POSTERS: Young Frankenstein
Mel Brooks has made some of the most hilarious comedies in cinema from The Producers to Spaceballs and Young Frankenstein (1974) is what I like to call the “Citizen Kane of horror film parodies”. Gene Wilder plays Frederick Frankenstein the grandson of the infamous mad scientist Victor Frankenstein. Unlike his deranged relative, Frederick is a respectable medical lecturer who adheres to the laws of his trade. Since his family name has long been tainted, whenever his grandfather is talked about by one of his goofy students Frederick becomes severely irritated. Because of this he has even gone so far as to purposely pronounce his last name incorrectly (Fronk-en-steen) so people won’t know he’s related.
In a strange twist of fate, Frederick finds himself at his grandfather’s home after he is informed of his inheritance of the families’ property in Transylvania. It’s there he meets his new servant Eyegor (Marty Feldman), a cute German frauelein assistant Inga (Terri Garr) and a strange old maid who has been in the service of his family for years, Frau Blucher (Cloris Leachman). As Frederick learns more about his grandfather Victor’s work, he becomes inspired to actually try to follow in his footsteps and re-animate a dead man himself. Mel Brooks does a brilliant satirical homage to the original Frankenstein injecting the proceedings with all kinds of hysterically funny gags and riffs on the sequences we’ve seen before.
The supporting players compliment Gene Wilder’s crazed portrayal of Frederick with their own screwball style: Feldman’s Eyegor is a bugeyed, wisecracking sidekick and Garr’s ditzy, lovable Inga is much sweeter than Frederick’s sexy but stuffy fiancee Elizabeth (Madeline Kahn) who only seems to tease and frustrate him. Last but not least is Peter Boyle’s Creature who is part puppy dog, part clumsy sasquatch. NOTE: Look for a hilarious cameo from Gene Hackman as an old man The Creature visits.
In one of the most memorable scenes, Frederick, who is eager to show the townspeople the successful result of his experiment, performs Puttin’ on the Ritz with the lumbering creature complete with top hats and tails:
The illustrated poster showcases the gothic atmosphere bringing to mind the Universal horror aesthetic the film is inspired by, underscored with the more comedic, cartoonish aspects that Brooks brought to the story.
FURIOUS FILM TRIVIA:
Most of the lab equipment used as props were created by Kenneth Strickfaden for the original 1931 film Frankenstein.
“I was in the middle of shooting the last few weeks of Blazing Saddles somewhere in the Antelope Valley, and Gene Wilder and I were having a cup of coffee and he said, I have this idea that there could be another Frankenstein. I said not another – we’ve had the son of, the cousin of, the brother-in-law, we don’t need another Frankenstein. His idea was very simple: What if the grandson of Dr. Frankenstein wanted nothing to do with the family whatsoever. He was ashamed of those wackos. I said, “That’s funny.” – Mel Brooks