Young Frankenstein (1974)

DVD Cover (Twentieth Century Fox Reissue)
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Overall Rating 80%
Overall Rating
Ranked #952
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Connections: Frankenstein

An American grandson of the infamous scientist, struggling to prove that his grandfather was not as insane as people believe, is invited to Transylvania, where he discovers the process that reanimates a dead body. --IMDb
Review by Crispy
Added: May 08, 2016
Anytime I do a theme, I try and end it on some kind of high note. While I'm sure the head honcho would rather me bait the views that those porn parodies bring in, I'm all about decorum, so I decided to go with the high-brow comedy that is Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein.

Frederick Frankenstein is the grandson of the infamous Victor Frankenstein but an accomplished neuroscientist in his own right, he wants nothing more than to distance himself from his family's sordid reputation. He's even gone so far as to change the pronunciation of his well-known surname to "Fronkensteen." Still, such an epic legacy isn't going to stay buried in the past and it comes to his attention that he's inherited his grandfather's estate in Transylvania and heads overseas to inspect his property. He's met at the train station by Igor, a hunchback who is likewise two generations removed from the original Frankenstein's assistant, and an appointed lab assistant, Inga. His first night in his new castle, some mysterious music lures the trio to his grandfather's secret lab and after reading his old notes, Frederick decides to begin work on a creation of his own. The good people of Transylvania are more than a little suspicious however. After all, they know full well what horrors are wrought when a Frankenstein is in town, no matter how it's pronounced.

With the team of Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks behind the pen, it should come as no surprise that the results were hysterical. Hell, the fact that this parody was nominated for an Oscar should be all the evidence you need. Normally, Mel Brooks' period movies tend to rely on absurdist surrealism and anachronisms. It's something of a cinematic prop humor. Here, all the laughs come from the dialogue. Sure, there's still silliness and unabashed overacting, but the humor in watching Frankenstein and his monster break into a tap dance routine singing "Puttin' on the Ritz" is so much funnier than say putting a Club lock on a horse. The parody aspects are also on point. Between the black and white, the score, the transitions, this is aesthetically identical to Universal's style throughout the 30s and 40s. It's a beautiful contrast to the movie's zaniness. Plus, more than one side character from the classic franchise get their nods here, be it the one-armed police officer from Son or the blind hermit from Bride. Even better, the script is so masterfully written that these characters are hilarious even if you haven't seen the originals.

Besides writing an amazing script, Gene Wilder also handled the eponymous role, and I'm sure it goes without saying that he was absolutely brilliant. I mean, he's Gene Wilder. Perfectly alternating between a rational calm and fits of screaming rage, he had me in stitches. Marty Feldman completely hammed it up as Igor and I absolutely loved him for it. He was every bit as important to the comedy as Wilder and while I wasn't exactly keeping track, he might have actually had me laughing more. As the famous monster, Peter Boyle would have made Boris Karloff proud. Like Wilder, the key to his performance was how seamlessly he switched between the traditional portrayal and total bemusement at his creators' antics. In smaller roles, Terri Garr and Cloris Leachman rounded out Frankenstein's team and like their costars, they were both perfect.

I just can't recommend this enough. It's hilarious even if you've never seen the old movies they're parodying, and that much better if you have. 10/10.
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