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Young Frankenstein (1974) - Illustrated Reference

Updated on August 31, 2016
Poster art by John Alvin
Poster art by John Alvin
Mel Brooks with Marty Feldman
Mel Brooks with Marty Feldman

Young Frankenstein was directed by Mel Brooks and premiered on December 15th, 1974. Starring Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, Teri Garr, Cloris Leachman, Kenneth Mars and Gene Hackman.. Screenplay by Gene Wilder & Mel Brooks. Music by John Morris. 106mins.

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein is notified that he has inherited his grandfather’s castle in Transylvania. After finding Victor Frankenstein's journals he decides to continue his grandfather’s experiments of reanimating dead tissue.

One of the legends of comedy, Mel Brooks was born ‘Melvin Kaminsky’ in Brooklyn, New York in 1926. He started working in the entertainment business as a comedy writer for television.

In the 1960’s Brooks co-created the spy spoof series Get Smart with Buck Henry. His first movie The Producers (1968) starred Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder and Kenneth Mars. It was moderately successful and won Brooks an Oscar for Best Screenplay.

Gene Wilder
Gene Wilder
Marty Feldman, Cloris Leachman, Gene Wilder and Teri Garr
Marty Feldman, Cloris Leachman, Gene Wilder and Teri Garr
Peter Boyle
Peter Boyle
Marty Feldman
Marty Feldman
Gene Wilder with Teri Garr
Gene Wilder with Teri Garr
Cloris Leachman
Cloris Leachman
Gene Wilder with Madeline Kahn
Gene Wilder with Madeline Kahn
Kenneth Mars
Kenneth Mars
Gene Hackman
Gene Hackman

Igor: Dr. Frankenstein?
Frankenstein: "Fronkonsteen."
Igor: You're putting me on.
Frankenstein: No, it's pronounced "Fronkonsteen."
Igor: Do you also say "Froderick"?
Frankenstein: No... "Frederick."
Igor: Well, why isn't it "Froderick Fronkonsteen"?
Frankenstein: It isn't; it's "Frederick Fronkonsteen."
Igor: I see.
Frankenstein: You must be Igor.
Igor: No, it's pronounced "eye-gor."
Frankenstein: But they told me it was "ee-gor."
Igor: Well, they were wrong than, weren't they?

Gene Wilder (1933-2016) / Dr. Frederick Frankenstein

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Gene Wilder was Oscar nominated Best Supporting Actor for The Producers (1968) and Best Screenplay for Young Frankenstein.

His films include – Bonnie and Clyde (1967), Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), Blazing Saddles (1974), The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes Smarter Brother (1975), Silver Streak (1976), The Frisco Kid (1979), Stir Crazy (1980), The Woman in Red (1984), See No Evil Hear No Evil (1989) and Another You (1991).

Peter Boyle (1935-2006) / The Monster

Born in Norristown, Pennsylvania, Peter Boyle’s films include – Joe (1970), The Candidate (1972), Taxi Driver (1976), Swashbuckler (1976), Hardcore (1979), In God We Trust (1980), Outland (1981), Red Heat (1988), The Dream Team (1989), The Shadow (1994), While You Were Sleeping (1995), Doctor Dolittle (1998) and Pluto Nash (2002). TV series – Everybody Loves Raymond (1996-2005).

Frankenstein: You know, I'm a rather brilliant surgeon. Perhaps I can help you with that hump.
Igor: What hump?

Marty Feldman (1933-1982) / Igor

Born in London, England, Marty Feldman’s films include – Every Home Should Have One (1970), The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes Smarter Brother (1975), Silent Movie (1976), The Last Remake of Beau Geste (1977), In God We Trust (1980) and Yellowbeard (1983).

[Wolf howls]
Inga: Werewolf!
Frankenstein: Werewolf?
Igor: There.
Frankenstein: What?
Igor: There, wolf. There, castle.
Frankenstein: Why are you talking that way?
Igor: I thought you wanted to.
Frankenstein: No, I don't.
Igor: [shrugs] Suit yourself. I'm easy.

Teri Garr (1947-) / Inga

Born in Lakewood, Ohio, Teri Garr was Oscar nominated Best Supporting Actress for Tootsie (1982). Her films include – The Conversation (1974), Oh God! (1977), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), One from the Heart (1982), Mr. Mom (1983), Mom and Dad Save the World (1992), Dumb and Dumber (1994) and Michael (1996).

"I am Frau Blücher."
[horses whinny]

Cloris Leachman (1926-) / Frau Blucher

Born in Des Moines, Iowa, Cloris Leachman won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for The Last Picture Show (1971). Her films include – Kiss Me Deadly (1955), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), Dillinger (1973), High Anxiety (1977), History of the World p.1 (1981), Texasville (1990), Spanglish (1994) Now and Then (1995), Sky High (2005).

Madeline Kahn (1942-1999) / Elizabeth

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Madeline Kahn was Oscar nominated Best Supporting Actress for Paper Moon (1973) and Blazing Saddles (1974). Her films include – What’s Up Doc? (1972), The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes Smarter Brother (1975), High Anxiety (1977), History of the World p.1 (1981), Yellowbeard (1983), City Heat (1984), Clue (1985) and Nixon (1995).

Kenneth Mars (1935-2011) / Inspector Kemp

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Kenneth Mars films include – The Producers (1968), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), What’s Up Doc? (1972), The Parallax View (1974), Yellowbeard (1983), Fletch (1985) and Illegally Yours (1988).

