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Young Frankenstein [RSC Film Club 45]


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This month we are celebrating the work of the legendary Mel Brooks by watching one of his films, namely Young Frankenstein, as nominated by @djw180.

POSTERS Young Frankenstein Movie 28 cm x43cm 11inx17in : Amazon.co.uk: Home  & Kitchen

Gene Wilder stars as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, grandson of the infamous mad scientist who re-animated a corpse.  After inheriting his estate, Frederick takes up his grandfather's work and makes a monster of his own (the brilliant Peter Boyle).  This is peak Brooks, with the jokes coming thick and fast - the first joke happens before a single word is said, just count how many times the clock tolls over the opening credits - all delivered perfectly by an incredible supporting cast including Marty Feldman, Cloris Leachman, Kenneth Mars and a brilliant cameo from Gene Hackman.  

Released the same year as Blazing Saddles, this represents a high point in Brooks's film career and is one of the great comedy films of all time.  I'm gonna have a blast re-watching this!

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i was gonna make espresso

Edited by LimeGreenLegend
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This is clearly Mel Brook's homage to 30's-40's horror films. It's made with a very old feel, black & white, old style credits, some scenes very reminiscent of the Frankenstein films where Boris Karlov played the monster, and the credits mention something about the original Frankenstein laboratory equipment (i.e. those from the 30s films) being used. Because of this it's probably not quite so zany and mad cap as other Mel Brooks films. But it's very good.

Some elements of the plot seem a bit odd at first but, I think, make sense eventually. The basic story is in 1930s (I think) the American grandson of Baron Victor Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) travels to his grandfather's castle and attempts to recreate the experiments that created the original monster, with similar results. This is all set in Transylvania, which is of course where Dracula, not Frankenstein came from. Frankenstein was set in Switzerland. But this, I presume, is just one of the writers' (Brooks and Wilder) jokes. Another odd thing is young Frankenstein is at first totally dismissive of and embarrassed by his famous grandfather's work. But once in the castle and after discovering his grandfather's secret library he immediately starts trying to re-create a monster. So he instantly changes from sceptic to complete believer. I think this is just the writers saying to us “you know young Frankenstein is going to come round to believing in his grandfather's work, that is surely obvious. so why waste your time devoting any of the plot to portraying a gradual change of mind”.

There are some very good performances. Gene Wilder is Gene Wilder, always good in anything I have seen. There is also a great little cameo from Gene Hackman (the blind priest). But the stand out performance for me is from Marty Feldman, he could have been born to play a mad scientist's assistant. He was a great comedian. A contemporary and collaborator with some of the Monty Python team and Spike Milligan (see my avatar), and ought to have been more widely recognised.

The ending does fizzle out a bit rather than come to a big conclusion, but then Mel Brooks's other film endings could be a bit unusual as well, e.g. Blazing Saddles.



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