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Mel Brooks
Mel Brooks, Marty Feldman, Dom DeLuise, Sid Caesar, Harold Gould, Ron Carey, Bernadette Peters, Carol DeLuise
Writing Credits:
Mel Brooks, Ron Clark, Rudy De Luca, Barry Levinson

A film director and his strange friends struggle to produce the first major silent feature film in forty years.

Box Office:
$4.400 million.
Domestic Gross
$36.145 million.

Rated PG

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby 2.0
Spanish Dolby 2.0
French Dolby 2.0

Runtime: 87 min.
Price: $99.99
Release Date: 4/4/2006

Available as Part of the “Mel Brooks Collection”

• Trailers


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


Silent Movie (Mel Brooks Collection) (1976)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 14, 2006)

Coming off of enormous hits like Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, Mel Brooks could pretty much write his own ticket. That meant he got studio approval to create a real throwback: Silent Movie, a flick that lives up to its title.

Movie tells the tale of Mel Funn (Brooks), a once-successful director who mounts a comeback after drinking ruined him. Funn has an unusual idea: he wants to make a silent movie. A studio chief (Sid Caesar) needs to show a profit very soon or media conglomerate Engulf (Harold Gould) and Devour (Ron Carey) will take over and give him the boot.

Funn hopes the chief will embrace his silent movie as a way to save the studio, but that doesn’t occur. Funn only musters backing when he promises to enlist Hollywood’s biggest stars to appear in the flick. From there we watch as he tries to ensnare these notables and make the film. All the while he tries to avoid the traps Engulf and Devour set for him in their attempts to stop the movie and acquire the studio.

True to its title, no sound at all appears until 90 seconds into Movie. After that, we hear nothing but music – well, except for one notorious and clever word that pops up along the way. I’ll leave that instance as a surprise. Other than that, the film provides musical accompaniment and a few sound effects but no other audio.

This puts a premium on physical humor and means that slapstick rules the day. Not every gag in Movie relies on physical bits; it still manages to fit in other clever elements. The majority of the action relies on non-verbal pieces, though.

For the most part, it makes these entertaining. I’ve always preferred verbal humor to slapstick, but Movie has a lot of fun with its comedic bits. It tosses in many great moments along the way. How can I dislike a film with a high-speed wheelchair chase?

Like Brooks’ better works, Movie combines parody with homage. When he doesn’t care about a subject – or worse, dislikes the root of his spoof – Brooks’ material doesn’t succeed. Only when the director feels an affinity for the source does he provide entertainment.

That clearly happens with Movie, as it can only be described as a loving parody. Brooks gets the cinematic elements right. He takes some liberties, as Movie won’t quite pass for a product of the pre-talkie days. However, he doesn’t really intend for it to do so, so these stretches are more than acceptable.

Brooks also offers a lot of fun via the film’s many cameos. Movie packs an excellent cast in all its roles, but the brief star turns are awfully cool to see. I won’t name names, but the flick incorporates many of the Seventies’ biggest actors, and they gently mock themselves here.

A far cry from the crude comedy of Blazing Saddles, Silent Movie is a quiet, sweet effort. Charming and clever, it offers a light spoof of Hollywood’s early days. It presents plenty of good humor and thoroughly entertains.

The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus D-

Silent Movie appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Movie may now be 30 years old, but this solid transfer made such it didn’t look its age.

Only a little softness crept into the image. Light edge enhancement meant that wide shots occasionally appeared a bit ill-defined. Most of the movie demonstrated good delineation and precision, though. No jagged edges occurred, but I did notice some shimmering, mainly in shots of newspaper. Print flaws were surprisingly absent. I detected a couple of specks at most; the majority of the movie was very clean.

Colors also shined. The film used a bright, vivid palette that always looked good. The hues were vibrant and dynamic. Blacks seemed deep and tight, while shadows came across as clear and appropriately visible. All in all, this proved to be a very satisfying transfer.

While Silent Movie’s Dolby Stereo 2.0 soundtrack didn’t dazzle, it offered high quality audio. As I expected, the soundfield was restricted. Music played the main role, and the score displayed very nice stereo imaging. The smattering of effects stayed centered.

The mix earned its “B” due to the quality of the sound. The few effects were clear and accurate, while music was very strong. The score sounded lush and vibrant. Dynamic range appeared full and rich throughout the movie. Highs seemed bright and tight, while lows were deep and firm. This was a low-key but very good soundtrack.

As for extras, we get a mix of trailers. The DVD includes theatrical ads for Silent Movie in English, Spanish and Portuguese; all are essentially identical except for the narration. We also find promos for High Anxiety, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, To Be or Not to Be and Young Frankenstein

A sweet little homage to the olden days of Hollywood, Silent Movie offers one of Mel Brooks’ more charming efforts. He downplays the crudeness and emphasizes wacky slapstick in this clever and endearing piece. The DVD offers very good picture and audio but skimps on the extras. Even without substantial supplements, I recommend this nice DVD.

Note that this version comes as part of the eight-movie “Mel Brooks Collection”. It also includes High Anxiety, Young Frankenstein, The Twelve Chairs, History of the World Part I, Blazing Saddles, To Be or Not to Be, and Robin Hood: Men In Tights. The “Mel Brooks Collection” packages all eight movies together with a list price of $99.98.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.7142 Stars Number of Votes: 7
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