Young Frankenstein

Young Frankenstein
Young Frankenstein movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMel Brooks
Produced byMichael Gruskoff
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Gene Wilder
  • Mel Brooks
Based onFrankenstein
by Mary Shelley
Starring
Music byJohn Morris
CinematographyGerald Hirschfeld
Edited byJohn C. Howard
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • December 15, 1974 (1974-12-15)
Running time
105 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$2.78 million[1]
Box office$86.2 million[2]

Young Frankenstein is a 1974 American comedy horror film directed by Mel Brooks and starring Gene Wilder as the title character, a descendant of the infamous Dr. Victor Frankenstein, and Peter Boyle as the monster. The supporting cast includes Teri Garr, Cloris Leachman, Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, Kenneth Mars, Richard Haydn, and Gene Hackman. The screenplay was written by Wilder and Brooks.[3]

The film is a parody of the classic horror film genre, in particular the various film adaptations of Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein produced by Universal Pictures in the 1930s.[4] Much of the lab equipment used as props was created by Kenneth Strickfaden for the 1931 film Frankenstein.[5] To help evoke the atmosphere of the earlier films, Brooks shot the picture entirely in black and white, a rarity in the 1970s, and employed 1930s' style opening credits and scene transitions such as iris outs, wipes, and fades to black. The film also features a period score by Brooks' longtime composer John Morris.

A critical favorite and box office smash, Young Frankenstein ranks No. 28 on Total Film magazine's readers' "List of the 50 Greatest Comedy Films of All Time",[6] No. 56 on Bravo TV's list of the "100 Funniest Movies",[7] and No. 13 on the American Film Institute's list of the 100 funniest American movies.[8] In 2003, it was deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" by the United States National Film Preservation Board, and selected for preservation in the Library of Congress National Film Registry. It was later adapted by Brooks and Thomas Meehan as a stage musical.

On its 40th anniversary, Brooks considered it by far his finest (although not his funniest) film as a writer-director.[9]

Plot

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein is a lecturing physician at an American medical school and engaged to Elizabeth, a socialite. He becomes exasperated when anyone brings up the subject of his grandfather Victor Frankenstein, the infamous mad scientist, and insists that his surname is pronounced "Fronkonsteen".[10] When a solicitor informs him that he has inherited his family's estate in Transylvania after the death of his great-grandfather, the Baron Beaufort von Frankenstein, Frederick travels to Europe to inspect the property. At the Transylvania train station, he is met by a hunchbacked, bug-eyed servant named Igor, and a young assistant, Inga.

Upon arrival at the estate, Frederick meets Frau Blucher, the housekeeper. After discovering the secret entrance to his grandfather's laboratory and reading his private journals, Frederick decides to resume his grandfather's experiments in re-animating the dead. He and Igor steal the corpse of a recently executed criminal, and Frederick sets to work experimenting on the large corpse. Igor is sent to steal the brain of a deceased revered historian, Hans Delbrück; startled by his own reflection, he drops and ruins Delbrück's brain. Taking a second brain labeled "Abnormal", Igor returns with it, and Frederick unknowingly transplants it into the corpse.

Soon, Frederick is ready to re-animate his creature, who is eventually brought to life by electrical charges during a lightning storm. The creature takes its first steps, but, frightened by the sight of Igor lighting a match, he attacks Frederick and nearly strangles him before he is sedated. Meanwhile, unaware of the creature's existence, the townspeople gather to discuss their unease at Frederick continuing his grandfather's work. Inspector Kemp, a one-eyed police official with a prosthetic arm, whose German accent is so thick that even his own countrymen cannot understand him,[11] proposes to visit the doctor, whereupon he demands assurance that Frankenstein will not create another monster. On returning to the lab, Frederick discovers Blucher setting the creature free. She reveals the monster's love of violin music and her own romantic relationship with Frederick's grandfather. However, the creature is enraged by sparks from a thrown switch and escapes the castle.

While roaming the countryside, the monster has encounters with a young girl and a blind hermit, references to 1931's Frankenstein.[12] Frederick recaptures the monster and locks the two of them in a room, where he calms the monster's homicidal tendencies with flattery and fully acknowledges his own heritage, shouting out, "My name is Frankenstein!". At a theater full of illustrious guests, Frederick shows "The Creature", dressed in top hat and tails, following simple commands. The demonstration continues with Frederick and the monster performing the musical number "Puttin' On the Ritz". However, the routine ends suddenly when a stage light explodes and frightens the monster, who becomes enraged and charges into the audience, where he is captured and chained by police. Back in the laboratory, Inga attempts to comfort Frederick and they wind up sleeping together on the suspended reanimation table.

The monster escapes when Frederick's fiancée Elizabeth arrives unexpectedly for a visit, and takes Elizabeth captive as he flees. Elizabeth falls in love with the creature due to his "enormous schwanzstucker".[13] The townspeople hunt for the monster; to get the creature back, Frederick plays the violin to lure his creation back to the castle and recaptures him. Just as the Kemp-led mob storms the laboratory, Frankenstein transfers some of his stabilizing intellect to the creature who, as a result, is able to reason with and placate the mob. Elizabeth—with her hair styled after that of the female creature from the Bride of Frankenstein—marries the now erudite and sophisticated monster, while Inga, in bed with Frederick, asks what her new husband got in return during the transfer procedure. Frederick growls wordlessly and embraces Inga who, as Elizabeth did when abducted by the monster, sings the refrain "Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life".[14]

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