Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
USA, 1974. Gruskoff/Venture Films, Crossbow Productions, Jouer Limited. Screenplay by Mel Brooks, Gene Wilder, based on the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Cinematography by Gerald Hirschfeld. Produced by Michael Gruskoff. Music by John Morris. Production Design by Dale Hennesy. Costume Design by Dorothy Jeakins. Film Editing by John C. Howard.
This exceptional comedy is the best film that Mel Brooks has ever made (how many spoofs do you know that have received Academy Award nominations for writing?) It’s a terrific send-up of old Universal horror films, with Gene Wilder as Frankenstein’s grandson, a scientist who tires of having his students constantly ask him about his ancestor’s work (he pronounces it FrankenSTEEN in an effort to distance himself from his family shame). After he inherits the family castle and moves in with his very strange assistant (Marty Feldman) and creepy housekeeper (Cloris Leachman), he rediscovers all of the first Dr. Frankenstein’s work and starts to get interested in resurrecting it. The result is a monster in the shape of Peter Boyle, a creature who can’t speak but can play the violin like a pro and dances up a storm to “Puttin’ On The Ritz” (one of the film’s funniest sequences). Madeline Kahn is a riot as Wilder’s fiance Elizabeth, and Teri Garr delightful as the sexy housemaid. The laughs never stop, and the cinematography and costumes are gorgeous.
Academy Award Nominations: Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Sound
Golden Globe Award Nominations: Best Actress-Musical/Comedy (Cloris Leachman); Best Supporting Actress (Madeline Kahn)