If Mel Brooks stars in, acts in, or directs a film, start holding your sides before you watch it. You know hilarity will ensue -- from the characters (think Igor) to the quips ("Werewolf? There wolf.") and the surreal situation (Frankenstein's fiance marries the monster). There is nothing safe on the screen from Brooks's silly and sometimes sophomoric humor. Starting to chuckle just thinking about it? Go on and delight in the memory of one of the funniest Mel Brooks movies of our time. Click below to start.
Mel Brooks, the director of Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs, The Producers, High Anxiety and many other movies, has a way of poking fun of everything and then making it even funnier. Take Young Frankenstein, when the horses react each time Frau Blucher's name is mentioned. Brooks continues this gag until you can't help but laugh louder each time a horse whinnies. And when Igor's (Marty Feldman) hump moves from side to side as his popping eyes roll from side to side, it's pure visual comedy.
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Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, portrayed by Gene Wilder, is a lecturing physician at an American medical school. He becomes exasperated when anyone brings up the subject of his grandfather, the infamous mad scientist. To dissociate himself from his forebear, Frederick insists that his surname is pronounced "Fronkensteen."Gene Wilder has stated that this is his favorite of all the films he's made.
At the Transylvania train station, he is met by a hunchbacked, bug-eyed servant named Igor, played by Marty Feldman, who, like Frederick, insists on his name being pronounced differently (in this case "Eye-gor") The shifting hump on Igor's back was an ad-libbed gag of Marty Feldman's. He had surreptitiously been shifting the hump back and forth for several days when cast members finally noticed. It was then added to the script.
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein is engaged to the tightly wound socialite Elizabeth, played by Madeline Kahn. Madeline Kahn is an actress, comedienne, voice actress, and singer, known for her comedic roles in films directed by Peter Bogdanovich and Mel Brooks; including What's Up, Doc? (1972), Young Frankenstein (1974), High Anxiety (1977), History of the World, Part I (1981), and her Academy Award nominated roles in Paper Moon (1973) and Blazing Saddles (1974).
When a solicitor informs Dr. Frankenstein that he has inherited his family's estate in Transylvania after the death of his grandfather, the Baron Beaufort von Frankenstein, Frederick travels to Europe to inspect the property. At the Transylvania train station, he is met by Igor and a lovely young personal assistant named Inga played by Teri Garr. Teri Garr is an actress, singer, comedian, dancer, and voice artist. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the 1982 film, Tootsie. Her other film roles include Oh, God! (1977); Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977); The Black Stallion (1979); Mr. Mom; (1983) and After Hours (1985). She also appeared as Phoebe Abbott in three episodes of the sitcom Friends (1997–1998) and had a starring guest appearance in the 1968 Star Trek episode "Assignment: Earth".
Frankenstein is portrayed by actor Peter Boyle. Boyle is best known for his role as Frank Barone on the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, and as a comical monster in Mel Brooks' film spoof Young Frankenstein (1974). Boyle, who won an Emmy Award in 1996 for a guest-starring role on the science-fiction drama The X-Files, won praise in both comedic and dramatic parts following his breakthrough performance in the 1970 film Joe.
Upon arrival at the estate, Frederick meets the forbidding housekeeper Frau Blücher, portrayed by Cloris Leachman, whose name, whenever spoken, causes horses to rear up and neigh madly in fright. Cloris Leachman is an actress of stage, film, and television. Over a career that has totaled over seven decades, she has won eight Primetime Emmy Awards (more than any other performer), one Daytime Emmy Award and one Academy Award for her role in The Last Picture Show (1971).
Igor is sent to steal the brain of a deceased revered historian, Hans Delbrück; startled by lightning, he drops and ruins Delbrück's brain. Taking a second brain, Igor returns with a brain labeled "Abnormal Brain! Do Not Use", which Frederick unknowingly transplants into the corpse. Did you know there actually was a real-life "Hans Delbrück"? He was a 19th-century German military historian and professor at the University of Berlin, notable for going beyond technical problems and linking warfare to politics and economics. His son Max Delbrück was a 20th-century biochemist and Nobel laureate.
Inspector Kemp is a one-eyed police official with a prosthetic arm and a thick German accent. Kemp visits the doctor and subsequently demands assurance that he will not create another monster. Inspector Kemp is played by Kenneth Mars, an American television, film and voice actor, who specialized in comedic roles. He is best-remembered for his role as the insane Nazi playwright Franz Liebkind in The Producers (1968) as well as this role.
