Watch Young Frankenstein

"The scariest comedy of all time!"
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A comedic gem from director Mel Brooks' heyday, "Young Frankenstein" showcases the vaudevillian talents of a prodigious old school ensemble: Gene Wilder as the title character, Marty Feldman as Igor, a young and perky Teri Garr playing a village frau to the hilt, Gene Hackman in the scene-stealing bit role of a lonely blind man, the great Madeline Kahn, and Cloris Leachman.

Shot entirely in black and white, and evoking film noir, the Transylvanian backdrop further enhances the campy Gothic mood. Dr. Frankenstein, played by Gene Wilder, is a respected American medical lecturer, and the grandson of the legendary mad scientist of the same name, first introduced in the Mary Shelley novel. After the young Frankenstein inherits his grandfather's estate, he relocates to Transylvania, to the very Frankenstein castle. There, with the help of Inga (Teri Garr), he discovers his grandfather's private laboratory journals. Inspired and inveigled into his namesake's legacy, he commences his grandfather's work. Thus begins Mel Brook's retelling of this horror classic.

Except there is absolutely no horror to be found, but tons of laughs. During the course of the movie, candles removed from sconces provoke secret passageways whose sliding panels crush this or that character; hunchbacked Igor's hump switches from the left to the right side of his back, and then again, though Igor repeatedly denies this; horses whinny in terror at the mention of Cloris Leachman's character Frau Blucher, and for no apparent reason. Later, the resurrected monster Frankenstein visits with a blind man, played by Gene Hackman. The two sup at table, but Hackman's character clumsily ladles soup into Frankenstein's lap, or smashes a mug of ale from his hand, and the monster, possessing no powers of speech, displays a gallery of pained expressions. Elsewhere, he has a frustrating interlude with a village girl, a close parody of scenes from the original novel.

Dr. Frankenstein recaptures his creation and introduces it to a theater full of glitzy guests. Dr. and monster sing "Puttin' on the Ritz", top hats and tails included. The bliss only lasts for so long, as the townspeople who recall the original Dr. Frankenstein are displeased with his heir having resumed attempts at reanimating dead flesh. They hunt the monster, whom Dr. Frankenstein lures back to the castle with the music of a violin. The twist of an ending is ironic in that it comes as close to Mary Shelley's original version, in which the monster is rendered intelligent by raw material donated from Dr. Frankenstein, and subsequently pleads with the mob to desist.

| 1974 | 1 hr 46 min | 8.0/10 | 80/100
Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn
Mel Brooks
Produced By
Michael Gruskoff

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