I can’t believe this comedy classic was made the year I was born. This is my favourite from Mel Brooks and he even said in this documentary it was his best picture. It is the second feature from Mel to feature here on Friday’s Finest. Young Frankenstein or as its pronounced Frankensteen is a joint favourite amongst my kids starring Gene Wilder, along with Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Interestingly Elon Musk told in 2020 of Gene Wilder’s house which he had procured and just recently sold, ‘And there’s doors to nowhere, and strange corridors and tunnels, and odd paintings on the wall‘. Very Frankensteenish if I must say‘.
A young neurosurgeon (Gene Wilder) inherits the castle of his grandfather, the famous Dr. Victor von Frankenstein. In the castle he finds a funny hunchback called Igor, a pretty lab assistant named Inga and the old housekeeper, frau Blucher -iiiiihhh!-. Young Frankenstein believes that the work of his grandfather is only crap, but when he discovers the book where the mad doctor described his reanimation experiment, he suddenly changes his mind.
The movie was co-written by Brooks and Wilder. Its has a stellar cast many appearing in other Mel Brooks movies including the previous entry here High Anxiety. The standout in Frankensteen is Marty Feldman as the hunchback with misaligned eyes, but all co-stars are superb.
For trivia buffs, much of the lab equipment used in the movie was created for the 1931 film Frankenstein. Mel adopted the aspects of earlier films including to do it black and white and a 1930’s stylised opening credits and fades to black between scenes to name just a few.
Despite it being a big box-office and critical success, this film is scantily mentioned in recent times. I don’t think many younger generations are even clued onto it. Brook’s later movies got a bit juvenile and cheap, but Frankensteen I can see again and again. It is wonderfully loopy, naughty and an ingenious send-up of universal horror clichés. Who can forget the scene with Igor behind the book-shelves when they were looking the skulls? The facial expression and the breaking into song kills me every time. Below are some of the best 5 minutes of the movie.