Hilarious comedy perfection!
There aren’t many better things in life than a good belly laugh, and the top-notch classic “Young Frankenstein”, is guaranteed to provide just that. This Academy Award-nominated parody, directed by comedy genius Mel Brooks, has nonstop laughs, lovable oddball characters, and enough heart to keep it eternally entertaining. It is a perfect comedy. I adored it as a kid, and it still remains a top favorite and one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. Others think so to, for it continually frequents top comedy lists, including those by the American Film Institute (AFI) who named it the 13th Funniest American Movie of All-Time, and BBC Culture who chose it as the 22nd Greatest Comedy of All-Time. If you love to laugh, this is required viewing.
“Young Frankenstein” is a supposed continuation of the 1931 horror film “Frankenstein” (you can read about that film by clicking on the title), which in turn was based on Mary Shelley's 1818 novel “Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus”. The character “Frankenstein” was a scientist who figured out how to create life by reanimating dead tissue, and he created a creature out of body parts taken from freshly dug-up corpses. The creature’s giant size and frightening appearance earn him the name “The Monster”, and the terror and panic his looks cause results in havoc, riots, and death. The central character in “Young Frankenstein” is ”Frankenstein’s" grandson, “Dr. Frederick Frankenstein”. “Frederick” wants nothing to do with his family’s past, particularly his grandfather’s work, which he refers to as “the nonsensical ravings of a lunatic mind”. To help further distance himself from his lineage, he insists his name be pronounced “Fronkensteen”.
Our film begins as “Frederick's” great-grandfather’s will is found, which bequeaths him the family’s remote Transylvanian castle. After saying a temporary “goodbye” at the train station to his beautiful fiancé “Elizabeth", he journeys to his inherited castle and is greeted by a hunchbacked servant named “Igor", a sexy blonde lab assistant named "Inga", and the property's scary housekeeper "Frau Blücher". One thing leads to another, and with the help of “Igor”, “Inga” and "Frau Blücher”, “Frederick” ends up following in his grandfather’s footsteps and creates a monster of his own (though this time with a little less horror and a lot more laughs).
“Young Frankenstein” is a hilarious parody of “Frankenstein” and its first sequel, 1935’s “The Bride of Frankenstein”, both directed by James Whale, with additional traces of other early classic horror films (like 1933’s “King Kong” and Whale’s 1932’s “The Old Dark House”). Mel Brooks sought to emulate the exquisitely moody, dark spirit, and look of Whale’s films, also taking inspiration from Shelley’s book. As such, “Young Frankenstein” is in black and white, contains a touch of a German Expressionism, has angry mobs, a laboratory, lots of shadows, and the famous line, “It’s alive!”. It draws upon and salutes these older classics in uproariously imaginative ways.
While you don’t need to have seen the original films to understand or fully enjoy “Young Frankenstein”, if you’ve seen them, you might laugh just a bit harder. For instance, having seen “Frankenstein”, when “The Monster” is with the little girl by the well, her question “What should we throw in the water next?” will take on greater humor, as will “The Monster’s” ensuing look. And if you’ve seen “The Bride of Frankenstein” you’ll have a fonder regard for “Elizabeth’s” changing hairstyles and appreciation of the scene with the blind man in the woods. For diehard “Frankenstein” fans, one of the elders at a town meeting says, “We still have nightmares from the five times before”, covertly referencing the original five Universal Studios’ “Frankenstein” films. Again, these are tiny details and the film is so chockfull of humor, you won’t miss much not getting all the “in” jokes. That said, if you can, I do recommend watching as least “Frankenstein” or the “Bride of Frankenstein” first, for then you’ll realize just how clever this film truly is.
Like the originals, “Young Frankenstein” is about a freakish, misunderstood creature with love in his heart who only wants to be loved in return. But “Young Frankenstein” is also a story of how love can save us, and about being proud of who you are. While these themes don’t overpower the film, they add just enough substance to give the comedy a solid ground on which to grow. Under all the nonstop hilarity, “Young Frankenstein” has a very sweet and touching story.
Though Brooks’ fingerprints are all over the film, “Young Frankenstein” didn’t originate with him, but with the film’s star Gene Wilder. Wilder had previously worked with Brooks in the 1967 comedy masterpiece, “The Producers”, and again in Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles”. While on the “Blazing Saddles” set, a thought came to Wilder which he wrote on a piece of paper – “Young Frankenstein”. Influenced by movies he saw as a kid (the 1940 film “Young Tom Edison” and the “Frankenstein” films which terrified him), he thought of an idea for a film spoof about “Baron Frankenstein’s” grandson. Brooks questioned Wilder about what he was writing, Wilder explained and asked if Brooks would direct it. Brooks eventually said yes, and the rest is history. Together, they wrote the script for “Young Frankenstein”, and each earned a Best Adapted Screenplay Academy Award nomination for it.
