Young Frankenstein (1974) Poster


Jump to: Director Cameo (1) | Spoilers (3)
When Mel Brooks was preparing for this film, he discovered that Ken Strickfaden, who'd made the elaborate electrical machinery for the lab sequences in the Universal Frankenstein films, was still alive, and living in the Los Angeles area. Brooks visited Strickfaden, and found that he had stored all the equipment in his garage. Brooks made a deal to rent the equipment, and gave Strickfaden the screen credit he hadn't gotten for the original films.
The shifting hump on Igor's back was an ad-libbed gag. Marty Feldman had been surreptitiously shifting the hump back and forth for several days when cast members finally noticed. It was then added to the script.
Gene Wilder would only make the film if Mel Brooks promised not to appear in it. Brooks usually appeared in his own films, but Wilder felt that Brooks' appearance would ruin the illusion. Brooks made off-camera appearances as the howling wolf, Frederick's grandfather, and the shrieking cat.
Gene Hackman ad-libbed The Blind Man's parting line "I was gonna make espresso." The scene immediately fades to black because the crew erupted into fits of laughter. Hackman was uncredited when the movie was originally released in theaters.
Gene Wilder has stated that this is his favorite of all the films he's made.
Supposedly the scene which required the most takes to be filmed was the one in which Igor bites Elizabeth's animal wrap. The reason was because each time he did it he was left with a piece of fur in his mouth which caused the other actors to laugh hysterically.
The cast and especially Mel Brooks had so much fun and were so upset when principal photography was almost completed, that Mel added scenes to continue shooting.
Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks got into only one fight during the movie's production, but it was a big one with Mel throwing a huge temper tantrum, yelling and raging and eventually storming out of Gene's apartment (where the men had been working on the script). Roughly ten minutes later, Gene's phone rang. The caller was Mel, who had this to say: "WHO WAS THAT MADMAN YOU HAD IN YOUR HOUSE? I COULD HEAR THE YELLING ALL THE WAY OVER HERE. YOU SHOULD NEVER LET CRAZY PEOPLE INTO YOUR HOUSE - DON'T YOU KNOW THAT? THEY COULD BE DANGEROUS." That, as Gene later put it, was "Mel's way of apologizing".
In 1974 rock band Aerosmith took a break from a long night of recording to see this film. Steven Tyler wrote the band's hit "Walk This Way" the morning after seeing the movie, inspired by Marty Feldman's first scene, the "walk this way . . . this way" scene.
Mel Brooks initially thought that the "Walk this way" gag was too corny and wanted it cut from the film. But, when he saw the audience's reaction to it one night at a screening, he decided to leave it in.
The idea of Frederick's dart hitting a cat was ad-libbed on set. When Gene Wilder threw his dart off camera, director Mel Brooks quickly screamed like a cat to create the illusion.
The "walk this way" gag bit done by Marty Feldman, originally planned to be cut from the final version of the film, gained so much popularity that Mel Brooks included variations of it in History of the World: Part I (1981) and Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993).
When they started to film the "Puttin' on the Ritz" scene, no one was sure what the creature should say. The first time out of the gate, however, Peter Boyle came up with a strangled version of "Puiinin on da reeez!"
The skulls that Freddy and Inga find under the castle were real skulls except for the one that was six months dead, which was hand-crafted.
The original cut of the movie was almost twice as long as the final cut, and it was considered by all involved to be an abysmal failure. It was only after a marathon cutting session that they produced the final cut of the film, which both Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks considered to be far superior to the original product. At one point they noted that for every joke that worked, there were three that fell flat. So they went in and trimmed all the jokes that didn't work.
According to Mel Brooks in the commentary for Spaceballs (1987), when Gene Wilder came on the cast for Blazing Saddles (1974), he requested that Mel Brooks do "his" movie idea next. It turned out to be this film.
Teri Garr originally auditioned for the role of Elizabeth, the fiancée, while Madeline Kahn, was the front-runner for Inga, the assistant. But Kahn ultimately decided she'd rather play Elizabeth, leaving director Mel Brooks with the task of recasting the Inga role. Undaunted, he called Garr in and told her that if she could come back the next day with a German accent, he'd like her for the part. She looked at Mel and said, "Vell, yes, I could do zee German ackzent tomorrow - I could come back zis afternoon" and the part was hers. Garr has said that she based her accent on Cher's wigmaker whom she worked with on The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour (1971).
