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'Young Frankenstein' is both a zany comedy and a cinematic tour de force. It has all the usual--and in this case slightly unusual--suspects: the reluctant scientist Frederick Frankenstein, who is actually the grandson of the infamous creature-creator (pronounced "Fronken-steen", his spoiled fiancé, Igor the pop-eyed hunchback, his dizzy assistant, the castle's hideous head housekeeper, and, of course, the Monster.
For more about Young Frankenstein and the Young Frankenstein Blu-ray release, see Young Frankenstein Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on November 13, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman, Teri Garr, Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman
Director: Mel Brooks
» See full cast & crew
Young Frankenstein Blu-ray Review
Blu-ray sparks new life into 'Young Frankenstein.'
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, November 13, 2008
Young Frankenstein is proof-positive that they just don't make 'em like they used to, but then again, there is only one Mel Brooks (Spaceballs). The famed comedian/writer/actor/producer/director's Hollywood career spans some 40 years, his movies entertaining audiences since his 1968 debut and breakthrough comedy hit The Producers earned him an Oscar and propelled him to the top of the comedy scene. That film also earned Brooks favorite Gene Wilder (Stir Crazy) an Oscar nod for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. The comedy duo's collaborations on The Producers, Blazing Saddles, and, of course, Young Frankenstein is the stuff of Hollywood legend, the three films not only representing Brooks and Wilder at the top of their games, but also representing three shining examples of the Comedy genre at its best. Young Frankenstein remains today a classic of monstrous proportions, its throwback (even for the 1970s) look and feel anything but abnormal, its laughs still tickling the funny bone like an electric current, leaving audiences humped over in stitches.
Dr. Frankenstein (Wilder) is a professor of anatomy trying to distance himself from a grandfather known far and wide for being a fringe scientist, robbing graves in an attempt to re-animate dead tissue. When he receives word that he has inherited the Frankenstein estate in Transylvania, the professor travels to Europe where he is met by a humpbacked servant named Igor (Marty Feldman) and a beautiful personal assistant by the name of Inga (Terri Garr, Close Encounters of the Third Kind). Soon, Dr. Frankenstein becomes familiar with his grandfather's work and manages to re-animate the corpse of a recently departed larger-than-life individual (played by Peter Boyle), but with an "abnormal" brain inserted into the cranium thanks to Igor's mishap at the local brain depository. The abomination is capable of little more than walking and mumbling, certainly not the creation Dr. Frankenstein had in mind. Meanwhile, the locals become outraged as they learn this unholy work has one again been undertaken, and with the help of local inspector Kemp (Kenneth Mars), they set out to destroy the monster, Frankenstein, and the secret laboratory once and for all.
Before Young Frankenstein is past its title sequence, movie fans, particularly those who treasure the classic black-and-white horror films of the 1930s, realize they are in for a treat. The choice to shoot Young Frankenstein in black-and-white film stock and give to it a nostalgic look and feel that allows it to nestle in with films shot while Mel Brooks was still in elementary school proved to be a stroke of genius. The simple combination of just the right somber music, throwback colorless photography, large-lettered titles, and a static shot of a creepy Transylvanian castle atop a steep mountain with only a single, winding road leading to it creates a sense of excitement and anticipation as the film already takes on notes of a classic in the making, a sequence as seemingly inconsequential as this lifting the spirits in preparation for what is to come. What is so amazing about it is just how perfectly it fits the mood of the rest of the film. Young Frankenstein is not slapstick comedy; it does not make use of gross-out humor; there are few direct moments of comedy. The levity of the film stems from its seriousness, the seemingly normal characters, and the dark, somewhat frightening, foreboding locations. What makes the comedy work is that there is generally something only ever-so-slightly off. A few alterations and Young Frankenstein could work nicely as a stand alone spook movie. Instead, like any good parody, it takes it source material seriously and adds in something just out of the ordinary that transforms the scene from serious to hilarious. Brooks is a master of the art form; like Blazing Saddles and Spaceballs, for example, he takes a classic theme, genre, or story and molds it just so to retain a seriousness about its characters and drama, but certain elements are exaggerated and lines of dialogue adjusted ever-so-slightly (while relying on the comic timing of the actors) to add a comedic twist that results in a laugh-a-minute movie. Young Frankenstein is Brooks at his best, all of the elements lining up just so to create an enduring comedic classic that hasn't lost it touch in its 34 years, perhaps today overshadowed by the deluge of cheap comedy and parody, but certainly not bested.
