Thursday Night Movie Club
Young Frankenstein
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Release Date: 15 December 1974

Director: Mel Brooks
Gene Wilder
Peter Boyle
Marty Feldman
Madeline Kahn
Cloris Leachman
Teri Garr
Kenneth Mars
Richard Haydn
Liam Dunn
Danny Goldman
Oscar Beregi Jr.
Arthur Malet
Richard A. Roth
Monte Landis
Rusty Blitz
Gene Hackman
Dr. Frankenstein
The Monster
Frau Blücher
Inspector Kemp
Herr Falkstein
Mr. Hilltop
Medical Student
Sadistic Jailor
Village Elder
Insp. Kemp's Aide
Young Frankenstein movie poster Young Frankenstein movie poster Young Frankenstein movie poster
Gene Wilder as Dr. Frankenstein in Young FrankensteinYoung Frankenstein is a classic send up of the classic Universal Pictures Frankenstein series of films in the 1930s. Mel Brooks shoots the film in black and white. A reverence for the original films is evident in every scene.

Dr. Fredrick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) inherits his father's will and embarks on a journey of discovery reluctantly following in his father's footsteps. ("Footshteps... footshteps!") His lab assistants include Igor, pronounced EYE-Gor (Marty Feldman), and Inga (Teri Garr). Lurking in the shadows is the sinister housekeeper Frau Blücher (Cloris Leachman).

Teri Garr, Gene Wilder and Marty Feldman in Young FrankensteinDr. Frankenstein is having a nightmare on his first night at his father's castle. He believes his father's work to be "doo-doo". Frankenstein is in a battle between his own scientific beliefs and his father's legacy. Aided by Inga and Igor, Frankenstein finds his father's private library containing his records. His journal is encased in a leather-bound book titled "How I Did It!" Frankenstein reads the entire journal and madly proclaims, "It...Could...Work!" The stage is set for some of the funniest parodies.

Any fan of the Universal Pictures original films will have no trouble identifying which scenes were taken, almost verbatim, from the original films and reworked by screenwriters Brooks and Wilder. Digging a coffin from a grave results in both Frankenstein and Igor underneath the coffin covered in dirt. "What a filthy job!", Frankenstein says. Igor replies, "Could be worse. Could be raining". Rain immediately starts falling.

Peter Boyle as The Monster in Young FrankensteinAmong several scenes taken from the originals, two stand out as show-stoppers: Gene Hackman plays the blindman in a scene from "The Bride of Frankenstein". The scene is written almost word-for-word to the original. Gestures turn the scene into a riot. The blindman pours hot soup in The Monster's (Peter Boyle) lap. He pours them wine and breaks The Monster's clay mug during the toast. Lastly, while lighting cigars, the blindman lights The Monster's thumb on fire instead of the cigar!

Marty Feldman as Igor in Young FrankensteinThe second scene is the dart game between Frankenstein and Inspector Kemp (Kenneth Mars). Again, taken almost verbatim, the gestures and actions of the two men turn the scene on its ear. While Frankenstein's back is turned, Kemp sticks a handful of darts in the center of the board and mimics the sound of darts hitting the board. Frankenstein turns to look at the board spitting out his drink and remarking, "Nice grouping." As Kemp pesters Frankenstein with questions regarding The Monster, Frankenstein's aim with the darts gets worse. He throws darts through a glass window. Another dart hits a cat. Wildly funny!

Cloris Leachman as Frau Blücher in Young FrankensteinWhile the screenplay is written and executed for laughs, the production of Mel Brook's camera movements and cinematography by Gerald Hirschfeld perfectly embody the spirit of the original films. Brooks was even able to locate the actual set used in the original "Frankenstein". The opening sequence depicts this aspect. The shot starts in the courtyard of Castle Frankenstein on a dark and stormy night. The camera pans to a window and then moves towards and into the castle. The camera slowly moves about the candle-lit room until setting upon a coffin. The camera moves around the coffin to reveal the name Victor von Frankenstein. The coffin is opened showing the skeletal remains of Frankenstein holding his Last Will and Testament. Two nervous hands reach for the Will only to have the skeleton pull back the Will in a tight grasp. Wonderful cinematography. Wonderful camera work. Wonderful comedy!

Kenneth Mars as Inspector Kemp in Young FrankensteinThe cast is stellar. Mel Brooks carefully picked the right actors to bring his creation to life. Gene Wilder plays Frankenstein with a few pints short of total insanity. Marty Feldman makes a great Igor. He makes fun of his own eye malady. His gestures and vocalizations are hysterical. Kenneth Mars as Inspector Kemp delivers his lines as if his mouth were full of marbles. Half of his lines are unintelligeable...yet very funny. Peter Boyle single-handedly steals the show as The Monster. He has no dialogue until the closing scenes. All of his comedy comes from facial expressions and gestures. Cloris Leachman's deadpan delivery is a riot. She speaks volumes with her facial expressions, especially when someone says her name and the horses start neighing wildly. Teri Garr makes a great "straight man" for Wilder and Igor keeping the film somewhat grounded yet she still has some great dialog. "He'd have an enormous schwantztuker (sp?)!" Madeline Kahn is a dingbat. But a funny dingbat.

Young Frankenstein is an instant classic! The laughs come quick and often. There isn't a dull moment in the film. The film is played for laughs. Even jokes the audience can see coming are funny. The candle and bookcase sequence is just one of the highlights of the film. Young Frankenstein, like the original films it is based upon, will never grow old. Enjoy!