Hello Dwellers and Welcome To The Basement...
Obviously this week, I'm going over Young Frankenstein... however instead of sticking to my notes and bullet points that I prepared for myself last night, I just went total stream of consciousness... and I think the video came out better that way. Still I've included my notes below.
With the recent passing Gene Wilder, obviously a lot of interest has been put on his films, particularly his iconic ones like Wily Wonka, The Producers, Blazing Saddles… and the one I pulled off the self to talk about, Young Frankenstein.
Co-Written by Gene Wilder and Mel Brookes (who also directed) and released in 1974, this black and white film that satirizes not only Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, but also a lot of elements and associated with the early horror films, such as the film transitions and how things were shot, without question it’s a classic.
But what makes it a classic in terms of a comedy? It’s quite simple really… despite it being a comedy, and clearly a parody and a farce, everything is played with enough seriousness to make the comedic spots stand out, on top of that there there’s none of the ‘breaking’ or expectation that comes with the result of letting a scene linger to have the audience react with laughter as with modern films.
Then of course is the atmosphere… which was done to closely replicate and parody the first Frankenstein film and Bride of Frankenstein... which again, plays to the comedic aspects of the script.
That said, the writing is very sharp, and holds up exceptionally well… if you remove the comedy, it could easily fit in with the numerous Frankenstein films and ‘sequels’ that have been made over the decades. Some of the word play is just awesome such as Igor using oversized door knockers, Frankenstein being impressed says ‘What Knockers’ and Inga responding ‘Why Thank You’ because Frankenstein is eye level with her chest, or Frankenstein damning the eyes of Igor, leading him to reply too late because actor Marty Feldman had a rather unique face.
Of course the entire cast was perfect, but of course the star here is Gene Wilder, who walks that fine line of creating a character that easily gives in the madness of the moment when accepting his great-grand father’s work of bringing the dead back to life. It’s a flawless performance that sets a standard for the ‘mad scientist’ trope that has not ever really come close to being surpassed.
So without question, this is a great film to have your collection… but which version
Now onto the DVD itself, the version I have is the ‘Special Edition’ released in 1998, it’s presented in the Widescreen Format – 1.85 to 1), includes basic Menus, and a nice set of extras from out-takes, bloopers, to commentary from Mel Brooks, deleted scenes, trailers and a nice 36-minute documentary on the film that also features Gene Wilder and how he came up with the idea of the film, the creative process with Mel Brooks and so forth, it’s really insightful and bring something extra to how special the movie actually is.
It has been re-released a couple of times on DVD and once on Blu-Ray, in 2006 and in 2014 for the 40th Anniversary, and I think now with Gene Wilder’s passing, if you don’t already have it, I suggest you go get Young Frankenstein.