Like any well-scripted comedy, from Animal House to The Blues Brothers, Young Frankenstein relies on the delivery and timing of its actors to seal the deal and sell the material, and this entire ensemble nails the finest nuances of the film's Oscar-nominated screenplay. Gene Wilder, one of the greatest comedians of the past several decades, delivers what may very well be the defining performance of his career. His portrayal of Dr. Frankenstein never disappoints, his character's serious intentions and deeds overshadowed by the routine comedic overtones that accompany him. His delivery flawless, his look appropriately clean yet somewhat disheveled, his timing impeccable, Wilder sets a standard for deadpan comedy throughout Young Frankenstein. Marty Feldman plays his character, Igor, with a childlike enthusiasm, the wide-eyed (a condition inherent to Feldman), humpbacked, goofy character comic relief in a film packed to the brim with comedic undertones. Teri Garr, too, delivers a memorable performance as Inga, Frankenstein's assigned Transylvanian assistant who serves not only as eye candy but is also another character that serves up several great comedic sequences. Kenneth Mars' performance as inspector Kemp, the foil to the Frankenstein monster despite himself being a patchwork individual with a stiff wooden arm and an eyepatch, delivers his thickly-accented dialogue and accentuated movements perfectly. Last but certainly no least, Peter Boyle serves up the best Frankenstein cinema has ever seen outside of Boris Karloff. Whether moaning and groaning as hot soup is poured on his lap by a blind hermit (portrayed by Gene Hackman) or donning a tuxedo and top hat as he dances the night away with Dr. Frankenstein, Boyle's portrayal of the monster is exemplary.
Young Frankenstein Blu-ray, Video Quality
Young Frankenstein reanimates on Blu-ray in a handsome 1080p, 1.85:1-framed transfer. The black-and-white imagery is nothing short of beautiful, and Blu-ray definitely brings out the very best of this transfer. The film's heavy grain structure is left intact here, and it helps to add an authentic, classic, film-like look to the transfer. Detail is very nice; the classroom scene that opens the film showcases nice depth in addition to detail. The clothing, chalkboard, and desks all offer a nice appearance. Likewise, the fine attention to detail and the texture of the Frankenstein castle walls look marvelous, and the secret laboratory's equipment appears larger than life, crude, but nevertheless a series of fine looking props that shines on the disc. The film exhibits the occasional spot and speckle on the print, but nothing that draws attention away from the overall quality of the image or the look and feel of the film. Blacks are deep and dark, shadows used to nice effect in several scenes, and some dark corners of the frame in select shots look fantastic. The image is sharp and clear, never all that soft. Young Frankenstein is a fine example of how a classic film can look on Blu-ray, in this case a superbly-rendered black-and-white masterpiece. 20th Century Fox has proven capable of releasing stunning transfers of the classic films in their library, with recent examples being Planet of the Apes and The Omen. Young Frankenstein is no exception.
Young Frankenstein Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Presented with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack in addition to the original monaural soundtrack, Young Frankenstein sounds just fine on Blu-ray, faithful to the original source and never creating a false, over-exaggerated mix that fails to mesh with the content of the film. Focused up the middle and rarely spreading out much further, and especially not into the rears, the audio has a nice classic sound about it. Perhaps just a bit too loud at reference volume, as demonstrated during the opening music in particular, the track is nevertheless robust but not exhilarating. Dialogue is strong and clear. Sound effects are never overbearing or juiced up, just as they were meant to be. The first time Frankenstein ascends to the top of the laboratory in an attempt to bring the monster to life serves as a fine example. The lossless track builds on the mono track, providing more clarity and precision, but not necessarily heads-and-shoulders superiority.