Frederick offers a demonstration of "The Monster" following simple commands to a theater full of illustrious guests. The demonstration continues with Frederick and the monster launching into the musical number "Puttin' On the Ritz," complete with top hats and tails. The routine 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. In the "Putting On The Ritz" number, Igor can briefly be seen playing piano on the right of the stage.
While roaming the countryside, the Monster has frustrating encounters with a young girl and a blind hermit who is played by Gene Hackman. Gene Hackman learned about the film through his frequent tennis partner Gene Wilder and requested a role, because he wanted to try comedy.
Upon reading his grandfather's private journals, Frederick is so captivated that he decides to resume his grandfather's experiments in re-animating the dead. He and Igor steal the corpse of a recently executed criminal, (while it rains) and Frederick sets to work experimenting on the large corpse. Gene Wilder constantly cracked up during takes. According to Cloris Leachman, "He killed every take [with his laughter] and nothing was done about it!" Shots would frequently have to be repeated as many as fifteen times before Wilder could finally summon a straight face.
This line is said as Dr. Frankenstein helps Inga out of the hay cart and puts her down in front of HUGE castle doors. Igor is using huge doorknockers to announce their arrival at the Castle. The two lab assistants are named Igor and Inga. Inga is the feminine form of the old Swedish name Ingvar or Ingmar. The Russian name Igor is, according to some linguistic scholars, a corruption of the same name.
Dr. Frankenstein has just arrived in Transylvania and has met his new assistant, Igor. As Igor and Dr. Frankenstein depart the train station and walk to the wagon, Igor instructs the Doctor to "Walk this way", using Igor's short cane. Mel Brooks initially thought that the "Walk this way" gag was too corny and wanted it cut from the film. But, when he saw the audience's reaction to it one night at a screening, he decided to leave it in.
The Blind Man's parting line "I was gonna make espresso" was not in the script, but was ad-libbed by Gene Hackman during shooting. This is the reason for the immediate fade to black as the crew immediately erupted into fits of laughter. Hackman was uncredited when the movie was originally released in theaters.
Mel Brooks directed Young Frankenstein. He also co-wrote the screenplay with Gene Wilder. The cast and especially Mel Brooks had so much fun and were so upset when principal photography was almost completed, that Mel added scenes to continue shooting.
Dr. Frankenstein says this when he is looking for the train going to Transylvania. There is a shoeshine boy at the stop for the Doctor to ask where the train is. The boy answers, "Yah, Yah, track 29. Oh, can I give you a shine?" This is a parody of the lyrics to the Glenn Miller hit 'Chattanooga Choo Choo', “Pardon me boy, is that the Chattanooga Choo Choo? Track twenty nine, boy you can gimme a shine”
Peter Boyle, as the monster Frankenstein, said this. When they started to film the "Puttin' on the Ritz" scene, no one was sure what the creature should say. The first time out of the gate, however, Peter Boyle came up with a strangled version of "Puiinin on da reeez!"
Elizabeth falls in love with the creature due to his inhuman stamina and his enormous Schwanstuker. Once Frederick transfers some of his stabilizing intelligence to the monster so he can placate the mob, Elizabeth marries the now sophisticated monster. Inga joyfully learns what her new husband Frederick got in return during the transfer procedure—the monster's Schwanzstücker. Madeline Kahn spoofs "The Bride of Frankenstein" at the end of the film with her hair styled identically to that of the female creature and she even got the hiss down to perfection.
When Elizabeth arrives at the castle, Dr. Frankenstein asks Igor to help him with the bags. Igor responds with the quoted line, then attacks Elizabeth's fox wrap. Supposedly this scene required the most takes to be filmed because each time Igor bites Elizabeth's fox wrap he was left with a piece of fur in his mouth which caused the other actors to laugh hysterically.
Cloris Leachman improvised a scene in which Frau Blücher offers "varm milk" and Ovaltine to Dr. Frankenstein. Frau Blucher offers him a nightcap as she doesn’t want to leave him alone in the library. Upon reading his grandfather's private journals, Frederick becomes increasingly intrigued about his grandfather's work. He discovers the secret entrance to his grandfather's laboratory and decides to resume his grandfather's experiments in re-animating the dead.
We find out more about Frau Blucher when she releases the monster. After she reveals the monster's love of violin music, she admits that she was the one who smokes cigars and left the private journals open for Frederick to read. Finally she admits her own romantic relationship with Frederick's grandfather, 'Yes! Yes! Say it! He was my boyfriend!'