Mel Brooks says that when Columbia Pictures realized he wanted to shoot the film entirely in black and white, it was so opposed that Brooks took the project the very next day to 20th-Century Fox, where the much more accommodating Alan Ladd Jr., who had no problem with this idea, had just taken over.
Cloris Leachman improvised a scene in which Frau Blücher offers "varm milk" and Ovaltine to Dr. Frankenstein.
Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle and Marty Feldman appear together in this film by virtue of the fact that their mutual agent had a deal with the movie studio.
The brain which Igor is sent to steal is labeled as belonging to "Hans Delbrück, scientist and saint." There actually was a real-life "Hans Delbrück"; he was a 19th-century German military historian and professor at the University of Berlin, notable for going beyond technical problems and linking warfare to politics and economics. His son Max Delbrück was a 20th-century biochemist and Nobel laureate.
Gene Hackman learned about the film through his frequent tennis partner Gene Wilder and requested a role, because he wanted to try comedy.
The experiment the medical student mentions, where Darwin preserved a worm in fluid until it came to life, is mentioned in Mary Shelley's foreword to the novel "Frankenstein." The Darwin in question was Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of the famous Charles Darwin.
Gene Wilder constantly cracked up during takes. According to Cloris Leachman, "He killed every take [with his laughter] and nothing was done about it!" Shots would frequently have to be repeated as many as fifteen times before Wilder could finally summon a straight face.
Gene Wilder conceived the "Puttin' on the Ritz" scene, while Mel Brooks was resistant to it as a mere "conceit" and felt it would detract from the fidelity to Universal horror films in the rest of the film. Wilder recalls being "close to rage and tears" and argued for the scene before Brooks stopped him and said, "It's in!" When Wilder asked why he had changed his mind, Brooks said that since Wilder had fought for it then it would be the right thing to do. But it was only when he soon saw the musical number along with a howling audience that Brooks was finally confident about the sequence.
When Gene Wilder leans in to kiss Madeline Kahn goodnight in her bedroom, her last-second quip "No tongues" was ad-libbed by Kahn.
Premiere voted this movie as one of "The 50 Greatest Comedies Of All Time" in 2006.
Gene Wilder's performance as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein is ranked #9 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time.
Just like in the original Frankenstein (1931), greenish face makeup was used on the monster to make his features more prominent in the black and white film.
The clock chimes 13 times at the beginning of the film.
When the monster is being brought back to life, the area around his eyes (and what appears to be his teeth) begin to glow. This was done with a plastic head created to look exactly like that of Peter Boyle. Some fake teeth, fake brain tissue, and a light were used to create the effect.
The journal entry Frederick reads is actually two slightly paraphrased extracts from the original novel "Frankenstein; or the modern Prometheus" by Mary Shelley.
Igor mentions that his grandfather (also named Igor as evidenced by Frederick's first visit to the lab) used to work for Frederick's grandfather. Interestingly in the original Frankenstein (1931) film the assistant's name was Fritz. Igor (spelled Ygor) did not appear until Son of Frankenstein (1939) where he worked for the son of the original Doctor.
Throughout the shoot, Mel Brooks would offer Gene Wilder directing advice, knowing of his ambitions to do so. Wilder reminisced, "Mel would say, 'Do you know the trouble I'm in because I didn't shoot that close-up? Don't do that.' I would say, 'To whom are you talking?' 'You, when you're directing.'"
One afternoon while shooting, Anne Bancroft (Mrs. Mel Brooks) visited the set and told Teri Garr that she and Mel had seen The Conversation (1974) the night before, which features Garr and Gene Hackman in the cast. Garr replied, "Oh, yeah, that turned out to be a pretty good movie." Bancroft responded, "Honey, *this* is a movie. The Conversation (1974) is a film."
While Madeline Khan is brushing her hair, she sings, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic". According to Mel Brooks' DVD commentary, they picked that song for her to sing because it was in the public domain.
According to Mel Brooks, the studio tried tricking him into shooting the film in colour. "They said 'Okay, we'll make it in black and white, but on colour stock so that we can show it in Peru, which just got colour. And I said 'No. No because you'll screw me. You will say this and then, in order to save the company, you will risk a lawsuit and you will print everything in colour. It's gotta be on... black & white thick film."
