Filmsite Movie Review
Young Frankenstein (1974)
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The Story (continued)

Young Frankenstein (1974)After a diagonal wipe, Dr. Frankenstein was shown to the master bedroom - just inside the doorway was a framed portrait of the Baron himself, closely resembling Frederick. Frau Blucher proudly announced: "It was your grandfather Victor's room." The bed chamber was lined with lots of candles and bookcases - it was his medical library. Dr. Frankenstein inquired: "And where is my grandfather's private library?" but was told there was only one library. He had to correct her about the pronunciation of his name when she called him "Dr. Frankenstone." She asked if he wanted a brandy before retiring - when he declined, she offered two alternatives: "Some varm milk, perhaps?...Ovaltine?" After sashaying back and forth a few times, she bid him goodnight, and then as she left the room, she kissed the Baron's portrait: "Good night, darling."

That night as Dr. Frankenstein restlessly slept on silk sheets in his grandfather's four poster bed surrounded by heavy drapes, he protested vehemently:

"I'm not a Frankenstein. I am not a Frankenstein. I'm a Fronk-en-steen. Don't give me that! I don't believe in fate! And I won't say it. All right, you win. You win. I give. I'll say it. I'll say it, I'll say it. (rhythmically) Destiny! Destiny! No escaping that for me. Destiny! Destiny! No escaping that for me. Destiny. Destiny... No escaping..."

A shadow appeared over him - it was Inga wearing a low-cut night-gown, and urging him to wake up, because he was having a "nachtmare." Then he heard some strange violin music that seemed to be coming from behind the bookcase. He put on his robe and went over to the wall of books, and began to look for the source of the music ("Where is it?..There's always a device. If I can just spot the triggering mechanism..."). When he asked her to hand him a candle from its sconce - the actual triggering device - the entire bookcase rotated or swung around, and he found himself on the other side of the wall from Inga and his bedroom. He instructed her precisely:

Put - the candle - back!

After she obeyed, the bookcase swung around 360 degrees, before he figured it out and again told her: "Take out the candle and I'll block the bookcase with my body." As expected, the bookcase crashed into him when he tried to stop its rotation. With a high-pitched voice because he was being crushed, he told her: "Don't put the candle back. With all of your might, shove against the other side of the bookcase. Is that perfectly clear?" She made a run at the other end of the bookcase and extracted him, but disappeared behind the wall. From behind the bookcase, he heard her plaintive request: "Put ze candle back." He realized that he could control the bookcase's movements by adjusting the candle in its sconce. Once she was recovered and the bookcase was half-opened, a secret passageway was revealed.

Once they decided to explore, the doctor wisely removed a different second candle to light their way as they proceeded down the opening to locate the source of the music. Lightning crackled as they started down a winding, descending stone staircase covered in cobwebs, when Inga screamed at a screeching "filthy, slimy rat." They pushed open a heavy, creaking door (the doorknob crumbled in his hand) and entered a small ante-room. Their candle illuminated a human skull on a shelf, labeled 3 Years Dead. Dr. Frankenstein exclaimed: "Good Lord!" Next to it was another more deformed skull, labeled 2 Years Dead, and a third labeled 6 Months Dead. The fourth head belonged to Igor, and was labeled: Freshly Dead. Igor ghoulishly howled, "Aiiiiii!", then started singing:

Ain't got no body
And nobody cares for me.
Yakka tak ta, yakka tak ta ha.

He had entered the room from the kitchen above via the dumbwaiter when he "heard the strangest music." He joked: "Call it - a hunch!" (pointed at his back), and then added emphasis: "Badoom-chi!" Inga brightly deduced: "There must have been someone else down here." The trio entered the only other door into another dark room. Dr. Frankenstein flipped the first "nasty-looking" light switch that caused sparks and flashes of current. The second lit up the entire room - it revealed the infamous laboratory of the legendary Dr. Victor Frankenstein! ("So this is where it all happened").

The camera panned left to view complicated-looking, cob-web covered machines (with wiring, large tubes, switches and dials). In voice-over, Victor's echoing voice (uncredited director Mel Brooks) returned from the past:

Victor: "Just think. A dead brain ready to live again in a new body. Look. No blood, no decomposition. Just a few sutures. Throw the main switch!"
Assistant: "Yes, master."

Dr. Frankenstein bitterly complained: "What a filthy mess!" Igor disagreed: "I dunno. A little paint, a few flowers, couple of throw pillows..." The mysterious sound of violins had disappeared, although Dr. Frankenstein pointed at light he saw coming from under a door that was ajar at the other end of the laboratory. Beyond the door, they discovered a discarded violin and bow resting on a table next to an ashtray with a smoldering cigar. He asked himself: "What is this place?" Igor answered: "Music room?" Inga observed: "But there's nothing here but books and papers." Dr. Frankenstein concluded: "It is! This is my grandfather's private library. I feel it." He picked up a large volume, titled: "HOW I DID IT, by Victor Frankenstein." Lightning ominously struck again. It was his grandfather's private journal-diary.