Wilder made Brooks promise only one thing, that he would not appear in “Young Frankenstein” so his complete concentration would be on directing. Brooks agreed, and only Brook’s voice appears in the film (as the sound of a werewolf, a cat, and of “Victor Frankenstein” who we hear when we first see the laboratory).
Known for making often brilliant, zany parodies of movie genres (such as Westerns, silent movies, Alfred Hitchcock films, “Star Wars”, and more), Brook has a prodigious gift for comedy and knows exactly how to convey it in a movie. Because the jokes are so funny, it’s easy to be blind to what he adds as a director, but his contribution is indispensable. A golden example is the riotous scene in which “Frederick” and “Inga” are trying to get to a passageway behind a bookcase. Discovering the bookcase turns by lifting a candle, they can’t quite get the hang of it. While the performances are fantastically funny, what elevates the scene to hilarity is Brooks’ choice of what he shows, when he shows it, and what he doesn’t show but only lets us hear. It's supreme comedy. Brook’s has said many times in interviews that every shot in “Young Frankenstein” was carefully planned, and one can tell. One doesn’t just stumble on comedy this funny or visually engaging.
Brooks never knew who his audience was when he made movies, so if a joke made him laugh he kept it in and if it didn’t, he took it out. He and his editor, John C. Howard, would edit together a reel or two of the film and Brooks would go on the studio lot and ask random people walking by if they would watch it. From their laughter, he and Howard learned what worked and what didn’t and edited the film accordingly. “Young Frankenstein” turned out to be a resounding success (as was his massive hit “Blazing Saddles”, released earlier that same year) making Brooks a major movie director. He (and Woody Allen) became the king of movie comedy during the 1970s. If you want to read more about the incomparable Mel Brooks, check out my post on “The Producers” (just click the film title to open that post).
Call it sweetness, charm, or whatever you want, but there’s an infectious magical quality permeating “Young Frankenstein”. By all accounts it was a joy to make, with a remarkable chemistry pervading the set as everyone laughed their way through making the film. The laughing turned out to be the only major production problem, as it caused Brooks to have to shoot many retakes. Actors would crackup (particularly Wilder), as would Brooks himself, and even the crew. To stop the crew from ruining shots with their laugher, Brooks bought a slew of white handkerchiefs and told them to stick one in their mouth if they were about to laugh. As he recounts in his autobiography “All About Me!”, “I turned around once in the middle of shooting a scene and saw a sea of white handkerchiefs in everybody’s mouths. I thought, I’ve got a big hit here. This movie is going to be hilarious”. He was right. After all, comedy does boil down to making people laugh.
Many of the laughs in “Young Frankenstein” result from Gene Wilder’s portrayal of scientist and surgeon “Dr. Frederick Frankenstein”. Wilder's comic timing and fluctuation between being serious and funny is outstanding, and his knack for comically playing characters a bit looney, sad and neurotic turn “Frederick” into one of his best. Take his first scene, as “Frederick” earnestly teaches a class, gradually overcome by unbridled delirium as a student needles him about his grandfather. Then there's the famous scene when “Frederick” is calmly quizzing “Igor” about “The Monster’s” brain, which also ends in a frenzy of emotion. And there's also the priceless demented ecstasy he shows when “Frederick” finds his grandfather’s book ("How I Did It”) or when the monster comes alive. In all of his scenes, no matter how large or small the emotion, Wilder is always truthful. It's a stellar performance.
Sadly, ”Young Frankenstein" was Wilder's last movie with Brooks, and the three films they made together remain highlights in both of their careers. Wilder’s experience with Brooks inspired him to write and direct comedy films himself beginning with 1975’s “The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother”, but none hit the heights of his films with Brooks. In 1976, Wilder found another screen partner with whom he had wonderful chemistry, Richard Pryor, and he and Pryor costarred in four films from the mid-1970s through the 1980s, including "Silver Streak” and "Stir Crazy". You can read more about the life and career of Gene Wilder in my previous post on "The Producers".
