Ratings & Reviews
- Disk 1 "Blazing Saddles" (Warner Brothers)
- Commentary by Mel Brooks, Back in the Saddle, Segments from Intimate Portrait: Madeline Kahn, & TV Pilot: Black Bart
- Disk 2 "High Anxiety"
- Theatrical Trailer, Fox Flix: Robinhood Men in Tights, Silent Movie, To Be or Not To Be, & Young Frankenstein
- Disk 3 "History of the World Part I"
- Brain Soup & Original Theatrical Trailer
- Disk 4 "Robinhood Men in Tights"
- HBO Special, Theatrical Trailer, Fox Flix: High Anxiety, Silent Movie, To Be or Not To Be, & Young Frankenstein
- Disk 5 "Silent Movie"
- Theatrical Trailer, Spanish Trailer, Portuguese Trailer, Fox Flix: High Anxiety, Robinhood Men in Tights, & To Be or Not To Be
- Disk 6 "To Be or Not to Be"
- Featurette, Profile: Mel Brooks, Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning, & Theatrical Trailer
- Disk 7 "Twelve Chairs"
- Mel Brooks Theatre: High Anxiety, History of the World Part I, Robinhood Men in Tights, Silent Movie, & To Be or Not To Be
- Disk 8 "Young Frankenstein"
- Widescreen Feature with optional Mel Brooks Commentary, 36 minute documentary: "Making Frankensense of Young Frankenstein" out takes/bloopers & deleted scenes, Trailers: Showrama A, B, International, and Re-Release, TV Spots: 1:60, 3:30, & 5:10, Mexican Interviews with Leachman, Feldman and Wilder, Production Stills, and Theatrical Trailer
- Closed Captioned
Vulgar, crude, and occasionally scandalous in its racial humor, this hilarious bad-taste spoof of Westerns, co-written by Richard Pryor, features Cleavon Little as the first black sheriff of a stunned town scheduled for demolition by an encroaching railroad. Little and co-star Gene Wilder have great chemistry, and the delightful supporting cast includes Harvey Korman, Slim Pickens, and Madeline Kahn as a chanteuse modelled on Marlene Dietrich. As in Young Frankenstein (1974), Silent Movie (1976), and High Anxiety (1977), director/writer Mel Brooks gives a burlesque spin to a classic Hollywood movie genre; in his own manic, Borscht Belt way, Brooks was a central player in revising classic genres in light of Seventies values and attitudes, an effort most often associated with such directors as Robert Altman and Peter Bogdanovich . Some of this film's sequences, notably a gaseous bean dinner around a campfire, have become comedy classics. ~ Robert Firsching, Rovi
This is Mel Brooks' spoof of over ten Alfred Hitchcock classics, including Psycho, Vertigo, and The Birds (Brooks actually used the bird trainer from that classic suspense movie in making his film). Brooks plays Dr. Richard H. Thorndyke, a renowned Harvard psychiatrist with a concealed fear of heights, or High Anxiety. Thorndyke takes over as the newest director of the PsychoNeurotic Institute for the Very, Very Nervous after the last director dies under suspicious circumstances. He soon finds himself to be in the company of some very strange colleagues, including longtime Brooks collaborators Cloris Leachman and Harvey Korman, with Madeline Kahn as Victoria Brisbane, the eccentric daughter of a patient at the institute and Thorndyke's love interest. Korman takes on the role of Dr. Charles Montague, a psychiatrist with a closeted habit of his own. Leachman plays Charlotte Diesel, a charge nurse with a dark sneer and tendency towards domination. As Thorndyke heads to a psychiatry conference, he is faced with saving the Institute, his reputation, and his own sanity. Although the film was not well-received by critics, it picked up a 1978 Golden Globe nomination for best picture (musical or comedy) and landed Brooks a nomination for best actor. The movie has a number of cameos, from a young Barry Levinson's spot as an unstable bellboy to a small part by Hitchcock's right-hand special effects man, Albert J. Whitlock, who plays Kahn's father. ~ Rachel Koetje, Rovi
To Be or Not to Be
