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
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