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Mel Brooks' parodies are like your favorite, worn-out couch. You know it's
not the greatest in style, taste and quality, but it just feels so damn
comfortable. Of late, most of Mel's spoofs have been off the mark, his work
mellowing into predictability. In fact, you really have to go all the way
back to 1974 to see Brooks at his sharpest. In that year we were awarded
"Blazing Saddles" AND "Young Frankenstein."
Perhaps "Young Frankenstein" is not definitive Mel Brooks, although he directed it. Gene Wilder, who not only stars but co-wrote it with Mel, was the inspiration to make this movie. And it's his influence, I think, that brings the best out in Mel. When spoofing a historical era, movie genre or legendary tale, Brooks' satirical bag of tricks always included a hodgepodge of crude sight gags, burlesque schtick and stale Jewish jokes done at rapid-fire pace. The plot became an after-thought, working around the barrage of unsubtle humor. In targeting the classic Frankenstein' series, however, Brooks worked in reverse, wisely focusing on plot, tone and atmosphere, then complementing them with clever, carefully constructed bits.
A rich staple of comedy pros from Brooks' fun factory (Mel graciously did not cast himself here) were employed to wring out the most laughs possible out of the fresh, inventive material. Gene Wilder plays the frizzy-haired, eruptive college professor Frederick Frankenstein (pronounced FRONK-en-STEEN), grandson of the infamous scientist, who gives in to the maniacal tendencies of his mad ancestor after inheriting the late Baron's Teutonic castle. His simmer-to-boil antics have seldom been put to better use, while only pop-eyed Marty Feldman, who gets to break the fourth wall as Igor (prounouced EYE-gor), the dim, oddball assistant, could milk a hump for all its worth. Kenneth Mars too gets a lot of mileage out of his one-armed, slush-mouthed inspector. In the film's most difficult role, Peter Boyle's appearance as the Monster is jarring at first, looking like a cross between Herman Munster and Uncle Fester. But he increasingly wins you over, earning even a little empathy along the way. His character is the most crucial for this parody to work right and he succeeds, figuring in a high percentage of the comedy highlights.
Representing the distaff side, Madeline Kahn is one cool cucumber, stealing focus whenever she's on camera as the placid, meticulous, hopelessly stuck-up fiancee Elizabeth; Cloris Leachman sinks her teeth into the role of the grotesque Frau Blücher, whose mere mention of her name sends horses into panic; and Teri Garr is delightful as a dinghy Deutschlander who assists Frankenstein in his wild experiments and other things.
An amalgamation of Universal's earliest and best Frankenstein' movies ("Frankenstein," "Bride of Frankenstein" and "Son of Frankenstein," this spoof relies on close imitation and Brooks took painstaking methods to recreate the look and feel of James Whale's original sets, black-and-white photography and musical score. It pays off in spades.
Nearly 30 years later, this movie still leaves me in stitches. Wilder and Garr's revolving secret door bit is still priceless, as is Cloris Leachman's ovaltine' routine and the Wilder/Boyle "Puttin' On the Ritz" tie-and-tail duet. Boyle and the unbilled Gene Hackman in the "Blind Hermit" scene ripped off from "Bride of Frankenstein" are uproarious, easily winning the award for sustained hilarity in a single sketch. Add Feldman's hump and Mars' troublesome mechanical arm and what you have is rib-tickling entertainment from start to finish. Madeline Kahn's post-coital, cigarette-smoking scene with ol zipperneck' who leaves her in a sexual snit must go down in Hollywood annals as the funniest scene ever caught on camera. Certainly Jeanette MacDonald's puristic rendition of "Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life" will never have quite the same meaning again after you've heard Madeline's spin on it.
"Blazing Saddles" indeed has its insane moments but when it comes to toasting Mel Brooks in the years to come, "Young Frankenstein" should certainly stand front and center when representing this clown prince of comedy.