In the next scene, Dr. Frankenstein breathlessly read aloud passages from the tome for many hours, with bored Inga and Igor slumped over and half-asleep next to him:

"...until, from the midst of this darkness, a sudden light broke in upon me. A light so brilliant and wondrous, and yet so simple. Change the poles from plus to minus and from minus to plus. I alone succeeded in discovering the secret of bestowing life. Nay, even more, I myself became capable of bestowing animation upon lifeless matter."

A crazed look came over Frankenstein as he was inspired to finish his ancestor's mad work to create life: "It could work." Lightning crackled in the sky. The light lit up the pleased face of the Baron's upstairs portrait.

In the immense dining room of the castle during an evening meal, Dr. Frankenstein resumed reading from the book: ""As the minuteness of the parts formed a hindrance to my speed, I resolved therefore to make the creature of a gigantic stature." He mused to himself about creating a Frankenstein monster:

Dr. Frankenstein: "Of course. That would simplify everything. In other words, his veins, his feet, his hands, his organs would all have to be increased in size."
Inga: "In other words, his veins, his feet, his hands, his organs would all have to be increased in size."
Dr. Frankenstein: "Exactly."
Inga: (with eyes widened) "He would have an enormous schwanzstucker."
Dr. Frankenstein: "That goes without saying."
Inga: "Woof."
Igor: "He's gonna be very popular."
Dr. Frankenstein: "So then. What we're aiming for is a being approximately seven feet in height, with all features either congenitally or artificially proportionate in size."

Igor held up a sketch on a drawing pad and asked: "Something like this?" Frankenstein was intrigued: "You've caught something there. Crude, yes, primitive, yes. Perhaps even grotesque, yet something inexplicable tells me that this might be our man." The swinging of the paper hung by a nail dissolved into another swinging figure. On the outskirts of the village during a rainy night, a gallows held the hanging (and swinging) black-hooded body of an executed criminal. In a nearby church cemetery graveyard, two gravediggers (Monte Landis, Rusty Blitz) prepared a gravesite, as Dr. Frankenstein and Igor watched from behind an iron gate. After the diggers left, they began to exhume the recently-buried wooden coffin, shoveling dirt knee-deep and complaining: "What a filthy job!" Igor was upbeat: "Could be worse...Could be raining" - and then it began to pour.

They placed the heavy coffin on a cart and began to haul it back to the castle. In town on the rough cobblestone streets, the cart hit an obstacle and the coffin crashed to the ground. The coffin was damaged and coming apart, with the stiff arm of the corpse protruding from one side. The voice of a patrolling Constable Henry (Dale Johnson) asked: "Need a hand?" Backed up next to the cart, Dr. Frankenstein saw that the body's arm stuck out from his cape as if it was his own arm, and he replied: "Uh, no, thanks. Have one. Thanks very much all the same." When the Constable asked the doctor to identify himself, Frankenstein stated he was newly arrived from America, and then turned to shake hands - with the corpse's cold right hand. The Constable reacted: "Why you're chilled to the bone, sir!"

In the castle's laboratory, the body was placed on an operating table - viewed feet first, as Frankenstein admired the magnificent body:

"Oh, what an awesome sight! What a profound and reverent night is this. With such a specimen for a body, all we need now is an equally magnificent brain."

Igor (with a noticeably shifting hump) was instructed to retrieve a brain, and had inked the man's name to remember on his hand: "H. Delbruck."

The brain of Hans Delbruck was on deposit for future transplants in the BRAIN DEPOSITARY of the village hospital. Wording on the door instructed: AFTER 5:00 PM SLIP BRAINS THROUGH SLOT IN DOOR. Igor opened the locked door by sticking his hand through the 'brain-slot', and after exploring inside, he located a shelf with numerous domed glass jars, each labeled. He spotted the jar holding the brain of deceased "Hans Delbruck SCIENTIST & SAINT." He lifted the glass jar from the shelf holding the scientist's cerebral cortex, but as he turned, lightning struck and he was spooked by his own full-length mirror image (of a black-caped hunchback). Startled, he dropped the jar and the brain crashed to the floor. He turned and snatched one of two other glass jars - the one labeled: "DO NOT USE THIS BRAIN! - ABNORMAL."

