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Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> August 1999 >> Young Frankenstein
I've seen Young Frankenstein referred to as the best Mel Brooks movie. I'm not 100% sure I agree, but it's certainly a treat. Released in the same year as Blazing Saddles, Brooks's Western satire, Young Frankenstein is his mocking of the classic monster films. From the violin-heavy recording of the John Morris score to the primitive nature of the segues, the tone is recreated wonderfully.
Gene Wilder is really a terrific actor. There are few elements in common among his three roles in Brooks's movies. He was slightly stupored as The Waco Kid in Blazing Saddles. He was a nervous wreck as Milo Bloom in The Producers. Here, he has a gleam in his eye that projects "Mad Scientist" better than any maniacal laugh. It helps that his mustache and hair combine a little to make him look like Eric Idle, who's certainly known for zany characters.
Good heavens! It's the father from "Everybody Loves Raymond"! I knew I recognized Peter Boyle from somewhere, but it took the IMDB to tell me where. And then there's Kenneth Mars, the crazy playwrite from The Producers. His physical comedy with the mechanical arm is excellent. Of course, the joke would be lost without the sound effects, but he still has to make it look plausible.
One odd departure from most Brooks films is his absence. He's supposedly the voice of an off-screen cat, but that hardly counts. Looking back on it, Brooks is best on screen as a major character, as in High Anxiety. Perhaps, than, this minimal cameo is one of his best.