Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
Released on December 15, 1974
Directed by Mel Brooks
Written by Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder, from the novel by Mary Shelley
Cast: Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman, Cloris Leachman, Teri Garr, Madeline Kahn, Kenneth Mars, Richard Haydn, Gene Hackman, Liam Dunn, Danny Goldman, Arthur Malet, Ian Abercrombie, Mel Brooks (voice)
For my money, the best work that Mel Brooks has ever done, a hilarious take on the Frankenstein legend that, unlike the also-excellent Blazing Saddles, was more a subtle, comical homage than an outrageous, all-out laughfest. Brooks directed and co-wrote the story with Gene Wilder, who starred as Frederick Frankenstein, the grandson of the infamous Dr. Frankenstein, who inherits his family’s estate and travels to Transylvania, where he develops an interest in his grandfather’s work, and soon is creating his own man-made monster.
The movie was chock full of sight gags, one-liners, ad-libs, non-sequiturs, and sexual innuendo, and it was here that it excelled: the humor was more subtle than low-brow, the screen story was actually quite intelligent, and the screenwriters did their homework when it came to spoofing the early Frankenstein films.
And speaking of the actors, along with Wilder, every last one of them was cast to comedic perfection, and brought their own personal, idiosyncratic stamp to each character (especially Marty Feldman, who stole nearly every scene he was in as the hunchback Igor). And then there was Teri Garr, playing Wilder’s assistant, who was not only funny in her own German-accented way, but quite the sexy little number as well.
But equally important, and perhaps most exceptional, were the sets and props, and the outstanding black-and-white cinematography of Gerald Hirschfeld, who patterned the look of Young Frankenstein after the Universal horror classics of the 1930s. The outdoor scenes and interiors looked as if they were actually filmed in a Romanian castle and village of the 1800s, and much of the equipment and machinery seen in the laboratory were the same ones used in the original Frankenstein from 1931; it was all something to marvel at, an authentic Gothic atmosphere to compliment the backdrop of the story.
And finally, let’s not forget the superb work of Gene Hackman, playing the blind hermit who welcomed the Frankenstein monster into his home; without a doubt, my favorite of the film’s many classic scenes and moments. All in all, a flavorful and sharp-witted comedy, and one that is definitely not to be missed. (10/10)