Along with its A1 screenplay and direction, there are many factors that make “Young Frankenstein” so solid, and a large one is its flawless cast. It’s one of the rare films where there isn’t a weak performance in sight – from Wilder down to the smallest bit player. The cast are all expert at comedy, parody, and keeping things real during all the mayhem, and that certainly includes Peter Boyle as “The Monster”. Through mostly grunts and eye movements, Boyle makes “The Monster” humorously come alive with personality, a mix of new born babe innocence (as when he stands for the first time), explosive danger (whenever he sees fire), and even a touching scene when he realizes he is good.
Born in Pennsylvania to Philadelphia TV personality and children's show host Francis Boyle, Peter Boyle wanted to be an actor. He moved to New York and studied acting with Uta Hagen, worked in theater and some TV commercials, and also studied improv at Chicago's Second City (in New York). His film career started with an uncredited role in 1966's "The Group", and in 1970 came his breakthrough starring as a bigoted murderer in the film "Joe". Leading and supporting roles followed in films such as "Crazy Joe", "The Candidate", "Slither", "The Friends Of Eddie Coyle", and "Young Frankenstein". Other films from his 40+ years in movies include "Taxi Driver", "Outland", "Hardcore", "Monster's Ball", "Malcolm X", "While You Were Sleeping", and "The in Crowd" in which he played a character based on his father. Boyle also began appearing on TV in the 1970s, and earned Ten Emmy Award nominations, including a win for his appearance on a 1988 episode of "The X-Files". Most famously, he costarred as "Frank Barone" in the sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond", which earned him seven of his Emmy nominations. He was married once until his death. Peter Boyle died in 2006 at the age of 71.
For the role of “The Monster”, Boyle wore padding under his clothes, six-inch platform shoes, and makeup that took four hours to apply. It was created by William Tuttle, one of cinema’s virtuoso makeup masters. Florida-born William Tuttle began as an assistant at Twentieth Century Fox, supervising the makeup on such classics as "The Wizard of Oz" and "Father of the Bride”. He later moved to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) where he worked for 35 years, over twenty of which were as head of the makeup department. Titles from the nearly 400 films and TV shows on which he beautified stars and created special effects makeup read like a greatest film list and include "Singin' in the Rain", "An American in Paris", "Show Boat", "Pat and Mike", "Million Dollar Mermaid", "The Band Wagon”, "Blackboard Jungle", "Forbidden Planet", "Lust for Life", "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof", "North by Northwest", "The Time Machine", "Viva Las Vegas", "The Twilight Zone", "Logan's Run”, and 1964's "7 Faces of Dr. Lao", which earned him an Honorary Academy Award for outstanding makeup achievement – before there was a Best Makeup Oscar category (A Best Makeup Oscar first appeared in 1981, and in 2012 became Best Makeup and Hairstyling). He was married five times, once to actress Donna Reed. William Tuttle died in 2007 at the age of 95.
Boyle and Wilder had the same agent, who asked Wilder if there were any parts in “Young Frankenstein” for two of his other clients – Boyle and Marty Feldman. And lucky for us, Wilder immediately thought of Boyle for “The Monster” and Feldman for the role of the hunchbacked “Igor”. And Feldman is fantastic in the role (Wilder wrote it with him in mind). His easygoing joking around, shifting hump, and of course, bulging eyes are unforgettable. Like everyone, Feldman has impeccable timing and delivery, and Brooks uses it to great effect, often having Feldman look and sometimes speak directly to the camera (as when he finds the correct brain at the Brain Depository). “Igor” is not the brightest of the bunch, and Feldman plays him in such a free and funny manner. He often improvised words or lines while filming, completely making the character his own, and Wilder called him “The heart and soul of the film”.
London born Marty Feldman suffered from thyroid disease and developed Graves' ophthalmopathy, which caused his eyes to misalign and protrude. While performing and following his dream of becoming a comedian, he met fellow performer Barry Took in 1954, and the two became writing partners, writing for British sitcoms and radio shows including "Boots and Snudge" in the early 1960s, and most famously for the BBC Radio comedy series "Round the Home" from 1964 to 1967. Feldman’s breakthrough as an actor came in the 1967 TV sketch comedy show "At Last the 1948 Show", and shortly after he starred in his own BBC show "Marty", earning him two BAFTA TV Awards. In 1971 he starred in "The Marty Feldman Comedy Machine" sketch comedy/variety series. His film debut was a small role in 1969's "The Bed Sitting Room", followed by a starring role in 1970's "Every Home Should Have One". His first Hollywood film was "Young Frankenstein", which made him internationally famous and jumpstarted his film career. He appeared in a dozen films, and others include "The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother" and Brook's 1976 comedy, "Silent Movie". Feldman directed (and starred in) two films, 1977's "The Last Remake of Beau Geste" and 1980's "In God We Trust (or Gimme That Prime Time Religion)". He was married once from 1959 until his death. Marty Feldman died of a heart attack in 1982 at the age of 48 during the making of his final film, 1983's "Yellowbeard".
