Back in Hollywood's golden age, Universal Studios was known was the home of the Monster Movie- and boy, did it know how to crank out some Frankenstein- the Original, the Bride of, the Son of, probably even the Cousin of! Some were scary, some were honestly a bit more camp, but what the studio execs knew was that they were cheap to produce and brought in the dough! Fast-forward four decades, and remember that everyone loves a good parody. What does that get you? Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein, of course!
Gene Wilder stars as the grandson of the man who was made famous in Shelley's tale. He's dismissed his grandfather's ideas- and legacy- as mad, even while becoming an eminent doctor in the same field. But where there's a will- there's a will reading. Which is what forces Young Doctor Frankenstein back to the ancestral castle, where strange things are afoot! Greeted by a hunchback, a stern Frau and a lass who just loves a good roll in the hay, he- and we- are in for some madcap adventures, especially after stumbling on some of his grandfather's old journals. The plot is beside the point though. This film's goal is a simple one: make you laugh, and as it lovingly pokes fun at the old monster movie genre you are sure to do just that.
To add authenticity to it's genre-roots, Young Frankenstein is shot entirely in black and white. It also utilizes many of the same props seen in those original Frankenstein films. Mel Brooks tracked down Ken Strickfaden, the man who had designed Frankenstein's terrifying lab in the original film. He was still living in Los Angeles, and even had those set pieces gathering dust in the garage. In exchange for use of the pieces, Strickfaden was given the screen credit he'd been denied decades earlier in Frankenstein. Not everything was a slavish devotion to those 1930 flicks though. The gags ran quick and fast, with many ad-libs. Marty Feldman, who played the hunchback Igor, had taken to switching the hump from shoulder to shoulder, and days later, when the cast finally noticed, it was added to the script. It wasn't all fun and games though; the movie originally ran twice the length of the final product, and for every joke that worked there were three that didn't. Luckily, after a ruthless editing job, the film became one of Brooks' best, even getting several Oscar nominations that year.
A star-studded cast- including not only Gene Wilder, and Marty Feldman, but also Peter Boyle, Cloris Leachman, Madeline Kahn, and Teri Garr- keeps the jokes coming fast and furious; they are sure to leave you rolling on the floor- or in the hay as Garr's character would say. So if you like a little comedy mixed in with terror,Young Frankenstein has the laboratory for you.