I couldn’t resist tacking this onto the Universal Monsters collection because it’s such a brilliant and affectionate parody of the Frankenstein movies.
Doctor Frederick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) is a lecturer at an American medical school and engaged to a stuck-up socialite named Elizabeth (Madeline Khan). He tries to hide his relationship to his infamous grandfather Victor Frankenstein, but when he inherits the Frankenstein Castle in Transylvania, he goes to inspect the property. He is met at the train station by the hunchbacked family servant Igor (Marty Feldman) and meets a beautiful young assistant named Inga (Teri Garr).
He also meets Frau Blucher (Cloris Leachman), the housekeeper. He discovers the secret entrance to his grandfather’s laboratory and reads his journals and decides to try to repeat the Frankenstein experiments. He and Igor steal a corpse and he sends Igor to steal the fine brain of the deceased scientist and saint Hans Delbruck, but Igor drops the brain and takes one labeled Abnormal.
During a lightning storm, they bring the creature to life, which almost strangles Frederick before it can be sedated. The townspeople are not happy to have a Frankenstein in residence again and Inspector Kemp (Kenneth Mars), the one-eyed unintelligibly German police officer with the prosthetic arm, visits the castle. Frau Blucher frees the monster, who loves violin music, and she reveals her affair with Frederick’s grandfather. The creature becomes frightened and escapes the castle.
After meeting a young girl (Anne Beesley) and a blind hermit (Gene Hackman), the monster is captured by Frederick and locked in a room. He cures the creature of his monstrous behavior by teaching it to sing in a top hat and tails, but it is frightened by an exploding light and enraged by the vegetable-tossing audience and is chained up by the police. Back in the castle, Frederick and Inger get it on.
Frederick’s fiancée arrives and the escaped monster takes her captive. She falls in love with his enormous schwanzstucker. He is lured back to the castle by Frederick playing the violin. Before the mob storms the laboratory, Frederick transfers some of his intellect to the monster, who talks the mob out of destroying him. Elizabeth, now with full Bride of Frankenstein hair, marries the now-erudite monster, and Inga, in bed with Frederick, finds out what he got out of the switch.
The screenplay was co-written by director Mel Brooks and star Gene Wilder and is chock full of references to four Frankenstein movies of Universal Studios in the 1930s. It was filmed in black and white with a score by John Morris. It has appeared on several lists of the funniest movies of all time and is now in the Library of Congress. It was nominated for two Oscars and later became a musical. It still holds 94% approval on Rotten Tomatoes and got top stars from Roger Ebert. When Mel brooks learned that Ken Strickfaden was still alive, he visited him and found that he had the original Frankenstein laboratory equipment he’d designed in his garage. Brooks used it and gave Strickland the credit he never got from the Frankenstein production.
Marty Feldman had been shifting Igor’s hump from one side of his back to the other for days before it was noticed and put in the script. Gene Hackman played the blind hermit for free, just to do a comedy. One of the actors playing a villager was actually named Clement von Frankenstein and was a descendant of that house, whose name had been used by Mary Shelley. Teri Garr based her German accent on Cher’s wigmaker. Puttin’ on the Ritz used Irving Berlin’s revised lyrics of 1946 instead of the racist original lyrics. Tim and Greg Hildebrandt created a poster for Young Frankenstein which was not used but led to their being chosen for their famous Star Wars poster.