Cloris Leachman is sheer perfection as “Frau Blücher”, the stern and mysteriously creepy housekeeper of the Transylvanian castle. She’s so unnerving that even the horses whinny at the mention of her name. And Leachman delivers he lines with such serous intention, it makes “Frau Blücher” laughably odd and entertaining. I especially love how she offers “Frederick” some bedtime drinks, using her body and eyes to comedic hilt, as she does in her scene on the stairs yelling “Yes! Yes! Yes!”. Leachman took inspiration for the role from the character of “Mrs. Danvers” in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rebecca” (also on this blog), and did her own makeup, including adding a “Danvers” mole on her chin. Reportedly, Wilder couldn’t help but laugh almost every time Leachman said a line, making her have to do retake after retake. She’s so great I only wish she was featured more in the film.
Iowa-born Cloris Leachman began appearing in plays in her teens. Crowned Miss Chicago in 1946, she went on to become a Miss America finalist, won a scholarship, and headed to New York City to study at the Actors Studio with Elia Kazan. After two understudy jobs, she made her Broadway debut in 1948's "Sundown Beach". While continuing work on Broadway (including appearing opposite Katharine Hepburn in 1950's "As You Like It"), Leachman began to work on TV in 1948, and appeared in 35 shows by 1960. After a bit part in the 1947 film "Carnegie Hall", came her official film debut in Robert Aldrich’s classic 1955 noir, "Kiss Me Deadly". While continuously working on TV (including a starring role in the first season of “Lassie”), she occasionally appeared in movies, and her performance in 1971's "The Last Picture Show" made her a star and earned her a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award. A prolific actress gifted at both comedy and drama (who never had qualms making herself look unattractive for a part), she appeared in over 280 films and TV shows, and her other films include "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid", "Lovers and Other Strangers", "The Muppet Movie", "The Longest Yard", "Bad Santa", "Spanglish", and as the voice of "Gran" in "The Croods". With "Young Frankenstein" she became part of Brooks' group of stock players, appearing in two more of his films, "High Anxiety" and "History of the World, Part I”.
Along with her Oscar-winning role and work with Brooks, Leachman is best known for her TV work, which includes starring and/or recurring roles in "The Mary Tyler Moore Show", "Phyllis", "The Facts of Life", Brook's "The Nut House”, "The Ellen Show", as "Ida Welker" in "Malcolm in the Middle", and as "Maw Maw" in "Raising Hope". She was also a hit in the 2008 season of "Dancing with the Stars”. Leachman's TV work earned her 22 Emmy Award nominations and 8 statues, making her the most nominated and (along with Julia Louis-Dreyfus) most awarded performer in Emmy history. I'm a huge fan, and met her three times, the first was not really a meeting but we passed each other at the Oscars and she stopped me, touched my clothes and said emphatically, "Nice vest!”. I was lucky to actually meet her on two subsequent occasions. Each time I was in heaven. She was married to producer George Englund for twenty-five years before getting a divorce. They had five children, all in the business, including Morgan Englund, who appeared for a decade on the daytime soap opera "Guiding Light". Cloris Leachman died in 2021 at the age of 94.
Teri Garr is tremendous as “Inga”, “Frederick’s” blonde lab assistant. Along with beauty and stupendous comedic timing, Garr brings a contagious warmth and naïveté that makes all the bawdy jokes (many of which she delivers) especially funny. Take her deadpan delivery to “Frederick” when we first see her in the back of the horse drawn wagon and she says, “Hello. Would you like to have a roll in the hay? It’s fun!”, and begins singing and rolling around in the hay with little girl glee. The part fits her perfectly as Garr excels at playing bubbly, ditzy, nervous type women. She actively listens to her fellow actors, even when not saying a word, and Brooks intersperses many of her expressive reactions throughout many scenes. Garr invented her own version of a German accent, which Brooks said helped her get the part, and which Wilder amusingly imitates from time to time in the film.
