Blu-ray Review “Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles: 40th Anniversary”

Actors: Gene Wilder, Cleavon Little, Madeleine Kahn, Harvey Korman, Slim Pickens
Directors: Mel Brooks
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Warner Home Video
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Run Time: 93 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“Blazing Saddles” is no question of the funniest and most outrageous film ever made. I even believe that it was one of the first Mel Brooks movies that I ever experience. I remember my dad telling me about the bean campfire scene growing up and the guy who punches the horse. These are classic scenes and can never be topped. Mel Brooks is a legend of comedy and this film is easily one of his best. This is also the first time that this film is being released solo on Blu-ray as it was last available as part of “The Mel Brooks Collection”. The film also co-stars Gene Wilder and Madeline Kahn, who are also at their comedic best.

Official Premise: The railroad’s got to run through the town of Rock Ridge. How do you drive out the townfolk in order to steal their land? Send in the toughest gang you’ve got…and name a new sheriff who’ll last about 24 hours. But that’s not really the plot of Blazing Saddles, just the pretext. Once Mel Brooks’ lunatic film many call his best gets started, logic is lost in a blizzard of gags, jokes, quips, puns, howlers, growlers and outrageous assaults upon good taste or any taste at all.

This 40th Anniversary Bu-ray includes 10 quotable art cards with funny quotes and images from the film. That was a big draw for me but also there is a brand new featurette “Blaze of Glory: Mel Brooks’ Wild, Wild West”, which has the legend talking about the film and it’s effect on his career. There is also fantastic vintage extras including a must listen Mel Brooks’ commentary track, a cast reunion documentary, “Black Bart,” the 1975 television pilot inspired by the movie and lastly some deleted scenes and theatrical trailer included. If you love this film, as every comedy fan should and don’t own “The Mel Brooks Collection”, I would run out and surly pick this up!

Celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the funniest movie ever made! Get the Blazing Saddles: 40th Anniversary Blu-ray, available May 6

Blu-ray Review “Mel Brooks’ The Producers”

Actors: Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder, Kenneth Mars
Directors: Mel Brooks
MPAA Rated: Not Rated
Studio: Shout! Factory
Release Date: July 2, 2013
Run Time: 88 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

One of the best lines ever in a film “I’m hysterical, I’m having hysterics. When I get like this, I can’t stop. (Max throws water on him) I’M WET!!! I’M WET!!! Cause, I’m hysterical!!! (Max slaps him) I’M IN PAIN!!! I’M IN PAIN!!! And I’m wet and Cause, I’m still hysterical!”

“Mel Brooks’ The Producers (1968)” is easily one of the best comedies of all-time. It stars Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder and is 90 minutes of non-stop laughs. The life of this film was replenished with the 2001 Broadway musical with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. The show became one of Broadway’s biggest success and even spawned a remake from with the duo in 2005. Though the 2005 remake left a bad taste in our mouths…in plain English…it was terrible. So I am thrilled to see the original film back in the spotlight. 45 years have passed and it is just as funny as the first time I saw it.

Official Synopsis: From the endlessly funny mind of filmmaker Mel Brooks comes this triple-Oscar-winning explosion of pure comic lunacy about low-rent Broadway producer Max Bialystock (Mostel) and his high-strung accountant Leo Bloom (Wilder). They discover that, with the help of a few gullible investors, they can make more money on a flop than on a hit. So armed with the worst show ever written – Springtime For Hitler – and an equally horrific cast, this double-dealing duo is banking on disaster. But when their sure-to-offend musical becomes a surprise smash hit, they find themselves in the middle of a Broadway blitzkrieg.

This Collector’s Edition Blu-ray comes with a Blu-ray + DVD combo pack with a reversible cover art. The Blu-ray features a brand new HD transfer and it really looks amazing. It is hard to believe that this film is 45 years old but a nice face lift and has never looked better. DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track works perfectly with the films dialogue and musically numbers. If you prefer the original mono track, that is also available on the Blu-ray.

The special features include all extras from previous editions including the featurette “Mel And His Movies: The Producers”, which is a great bonus. There is an hour-long making-of documentary called “The Making of The Producers”, with cast and crew talking about the production. This is a must see for all fans of the film. Also included are a sketch gallery, a 3-minute deleted scene, a photo gallery and a theatrical trailer. I would have loved to see a commentary track from Brooks or Wilder but still a very impressive first time on Blu-ray release.

