Working together on the western homage/farce Blazing Saddles, Gene Wilder intimated to Mel Brooks, the writer and producer of Blazing Saddles, that he had an idea for another homage movie based on the 1930’s classic Frankenstein. Brooks intially stated the world hardly needed another sequel to the Frankenstein monster, which produced so many pale imitations over the years. Thankfully, Wilder convinced Brooks the concept of a young Frankenstein scientist who wanted nothing to do with his family legacy was a funny idea, and the creation of the two, Young Frankenstein (1974) , approaches comedy cinematic perfection.
Brooks recognized the importance of being respectfully true to the look and feel of the original while creating a madcap alternative universe to the original horror movie. The movie look had the soft sheen black and white so reminiscent of the beautiful cinematography of the 1930’s, with the titles, fades, scene changes, and pace a perfect representation of the best technicians of the golden age of cinema. Brooks additionally obsessively obtained original props from the original Frankenstein movie laboratory to capture the crucial scene of life creation bringing the intensity of the first movie to energize Brook’s version. He structured a beautiful technical trellis upon which Wilder laid a magnificent madcap dialogue and screenplay and the result is a movie I have seen scores of times and have yet to avoid collapsing in laughter.
Modern cinema has tried so many times to capture the art of making comedies that reflect back on classics but never have come remotely close to special achievement of Brooks, Wilder, and a terrific supporting cast. The truth of the matter is that though Mel Brooks is as capable of the off color remark as the next guy, he truly loves cinema and is darn good at the cinematic art. Not every movie Mel Brooks has created has met the standard of great cinema – but Young Frankenstein is as good as it gets. If its been a while, or your first viewing ever, prepare for a real treat.