After the first set of dailies, Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder asked director of photography Gerald Hirschfeld what he thought. Overall Hirschfeld was pleased however Brooks was not, saying that the film should satirize the look of the old Universal horror films. Gene Wilder came to the flabbergasted Hirschfeld's defense saying, "Mel, we never told him that that's what we wanted. He's replicating it but we want to poke fun at it." Hirschfeld made some changes and the next set of dailies was more successful.
Mel Brooks cast Kenneth Mars after he signed off on wearing a monocle over an eyepatch.
The howling wolf sound on the ride to the castle was made by director Mel Brooks.
At the 1975 Golden Globe Awards, Cloris Leachman was nominated for Best Lead Actress in a Comedy/Musical, while Madeline Kahn was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for their work in this movie. However, Kahn has more screen time than Leachman.
In one of the scenes of a village assembly, one of the authority figures says that they already know what Frankenstein is up to based on five previous experiences. On the DVD commentary track, Mel Brooks says this is a reference to the first five Universal films. In the Gene Wilder DVD interview, he says the film is based on Frankenstein (1931), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Son of Frankenstein (1939) and The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942).
While Mel Brooks didn't appear in this film, there is a gargoyle "that looks suspiciously familiar." It is in the very last scene and can be seen on the far left after the camera pulls back from Igor playing the French Horn. It may not be visible in pan-and-scan versions.
Cloris Leachman, on NPR's "Fresh Air" on June 3, 2009, claimed that Mel Brooks told her that the name of her character Frau Blücher resembles the word for "glue" in German, hence the reason for the horse whinnies. If he really said this, then he was pulling her leg as was his habit. "Frau Blücher" bears no resemblance to any known word for glue in any German dialect, whether formal or slang. Frau means Mrs. and Blücher is a very common name, essentially equivalent to Jones. According to supplementary information on the DVD the horse's terror at her name is meant to show that she is a terrible and frightening person and, according to Gene Wilder, "Lord only knows what she does to them when no one is around". On the other hand, they react to the name, not her presence, weakening this idea. One idea has been proposed that the name reminds them of an incident in the career of Prussian Field Marshal Gebhardt von Blücher, where his horse died under him in the war of 1815. Or maybe it's just a silly gag with no meaning at all.
The Blind Man scene includes parts where we see the monster having hot soup poured on him and getting his thumb lit on fire. To keep himself protected, Peter Boyle had a hot pad on his lap, and he held a fake thumb with alcohol on it to keep the fire burning.
It's been rumored for many years that the scene where Frederick accidentally stabs himself with a scalpel wasn't in the script, and that Gene Wilder accidentally did it for real but continued the scene. This is false. In fact, if you look closely enough, you can see the square patch under Wilder's pant leg which the scalpel was meant to stab.
Frederick and Kemp's full names, along with the origin of Kemp's wooden arm, are revealed in a scene originally deleted from the finished film, but included as an "extra" on later DVD releases.
While this film is a loving tribute to Universal Pictures Frankenstein franchise of 1931-1945, the musical number "Puttin' On The Ritz" uses Irving Berlin's revised lyrics of 1946 rather than the racially insensitive original lyrics.
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
The Broadway musical version of Young Frankenstein starring Roger Bart as "Dr. Frederick Frankenstein" and Shuler Hensley as "The Creature" opened at the Hilton Theater, New York City on November 8, 2007. It closed on January 4, 2009 after 29 previews and 485 performances.
"Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte" literally translates as "Black Forest Cherry Cake". However, the cake is more commonly known as Black Forest gâteau/cake.
A couple who are talking on the train near the beginning of the film are having the same conversation in English, then in German.
The slapstick routine, "walk this way" also had been used in the 1938 movie "After the Thin Man"
The periodical that Dr. Frankenstein reads while on the train is "The Lancet", which, at the time, was a highly respected peer-reviewed medical journal. It is more famous now for having published and subsequently retracted an article linking autism to the MMR vaccine.
Mel Brooks wanted at least $2.3 million dedicated to the budget, whereas Columbia Pictures decided that $1.7 million had to be enough. Brooks instead went to 20th Century Fox for distribution, after they agreed to a higher budget. Fox would later sign both Gene Wilder and Brooks to five year contracts at the studio.
Originally in the script, after Igor drops the brain jar, he was to turn to the camera and quip, "Funny thing is, I tried!"
Final film of Richard Haydn.
"Charles Opie, MISSIONARY", is on the third brain on the shelf. Credit Paul Mulik for the following: It seems that there was a graphic artist named Charles Opie who had previously worked as a preacher. The artist who made the labels for the brain jars was a buddy of Opie's, so he put the name on the label as an inside joke. Apparently Charles Opie didn't find out about it until many years later.