Mel Brooks' tribute to the Frankenstein movies of the 40s is done with
such love, such skill, and such side-splitting, fall-on-the-floor
hilarity, that it has rightfully become a comedy classic. I first saw
it in a movie theater: I had no idea what it was, had very little
knowledge of Mel Brooks at the time, and expected to be bored. Instead,
I found myself shrieking aloud with laughter that became so intense, I
missed many of the major lines. Hence the video.
What can I say? From the wild-eyed Igor, the hunchbacked Transylvanian servant whose hump keeps changing from side to side, to the modern-day descendant of Baron von Frankenstein, determined not to follow in his great-grandfather's nefarious footsteps, to the nurse, a naif with enormous...er...chestal appendages, to the fearsome Frau Bleucher, whose mere mention causes horses in the castle's faraway stables to neigh in fear...to the scene of the monster and his creator singing and dancing in black tie to "putting on the Ritz," this movie should come with a warning: "Danger--Uncontrollable Laughter May Become Chronic."
The cast is beyond superb. The late, wonderful British comedian Marty Feldman (Igor), who turned his congenital wandering eyes into comedic foils, never misses a beat as second banana to Gene Wilder, who plays the distraught Dr. Frankenstein to the hilt and beyond. Cloris Leachman, who looks like a cross between a witch and a warlock, plays the feared housekeeper Frau Bleucher (neighhh!!!), and a very young, beautiful, and buxom Teri Garr plays the nurse-assistant to the good doctor. Then there is the marvelous Madeline Kahn, who gave a bravura performance as the doctor's fiancee. The late comedienne's burst into operatic ecstasy during her rape by the monster is simply inspired, and is one of the comedic high points of the entire film. All of Kahn's considerable talents came into play during this movie; she was taken from us too soon.
Over 30 years later this film still provides a ton of laughs to
It's always good to see the late Marty Feldman, whose face was hysterical and perfect for this film. In fact, he, along with the camera-work, really make this film one to watch and enjoy multiple times. Teri Garr was at her best and never looked as pretty as did in here. Add in the great talents of Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn, Gene Hackman, Peter Boyle, Cloris Leachman, etc., and you have a memorable movie with a lot of memorable scenes.
Looking at the Frankenstien "monster" in a tuxedo or sitting up in bed with a cigar reading The Wall Street Journal are just a few of the outlandish scenes, along Wilder entering the mansion commenting on the "nice knockers."
Kudos, also, for Mel Brooks having the good sense to film this in black-and- white. It may have been his best film, although "Blazing Saddles" would give it a run for its money. My only complaint was Wilder's constant yelling, which becomes abrasive and can give you a headache after awhile! Still, this has to be considered one of the best "comedy classics" ever.
Zany spoof of the Frankenstein films with a superb script from Brooks and off the wall performances from Wilder, Boyle, Leachman and Kahn. Still, the funniest scene in the film belongs to Hackman, in an impressive cameo as the blind man (Bride of Frankenstein) who befriends Boyle's creature by offering him a cigar and...well, you can imagine the results. This was Brooks' best year; he had this and his other classic "Blazing Saddles," rolling together in the motion theatres. Audiences were definately rolling in the aisles and they still do.
If you love comedies, but haven't seen Young Frankenstein, you're in
for a delicious treat.After three decades, it still makes people laugh
to death, and it's a must-see for every spoof lover in the world.
Actually, it's not a parody, but a homage by Mel Brooks to James Whale's classic,shot in black and white on the same location and with the same props.
The "hero" is Dr.Frederick Frankenstein(Gene Wilder), who, after a long period in which he hated it, decides to repeat his grandfather's experiment.The result is the Transylvanians want to kill him, despite the fact that the monster is the most harmless creature in the world.
This sort of sequel to the original Frankenstein is hilarious from start to finish, mostly because of two actors:Peter Boyle and Martin Feldman.The former is great as the mute creature(he'll compensate that by talking too much in Everybody Loves Raymond), particularly in the scene with Gene Hackman's Blind Man.But it's Feldman's Igor that makes this film unmissable.No wonder, given he's got the best lines("Wait Master.It might be dangerous...you go first").