Robert Trachtenberg talks about working on American Masters’ “Mel Brooks: Make A Noise”

Robert Trachtenberg is the Writer, director, producer and editor on the latest American Masters special “Mel Brooks: Make A Noise”. Robert has made several films for “American Masters” including specials on Cary Grant, Gene Kelly & George Cukor. He is a bestselling author (“When I Knew”) and award-winning photographer. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Robert about his work with Mel Brooks and his love for photography.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you end up working on “Mel Brooks: Make A Noise” for American Masters?
Robert Trachtenberg: Susan Lacy, who is executive producer of the series, had secured Mel. She thought my sense of humor would pair up nicely with his, so she called and asked ifI’d like to direct the film.

MG: What is it like working with a legend like Mel Brooks?
RT: The old saying, “comedy is serious business” is true: he’s very professional, actually very “Old Hollywood” in the way he runs things. We’d meet once a month, film for as long as he could stand, and then do it again the following month.

MG: How much footage was shot to make up this 1 1/2 hour special?
RT: We shot about thirty hours of interviews just with Mel alone over a four month period.

What is your favorite Mel Brooks film?
RT: Probably YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN – I think it’s the most fully realized of all his films.

MG: How long did it take to get that excellent shot of Carl Reiner & Mel Brooks?
RT: They gave me ten minutes! Guys who cut their teeth in live television have zero patience for an entire shoot – they expect everything to happen fast.

MG: How does this compare from your American Masters specials for Gene Kelly and Cary Grant?
RT: This time my subject was alive so that made a big difference. It’s impossible to compare in that Mel required a completely different approach – I knew if I asked the questions correctly, I wouldn’t need to rely on critics and academics in the interviews, for example. I really wanted Mel to tell his own story, firsthand. If I did my job right, he would be honest and candid about what worked and what didn’t in his career.

MG: I am a big fan of your photography; what does it take to get the perfect shot?
RT: I think the ability to work on your feet – you go in with one idea, and then it can quickly morph into something completely different due to a variety of factors. And you have to be malleable to that.

MG: I have to ask what was it like photographing Larry Hagman?
RT: Perfect example – for some reason I thought he’d be serious, and he couldn’t have been more of a lovable goofball.

MG: Do you have plans to write and direct more in the future?
RT: Definitely. I love that Director’s Guild health insurance!


Related Content

DVD Review “American Masters – Mel Brooks: Make a Noise”

Actors: Mel Brooks
Directors: Robert Trachtenberg
MPAA Rated: Not Rated
Studio: Shout! Factory
DVD Release Date: May 21, 2013
Run Time: 90 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

Who doesn’t love Mel Brooks? He has delivers some of the best comedy in the business over the last 60 years.  Whether it is film, TV, music or Broadway.  The man has done it all.  This latest American Masters program takes a look at Mel Brooks’ career in “Make a Noise”.  I grew up watching his films from “History of the World, Part 1” to “Blazing Saddles” to The Producers” and “Young Frankenstein”. This type of comedy always hit home with me and still has as I have grown up. I look forward to sharing these wonderful films with my daughter now as she grows.  They are timeless and will remain that way through time. This program was a great look into Mel Brooks, whether you know everything about him or are just meeting him for the first time.  There is a little something for everyone.

Official Premise: After 60 years in show business, Mel Brooks has earned more major awards than any other living entertainer; he is one of 14 EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony) winners. Yet, the comedy giant has energetically avoided a documentary profile from being made, even issuing an informal gag order on his friends – until now. Brooks has agreed to throw himself into a new documentary about his storied career, giving American Masters exclusive interviews and complete access to his film archives.

In the film we get taken through Mel’s life starting from his childhood growing up in Brooklyn to his start in the buisness to his marriage of Anne Bancroft to his Broadway career. There are new interviews with Mel Brooks, Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, Cloris Leachman, Carl Reiner and Joan Rivers. These are people who know Mel and that have worked wiht him. They give wonderful insight into his career and who the real “Mel Brooks” is.  The program runs 90 minutes but I could have watch for at least 3 hours without becoming boring or repetitive.  The guy has done so much there is no way to sum it up in just 90 minutes.  The bonus feature included on this DVD is over 15 minutes of deleted segments.