Director Mel Brooks
Starring Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Teri Garr
Scott’s Review #1,347
Reviewed February 27, 2023
Young Frankenstein (1974) is one of the funniest, most authentic examples of slapstick comedy done right. The physical timing, facial expressions, and dialogue delivery are sheer perfection from the well-known cast.
Many of whom are stars of the comedy genre.
The fact that director Mel Brooks took a classic horror film as distinguished as Frankenstein (1931), and made a cross-genre sequel, is pure brilliance.
Even better is the incorporation of black-and-white filmmaking resembling the 1930s masterpiece so the setting feels similar. This is aided by the recreation of the original set designer Kenneth Strickfaden’s lab equipment from the 1931 film.
Brooks co-wrote the screenplay with star Gene Wilder, a comic legend, and the writing is brilliant crackling with wit and energy.
The 1970s film watched decades later has lost none of its original appeal holding up astoundingly well after most of the cast and director have left this world. It can be watched over the Halloween season for the proper atmosphere or at any time.
Ideally, recommended is to watch Frankenstein either before or after seeing Young Frankenstein for ideal pleasure.
Respected medical lecturer Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Wilder) learns, much to his chagrin, that he has inherited his infamous grandfather’s estate in Transylvania, Romania.
The original Frankenstein’s reputation is so tarnished that Frederick wants nothing to do with the name even going so far as changing the pronunciation of his surname to “Fronkensteen”.
Begrudgingly arriving at the castle, Dr. Frankenstein soon begins to recreate his grandfather’s experiments with the help of servants Igor (Marty Feldman), Inga (Teri Garr), and the rigid Frau Blücher (Cloris Leachman).
After he creates his monster (Peter Boyle), a new set of complications ensue with the arrival of the doctor’s fiancée, Elizabeth (Madeline Kahn), and the unleashing of the frightening beast on the small town.
Comedy and horror are worlds apart but Brooks and Wilder pay respect and tribute to the classic horror film by not mocking it but instead embracing it and enhancing the story with Young Frankenstein.
You could say it’s a sequel in addition to a spoof made over forty years later.
The characters are the best part and each one is enveloped by its actor in fine form. Led by Wilder as the mad scientist, bug-eyed Igor (pronounced ‘Eyegor’ naturally) explained to be the grandson of Igor in Frankenstein, is a personal favorite of mine followed by Garr as the secret romantic interest for Wilder.
My favorite scenes are when Igor reveals that he took the wrong brain for Frankenstein’s experiment belonging to ‘Abby Normal’ instead of ‘Abnormal’ as the label read.
Inga and Frederick have instant chemistry leaving Kahn’s Elizabeth in the dust as far as a romantic triangle. Hilarity between the pair occurs in the final sequence when, after a lobotomy, she is delighted to realize that Frederick has received the monster’s “enormous Schwanzstucker”.
This is not to diminish Boyle, Leachman, or Kahn who each do their part to make Young Frankenstein an ensemble. Apt viewers will spot Gene Hackman in the role of Harold, the blind man.
As an aside, Brooks brilliantly pays tribute to Bride of Frankenstein (1934) by giving Elizabeth the same hairstyle.
The double entendre is fast and furious from knockers to the male anatomy.
The only scene that didn’t wow me was the sequence where Frankenstein and his creation perform “Puttin’ on the Ritz”. The monster singing and dancing was too amateurish for me but for some, it’s a favorite scene.
A parody that works on nearly every level and is the best of all the Brooks films (even barely usurping my forever fondness for 1977’s High Anxiety), Young Frankenstein (1974) is a treasure.
Silly, devoted, and creative, it revives a classic in only the best of ways and is filmmaking 101 in how to create a proper spoof.
Oscar Nominations: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Sound