Looking Back…Young Frankenstein (1974)

Does anyone else ever have a fear of going back to watch old comedies and not enjoying them? Let me explain; I’m 19, so the comedy that I’ve grown up with is what we’ll call “Apatow-influenced”. In other words, raunchy comedies frequently centred on average looking men navigating awkward and uncomfortable lives with lots of swearing, sex, and the same group of actors bunched together every time. You know, Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride etc. all of those guys coming together to smoke weed. While Judd Apatow is perhaps the defining contributor to this style of comedy, he’s not the only person to do it, and it’s debatable that he started the trend.

That’s not to say that these films aren’t funny, but they’re a far cry from comedy of the 70s and before, and that’s the comedy that I’ve become accustomed to, which is why I’m often willing to forgive most Seth Rogen vehicles.  So when it comes to watching a classic comedy, I’m always scared that the humour is going to appear as dated or just go straight over my head. It’s mostly the fact that I’ve never enjoyed Monty Python that’s put me in this mindset, but despite approaching it with caution, I was blown away by just how funny Young Frankenstein was.

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Frederick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) is a scientist trying to escape the shadow of his infamous grandfather, but is soon swayed to his ancestor’s insanity when he inherits his grandfather’s castle, and discovers the secret to re-animating human bodies.

Young Frankenstein is a comedic masterpiece; just an absolute laugh riot and never lets up, and understands it’s source material so well. This is a parody film, and where nowadays with stuck with rubbish like Epic Movie, Disaster Movie, Meet the Spartans etc., that simply churn out cheap, unfunny gags to exploit the popularity of the year’s biggest films, Young Frankenstein has a deep appreciation for what it’s mocking. It understands every trope it plays on, and while the film is funny on it’s own, it’s definitely enriched by having an understanding yourself of what it’s based on. Not too long after seeing this, I would go on to watch the first four Universal Frankenstein  films, and I’d finish everyone now understanding a joke in Young Frankenstein better. The best parody by far the is scene with the blind hermit, ripped straight from Bride of Frankenstein, which is utter genius.

A huge part of what makes this film is the cast; the late Gene Wilder is here at his absolute best. Over the top, excited, and with impeccable comedic timing, he absolutely lights up the screen and solidifies himself as a comedy legend. Peter Boyle’s interpretation of the Monster is a perfect play on infamous beast, and Marty Feldman as bug eyed Igor is the perfect sidekick to Wilder’s lead. Beyond that, it’s the sheer insanity of the film’s humour, the quick wit and clever puns, and all the horror cliches. It all works so well, from it’s recurring jokes that never fail (“Frau Blucher!”), it’s slapstick gags, and it’s clear abandonment of normality make it one of the absolute best comedies of all time.

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If you can make it to a screening, make it an absolute priority. If you can’t, then it’s available on Netflix UK for your home viewing pleasure. Just make sure you get round to this masterpiece.

Young Frankenstein hits cinemas this evening! 

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