- Rated NR
- Buy the DVD
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
wenty years ago, Mel Brooks had no problem convincing us of his comedic genius, though I’m not so sure you can say the same thing for him today. After his last film (“Dracula: Dead and Loving It”) sucked it up real good at the box office, the veteran writer/director disappeared from the public eye, and regrettably, so did the memory of most of his films. Cult classics like “The Producers,” “Spaceballs” and “Young Frankenstein” (two of which don’t even appear in this set) continue to be discussed today, but what of Brooks’ other films? Both “Blazing Saddles” and “History of the World, Part I” witnessed a small renaissance in the early 90’s after the release of “Robin Hood: Men in Tights,” but you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who’s seen either of these films more recently. This isn’t to say that Brooks enthusiasts no longer exist, but it’s just that they’ve been waiting far too long for several films to be released on DVD, and now that they finally have, it’s quite the unexpected disappointment.
And therein lies the problem behind “The Mel Brooks Collection.” Apart from the films being released on DVD (five of which are appearing on disc for the first time), there’s nothing supplemental to the movies that would cause a stir amongst fans. Eight films in all, including the previously released “Young Frankenstein,” “Blazing Saddles” (not even the 30th Anniversary Edition), and “History of the World, Part I,” the box set also includes the following: “The Twelve Chairs” (1970), “Silent Movie” (1976), “High Anxiety” (1977), “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” (1994), and the non-Brooks-directed WWII comedy “To Be or Not to Be” (1984). After hearing these selections, many would be quick to ask: “but what about two of Brooks’ best-known works ‘The Producers’ and ‘Spaceballs’?” Sadly, they’re not here, and though 20th Century Fox was able to secure the rights for “Blazing Saddles” (a Warner Bros. property), they were unable to include the two MGM films in this collection.
Even worse, of the eight films that appear in the set, only four actually contain some sort of bonus feature, with the supplemental material for both “Blazing Saddles” and “Young Frankenstein” previously made available in their respective single-disc releases. The only new material on the set is in the form of a three-minute making-of featurette on “To Be of Not to Be” and a twenty four-minute HBO special (“The Legend Had It Coming”) on the “Men in Tights” disc. Truth be told, this isn’t particularly good news for fans who already own most of these movies, and while it’s nice to finally have them made available on DVD format (by far the most important being “Robin Hood: Men in Tights”), it’s simply not worth spending seventy bucks for. And why should you listen to me? Because, unlike some other film critics, I can type with an English accent.