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Young Frankenstein

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Young Frankenstein

Starring: Peter Boyle, Gene Wilder
Director: Mel Brooks
Rated: PG
RunTime: 108 Minutes
Release Date: January 1975
Genres: Comedy, Horror

*Also starring: Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman, Teri Garr, Kenneth Mars, Gene Hackman, Richard Haydn

Review by David Wilcock
3 stars out of 4

An affectionate parody of the classic movies Frankenstein (1931) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935). Wilder plays Dr. Victor Frankenstein's grandson, Frederick Frankenstein, a teacher of brain surgery, who calls his grandfathers work 'doo-doo' and insists that his second name is pronouced as 'Fronk-en-steen.' However, Frederick recieves his grandfathers will, which states that Fredrick should recieve his castle in Translyvania. Frederick moves there, discovers a book called 'How I Did It' by Victor Frankenstein (which includes dialogue from the oringinal film) and soon Fredrick is obssessed with creating another monster, played by Peter Boyle.

Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder, who wrote the script, deliver a good selection of gags, and a large dose of nostalgia. Much of the lab equipment seen in the film, was donated by Kenneth Strickfaden, the creator of the lab equipment in the oringinal Frankenstein. The film is filmed in black and white, and uses many old time linking devices. Even the frame ratio was done in old style, of 1:85. And when Frederick, his butler Igor (Feldman) and his assistant Inga (played by Garr) first enter the lab, Colin Clive (the professor in Frankenstein) can be heard shouting out the instructions to bring the monster to life. All of these elements combined, plus superb shadow and lighting effects, bring a spot-on representation of the classic Universal Studio's monster movies of the 1930's.

So, Brooks may have managed to get the atmosphere and feel right, but has he got enough gags in the picture to carry it along? The answer, luckily, is 'Yes' The picture has far more laughs than Brook's Blazing Saddles (1972) and The Producers (1968), mainly due to the cast. Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman (particulary good, especially with his eyes), Teri Garr and Peter Boyle (hillarous as the monster, especially when he does a routine of 'Putting on the Ritz') are all excellent, and the minor characters are great aswell. Kenneth Mars is fun as a police cheif, and Gene Hackman is superb as a blind hermit (spoofing the famed blind man sequence from Bride of Frankenstein) Of course, it's not just the actors that are great, the writing is usually excellent also, with some great references to the oringinal films, and some funny asides to the camera by the fish eyed Marty Feldman.

With some great old style horror music composed by John Morris, superb black & white cinematography by Gerald Hirschfield, and the above mentioned acting, writing and atmosphere, Young Frankenstein is probably the best Mel Brooks film. Sadly, Brooks seem to lose his way after this excellent comedy, churning out dismal fare such as Spaceballs (1987), Life Stinks (1991), and the awful Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995). Young Frankenstein, then, comes highly recommended, as a reminder of how great Mel Brooks (and Gene Wilder) were.

Copyright 1998 David Wilcock

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