on 3 April 2003
This movie is a joy to watch and to watch again. It has, above all, a great heart and tells a moving story. That this story should also be laugh out loud funny is a true delight. Gene Wilder has never been better as the mad, sensitive Dr Frankenstein, but the whole ensemble cast shines. There are no dud moments in this film.
Given that it is a comedy pastiche of the great black and white era classics, you might think that it would pall after a viewing or two, and that the jokes would have a short shelf life. Far from it. Knowing what is coming actually helps the movie as you savour the next great joke. There is love in this film for the genre that they are affectionately portraying, there are no "cheap shots" or cynical gags in this film.
Although played for laughs, this is a "real" movie with fantastic scenery and music which lend authenticity and drama, contributing to the telling of the classic Frankenstein tale. The Black and White shots are in many instances beautifully framed and lit. Gene Wilder looks genuinely crazed.
The DVD issue represents good value too. The extras are definitely worth watching, with truly bizarre Mexican publicity material (the cast interviewed in Spanish, which they only partly follow), outtakes, cut scenes, making of documentary and a commentary by Mel Brooks. The evident enjoyment of the cast comes though in the extras, and you will have just as much fun watching the whole package.
In sum, this is a great presentation of a very funny movie, with quality extras, that you will enjoy for many years.
on 23 October 2013
The sign of a great Mel Brooks film (on the whole) is one in which he doesn't headline. Both Twelve Chairs and The Producers are excellent examples - Blazing Saddles pretty much leaves him in extended cameo roles and Young Frankenstein is by far one of, if not his best. He's also nowhere in site. Don't get me wrong, I like him and I think he's a funny man in interviews and stand up (Check out an Audience with....) but I don't like his acting (Possibly with the exception of To Be of Not To Be but in that he surrounds himself with some fine performances)
Young Frankenstein is a very funny parody of the Universal 1930's movies Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein. It's filmed in Black and White with a musical score replicating the era. All the performances are great, Marty Feldman being a standout. The actors pretty much play it straight even if Feldman gurns at the camera a couple of times (this works on this occassion).
Running gags don't outstay their welcome and the story has a pretty coherent plotline throughout. There are lots of classic scenes with my favourite being Peter Boyle's Monster meeting Gene Hackman's Blind Man.
Mel Brooks films in the UK have not really hit the blu ray market by any strength. The picture is cleaned up but the extras are simply ported over from the DVD. Luckily there are plenty of them to make this a fine package.
If you already have the extras packed DVD, I wouldn't necessarily suggest you buy this unless you MUST have everything on Blu Ray.
I'm tempted to give four stars as it is identical to the DVD but the film is my favourite of the Brook's catalogue so gets the five.
People might find other Mel Brooks films to be funnier, pointing to "The Producers" and "Blazzing Saddles," but I still think that "Young Frankenstein" is far and away his best film ever. Of course this might be because a lot of the credit goes to Gene Wilder, who co-wrote the script and plays Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, grandson of the infamous monster maker who finally decides to pick up the family business.
Then there is the first-rate cast, with Peter Boyle as the Monster ("Putting on the Riiittzzzz"), Marty Feldman as Igor ("What hump?"), Madeline Kahn as Elizabeth ("Ah, sweet mystery of life at last you've found me!"), Terri Garr as Inga ("Roll, roll, roll in the hay!", and Cloris Leachman as Frau Blucher (Neeeeiiigghghh!!!!!). I even like the film score by John Morris that sets the right tone from start to finish, including the haunting theme that lures the monster back to the castle where he was born (with a nice French horn part for Igor).
But what I really think makes this film work is that there are several scenes that are played absolutely straight, such as when Frederick reclaims his family name and the Monster is tormented in the jail cell. Then there is the doctor's speech at the moment of creation, which stacks up against anything you will find in any of the classic Universal Frankenstein films: "From that fateful day when stinking bits of slime first crawled from the sea and shouted to the cold stars, "I am man.", our greatest dread has always been the knowledge of our mortality. But tonight, we shall hurl the gauntlet of science into the frightful face of death itself. Tonight, we shall ascend into the heavens. We shall mock the earthquake. We shall command the thunders, and penetrate into the very womb of impervious nature herself!"