Back in the laboratory, a hulking clothed figure was supine on the operating table (viewed from his two giant pair of shoes upward), with steel straps across his width. The Monster's (Peter Boyle) face had thick protruding eye sockets and 'stitch' marks (the 'abnormal' brain had been implanted with a zipper closure). Inga was scared: "He's hideous," but Frankenstein proudly thought otherwise: "He's beautiful. And he is mine." Igor was on the castle's roof during another thunderstorm, tying up a kite to capture an electrical charge - a technique described in Victor's journal notes. [Note: The scene also paid homage to the legend of Benjamin Franklin harnessing electricity.] Frankenstein warned: "There's a possibility of electrocution." Igor was instructed to "check the generator" (he flipped some gauge dials), and to "release the safety valve on the main wheel." The moment came for the excited Frankenstein (with Inga's hand-holding assistance) to issue a sexual double-entendre command: "Elevate me." She thought he was asking for sex, but she misinterpreted - and he repeated: "Raise the platform."

With Igor and Inga on either side of a giant wheel that would turn and elevate the table, Frankenstein prayed over the corpse with an incantation:

From that fateful day when stinking bits of slime first crawled from the sea and shouted to the cold stars: 'I am man', our greatest dread has always been the knowledge of our own mortality. But tonight we shall have hurled the gauntlet of science into the frightful face of death itself! Tonight, we shall ascend into the heavens. We shall mock the earthquake. We shall command the thunders! And penetrate into the very womb of impervious nature herself.

After his assistants turned the wheel, and the table elevated toward the open-roof skylight (with the doctor and body both aboard), he commanded them (with a bellowing voice from above) to throw the three switches. As the switches were activated by Igor, flashing and arcing currents penetrated the corpse through connected wires, bubbles rose in vacuum tubes, and electrical sparks signaled short-circuits. The wild-eyed Frankenstein monitored the experiment with huge goggles and a stethoscope, and madly shouted out to the heavens:

Life. Life, do you hear me? Give my creation life!

Although lightning crackled, the reanimation of life proved to be a failure, and Frankenstein ordered the platform to be lowered and the switches disengaged. The wheel was turned in the opposite direction and the operating table was brought down. Smoke fizzled from the electrical contacts, and the corpse remained lifeless. He pounded on the creature's chest but to no avail. Disappointed, Frankenstein nonetheless regained his composure: "Be of good cheer. If science teaches us anything, it teaches us to accept our failures as well as our successes with quiet dignity and grace."

But then he turned to rage at the monster. He pounded on the body and began strangling it: "Son of a bitch, bastard. I'll get you for this. What did you do to me?" Inga pleaded to stop hurting the lifeless creature: "Stop it, you'll kill him." Frankenstein shrieked: "I don't want to live! I do not want to live....Ohh, Mama!" as Igor sarcastically commented to the audience (breaking the fourth wall: "Quiet dignity and grace") and the raving doctor was dragged away.

In the next scene, a meeting was being held in the village's hall among the town's uneasy elders. One of the residents made some "very serious charges" and denounced the newly-arrived scientist, Dr. Frankenstein:

He's a Frankenstein! And they're all alike...It's in their blood. They can't help it. All those scientists, they're all alike. They say they're working for us. What they really want is to rule the world.

One of the elders uneasily recalled many versions of the Frankenstein story: "We still have nightmares from five times before." [Note: The reference was to the many Frankenstein films that had come before, from Universal Pictures. See "Background."]

Police Inspector Kemp (Kenneth Mars) was called upon as the "most qualified to judge this situation fairly." In the back of the meeting hall, Kemp was recognized - he was a uniformed, one-eyed (with a monocle worn over his eye patch), side-burned, police official with a prosthetic (wooden) right arm, that he dipped into a fire to light his cigarette. His thick German accent made his speech almost non-understandable:

A riot is an ugly thing, und once you get one started, there is little chance of stopping it short of bloodshed. I think before we go around killing people, we had better make damn sure of our evidence. Und, we had better confirm the fact that young Frankenstein is indeed vollowing in his grandfather's footschtops!...I think what is in order is for me to pay a little visit on the good doctor und to have a nice, quiet chat.

An iris-in and iris-out returned to the castle, where a morose and subdued Dr. Frankenstein sat without eating at his huge dining-room table, sorrowful with Inga about his destroyed "reputation." Igor recalled similar situations in his own childhood: "I'll never forget my old dad. When these things would happen to him, the things he'd say to me....'What the hell are you doin' in the bathroom day and night? Why don't ya get outta there and give someone else a chance?'" Dr. Frankenstein thought maybe it was better the way things turned out:

The poor lifeless hulk. Maybe it is better off dead.

Simultaneously in the laboratory, the fingers of the Monster's right hand began to twitch, and he moaned with a humming sound: "Mmmmmm." The groan was heard by Frankenstein and misinterpreted as a "yummy sound" coming from Igor as they were enjoying a dessert of Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte. All three suddenly realized that the sounds were coming from the laboratory, and after rushing there, they discovered the Monster alive and straining against the table's steel bands. Dr. Frankenstein shouted triumphantly: "Alive. It's alive. It's alive!"