With no doubt Mel Brooks' masterpiece.
The Scary Movie franchise wishes it was this good.
Mel Brooks' hilarious "Young Frankenstein" is one of those strange films that is so outlandish and makes fun of itself so much that it sucks the viewer into its twisted world and does not let up until the final credits roll. The titled character (Gene Wilder) decides to go to Transylvania and continue the research of a late relative. What follows is a comic joy-ride that involves the assistant (Marty Feldman), the love interest (Teri Garr), the stuck-up girlfriend (Madeline Kahn), the weird house-keeper (Cloris Leachman), the odd detective (Kenneth Mars) and naturally the monster himself (Peter Boyle in a priceless performance). Gene Hackman's whacked cameo as a the blind man who encounters the monster is one of the best sequences during the history of the cinema. A brilliant screenplay and beautiful black-and-white cinematography assist "Young Frankenstein" in being the total success that it is. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Dialog from Young Frankenstein became part of cultural banter in a good many corners of the country immediately after this movie showed up in theaters. We loved every minute of it, "Give me a hand with the bags, Igor", hitting high singing notes while relating how your last date went, "Put the candle back!" "Nothing, dear, just a rat....filthy, slimy RAT!" "Roll Roll Roll In The Hay!" plus the immortal "..an ENORMOUS schwanstucker!". And what testosterone-filled 19-year-old buck didn't give serious thought to surprising his buddies with the hilarious trick of jamming a scalpel into this thigh? A very successful movie, and a slap in the face to those stuffy, elite- types who say Mel Brooks is not "a humorist". Well, dammit, he makes UNPRETENTIOUS people laugh, so perhaps the man knows funny when he sees it. Of course, as Blazing Saddles ruined most 1950's and 60's westerns for me for awhile, Young Frankenstein makes it very hard to take Karloff and all that bunch from the 1930's seriously any longer. Oddly, Mel can even make us laugh at resurrected, REALLY OLD gags; such as "Walk this way!" (The 3 Stooges). I'll never stop laughing at Young Frankenstein.
Much of the words I used to describe Mel Brooks' work in Blazing Saddles applies here as well.To have not one,but two masterpieces of comedy in the same year is incredible.I'm amazed at the way Brooks is able to capture the cinematography of a genre such as 30's horror films,and use it in a spoof of the genre.Sheer genius! As for casting,Marty Feldman is hysterical as Igor.Classic routines,excellent casting,and again,the cinematography make this film one of the all time great comedies.
YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974) **** Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Madeline Kahn, Marty Feldman, Cloris Leachman, Kenneth Mars, Teri Garr, Gene Hackman. Mel Brooks' masterpiece horror comic spoof of all those Universal Frankenstein flicks of the Thirties expertly capturing the set design (actually from the 1931 classic!) and overall look of those timeless films. Wilder is the manic grandson of Baron von Frankenstein ("that's pronounced Frahnkensteen!) who goes back to merry ole Transylvania and follows in his family's footsteps ("vootshteps! vootshteps!") and creates a comic creation with Boyle as the chrome-domed, zippernecked monster who can do a mean song and dance of "Puttin' On The Ritz"! Hilarious sight gags and puns aplenty. Marty as the perpetually hump-shifting hunchback Igor ("that's Eye-gore!") is a scream with his oneliners and bugged eyes. Best line: the good doctor and Igor gravedigging with the summation: "Could be worse, could be raining!" and then downpours. Best bit: Foolishness with the Blind Hermit (Hackman) in one hysterical moment.
There really isn't much I can say that doubtless someone else hasn't said. Brooks used the same location and sets that were used for the lab scenes in the original 1931 James Whale version. Anyone who doesn't laugh at either the scene with Gene Hackman as a blind hermit or the scene where Marty Feldman and Gene Wilder are discussing the brain that Feldman brought for transplant has absolutely no pulse whatsoever. Gloriously funny from start to finish. Kenneth Mars is a hoot and Liam Dunn is a scream in one of the most painful-looking funny scenes in cinematic history! Most Highly Recommended.
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