Young Frankenstein (1974)
Young Frankenstein (1974) – Did anyone think I was going to make my way through all those classic Universal Frankenstein movies and not end up watching this one? Since I’ve been writing reviews I’ve tried to really find a way to characterize what I would consider funny. Too often my reviews of comedies come down to “it made me laugh” or “it didn’t.” While that really is all you need to know as far as recommendations go, it’s still pretty vague writing. I still haven’t really defined my sense of humor and am pretty sure that such a thing can never be done conclusively. I will say one thing, that I would argue is unequivocal fact: Mel Brooks is absolutely hilarious. This mostly boils down to his willingness to just be totally silly. “Wolf!” “Werewolf!” “There wolf!” That’s a stupid joke, but it works because the people involved sell it. It’s not alone.
The movie follows Dr. Frederick von Frankenstein (Gene Wilder, pronounced “Frahnk-en-shteen”), the grandson of the famous Dr. Victor Frankenstein. Upon his grandfather’s he travels to his family’s hometown to settle the estate. He there meets his new hunchbacked assistant Igor (Marty Feldman, pronounced “eye-gore”) and sexy lab assistant Inga (Teri Garr). Also in the mix are the mysterious housekeeper Frau Blücher (Cloris Leachman, whose name is always accompanied by the sound of horses whinnying), the suspicious Inspector Kempf (Kenneth Mars, based on Lionel Atwill’s one-armed Inspector Krogh from Son of Frankenstein), and Frederick’s superficial and uptight fiancée Elizabeth (the late brilliant Madeline Kahn). While initially resistant to the legacy of his family, Frederick eventually relents and creates a Monster (Peter Boyle) who runs amok (though unlike the Universal film series the movie so livingly spoofs, he never kills anyone). One of the most moving parts of Bride of Frankenstein is when the Monster befriends a blind man. That scene is given a delightfully warped twist in Young Frankenstein with Gene Hackman as the blind man. The film also contain the iconic performance of Irving Berlin’s “Puttin’ on the Ritz” ever. In fact many people really just know the song from this movie (and that weird Taco cover in the 80s).
I could just write this last paragraph with a thesaurus and the word “hilarious.” Do you remember before the days of Vampires Suck and [Insert Genre Here] Movie when spoofs entailed more than just making references? The old blind man scene is a perfect example: you take a scene from one of the originals movies, and then carry it farther in a very silly way (in this case the old blind man keeps accidentally hurting the Monster he is trying to befriend and remaining blissfully ignorant the whole time). THAT. IS. FUNNY. The performances are great across the board, particularly… well, no partilculars. Everyone is fantastic. This is a film so sidesplittingly uproarious (there’s that thesaurus at work) that if you don’t laugh… I just don’t know how you and I can relate to each other as human beings. See it. See it now.
“If you’re blue and you don’t know where to go to, why don’t you go where fashion sits…”
“PUDDAH AHNG DA REEDS!!!”