Ohio-born, California raised Teri Garr grew up with a vaudevillian/comedian/actor father and a dancer/Rockette/wardrobe mistress mother. As a young girl Garr studied ballet and dance, and dropped out of college to move to New York and study with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio. She began getting uncredited work primarily as a dancer in movies and TV shows starting with 1963’s "A Swingin' Affair”, and including six Elvis Presley films (such as "Viva Las Vegas" and "Kissin' Cousins"). In 1968 she began getting bigger parts, starting with a role on the original "Star Trek" TV series, and a speaking role in The Monkees' film “Head”. In 1972, she became a regular on "The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour". After a role in "The Conversation” came "Young Frankenstein", which was her breakthrough to stardom. Then came starring and large supporting roles in "Oh, God!", "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", "The Black Stallion", "One from the Heart", and 1982's "Tootsie", which earned her a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nomination (her only to date).
Garr has accrued 156 films and TV credits to date, and her other films include "Mr. Mom", "After Hours", "Let it Ride", "Ghost World", and "Dumb and Dumber". Her extensive TV work includes recurring roles on "The Bob Newhart Show", "McCloud", "Adventures in Wonderland", "Good Advice", "Women of the House", "Friends", and "Batman Beyond". While filming "Tootsie", Garr began experiencing health issues, and over a decade later was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Once she went public about her disease, Garr became a National Ambassador for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and National Chair for the Society's Women Against MS program (WAMS). She published her autobiography, "Speedbumps: Flooring It Through Hollywood" in 2006 and retired from acting in 2011 after appearing on an episode of "How to Marry a Billionaire". She briefly married once, and has one child, actress Molly O'Neill. As of the writing of this post, Teri Garr is 78 years old.
Playing "Inspector Kemp” is crackerjack actor Kenneth Mars. “Inspector Kemp” was based on Lionel Atwill's "Inspector Krogh” in 1939's "Son of Frankenstein”, who wears a monocle and has a gloved missing arm, and Mars took the character and ran with it, putting his monocle over an eye patch and having a wooden arm that doesn’t always bend properly. Mars makes “Kemp” arrogant and a bit devious (as seen in his very funny game of darts), with a thick accent that people hardly understand. It's a comic performance that only Mars could so humorously and expertly create. He previously worked with Brooks in “The Producers” as the very funny Nazi writer “Franz Liebkind”, and Brooks wanted Mars to play “Kemp”, stating “Anytime I need a crazy German, I knew I could count on Kenny Mars to be there”. Brooks adjusted the script to include Mars’ craziness. You can read more about the ever so talented Kenneth Mars in two previous posts, “What’s Up Doc?” and “The Producers”.
Another actor already on this blog is the sensational Madeline Kahn who plays “Elizabeth”, “Frederick’s” fiancée. As the somewhat snooty, part-vixen, part-tease socialite, Kahn brings consummate comedic delivery and timing, turning the role into yet another of the film’s tour de force portrayals. Watch how she holds herself even when sitting or lying down, putting her entire voice and body into the role, such as saying goodbye to “Frederick” at the train station or even just combing her hair in front of a mirror. Kahn previously appeared in Brook’s “Blazing Saddles” (and earned a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nomination for it), and Brooks recollects that he wrote “Elizabeth” with Kahn in mind. However, in interviews, Wilder recalls it differently, saying she was first offered the part of “Inga” but wanted to play "Elizabeth" instead. Either way, thank goodness it worked out as it did, for she is phenomenal. In case you were wondering, that is Kahn singing in the film (she began her career as an opera singer). You can read more about the amazing Madeline Kahn in my “What’s Up Doc?” post.
One more familiar face is Liam Dunn who plays “Mr. Hilltop”, the man who participates in “Frankenstein’s” classroom demonstration of reflexive and voluntary nerve impulses. Without saying a word, Dunn is hysterical. He previously worked with Brooks in “Blazing Saddles”, and while in “Young Frankenstein” was suffering from emphysema. According to Brooks, after every take they would ask him, ”Do you want orange juice or oxygen?", and Dunn would respond “I want a cigarette”. This very funny character actor also appeared in Brooks’ “Silent Movie”. Watchers of the films on this blog should recognize him from a standout role as “Judge Maxwell” in “What’s Up Doc?”, and you can read more about the life and career of Liam Dunn in my post on that comedy classic.
