about working on Silent Movie and the challenge of getting people to accept a silent movie.
  • Trailers:
    • Theatrical Trailer (1.85:1; 1080p/24)
    • Portuguese Trailer (1.85:1; 480i/60)
    • Spanish Trailer (1.85:1; 480i/60)
  • Mel Brooks Trailers
  • Speak Up! Historical Hollywood Trivia Track

High Anxiety

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High Anxiety is again a little light on the supplements, but the trivia track is a wonderful way to catch all the Hitchcock references in in the film.

  • Isolated Score Track (DTS-HD Master Audio)
  • Don’t Get Anxious! The Trivia of Hitchcock
  • Hitchcock and Mel: Spoofing the Master of Suspense (1.85:1; 1080p/24; 0:29.20) — Mel Brooks and the filmmaking team from High Anxiety tell of their respect of Hitchcock as they reminisce on producing the film.
  • The “Am I Very, Very Nervous?” Test
  • Theatrical Trailer (1.85:1; 1080p/24)
  • Mel Brooks Trailers

History of the World — Part I

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  • Isolated Score Track (DTS-HD Master Audio)
  • Musical Mel: Inventing “The Inquisition” (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 0:10.24) — Mel Brooks and the crew discuss creating the musical number for the Spanish Inquisition scene from The History of the World — Part I and Mel’s love of Broadway shows.
  • Making History: Mel Brooks on Creating the World (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 0:10.04)
  • The Real History of the World Trivia Track
  • Theatrical Trailer (1.78:1; 1080p/24)
  • Mel Brooks Trailers

To Be or Not To Be

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  • Brooks and Bancroft: A Perfect Pair (1.85:1; 1080p/24; 0:14.49) — The filmmakers and actors discuss the relationship between Brooks and his wife Anne Bancroft.
  • How Serious Can Mel Brooks Really Get? (1.33:1; 480i/60; 0:02.46) — A brief television interview in which Brooks discusses the serious subject matter of To Be or Not To Be.
  • Profiles (1.33:1; 480i/60):
    • Mel Brooks
    • Anne Bancroft
    • Charles Durning
  • To Be or Not To Be: That is the Trivia!
  • Isolated Score Track (DTS-HD Master Audio)
  • Trailers:
    • Theatrical Trailer (1.85:1; 1080p/24)
    • Portuguese Trailer (1.85:1; 480i/60)
  • Mel Brooks Trailers

Spaceballs

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  • Commentary by Mel Brooks
  • Spaceballs: The Documentary (1.33:11; 480i/60; 0:30.04)
  • In Conversation: Mel Brooks & Thomas Meehan (1.33:1; 480i/60; 0:20.30) — Brooks and his collaborator Thomas Meehan sit down together and talk about the evolution of bringing Spaceballs to the screen.
  • John Candy: Comic Spirit (1.33:1; 480i/60; 0:10.02) — The actors and filmmakers talk about working with the late John Candy.
  • Watch the Movie in Ludicrous Speed (1.85:1; 1080p/24; 0:00.29) — See the whole movie in 29 seconds.
  • Still Galleries
  • Trailers:
    • Exhibitor Trailer with Mel Brooks Introduction (1.33:1; 480i/60)
    • Theatrical Trailer (1.85:1; 480i/60)
  • Film Flubs (1.33:1; 480i/60)
  • Storyboards-to-Film Comparison (1.78:1; 480i/60)

Robin Hood: Men in Tights

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  • Laserdisc Commentary by Mel Brooks
  • Isolated Score Track (DTS-HD Master Audio)
  • Funny Men in Tights: Three Generations of Comedy (1.85:1; 1080i/60; 0:13.49) — Mel Brooks and the crew talk about the different generations of comedic talent that make up the cast of Men in Tights.
  • HBO Special — Robin Hood: Men in Tights — The Legend Had it Coming (1.33:1; 480i/60; 0:26.14) — A behind-the-scenes look at the production of Men in Tights.
  • Theatrical Trailer (2.35:1; 1080p/24)
  • Mel Brooks Trailers

The Definitive Word

Overall:

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Mel Brooks knows comedy and now you can have 9 of his funniest, most classic films gathered together in one collection on Blu-ray. It may be the perfect holiday gift for comedy lovers.

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BestBuy.com:
9633395 The Mel Brooks Collection Blu ray Review The Mel Brooks Collection Blu ray Review

Purchase The Mel Brooks Collection
on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop with us for more Blu-ray releases at Amazon.com The Mel Brooks Collection Blu ray Review

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Tags: 1080p, 20th Century Fox, Anne Bancroft, Blazing Saddles, Cloris Leachman, Dick Van Patten, Frank Langella, Gene Wilder, Harvey Korman, High Anxiety, History of the World -- Part I, Madeline Kahn, Marty Feldman, Mel Brooks, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Silent Movie, Spaceballs, The Mel Brooks Collection, The Twelve Chairs, To Be or Not To Be, Young Frankenstein

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