AFI Movie Club: YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN – American Film Institute
Young Frankenstein Film Still - Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle



YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN is ranked by AFI as one of the funniest in cinematic history. Directed by AFI Life Achievement recipient Mel Brooks, this iconic comedy features an unforgettable sequence in which Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle perform the duet “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” which AFI ranked as #89 on the list of greatest movie songs ever.


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Watch Emma Thompson announce YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN:


DID YOU KNOW? In their desire to have YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN resemble films of the 1920s and 1930s, the filmmakers used many cinematic techniques, lighting styles and transitional devices – such as iris dissolves – that were popular during that era.

DID YOU KNOW? Kenneth Strickfaden, the electrical special effects expert on FRANKENSTEIN, served as a technical consultant on YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN – reassembling the laboratory equipment he used in the original film from pieces that he had stored in his garage, in addition to creating new electrical devices for the film.

DID YOU KNOW? Sets from old movies were used during filming of YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, including the railroad station from the 1942 film RANDOM HARVEST. The sequence depicting the villagers storming the castle was shot on a set used in the 1962 production of THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF THE BROTHERS GRIMM.

DID YOU KNOW? According to Gene Wilder, he and Mel Brooks only argued once in their lives – over the film’s iconic “Puttin’ on the Ritz” number. Brooks thought it was frivolous but Wilder disagreed. After twenty minutes of arguing about it, Brooks stopped the conversation and agreed to put the scene in the movie. Brooks said if Wilder was willing to fight so hard to keep the scene, then there had to be something to it, and it should be in the movie.

DID YOU KNOW? Teri Garr auditioned with 500 other women vying for the role of the fiancée, Elizabeth. According to Garr, Brooks told her he found her funny, but that he had decided to cast Madeline Kahn in the role. He would eventually offer her the part of Inga, the lab assistant – which became Garr’s first major role in Hollywood.

DID YOU KNOW? The shifting hump on Igor’s back was improvised by actor Marty Feldman. He had been shifting the thing back and forth for several days as a joke before cast members finally noticed. After it was noticed, it was added into the script.

DID YOU KNOW? Mel Brooks was nominated for two Academy Awards® at the 1975 ceremony for different films. Brooks was nominated with Gene Wilder for writing YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, and he was also nominated for writing the title song of his other 1974 masterpiece BLAZING SADDLES.

DID YOU KNOW? In 2007, “The New Mel Brooks Musical: Young Frankenstein” opened on Broadway. The stage musical was based on Brooks’ and Gene Wilder’s story and was written by Brooks and Thomas Meehan, with music and lyrics by Brooks.

DID YOU KNOW? Teri Garr based Inga’s heavy German accent in YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN on Cher’s German hairstylist Renata whom she met on THE SONNY AND CHER COMEDY HOUR.

DID YOU KNOW? At the 1975 Golden Globe Awards, Cloris Leachman was nominated for Best Lead Actress in a Comedy/Musical, while Madeline Kahn was nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN.

Learn more at the AFI Catalog

The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

-What is your favorite Mel Brooks movie?

-What is your favorite line or scene from YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN?

-Is it essential to have seen any of the classic Universal monster movies from which YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN draws its primary inspiration? How does it enrich the viewing experience by knowing the original references?

– Why do you think director Mel Brooks was so adamant about shooting in black and white? What effect does this have on the final film? How did making the film in black and white enhance the movie watching experience?

-How is YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN a genre mashup of horror and satirical comedy?

-Mel Brooks worked with the same stable of actors in many of his films. Which stars do you recognize from his other pictures and what is it about them that made their collaborations so legendary?

-What running gags are used throughout YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN? How does Mel Brooks incorporate them into his other films?

– Why does Frederick not want to be associated with his own family?

– How does the monster go from being monstrous to being civilized?

-How does the pathos of the source material affect how the comedy unfolds?

– How would you rate YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN

Watch Teri Garr talk about making YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN in this exclusive AFI Archive clip:


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