Young Frankenstein Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Young Frankenstein energizes viewers with a plethora of bonus materials. A commentary track with director Mel Brooks is first. Though he meanders a bit at the beginning, splitting stories between Columbia Pictures' reluctance to give the film the budget it needed and Fox's willingness to support the necessary budget, recounting the cast and crew, and discussing the origins of the idea, the track remains enjoyable. He goes on to discuss the shooting process and visual style of the film, offer stories pertaining to the background of the cast and crew, and the careful planning and attention to detail that went into each and every scene. Brooks' affable, easygoing style and passion for the project make this a track that flows well and is infinitely listenable, the track a must-listen for fans of the film. Inside the Lab: Secret Formulas in the Making of 'Young Frankenstein' is a BonusView-enabled (Blu-ray profile 1.1) feature. The feature begins with Mel Brooks discussing the power of Blu-ray and how it makes him look "beautiful" now, as opposed to how he looked like "Quasimodo" in standard definition. The color picture-in-picture track goes on to discuss the influences on the film, parallels between Young Frankenstein and the trio of Frankenstein films from the 1930s, the performances of the cast, the old tradition of angry villagers with torches and pitchforks storming the castle, and more. For viewers without a profile 1.1 player, Fox has once again provided the eleven segments separately, presented in 480p, for playback on any Blu-ray player. A series of seven deleted scenes (480p, 16:27) are next. It's Alive! Creating a Monster Classic (1080i, 31:16) is a well-paced look at the making of Young Frankenstein, examining the origins of the film (including going back to the original Mary Shelley text for inspiration), the growth of the cast and crew over the course of the production, some of the on-screen improvisations, the amazing sets, and more.
Making FrankenSense of Young Frankenstein (480p, 41:52) features a heavy dose of Gene Wilder, intercut with several other participants, discussing the origins of the project, writing a detailed script, assembling the film's stellar cast, shooting in black-and-white, the look and feel of the sets and finding the right lighting scheme, the strengths Mel Brooks brought to the film, creating the film's special effects, and plenty of other material. Transylvanian Lullaby: The Music of John Morris (1080i, 10:29) is a look at the film's memorable score and the man who wrote it. The Franken~Track: A Monstrous Conglomeration of Trivia is a basic pop-up trivia track that appears intermittently, offers up fun facts about the film, and is best watched at the same time as the audio commentary track. Blücher Button is simply a gag supplement. When selected, the disc remains on the main menu and the neighing horse sound effect plays, a gag utilized several times throughout the film when the name Frau Blücher is spoken. A series of outtakes (480p, 5:01) are next. The disc also contains an isolated score, presented in lossless DTS 5.1. Mexican Interviews is a series of two interviews in a mixture of Spanish and English, the first with Marty Feldman (480p, 3:45) and the second with Gene Wilder and Cloris Leachman (480p, 2:53). A massive series of production photographs (480p, 36:15), a series of TV spots (480p, 3:21), and five trailers (480p, 7:07) conclude the supplements.
Young Frankenstein Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Young Frankenstein is a fine example of Mel Brooks' comedic genius. The film is a wonderful parody of classic monster movies, shot with black-and-white film stock, taking its musical cues, sound effects, and dialogue patterns straight out of the 1930s fright flicks, resulting in an undeniable classic of the Comedy genre. Featuring a cast that, from top to bottom, understands the film's intent and the importance of comedic timing, Young Frankenstein remains a hallmark of Comedy, continues to be recognized for its simple, easygoing approach to parody filmmaking, and only gets better with repeat viewings. 20th Century Fox's Blu-ray release of Young Frankenstein is equally impressive. Featuring a strong video presentation that remains true to the intent of the film, including an abundance of film grain, a center-focused lossless soundtrack, and wide array of bonus materials, Young Frankenstein is a disc that is worth owning. Highly recommended!
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• Today on Blu-ray - October 7th - October 7, 2008
Since the early days of the format, Disney has been at the forefront of Blu-ray support, ensuring that consumers were able to purchase the best high definition home theater experience possible. Their critically acclaimed releases for films such as 'Pirates of the ...
• Fox Confirms Young Frankenstein; Announces Specs - July 24, 2008
Fox Home Entertainment has confirmed earlier retailer reports that they will bring the Mel Brooks' comedy classic 'Young Frankenstein' to Blu-ray on October 7th. They promises this disc will be one of the most advanced Blu-ray titles to come from the studio yet, ...
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