Monday, December 22, 2008

Young Frankenstein

Young Frankenstein; horror parody, USA, 1974; D: Mel Brooks, S: Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Teri Garr, Peter Boyle, Cloris Leachman, Madeline Kahn, Kenneth Mars, Gene Hackman

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein is a lecturer at a medical school who doesn't want to be associated with his crazy grandfather who experimented with reliving dead tissue. When he hears he inherited his grandfather's castle in Transylvania, he travels there and meets assistants Inga, Igor and Bl├╝cher. When he discovers his grandfather's book, he decides to continue his work and manages to relive a corpse with an abnormal brain. When the local peasants storm the castle and decide to kill him, the monster stops them and starts to talk normally because Frankenstein used a machine to transform a part of his intellect to him. Frankenstein in the end marries Inga.

Mel Brooks' 4th film, "Young Frankenstein" is an amusing black and white comedy homage to old horror films of the 1930's, one of his most 'complete' achievements in his career, which proves his approach is much better when he is objective and restrained, though a lot of credit should be given to Gene Wilder who co-wrote the story with him and gave it a tight structure. The jokes are very decent and the actors are all good, but one can hardly share all the praise from some circles like the National Film Registry since a big deal of jokes ended up too corny and silly - for instance, in one scene, Igor knocks on the castle's door with a giant door knock, which causes Frankenstein to say: "My...What knockers!", but since he is evidently also at the same time holding his pretty assistant Inga in his arm, whose bust is at his eye level, she mistakenly replies to him: "Why thank you very much". Luckily, Brooks' humor here isn't so overstretched and thus the best jokes come swiftly, like when Frankenstein is distracted by the annoying Police Inspector and shoots a dart through the window or when he tells the obviously hideous monster that he is an "Olympic ideal" who actually buys it. Many moments are good precisely because they are done with a specific purpose, yet it's still a 'great comedy' with 50 % of lousy gags. A small jewel is brilliant Teri Garr as Inga, one of the most underrated actresses of her generation. The screenplay was nominated for an Oscar, Madeline Kahn and Cloris Leachman were nominated for a Golden Globe.


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