Madeline Kahn was a gifted singer and studied opera. In "Young Frankenstein", she sings completely in key. However, in Blazing Saddles (1974) as Lili Von Shtüpp, she purposely sings off key, which is quite difficult for an experienced singer.
In the "Putting On The Ritz" number, Igor can briefly be seen playing piano on the right of the stage.
The Gasthaus, or guest house at the beginning of the riot scene is Gasthaus Gruskoff, named after producer Michael Gruskoff.
The film cast includes three Oscar winners: Gene Hackman, Mel Brooks and Cloris Leachman; and three Oscar nominees: Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn and Teri Garr.
According to her autobiography, "Shirley, I Jest", Cindy Williams was cast as Elizabeth for a while. Madeline Kahn was originally cast as Elizabeth, and then she started having a scheduling conflict with another movie she was filming and had to bow out. So Williams, who had also auditioned for Elizabeth, stepped in and took over the role for awhile. Then Kahn's schedule cleared up, Mel Brooks fired Williams and replaced her with Kahn.
British actor Ian Abercrombie is one of the villagers who storm the castle at the end of the film.
Most of Richard Haydn's role was deleted from the final print.
At one point in the film when Frederick is about to kiss Elizabeth, she says, "No tongues." Gene Wilder took that line so literally that he held his tongue and didn't move it at all, even after they stopped filming the scene, he still kept his tongue still.
Inspector Kemp was inspired by Lionel Atwill as Inspector Krogh in Son of Frankenstein (1939).
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The name on the third brain when Igor makes his selection is that of the movie's assistant property master, Charles Sertin.
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Gene Wilder and Gene Hackman previously appeared in Bonnie and Clyde (1967).
There are only 9 actors alive as of August 31st, 2016.
Final film of Oscar Beregi Jr.
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The two lab assistants are named Igor and Inga. Inga is the feminine form of the old Swedish name Ingvar or Ingmar. The Russian name Igor is, according to some linguistic scholars, a corruption of the same name.
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The painting behind Inspector Kemp in the village meeting hall is "The Children of Charles I" by Anthony van Dyck.
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Mel Brooks considers "Young Frankenstein" the best film he ever directed, but rates it #3 among his funniest - after "Blazing Saddles" (1974) and "The Producers" (1968). Brooks confirmed these views in interviews celebrating his 90th birthday in 2016.
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Film debut of Jeff Maxwell.
Although Mel Brooks is said to have not appeared in this film other than some off-screen dialogue and sound effects, the conductor on the train as it pulls into the Transylvania station sounds strangely like him.
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Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman, Madeline Khan and Kenneth Mars would later star together in Yellowbeard (1983)
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Leon Askin played a lawyer (reading the last will) but was cut out.
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The musical, "Young Frankenstein" at the Drury Lane Productions in Chicago, Illinois was nominated for a 2014 Joseph Jefferson Equity Award for Large Musical Production.
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"Sweet Mystery of Life" is from the Victor Herbert operetta "Naughty Marietta," which was originally on Broadway in 1910.
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Production started shooting on February 26, 1974 and ran for 54 days.
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Peter Boyle had to wear a special pad over his crotch to avoid being scalded during the blind man scene.
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A village guesthouse is named Gausthaus Gruskoff in honour of producer Michael Gruskoff.
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The title is spoken by Inspector Kemp when he says "We had better confirm the fact that Young Frankenstein is indeed FOLLOWING IN HIS GRANDFATHER'S FOOTSTEPS!"
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Included among the American Film Institute's 2000 list of the Top 100 Funniest American Movies.
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Director Cameo 

Mel Brooks: the voice of the original Dr. Frankenstein when Frederick sees the laboratory for the first time.


The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Due to make-up continuity problems, certain shots in "The Blind Man" scene had to be re-shot. In the shot where The Blind Man spills soup on the Monster, the "Hand" spilling the soup actually belongs to director Mel Brooks, not Gene Hackman.
After the dart game, when Inspector Kemp is leaving the castle, there is a gargoyle on the side of the building that looks like Alfred Hitchcock. According to TCM it resembles Mel Brooks.
After the creature jumps into the audience in the theater scene, when they cut back to Dr Frankenstein unconscious on the stage, the man assisting is clearly Marty Feldman without his Igor costume.
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