Happy October and welcome! All 31 days this month, I will be reviewing all the films I watch in the month of October. They’re mostly a selection of horror or suspense films in my own library or films and shows that have been recommended to me.
Please enjoy and leave a comment!
And if you missed any of our past reflections, take a look:
The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
The Haunting (1963)
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
The Other (1972)
The Legend of Hell House (1973)
Our next film is…
WATCHING: Young Frankenstein (1974)
DIRECTED BY: The great Mel Brooks who is responsible for such classics as “The Producers”, “Blazing Saddles”, and “Spaceballs”.
WHAT IS IT?: Not content with merely copying elements of 1931’s “Frankenstein” and looking for cheap laughs to go along with what he produced, Mel Brooks and star Gene Wilder came up with something that reduces its audience to a cauldron of belly laughs in “Young Frankenstein”, one of the funniest films ever made.
THE PLOT: Gene Wilder playing Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (pronounced “Fronk-in-steen” as he sternly points out to students and others who are curious about his familiar name), a brilliant surgeon…and, yes, the grandson of Victor Frankenstein who, of course, participated in that infamous experiment which gave a dead man life all those years ago.
When he’s told that he’s inherited his great-grandfather’s estate in Transylvania, he goes to inspect the property — and finds himself in the middle of the castle’s inhabitants: The hunch-backed Igor (Marty Feldman), the lovely blonde lab assistant Inga (Teri Garr) and Frau Blücher (Cloris Leachman), Victor’s former flame. Soon, Frederick dscovers that his grandfather’s work wasn’t quite quackery and finds himself attempting to repeat the famed experiment in the name of science.
WHAT DID CRITICS THINK?: The film received high marks from the likes of Variety (who dubbed it an outstanding follow-up to “Blazing Saddles”), the New York Times, as well as Gene Siskel, and Roger Ebert, the latter two commending it for being as much of a homage as a laugh-out-loud comedy.
WHAT DID I THINK?: On the surface, the plot doesn’t sound like much fun — except I can’t even begin to do the film’s gags justice.
Everything here is spot on:
The running gags, the “Puttin’ on the Ritz” and “Blind Man” sequences, the comedic timing…it’s just perfection.
The casting is brilliant with Gene Wilder bringing a manic energy to the part of Dr. Frankenstein while Marty Feldman plays Igor like an even goofier Groucho Marx. Teri Garr is lovable as the semi-naive Inga, Cloris Leachman has so much fun with Frau Blücher (horse whinny and all) and the late Madeline Khan threatens to steal the entire show as Frederick’s beautiful fiance, Elizabeth, who succumbs to the Monster’s lustful advances.
The sets are as sharp and detailed as the writing and the cast, utilizing some of the same props that were used in the 1931 original, “Frankenstein”.
When writer/director Mel Brooks set out to make a parody of “Frankenstein”, he not only created one of the greatest parodies in history, he also created one of he most genuine stand-alone comedy films of all-time.
It’s that dedication which makes all other film parodies look amateurish, and the bar that every other parody should aspire to meet.