Wow. Read that and tell me that Brooks and Wilder did not know what they were doing in this one. Yes, this is a comedy, but it has a strong affection for the films it is spoofing, "Frankenstein" and "The Bride of Frankenstein," that comes through in several excellent homages. The extra material included on the DVD shows that Brooks and Wilder left lots of funny shtick on the cutting room floor, which should not surprise anyone. There is no reason that "Young Frankenstein" and "The Producers" cannot be included on anybody's list of Top 10 Comedy Films of All-Time. They are both are mine.
on 19 September 2001
Not only does the photography add authenticity to this spoof of early horror films, but you have the insane comedy of Mr Brooks, the lovely Gene Wilder, the brilliant Marty Feldman and the under-rated, wonderful Madeline Kahn!
Like everyone else I too can quote lines from this film at whim!
"Frau Blucher!" and the affect that name has on horses, Igor singing "I ain't got no body", Igor's hump, Igor's sarcastic comments to Fronkensteeen on the pronounciation of their names and especially the song and dance routine ("Putting on the Ritz"!).........I could go on and on........this film, although personally I don't feel quite matches "Blazing Saddles", will absolutely have you in stitches, I guarantee it.
"It's twoo, it's TWOOOO!!"
I've just caught up with this movie again after a long time; I loved it when it first came out and, boy, I love it now! Of course, it helps that I am a big fan of "The Son of Frankenstein" which it parodies so lovingly; indeed, the art direction and the black and white photography brilliantly matches that of the original...Mel Brooks might be an old ham (albeit a kosher equivalent thereof), but he certainly knows how to do it with style! His co-writer, Gene Wilder, is on superlative form in the title role, while Peter Boyle manages to be both moving and comic as the monster. Brooks' regulars, Madeline Kahn and Kenneth Mars (hilarious in the old Lionel Atwill part of the Police Chief) are on top form and Teri Garr is a revelation. The comic talents of Marty Feldman are put to good use and the always brilliant Cloris Leachman is, well, brilliant as always, but this is a superb ensemble cast, including a surprise cameo from Gene Hackman, of all people, as the blind hermit. The film is just the right length, no gag is laboured (unlike in some later Brooks' films) and it is beautifully put together. A comic masterpiece, indeed! Extras include an illuminating director's commentary from the irrepressible Mr B.
It is a credit to director Mel Brooks and to Gene Wilder, co-author of the screenplay, that this film has lost none of his comic impact since it was first released almost 30 years ago. Seeing it and The Producers (1968) again recently, I was reminded of the fact that Brooks' best comedies are those in which he does not appear. Also, I was again impressed by Brooks's respectful treatment of the original material (i.e. Mary Godwin Shelley's novel), more so than any of the earlier film versions, notably one starring Boris Karloff as The Monster.
What else to say? The ensemble cast of Brooks regulars (Boyle, Kahn, Leachman, Mars, and Wilder) are all outstanding, joined by Marty Feldman, Terri Garr, and a surprisingly effective Gene Hackman as the Blind Hermit. In only a few other films has Hackman's gift for comedy been utilized. The ones I recall are three of the Superman films, Get Shorty (1995), and The Birdcage (1996): to a lesser extent in Unforgiven (1992) and The Royal Tenenbaums (2001).
Nonetheless, the irrepressible Brooks could not resist the temptation to add some special seasoning of his own such as, for example, the schtick involving the word Blucher. (Frau Blucher finally admits that the late Henry Frankenstein was her "boyfriend"). As Brooks well knew, Gebhard von Blucher was a Prussian field marshal during the Napoleonic wars, infamous for his abuse of horses. (Following retirement from military service, his mental health was questioned when he claimed that he was pregnant with an elephant after being raped by a French grenadier. Such a claim could indeed raise questions.) Igor's shifting hump is also vintage Brooks as are the scenes when Frederick von Frankenstein (Fronk-un-STEEN!) bids farewell to Elizabeth (Kahn) before his train departs and then later when Inga (Garr) is happily "rolling, rolling, rolling in the hay" wagon.