Mel Brooks and his real-life wife Anne Bancroft play Frederick and Anna Bronski, musical comedy stars in 1939 Poland. The highlight of the Bronskis' act is Frederick's imitation of Adolf Hitler, but he is forced to eliminate this turn for fear of offending the Nazis. Meanwhile, Anna enters into a harmless flirtation with Polish bomber pilot Andre Sobinski (Tim Matheson). The pilot's nightly signal to visit Anna in her dressing room is "To Be or Not to Be," spoken by Bronski during the Shakespearean portion of his act. When the Germans march into Warsaw, the Bronskis and the rest of their troupe are forced into hiding (notably the homosexual Lupinski, played by Lewis J. Stadlen, who is forced to endure the humiliation of wearing a pink star). Flying for the Polish resistance in England, Sobinski asks kindly Professor Seletzky (Jose Ferrer) to deliver his "To Be or Not to Be" message to Anna. When Seletzky doesn't seem to recognize the name of Anne Bronski, Warsaw's biggest star, Sobinski suspects that something is amiss. Sure enough, Seletzky is a Nazi spy, heading to Warsaw to help Col. "Concentration Camp" Ehrhardt (Oscar-nominated Charles Durning) destroy the underground movement. Parachuting into Poland, Sobinski enlists the aid of the Bronski troupe to foil the Nazis. What follows is an uproarious series of disguises and deceptions, capped by Bronski's impersonation of Der Fuhrer. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
History of the World -- Part I
Mel Brooks produced, directed, wrote, and starred in this episodic comedy in the spirit of Monty Python and the 1957 studio travesty The Story of Mankind. The film is divided into five sequences that play like blue-toned Eddie Cantor vaudeville sketches -- "The Dawn of Man," "The Stone Age," The Spanish Inquisition," "The Bible," and "The Future." Also included is a Brooksian depiction of The Last Supper and a long-winded sequence about the French Revolution. The film starts with a 2001: A Space Odyssey parody, narrated by Orson Welles, in which a collection of ape-men learn to stand erect (in more ways than one). The Stone Age reveals the origins of both the first homo sapien and homosexual marriages. Brooks then appears in an Old Testament sequence as Moses, descending from Mount Sinai with three heavy stone tablets bearing the 15 Commandments; after he drops one of these tablets, the laws of God become 10 Commandments. The Roman period picks up with Brooks as Comicus, attempting to get a gig as a "stand-up philosopher" at Caesar's Palace. The Spanish Inquisition is a musical production number with monks torturing Jews to lively Broadway musical strains. The final French revolution section is a broad parody of The Man in the Iron Mask story. The film closes with coming attractions of "History of the World, Part II" that features a rousing Star Wars parody (anticipating Space Balls) called "Jews in Space" that includes a jaunty theme song. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi
Silent Movie is just that: a totally nonverbal comedy, save for one single line. Director Mel Brooks stars as a once-famous comedy director, who with his faithful assistants Dom DeLuise and Marty Feldman return to Hollywood with plans for a comeback. Brooks wants to return to the good old days by producing a silent movie (he explains this via subtitle). Producer Sid Caesar is agreeable, provided Brooks can line up top stars. In a series of vignettes better seen than described, Brooks persuades Burt Reynolds, Liza Minelli, Paul Newman, James Caan and Anne Bancroft (Brooks' real-life wife) to star in his project. The only holdout is mime Marcel Marceau, who after a few moments of walking against the wind shouts the film's solitary line: "No!" Meanwhile, the crooked executives of the Engulf and Devour conglomerate want to take over Caesar's studio and are worried that Brooks' film might be so huge a hit that Caesar won't be interested in selling. To prevent this, the conglomerate dispatches sexy Bernadette Peters to lure Brooks into drink and ruination. The film's climax is lifted from the 1943 Olsen and Johnson film Crazy House). Featured in brief comic cameos are Harry Ritz as the man with half a suit, Charlie Callas as the blind man, Dom DeLuise's wife, Carol Arthur, as the incredibly pregnant woman, Fritz Feld as the headwaiter (whose trademarked "Pop" is conveyed on a subtitle) and Henny Youngman as the diner with a fly in his soup. Co-writers Ron Clark, Rudy DeLuca and Barry Levinson also show up on screen as three of the Engulf & Devour minions. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
