Young Frankenstein  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Young Frankenstein is a 1974 American comedy film directed by Mel Brooks and starring Gene Wilder as the title character, a descendant of the infamous Dr. Victor Frankenstein. The supporting cast includes Teri Garr, Cloris Leachman, Marty Feldman, Peter Boyle, Madeline Kahn, Kenneth Mars, Richard Haydn and Gene Hackman. The screenplay was written by Brooks and Wilder.

The film is an affectionate parody of the classical horror film genre, in particular the various film adaptations of Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein produced by Universal in the 1930s. Most of the lab equipment used as props were created by Kenneth Strickfaden for the 1931 film Frankenstein. To further reflect the atmosphere of the earlier films, Brooks shot the picture entirely in black-and-white, a rarity in the 1970s, and employed 1930s-style opening credits and scene transitions such as iris outs, wipes, and fades to black. The film also features a notable period score by Brooks' longtime composer John Morris.

Young Frankenstein ranks No. 28 on Total Film magazine's "List of the 50 Greatest Comedy Films of All Time", number 56 on Bravo TV's list of the "100 Funniest Movies", In 2003, it was deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" by the United States National Film Preservation Board, and selected for preservation in the Library of Congress National Film Registry.


Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) is a respected lecturer at an American medical school and engaged to the tightly wound Elizabeth (Madeline Kahn). He becomes exasperated when anyone brings up the subject of his grandfather, the infamous mad scientist whose experiments in re-animation led to the creation of a monster. To disassociate himself from his legacy, Frederick insists that his surname be pronounced "Fronk-en-steen".

When a solicitor informs him that he has inherited his family's estate in Transylvania, Frederick travels to Europe to inspect the property. At the Transylvania train station, he is met by a hunchbacked, bulging-eyed servant named Igor (Marty Feldman), who is there to drive Frederick in a wagon to the Frankenstein estate, but not before mocking Frederick's pretentions by insisting that his name be pronounced as "eye-gore". Accompanying Igor in the wagon is another servant, a lovely young woman named Inga (Teri Garr). Upon arrival at the estate, Frederick meets the foreboding housekeeper Frau Blücher (Cloris Leachman), whose name causes horses to rear up in fright.

Though his family legacy has brought shame and ridicule, Frederick becomes increasingly intrigued about his grandfather's work, especially after Inga assists him in discovering the secret entrance to his grandfather's laboratory. Upon reading his grandfather's private journals, Frederick is so transformed that he decides to resume his grandfather's experiments in re-animating the dead. He and Igor resort to robbing the grave of a recently executed criminal, and Frederick sets to work experimenting on the large corpse. Matters go awry, however, when Igor is sent to steal the brain of a deceased revered scientist, but instead returns with a diseased brain, which Frederick unknowingly transplants into the corpse.

Soon, Frederick is ready to re-animate his creature (Peter Boyle), who is elevated on a platform to the roof of the laboratory during a lightning storm. Eventually, electrical charges bring the creature to life. With Frederick's help, the Monster makes its first halting steps, but, frightened by Igor lighting a match, attacks Frederick and must be sedated. Upon being asked whose brain was obtained, Igor confesses that he supplied "Abby Normal's" brain (the brain he stole had been labeled "abnormal"), whereupon Frederick attempts to strangle him.

Meanwhile, the townspeople are uneasy at the possibility of Frederick continuing his grandfather's work. Most concerned is Inspector Kemp (Kenneth Mars), a police official who sports an eyepatch and monocle over the same eye, a creaky, disjointed wooden arm, and an accent so comically thick even his own countrymen cannot understand him. Kemp visits the doctor and subsequently demands assurance that he will not create another monster. Upon returning to the lab, Frederick discovers that Frau Blücher is setting the creature free. After she reveals the Monster's love of violin music, and her own romantic relationship with Frederick's grandfather, the creature is enraged by sparks from a thrown switch, and escapes from the Frankenstein castle.

While roaming the countryside, the Monster has frustrating encounters with a young girl and a blind hermit (Gene Hackman); these scenes directly parody the original Frankenstein movies. Frederick recaptures the Monster, calms his homicidal tendencies with flattery, and fully acknowledges his heritage.

After a period of training the Monster to function in polite society, Frederick offers a theater full of illustrious guests the sight of "The Creature" following simple commands. The demonstration continues with Frederick and the Monster launching into the musical number "Puttin' on the Ritz", complete with top hats and tails (and no small amount of clumsiness on the Monster's part). However, the act ends disastrously when a stage light explodes and frightens the Monster, who becomes enraged and charges into the audience, where he is captured and chained by police.

After being tormented by a sadistic jailer, the Monster escapes, then kidnaps and ravishes the not-unwilling Elizabeth when she arrives unexpectedly for a visit. Elizabeth falls in love with the creature due to his inhuman stamina and his enormous penis (referred to as Schwanstuker or Schwanzstück—a Yiddish malapropism from Schwanz, "tail", which also is German slang for "penis", and Stück, "piece").

The townspeople, led by Inspector Kemp, hunt for the monster. Desperate to get the creature back and correct his mistakes, Frederick plays the violin to lure his creation back to the castle. Just as the Kemp-led mob storms the laboratory, Frankenstein transfers some of his stabilizing intellect to the creature who, as a result, is able to reason with and placate the mob. The film ends happily, with Elizabeth married to the now erudite and sophisticated Monster, while Inga joyfully learns what her new husband Frederick got in return during the transfer procedure (the Monster's Schwanzstück).


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