[Note: These were the exact oft-quoted words of Dr. Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) in Frankenstein (1931).]

The doctor then spoke to his stunned creation: "Hello there. I'm going to set you free." Dr. Frankenstein asked of his two assistants to be prepared with a syringe: "Is the sedative ready?" The doctor freed the Monster from its iron straps and then coaxed the creature to slowly sit up, get off the table, and walk forward: "I want you to sit up. Stand on your feet. You can do it. Now walk." The doctor held out his hands to steady the first primitive movements of his child-like creature.

But then, it violently reacted to Igor's nervously-struck lighted match, and lunged forward to put its giant hands around Dr. Frankenstein's throat. As he struggled and was unable to speak while being choked, Frankenstein was able to shout out: "Give him the --- " but was forced to act out the three syllable word "Sed-A-Tive" (as in a game of charades), in order to have them calm down the Monster with an injection of a sedative in his butt to make him unconscious.

Then while exercising extreme control, Dr. Frankenstein (after promising he wouldn't get angry if given an honest answer) learned from Igor that he was mistakenly given - not the brain of Hans Delbruck, but of "Abby someone...Abby Normal." Anger slow-burned within Frankenstein before he shrieked and reacted hysterically:

"Are you saying that I put an abnormal brain into a seven-and-a-half-foot-long, 54 inch-wide gorilla?! (He lunged at Igor and grabbed him by the throat) Is that what you're telling me?"

Igor began shouting to Inga: "Quick, give him the --- " and the game of charades started again. But game-play was interrupted by the loud knocking of Inspector Kemp at the castle door. Inga raced to answer the door, while Igor tightly strapped the unconscious Monster back onto the operating table.

During a chat and game of darts between Kemp and Frankenstein in the living room before a fireplace, the doctor scoffed about the superstitous rumors surrounding his arrival:

"Ha! Monsters!..This is the 20th century, Kemp. Monsters are passé like ghosts and goblins...I wouldn't think an intelligent fellow like you would fall for all this superstitious rot."

Along with the villagers, Kemp (after cheating at darts when Frankenstein's back was turned, and using his wooden arm as a dart-holder) said that they had to worry - not about superstition, but about "genes und chromosomes...this is Transylvania. Und you are a Frankenstein!" - Kemp blamed the doctor's entire lineage. Frankenstein - although upset every time Kemp raised his voice (causing wildly thrown darts - into a window and at a cat) assured Kemp that he had no interest in continuing the work of his grandfather. Kemp mistook the Monster's off-screen "Mmmmmmm" as a yes. Outside as the Inspector's chauffeured limousine pulled away, the tires were entirely flat due to darts sticking in them.

Frau Blucher came upon the Monster who had regained consciousness, but was strapped onto the laboratory table. She promised to free the Monster, for Victor's sake: "Oh, Victor. Victor! We have done it. I'm going to set you free. Would you like that, meine Seuchekopf?...They wanted to hurt you. But I'm going to help you." She was caught releasing the iron bands holding the Monster down, and warned by Dr. Frankenstein: "Are you insane? He'll kill you." She disagreed: "He is as gentle as a lamb" as the Monster lurched forward. Frankenstein frantically explained:

Frankenstein: "For the love of God, he has a rotten brain."
Frau Blucher: "It's not rotten. It's a good brain."
Frankenstein: "It's rotten, I tell you. Rotten."
Igor: (in Pig-Latin) "Ix-nay on the otten-ray."
Frau Blucher: "I am not afraid. I know what he likes."
Frankenstein: "That music."
Frau Blucher: "Yes. It's in your blood. It's in the blood of all Frankensteins. It reaches the soul when words are useless. Your grandfather used to play it to the creature he was making."

She calmed the threatening Monster by playing violin music - a melancholy Transylvanian lullaby that soothed the Monster's rage and had a mesmerizing effect. Everyone realized that Frau Blucher had played the music in the middle of the night to lure them into the laboratory and Victor's private library, where she left both her smoldering cigar and Victor's journal for them to find. The old crone also confessed that she had a romantic relationship with Victor: "He was my boyfriend!" Her shrieking caused the Monster to back up into electrical equipment where a switch was thrown and he became startled and enraged by sparks. He fled from the room and crashed through an outer door, as Frau Blucher jubilantly screamed: "You'll never catch him now. He's free!" The Monster staggered out of the castle, as Dr. Frankenstein yelled to the heavens:

"Gone! Gone! We've got to find him, do you understand? We've got to find him before he kills someone. What have I done? Oh, God in heaven. What have I done?"

In unison, Frankenstein, Inga, and Igor touched a trembling hand to their mouths.

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