Gene Hackman (1930-) / Blindman

Born in San Bernardino, California, Gene Hackman won a Best Actor Oscar for The French Connection (1971), a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Unforgiven (1992) and received Oscar nominations for Bonnie and Clyde (1967), I Never Sang for my Father (1970) and Mississippi Burning (1988).

Frankenstein: Now that brain that you gave me. Was it Hans Delbruck's?
Frankenstein: Ah! Very good. Would you mind telling me whose brain I DID put in?
Igor: Then you won't be angry?
Frankenstein: I will NOT be angry.
Igor: Abby someone.
Frankenstein: Abby someone. Abby who?
Igor: Abby... Normal.
Frankenstein: Abby Normal?
Igor: I'm almost sure that was the name.
Frankenstein: Are you saying that I put an abnormal brain into a seven and a half foot long, fifty-four inch wide... GORILLA?
[starts to throttle Igor]
Frankenstein: Is that what you're telling me?

Mel brooks second film was The Twelve Chairs (1970) which wasn’t successful. His third film the spoof western Blazing Saddles (1974) starred Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Harvey Korman, Slim Pickens and Madeline Kahn. It was a huge hit grossing over $100m, at the time the highest grossing western of all time.

Gene Wilder came up with the concept of a spoof on the Universal Frankenstein films, and when he first presented the idea to Mel Brooks he wasn’t that excited about it but Wilder convinced him that it could be a hilarious movie. They teamed up to write the screenplay and were rewarded with an Oscar nomination for their efforts.

Mel Brooks was adamant at filming Young Frankenstein in Black and White, some studios refused to produce it unless it was in colour, Brooks took the project to 20th Century Fox who let him make the film the way he wanted and upped the budget too.

Ken Strickfaden had created the laboratory equipment for the first two Frankenstein films, Mel Brooks discovered he was still alive and rented all his old lab equipment, which Ken had safely stored in his garage, and used it in Young Frankenstein.

Frederick and the Monster performing the musical number “Putting on the Ritz” is one of the highlights of the film, Mel Brooks at first resisted adding the scene, wanting to stay faithful to the spirit of the old Frankenstein films. But Gene Wilder argued for the scene to be included and was close to tears at one point as he begged Brooks to give it a try. Brooks relented and when he saw the scene with an enthusiastic audience he was glad it was in the film.

Another hilarious sequence had the monster encountering the blind hermit played by an uncredited Gene Hackman, a parody of the famous scene in Bride of Frankenstein. The last line in the sequence as the monster runs away from the blind man “Where are you going? I was going to make espresso!” wasn’t in the script and was adlibbed by Hackman.

Inspector Kemp (Kenneth Mars) was a nod to Lionel Atwill’s Inspector Krogh in Son of Frankenstein, both characters have an artificial arm.

Igor: You know, I'll never forget my old dad. When these things would happen to him... the things he'd say to me.
Frankenstein: What did he say?
Igor: "What the hell are you doing in the bathroom day and night? Why don't you get out of there and give someone else a chance?"

If you look closely Igor’s hump is on the left in some scenes and on the right in others. Marty Feldman kept changing the humps position as a joke and it was left in the film causing Frederick to remark about it in one scene.

John Morris (1926-) composed the music for Young Frankenstein, one of his best scores. Morris has scored other Brooks comedies including - Blazing Saddles (1974), High Anxiety (1977), History of the World P.1 (1981) and Spaceballs (1987). His score for David Lynch's The Elephant Man (1980) was Oscar nominated.

The original cut of the film was nearly 3 hours long and looked disastrous but after weeks of editing Brooks and Wilder were very pleased with the final cut.

The film was Oscar nominated for Best Screenplay and Best Sound.

The screenplay also received a nomination from the Writers Guild of America.

Young Frankenstein ranks #13 on the American Film Institute’s 100 Funniest Films list (Blazing Saddles is #6)

Chosen for preservation by the National Film Registry in 2003.

Young Frankenstein cost $2.8m and was very profitable for 20th Century Fox, grossing $86m in the US and Canada.

Mel Brooks adapted the film into a Broadway musical which opened in November 2007 and closed in January 2009.

Frau Blucher: Good night, Herr Doktor.
Frankenstein: Good night, Frau Blucher.
[horses whinny]

The Critics Wrote –

“It looks right, which makes it funnier. And then, paradoxically, it works on a couple of levels: first as comedy, and then as a weirdly touching story in its own right. A lot of the credit for that goes to the performances of Gene Wilder, as young Frankenstein, and Peter Boyle as the monster.” (Roger Ebert)

"It would be misleading to describe Young Frankenstein, written by Mr. Wilder and Mr. Brooks, as astoundingly witty, but it's a great deal of low fun of the sort that Mr. Brooks specializes in. Although it hasn't as many roof-raising boffs as Blazing Saddles, it is funnier over the long run because it is more disciplined.

The anarchy is controlled. Mr. Brooks sticks to the subject, recalling the clichés of horror films of the 1930s as lovingly as someone remembering the small sins of youth. Perhaps the nicest thing about Young Frankenstein is that one can laugh with it and never feel as if the target film, James Whale's 1931 classic that starred Boris Karloff, is being rudely used." (Vincent Canby, New York Times)

“By and large a rather pitiful parody with characters resorting to juvenile mugging. For a really delightful parody, James Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein is far better value.” (Geoff Andrew, Time Out)

“Brooks’ most sustained piece of moviemaking - the laughs never let up.” (Pauline Kael)

“Although patchy as all Mel Brooks' films are, it is on balance hilariously funny. But oddly, it is also true in its looney fashion to Mary Shelley's novel. There comes a point when you have to treat a legend with respect. Brooks and Wilder understand that.” (Margaret Hinxman, Daily Mail)


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