The moment, when it comes, has the inevitability of comic genius. Young Victor Frankenstein, grandson of the count who started it all, returns by rail to his ancestral home. As the train pulls into the station, he spots a kid on the platform, lowers the window and asks, “Pardon me, boy; is this the Transylvania Station?”.
It is, and Mel Brooks is home with Young Frankenstein, his most disciplined and visually inventive film (it also happens to be very funny). […] In his two best comedies, before this, The Producers and Blazing Saddles, Brooks revealed a rare comic anarchy. His movies weren’t just funny, they were aggressive and subversive, making us laugh even when we really should have been offended. (Explaining this process, Brooks once loftily declared, “My movies rise below vulgarity.”). Young Frankenstein is as funny as we expect a Mel Brooks comedy to be, but it’s more than that: it shows artistic growth and a more sure-handed control of the material by a director who once seemed willing to do literally anything for a laugh. It’s more confident and less breathless.
That’s partly because the very genre he’s satirizing gives him a strong narrative he can play against. Brooks’s targets are James Whale’s Frankenstein (1931) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935), the first the most influential and the second probably the best of the 1930s Hollywood horror movies. Brooks uses carefully controlled black-and-white photography that catches the feel of the earlier films. He uses old-fashioned visual devices and obvious special effects (the train ride is a study in manufactured studio scenes). He adjusts the music to the right degree of squeakiness. And he even rented the original Frankenstein laboratory, with its zaps of electricity, high-voltage special effects, and elevator platform to intercept lightning bolts.
So the movie is a send-up of a style and not just of the material […]. From its opening title (which manages to satirize Frankenstein and Citizen Kane at the same time) to its closing, uh, refrain, Young Frankenstein is not only a Mel Brooks movie but also a loving commentary on our love-hate affairs with monsters. This time, the monster even gets to have a little love-hate affair of his own.
Roger Ebert, “Chicago Sun-Times”, 1 January 1974
Cast and Credits
Sog.: ispirato ai personaggi del romanzo Frankenstein di Mary Shelley. Scen.: Gene Wilder, Mel Brooks. F.: Gerald Hirschfeld. M.: John Howard. Scgf.: Dale Hennesy. Mus.: John Morris. Int.: Gene Wilder (Dr. Frederick Frankenstein), Peter Boyle (la creatura), Marty Feldman (Igor), Madeline Kahn (Elizabeth), Cloris Leachman (Frau Blücher), Teri Garr (Inga), Kenneth Mars (ispettore Kemp), Gene Hackman (eremita cieco). Prod.: Michael Gruskoff per Gruskoff-Venture, Crossbow, Jouer. DCP 4K. D.: 106’. Bn.
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