Film of the Week Friday 21 August 2020.
This week I am looking back at another classic comedy from 1974 with Mel Brooks’ brilliant spoof on the 1930’s Universal horror series, Young Frankenstein. Brooks directed and co-wrote the script but the film is really the creation of Gene Wilder who wrote the story and co-wrote the script with Brooks as well as playing the lead role of Dr Frederick Frankenstein, grandson of the famous character of the book by Mary Shelley.
Filmed in black and white with a mono soundtrack and a filming style based on the 30’s original it has a terrific cast with Marty Feldman as the hilarious Igor with a back hump that keeps changing sides, Terry Garr as the doctor’s glamorous assistant, Cloris Leachman hamming it up outrageously as the besotted housekeeper and Kenneth Mars as the police inspector with an over active false arm like Dr Strangelove. But Wilder dominates the film with one of his best performances matched by Peter Boyle as the loveable Monster and the wonderful Madeline Kahn as the seductive Bride of Frankenstein. Gene Hackman appears briefly as the blind man in a cameo he did for free.
As a bonus Brooks was able to rent the original props used in the 1930’s films made and preserved by Kenneth Strickfaden.
The film is an affectionate spoof of the originals while adding Brooks’ trademark goofy comedy giving the cast scope to have a ball. The ‘Putting on the Ritz’ routine with Wilder and Boyle is an enduring classic.
Young Frankenstein is on the BBC I-Player and as this is a 20th Century Fox film now owned by Disney, take the chance to see it before it joins other Fox films locked away in the Disney vaults.