While “Young Frankenstein” was in preproduction, actor Gene Hackman was experiencing a career high, having been nominated for a Best Supporting Actor for 1970's "I Never Sang for My Father", taking home a Best Actor Academy Award for 1971's "The French Connection", and starring in two major hits, "The Poseidon Adventure" and "The Conversation". A friend of Wilder's, while the two were playing tennis, Hackman asked him what he was working on and Wilder mentioned "Young Frankenstein". Itching to do comedy, Hackman asked if there was a small part or walk-on for him, and Wilder thought of the blind man. Wilder and Brooks were beyond thrilled to get such a major star, and Hackman did the part for minor billing and less than his going-rate star salary. Because of his beard and wig, most audiences didn't realize it was Hackman until the end credits rolled. He subsequently appeared in many more comedic roles. You can read more about the great Gene Hackman in two previous posts, "The Poseidon Adventure" and "Bonnie and Clyde".
Also wonderful about “Young Frankenstein” is how the jokes and gags are supported by visually arresting visuals. The gorgeous lighting by Gerald Hirschfeld captures both the spookiness of horror and the lightness of comedy. You'll see it used to beautiful effect all throughout, especially in the laboratory scene when "Frederick" is trying to give "The Monster” life. And production designer Dale Hennesey’s sets stunningly epitomize those early horror classics in all their glory. He was even able to use the original laboratory equipment from the 1931 “Frankenstein” classic, designed by Kenneth Strickfaden. It had all been stored in Strickfaden’s garage and still worked.
Along with all the film's other superb elements is the sound by Richard Portman and Gene S. Cantamessain, with creaking doors, thunder, and a glorious array of other noises, each putting the final touches of realism into the film. Portman and Cantamessain shared a Best Sound Academy Award nomination for their creativity. And last but not least is the memorably haunting score by John Morris. Largely driven by violins, it is emotional, ethereal, and plays like a calming lullaby in the middle of all the madness.
Brooks developed a musical theater version of "Young Frankenstein", which opened on Broadway in 2007 and was nominated for three Tony Awards. I was lucky to see it shortly after it opened, and it was very, very fun.
Get ready to release a lot of endorphins, ease a little pain, and decrease your stress with some guttural laughter, for this week’s moving classic is riotous. Enjoy one of my favorites, “Young Frankenstein”!
This blog is a weekly series (currently biweekly) on all types of classic films from the silent era through the 1970s. It is designed to entertain and inform movie novices and lovers through watching one recommended classic film a week. The intent is that a love and deepened knowledge of cinema will evolve, along with a familiarity of important stars, directors, writers, the studio system, and a deeper understanding of cinema. I highly recommend visiting (or revisiting) the HOME page, which explains it all and provides a place where you can subscribe and get email notifications for every new post. Visit THE MOVIES page to see a list of all films currently on this site. Please leave comments, share this blog with family, friends, and on social media, and subscribe so you don’t miss a post. Thanks so much for reading!
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TO READ AFTER VIEWING (contains spoilers):
One joke in “Young Frankenstein”, which many may not get these days is when “Frederick” calls out to a shoeshine boy from a train window, “Pardon me boy, it this the Transylvania Station?”, and the boy replies, “Ya ya. Track 29. Oh, can I give you a shine?”.
That dialogue mimics a very famous 1941 Glen Miller big band swing hit song called “Chatanooga Choo Choo” (the first song to receive a gold record). The lyrics from the song are:
“Pardon me, boy
Is that the Chattanooga choo choo?
Yes yes, track twenty-nine
Boy, you can gimme a shine”
You can hear the song by clicking HERE, and those specific lyrics first appear at 2:57. It’s a completely random joke that is hysterical If you know the song!
As Elizabeth falls in love with “The Monster” her hair begins to get white streaks in it, and once they marry it turns into the same famous hairstyle as that of the female monster in “The Bride of Frankenstein”. Just another of the fun odes to Whale’s classics.
Wilder and Brooks had only one fight while making “Young Frankenstein”, over what became the film’s most famous scene, the “Puttin’ on the Ritz” musical number. Wilder wrote it and Brooks wanted it out, feeling it was too absurd and wouldn’t fit with the rest of the film. With tempers flying, Wilder got Brooks to agree to film it and show it to an audience and see their reactions. Needless to say it stayed in the film. Brooks told Wilder he was right and it may be one of the best things in the movie, and later said in his autobiography, “I have never been so wrong in my life”. This rendition of the 1929 Irving Berlin song is so sidesplitting, AFI named it the 89th Greatest Song in American Movies.