The Twelve Chairs
The famed 1927 Russian novel had already been adapted for the screen twice before Brooks' version, first in 1945 as It's in the Bag with Jack Benny, Fred Allen, and Don Ameche, and again in 1969 by Nicolas Gessner and Luciano Lucignani as 12 + 1, starring Vittorio Gassman, Orson Welles, Vittorio De Sica, and Sharon Tate in her first screen role. Part of the story's appeal is the "wild goose chase" nature of the narrative, involving any number of red herrings and double-crosses, but also because of the brilliantly conceived characters in the story. Brooks' real genius in The Twelve Chairs lay in his faithfulness to the tale's original outline while bringing his own unique sensibility to the table. It's Brooks' most underrated comedy, featuring the best performance of DeLuise's career, and it's surprisingly family-friendly, to boot viewers who avoid Brooks' films because of the cruder comedic elements should check it out, as it offers all of the best of the director's comedic stylings with none of the scatological humor.
Fox's DVD release, available singly or as part of their "Mel Brooks Box Set Collection," offers an outstanding anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) that will thrill fans of the film those who have only seen this marvelous comedy on VHS or as the occasional art house/repertory theater release will marvel at the beauty of this picture. The source-print isn't flawless, with a small amount of noticeable noise and a few scratches and specks, but it's very, very good given the age of the film, with gorgeous color saturation and lovely contrast. The DD 2.0 audio (English or Spanish, with optional English or Spanish subtitles) is also pleasant. The disc includes trailers for the other films in this collection. Keep-case (slimline case in the box-set).