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.
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.
Why It Rocks
- The black-and-white cinematography is amazing and it almost feels like watching an actual old monster movie, despite being shot in the 1970s, which is very impressive.
- The idea of giving Victor Frankenstein a grandson who‘s following in his footsteps sounds pretty interesting and could make a very great plot.
- The acting is spectacular, especially from Gene Wilder who play’s the unforgettable main character, Frederick Frankenstein.
- The special and visual effects are pretty awesome, even for the early 1970s.
- The casting choices are brilliant, such Matry Feldman as Igor and Peter Boyle as Frankenstein’s Monster Creation.
- It manages to capture the terrifying, sci-fi vibe that many of the other Frankenstein movies had, but also adds in some over-the-top comedy that’ll also make it extremely hilarious.
- Much like Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Gene Wilder’s performance and character has shown to steal the show and get a lot of good laughs out of the audience.
- Many unforgettable moments, such as when Frederick begins making his monster and crazily shouts out “GIVE MY CREATION LIFE!”
- In their desire to have Young Frankenstein resemble films of the 1920s and 1930s, the filmmakers used many cinematic techniques, lighting styles, and transitional devices – such as iris dissolves – that were popular during that era.
- Kenneth Strickfaden, the electrical special effects expert on Frankenstein, served as a technical consultant on Young Frankenstein – reassembling the laboratory equipment he used in the original film from pieces that he had stored in his garage, in addition to creating new electrical devices for the film.
- Sets from old movies were used during the filming of the film, including the railroad station from the 1942 film Random Harvest. The sequence depicting the villagers storming the castle was shot on a set used in the 1962 production of The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm.
- According to Gene Wilder, he and Mel Brooks only argued once in their lives – over the film’s iconic “Puttin’ on the Ritz” number. Brooks thought it was frivolous but Wilder disagreed. After twenty minutes of arguing about it, Brooks stopped the conversation and agreed to put the scene in the movie. Brooks said if Wilder was willing to fight so hard to keep the scene, then there had to be something to it, and it should be in the movie.
- Teri Garr auditioned with 500 other women vying for the role of the fiancée, Elizabeth. According to Garr, Brooks told her he found her funny, but that he had decided to cast Madeline Kahn in the role. He would eventually offer her the part of Inga, the lab assistant – which became Garr’s first major role in Hollywood.
- The shifting hump on Igor’s back was improvised by actor Marty Feldman. He had been shifting the thing back and forth for several days as a joke before cast members finally noticed. After it was noticed, it was added to the script.
- Mel Brooks was nominated for two Academy Awards at the 1975 ceremony for different films. Brooks was nominated with Gene Wilder for writing Young Frankenstein, and he was also nominated for writing the title song of his other 1974 masterpiece Blazing Saddles.
- In 2007, “The New Mel Brooks Musical: Young Frankenstein” opened on Broadway. The stage musical was based on Brooks’ and Gene Wilder’s story and was written by Brooks and Thomas Meehan, with music and lyrics by Brooks.
- Teri Garr based Inga’s heavy German accent in this film on Cher’s German hairstylist Renata whom she met on The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour.
- At the 1975 Golden Globe Awards, Cloris Leachman was nominated for Best Lead Actress in a Comedy/Musical, while Madeline Kahn was nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for the film.
Young Frankenstein was a box office success upon release. The film grossed $86.2 million on a $2.78 million budget.
Young Frankenstein received mostly positive reviews from critics and currently holds a 94% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 56 reviews with the consensus: "Made with obvious affection for the original, Young Frankenstein is a riotously silly spoof featuring a fantastic performance by Gene Wilder."