However, Brooks never allows such zaniness to overcome (obliterate?) the flow of the narrative as is sometimes the case in his other comedies. Although it may be difficult to believe, there is great dignity in this film which never serves as a target for ridicule. (That is what I meant earlier when suggesting that Brooks and Wilder are respectful of the original.) Even the slapstick (slapschtick?) such as it is helps to advance the plot.
For these and other reasons, this is my favorite Brooks comedy.
Both the editorial and the customer reviews are so thorough that one can only list one's personal favorite scenes. First of all, I found it very funny that Dr Frederick Frankenstein takes the TRAIN to Transylvania. Also the scene at the station where he asks the boy, "Pardon me boy, is this the Transylvania station?" Then of course, Inga who asks him from the back of the wagon, "Dr Frankenstein, vould you like a roll in ze hay?" and of course on the way to the castle, when the howl of a wolf is heard and Frederick says rhetorically "werewolf" whereupon Igor responds with some irritation, "There wolf", pointing to the woods, "and there castle", pointing straight ahead. There's also the redoubtable Frau Blucher, who insists on bringing him something to drink before he retires: "Brandy? Visky? Ovaltine? Varm Milk?" and the dramatic scene where the mystery of the violin player starts to unravel and she confesses, hysterically, "Yes! Yes! Yes! He vass my ... boyfriend!" The scene at the Bucharest Academy of Science where Frederick demonstrates the talents of the "monster" is a highlight among highlights, especially when the two of them start to tap dance and sing "Putting on the Ritz." Finally, Frederick's wicked smile when after the wedding ceremony, Inga asks him what he received in return for giving the monster some of his precious brain fluid. One doesn't need to be familiar with all the old classics that this movie sends up, in order to enjoy it on its own merits. I suppose it becomes more funny if you do know the classics, but this one can stand on its own feet very well. I reckon this must be the most hilarious movie ever made and it never fails to reward the viewer.
Although 'Blazing Saddles' is better remembered and 'The Producers' more critically acclaimed (Mel Brooks won an Oscar for the screenplay), Young Frankenstein is the best and the funniest film he has ever made. Its a wonderful comedic homage to the original James Whale films made back in the 1930's. So this is much more than just a parody. The original sets were recreated, in the same location, and the film is shot in black and white which brings back happy memories of Bride of Frankenstein (itself a black comedy).
Mel Brooks was very lucky to have Gene Wilder as leading actor for his best films. In the 1960's and 1970's Wilder was a comedy actor without peer. Effortlessly funny, and here right from his opening scene, at a teaching Hospital he's brilliant. The classic moment in this scene is his growing anger whilst holding a scalpel. Well you can guess what happens... Wilder does it with brilliant comic timing. Seeing the film again recently it struck me that Wilder would have made a great silent comedy star. Evidence of just how good Wilder was in this era, is that he even out performs the late Marty Feldman. The rest of the cast are nearly as good with Cloris Leachman and Peter Boyle both giving marvellous performances.
Gene Wilder also gets writing credits with Brooks as well and between them they produced a great script with a stream a great one-liners:
Frankenstein: Igor, would you give me a hand with the bags?
Igor: [doing a Groucho Marx] Certainly, you take the blonde and I'll take the one in the turban.
The DVD has some great extras, with the commentry by Mel Brooks being a particular highlight. Its both informative and funny. I haven't watched the documentary on the DVD yet. Overall this is a superb disc and a film that should be in everybodies collection.
on 30 May 2015
I bought this for my 12 year old daughter, who loves old films, and I wasn't sure how well it would have aged, having loved it myself at her age but not having seen it for about 20 years. I was delighted to find that it has stood the test of time admirably, and is a laugh-a-minute, pacy, clever and affectionate take on the old classic tale. The cast are all superb, with vulnerable, winsome Gene Wilder at his best, and the late great Marty Feldman in the role he was surely born to play. Unmitigated fun.
on 26 July 2015
It arrived well before it was supposed to be delivered (yesterday to be precise) and has been played twice. A fantastic combination of
talents on show in the writing and acting. Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder are great comedic talents and when they combine forces are unbeatable.
It was a shame Marty Feldman died before his time and this film shows what a very funny man he was