The Twelve Chairs
One of several film versions of the 1928 Russian novel The Twelve Chairs (one of the better-known adaptations was the 1945 Fred Allen vehicle It's in the Bag), Mel Brooks' movie is set in the years following the Bolshevik revolution. Onetime aristocrat Vorobyaninov (Ron Moody), now reduced to a humdrum clerical job, discovers that his family's fortune still exists. To keep their riches from falling into the hands of the revolutionaries, Vorobyaninov's family hid the loot in one of twelve chairs. Taking a crafty beggar (Frank Langella) into his confidence, Vorobyaninov returns to the ruins of his ancestral mansion to reclaim his fortune. Also chasing after the twelve chairs is an Orthodox priest (Dom DeLuise), who tells himself that he only wants the money to replenish his church. Alas, the chairs have been scattered to the four winds, sparking a film-length race to retrieve the furniture and claim the gold. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Lending his burlesque touch to 1970s genre revision, Mel Brooks followed his hit "western" Blazing Saddles with this parody of 1930s Universal horror movies. Determined to live down his family's reputation, Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (co-screenwriter Gene Wilder) insists on pronouncing his name "Fronckensteen" and denies interest in replicating his grandfather's experiments. But when he is lured by Frau Blucher (Cloris Leachman) to discover the tantalizingly titled journal "How I Did It" in his grandfather's castle, he cannot resist. With the help of voluptuous Inga (Teri Garr), wall-eyed assistant Igor (Marty Feldman), and a purloined brain, Frankenstein creates his monster (Peter Boyle). Igor, however, stole the wrong brain, and the monster tears off into the countryside, encountering a little girl and a blind hermit (Gene Hackman). Frankenstein finds the monster and trains him to do a little "Puttin' On the Ritz" soft-shoe, but the monster escapes again, this time seducing Frankenstein's uptight fiancée Elizabeth (Madeline Kahn) with his, ahem, sweet mystery. His love life and experiment in shambles, Frankenstein finally finds a way to create the being he had planned. Shooting in gleaming black-and-white, with sets and props from the 1930s and appropriate fright music by John Morris, Brooks' cheeky attitude towards the Hollywood past attracted a large audience, turning it into one of the most popular 1974 releases after (what else?) Blazing Saddles. ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi
Robin Hood: Men in Tights
Mel Brooks directed and co-wrote this satiric comedy which lampoons a number of cinematic treatments of the legend of Sherwood Forest, including Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and The Adventures of Robin Hood. Robin Hood (Cary Elwes) comes home after fighting in the Crusades to learn that the noble King Richard (Patrick Stewart) is in exile and that the despotic King John (Richard Lewis) now rules England, with the help of the Sheriff of Rottingham (Roger Rees). Robin Hood assembles a band of fellow patriots to do battle with John and the Sheriff, including Asneeze (Isaac Hayes) and his son Ahchoo (Dave Chappelle), the blind watchman Blinkin (Mark Blankfield), Will Scarlet O'Hara (Matthew Porretta), and Rabbi Tuckman (Brooks). The Sheriff is eager to put Robin Hood out of business with the aid of criminal mastermind Don Giovanni (Dom DeLuise), but Robin soon has an ally in the royal palace when he falls for the lovely Maid Marian (Amy Yasbeck), whose minder Broomhilde (Megan Cavanagh) has uncooperatively outfitted Marian with a chastity belt. The cast also includes Tracy Ullman, Robert Ridgely, and Clive Revill. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi