Dir. Mel Brooks, 1974
Before seeing this at the Old Pasadena Film Festival, I happened to catch the American Masters episode on Mel Brooks. Young Frankenstein was a difficult movie to make. Despite the fact that it’s a fun film and everyone had fun making it, 20th Century Fox was fiercely opposed to making any film in black and white. But Brooks won out and today we have one of the world’s most beloved comedies.
Set in the present day, Gene Wilder plays the great-grandson of the original Dr. Frankenstein. The new Dr. Frankenstein, who insists on pronouncing his name “Frahnken-steen,” is calm, rational, and quick to distance himself from the family legacy. But when he must go to Transylvania to inspect the Frankenstein estate, he discovers the secret to his ancestral madness and sets out to create a new “monster.” Unfortunately, his assistant Igor (pronounced “eye-gore” and played by Marty Feldman) uses an “abnormal” brain to result in a troubled creature (Peter Boyle).
I honestly came out of this film feeling a bit disappointed. Certainily Young Frankenstein is funny, but I was expecting one of the greatest comedy films of all time, and this was not that. Still, it’s a fun, funny film that pays homage to the Universal original that came out only 41 years before. B