As I said last week, Hugo voters were quite fond of comedies in the mid-70s. Young Frankenstein, filmed in black and white, is a parody of Frankenstein (the classic 1930 film moreso than Mary Shelley’s novel). It was directed by Mel Brooks and scripted by Gene Wilder, who also gives a great performance as the infamous mad scientist’s grandson. Dr. Frankenstein inherits his grandfather’s Transylvania estate (and his manservant Igor), and eventually begins to work at replicating his dark research in reanimation. The doctor manages to create his own monster (played brilliantly by Peter Boyle) and debuts the creature with an elaborate broadway number that goes horribly wrong.
It’s a hilarious movie, and one that’s always been a favorite of mine. Wilder's script avoids some of the typical Mel Brooks groaners, and Brooks direction, in homage to James Whale's work on the original, is probably the best of his career. It’s maybe a bit short on the science fiction; there aren’t any big ideas here (even less so than in Sleeper), but it’s fun. The cast really makes the film. This may be Wilder’s best performance, and Boyle’s monster is legendary; Terri Garr is gorgeous as Frankenstein’s young assistant, and Madeline Kahn and Marty Feldman are hilarious as the doctor’s fiancée and Igor, respectively. Highly recommended.