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20th Century Fox presents
Young Frankenstein (1974)

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Igor, would you give me a hand with the bags?
Igor: Certainly, you take the blonde and I'll take the one in the turban.

- (Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman)

Review By: Rich Rosell  
Published: April 14, 2006

Stars: Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Peter Boyle, Madeline Kahn
Other Stars: Cloris Leachman, Teri Garr, Kenneth Mars, Gene Hackman
Director: Mel Brooks

MPAA Rating: PG for (double entendres)
Run Time: 01h:45m:32s
Release Date: April 04, 2006
UPC: 024543167495
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A+ AB-B B-

DVD Review

For my money this 1974 Brooks film is his most comedically fluid and complete, a careful and lovingly constructed homage to James Whale-era Universal horror that doesn't just look the part, it delivers the laughs, and by the boatload.

Gene Wilder is the brilliant surgeon Dr. Frederick Frankenstein—the grandson of the original and more infamous Dr, Victor Frankenstein—and no matter how hard he tries to live down the family name (insisting on pronouncing it "Fronkenstein"), it's inevitable he ends up in a castle in Transylvania building a man made out of cobbled dead body parts, played with lurching menace and occasional tap-dance ready shuffle by Peter Boyle. It's a melding of the familiar Mary Shelley mythos, borrowing heavily from those early 1930s film adaptations with an unabashed layer of some of Brooks' strongest funny bits.

And I think why I love this film so much is that Brooks doesn't just try to make a Frankenstein picture, but that he obviously took great pains to get the look down just right, and part of what makes this more than just a great comedy is the attention to detail in the set design. The lab sets in particular look magnificent and shadowy, as if James Whale just wandered off the lot somewhere between takes, and when you marry that with some memorable comic dialogue that there really isn't much here for me to not like.

It's the way that Brooks has crafted this one that pushes it to the top of his catalog, from the period-perfect Gerald Hirschfeld cinematography that captures that old school Universal/James Whale feel to what is probably Gene Wilder's most spot-on comedic performance as the tormented doc. The gags hit their mark consistently here, something that Brooks sometimes has trouble with when he has opted for a quantity-over-quality approach to filmmaking, and the writing does a lovely job poking fun at classic horror with setups that never telegraph a punchline too far ahead of time. The level of parody, such as when the monster stumbles across the blind hermit (Gene Hackman), reinvents that very iconic and classic movie moment into something just as memorable, so much so that it's literally impossible for me to watch the original Frankenstein and/or The Bride of Frankenstein and NOT be reminded of this Brooks film.

The Brooks boxset catches the director at his manic best, and though wildly divergent in laugh consistency and style, each film does hold its own special zany Mel touch, but in my estimation they're just runner-ups to something as timeless as Young Frankenstein.

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: This is the same mediocre nonanamorphic 1.85:1 print found on an earlier DVD release—despite the promise of it being anamorphic on the backcover—and as a result the level of detail is still a bit soft. Greys and blacks look effectively vintage, but the overall presentation is peppered with more than a few instances of dirt and specking.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, French, Spanishno

Audio Transfer Review: Audio is presented in 2.0 mono, available in English, French or Spanish. Voice quality is clear, with no negligible hiss, and the attempt to replicate the flatness and general fidelity of a period film is admirable.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
4 Original Trailer(s)
3 TV Spots/Teasers
7 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
2 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Mel Brooks
Packaging: Scanavo
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: As with the image and audio transfers, the extras hold the exact same content found on a previous release.

A predictably wacky Brooks commentary leads the charge, followed closely by Making Frankensense of Young Frankenstein (41m:40s), a clips-and-interviews piece that is well worth a viewing if you haven't yet seen it. There's a tolerable outtakes reel, a set of seven fairly unfunny deleted scenes prove that things cut are often cut for a reason, and then Mexican Interviews goes in a weird direction, with Feldman, Leachman and Wilder answering questions from a Spanish-speaking interviewer. A set of production photographs and an assortment of trailers/TV spots round out the supplements.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

I'm an old softie for the glory days of Universal horror, so this perfectly-executed comic homage from Brooks still holds a spot as probably my favorite film of his. The cast fires on all comedic cylinders, especially Wilder and Feldman, and if nothing else the film looks like vintage James Whale.

This may a questionable nonanamorphic print, but the film itself is classic.


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