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Young Frankenstein

"Young Frankenstein" on DVD

Mel Brooks' Monster Hit

20th Century Fox video has done an excellent job of adapting this "monster hit," one of Mel Brooks' best offerings, to the DVD medium, with lots of extra stuff added.

Despite the liner's claim that "Young Frankenstein" is "the funniest comedy of all time," however, Brooks' 1974 black and white classic doesn't seem as funny today as it did on its original release. That said, however, it's still a relative hoot - full of the type of performances, lines and gags one expects from Mel Brooks. And that, at worst, translates to an enjoyable couple of hours in the home theater.

Gene Wilder, who conceived the project and co-wrote the screenplay, stars as the grandson of the infamous monster creator Dr. Frankenstein. He inherits the not-so-good doctor's estate and, almost by osmosis, falls under the spell of his grandfather's life work and finally reproduces his studies into the reanimation of dead matter.

Not that the reanimation of the dead matter...

Peter Boyle plays the monster with a sympathetic touch reminiscent of Karloff's original portrayal - yet not without its share of yuks. Teri Garr, as Wilder's lab assistant, Marty Feldman as the hunchback Igor, and Cloris Leachman as - well, the "mysterious housekeeper" all turn in fine comedic performances - mostly by playing things straight. Madeline Kahn is also along for the ride as Wilder's finance Elizabeth - not a major role, but she makes her presence felt.

We seem to remember laughing at this movie a lot more when it was newer, but that didn't prevent us from enjoying the special edition DVD. Overall, Brooks, along with his cast and crew, have done a good job at sending up a classic movie genre (which seems to be that for which Brooks movies are most well known), not only via the performances and screenplay but through cinematography, music, sets, etc.

Besides the widescreen movie, which has monaural sound (but directed to the main front speakers), you get plenty of extras to sweeten the deal. There's a separate audio track on which director Brooks prattles on in his inimitable style about the movie, the production, and the people in it. It gives some nifty insight into how this man's mind works.

There's also a "making of documentary" that contains as many genuine belly laughs as the movie itself, a series of productions stills, Mexican TV interviews (you have to see them!), TV commercials and theatrical trailers - and a set of deleted scenes. Oh, yeah, there's also a short series of outtakes, most of which - perhaps not surprisingly - end with various cast members breaking up on camera.

Audio and video quality are great - and the black and white images are razor sharp.

Young Frankenstein, from 20th Century Fox Home Video
1062 minutes, Widescreen (1.85:1), Dolby Digital Mono
Starring Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman, Cloris Leachman and Teri Garr.
Produced by Michael Gruskoff, Screen Story and Screenplay by Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks
Directed by Mel Brooks


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Updated May 13, 2006