Sunday, December 18, 2011

Young Frankenstein

Still living down the horrific reputation of his grandfather, Dr. Frankenstein (It's Frahnkensteen!) lectures at the medical college, until he inherits the family castle. Upon moving in with his tititlating assistant (Teri Garr) and hunchbacked and bug-eyed assistant Igor (Marty Feldman), the good doctor denies interest in his grandfather's work, until being lured in by the sinister Frau Blucher (Cloris Leachman) and thus continuing the cycle of madness. "Young Frankenstein" is not only one of Mel Brooks' funniest films, but it is also an excellent cinematic achievement, that stands alongside any modern usage of black and white, not to mention visually with any of the James Whale "Frankenstein' classics of the 1930s (Brooks must have thoroughly studied those films, and even used some of the same equipment used in the laboratory scenes). Cowritten with star Gene Wilder, the film contains many memorable and riotous sequences including Feldman replacing his head with a specimen for a goof, the monster's (Peter Boyle) visit to a hermit (Gene Hackman) to the woods, and a rendition of 'Puttin' on the Ritz' sung by master and creator. Gene Wilder brings his incomparable energy and comic sensibilities to the title role, and he is surrounded by an impeccable cast, also at the top of their comic form. It could be argued that Brooks peaked with this film, the end of an unprecedented run of some of the cinema's most hilarious offerings (The Producers , Blazing Saddles). Though he would have a few minor successes following, "Young Frankenstein" represents Brooks at the top of his game as both a comic and a filmmaker.