Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (played by Gene Wilder), a young neurosurgeon who insists his name is pronounced Fronk-n-steen, inherits his grandfather’s castle and research. Frederick doesn’t believe in the experiments supposedly performed by his grandfather Victor Frankenstein until he decides to attempt the reanimation outlined in one of the books he finds in the castle’s laboratory. With the assistance of a beautiful young assistant named Inga (Teri Garr) and servant named Igor (Marty Feldman), Frederick manages to bring to life his creature (Peter Boyle). The movie is a humorous adaptation of Mary Shelley’s 1818 classic “Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus.” A co-creation of Gene Wilder and the brilliant Mel Brooks, Young Frankenstein also reimagines the classic Universal Studios 1931 film and even reuses many of the original’s laboratory props.
This movie is perfect entertainment for the Halloween season. Filmed in black and white and using vintage transitions really connects this adaptation back to classics like Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. I’d have to say that my second favorite version, after Young Frankenstein, would have to be the Abbott and Costello mash-up since I prefer humor over straight horror any day. That’s one reason I find Young Frankenstein to be such an enjoyable part of the Halloween season. While the movie includes a lot of the elements of the original story, the horror is softened by humor. There’s always a wink and a nod thrown into any otherwise tense situation facing the main characters.
The Frankenstein story really deals with the idea of the misunderstood outsider. The “creature” only wants a happy life and feels that his creator, Victor, owes him at least that much. In Shelley’s original version, this attempt to provide the monster with happiness comes in the form of a female companion also created by Victor. In Young Frankenstein, Frederick’s fiancée takes on the role of the “bride,” with Elizabeth even sporting the classic towering hairstyle at one point.
Gene Wilder’s portrayal of Frederick Frankenstein is wonderfully wacky and I always got the feeling he really enjoyed making this movie. Peter Boyle made a surprisingly good monster, and one of my favorite scenes has to be when Frederick and the monster perform “Puttin’ on the Ritz” together on stage. This scene, along with many others, puts Young Frankenstein at the top of my Halloween movie playlist and also makes this one of my favorite movies of all time. Would you agree?
November will bring a new Throwback Thursday theme. I hope you’ll check in next week to find out more.