During his escape from the castle, Frankenstein the monster plays with a little girl. This was one of several scenes in the movie where a humorous version of the scene replaced the original, darker, version. Originally, the girl was killed by the monster, instead of being sent via teeter-totter to her upstairs bedroom.
Teri Garr originally auditioned for the role of Elizabeth, the fiancée, while Madeline Kahn, was the front-runner for Inga, the assistant. But Kahn ultimately decided she'd rather play Elizabeth, leaving director Mel Brooks with the task of recasting the Inga role. Undaunted, he called Garr in and told her that if she could come back the next day with a German accent, he'd like her for the part. She looked at Mel and said, "Vell, yes, I could do zee German ackzent tomorrow - I could come back zis afternoon" and the part was hers.
This line is directed at Dr. Frankenstein as they explore the hidden laboratory. The deadpan delivery with an unexpected twist is well timed by Marty Feldman (Igor). This wasn't the only funny line or inspired line that Igor delivered. In 1974 rock band Aerosmith took a break from a long night of recording to see this film. Steven Tyler wrote the band's hit "Walk This Way" the morning after seeing the movie, inspired by Marty Feldman's first scene, the "walk this way . . . this way" scene.
A critical favorite and box office smash, Young Frankenstein ranks No. 28 on Total Film magazine's readers' "List of the 50 Greatest Comedy Films of All Time. On a budget of $2.78 million, it made $86.2 million at the Box office. The fans REALLY loved it.
One of the funniest lines from the movie are between Dr. Frankenstein and Igor as they drive in the hay cart to the castle. Speaking of the castle, after the dart game, when Inspector Kemp is leaving the castle, there is a gargoyle on the side of the building that looks like Alfred Hitchcock. According to TCM it resembles Mel Brooks.
Igor says this to Dr. Frankenstein upon meeting him. Interestingly in the original Frankenstein (1931) film the assistant's name was Fritz. Igor (spelled Ygor) did not appear until Son of Frankenstein (1939) where he worked for the son of the original Doctor.
Elizabeth doesn’t want her makeup or her dress ruined by being touched by her finance, Frederick. It’s a hilarious sequence when she arrives at the castle and she stops his every attempt at kissing her “hello”. At another scene, when Gene Wilder leans in to kiss Madeline Kahn goodnight in her bedroom, her last-second quip "No tongues" was ad-libbed by Kahn.
The little girl, Heidi, is talking to the monster, Frankenstein. They had just thrown petals of a flower into the well. Did you know that Peter Boyle who played the monster, had to do his own stunts? For instance, the Blind Man scene includes parts where we see the monster having hot soup poured on him and getting his thumb lit on fire. To keep himself protected, Peter Boyle had a hot pad on his lap, and he held a fake thumb with alcohol on it to keep the fire burning.
During a heated discussion with a student about his grandfather’s work, Dr. Frankenstein makes a point and stabs himself with the scalpel he is waving around. He quickly dismisses class.
Mel Brooks usually appeared in his own films but Gene Wilder insisted that Brooks should not appear in the film. He felt that Brooks' appearance would ruin the illusion and would only make the film if Brooks promised not to appear in it. Brooks didn't mind in the least, but did make off-camera appearances as the howling wolf, Frederick's grandfather and the shrieking cat. The idea of Frederick's dart hitting a cat was ad-libbed on set. When Gene Wilder threw his dart off camera, director Mel Brooks quickly screamed like a cat to create the illusion.
Cloris Leachman and Madeline Kahn were both nominated for a Golden Globe. Cloris Leachman was nominated as a lead despite Madeline Kahn having far more screen time. If you’re feeling bad for the guys, don’t. They were nominated for an Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay, Motion Picture.
Besides all of the accolades it earned. The best is from the writer-director himself. On its 40th anniversary, Brooks considered it by far his finest (though not his funniest) film as a writer-director.
Mel Brooks adapted the film into a musical of the same name. The musical opened on Broadway at the Foxwoods Theatre (then the Hilton Theatre) on November 8, 2007 and closed on January 4, 2009. Although it had a short run, it was nominated for three Tony Awards.
In 2011, ABC aired a primetime special, Best in Film: The Greatest Movies of Our Time, that counted down the best movies chosen by fans based on results of a poll conducted by ABC and People. Young Frankenstein was selected as the number four Best Comedy.