Young Frankenstein
Theatrical release poster by John Alvin
Directed byMel Brooks
Written by
Based onFrankenstein
1818 novel
by Mary Shelley
Produced byMichael Gruskoff
CinematographyGerald Hirschfeld
Edited byJohn C. Howard
Music byJohn Morris
  • Gruskoff/Venture Films
  • Crossbow Productions, Inc.
  • Jouer Limited[1]
Distributed by20th Century-Fox
Release date
  • December 15, 1974 (1974-12-15)
Running time
105 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$2.78 million[2]
Box office$86.2 million[3]

Young Frankenstein is a 1974 American comedy horror film directed by Mel Brooks. The screenplay was co-written by Brooks and Gene Wilder. Wilder also starred in the lead role as the title character, a descendant of the infamous Dr. Victor Frankenstein. Peter Boyle portrayed the monster.[4] The film co-stars Teri Garr, Cloris Leachman, Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, Kenneth Mars, Richard Haydn, and Gene Hackman.

The film is a parody of the classic horror film genre, in particular the various film adaptations of Mary Shelley's 1818 novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus produced by Universal Pictures in the 1930s.[5] Much of the lab equipment used as props was created by Kenneth Strickfaden for the 1931 film Frankenstein.[6] To help evoke the atmosphere of the earlier films, Brooks shot the picture entirely in black and white, a rarity in the 1970s, and employed 1930s-style opening credits and scene transitions such as iris outs, wipes, and fades to black. The film also features a period score by Brooks' longtime composer John Morris.

A critical and commercial success, Young Frankenstein ranks No. 28 on Total Film magazine's readers' "List of the 50 Greatest Comedy Films of All Time",[7] No. 56 on Bravo's list of the "100 Funniest Movies",[8] and No. 13 on the American Film Institute's list of the 100 funniest American movies.[9] In 2003, it was deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" by the United States National Film Preservation Board, and selected for preservation in the Library of Congress National Film Registry.[10][11] It was later adapted by Brooks and Thomas Meehan as a stage musical. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Adapted Screenplay (for Wilder and Brooks) and Best Sound.

In 2014, the year of its 40th anniversary, Brooks considered it by far his finest (although not his funniest) film as a writer-director.[12]


Dr. Frederick Frankenstein is a lecturing physician at an American medical school and engaged to Elizabeth, a socialite. He becomes exasperated when anyone brings up the subject of his grandfather Victor Frankenstein, the infamous mad scientist with whom he does not want to be associated, and insists that his surname is pronounced "Fronkensteen".[13] When a solicitor informs him that he has inherited his family's estate in Transylvania after the death of his great-grandfather, the Baron Beaufort von Frankenstein, Frederick travels to Europe to inspect the property.

At the Transylvania train station, Frederick is met by a hunchbacked, bug-eyed servant named Igor, whose own grandfather worked for Victor; and a beautiful, young, female assistant named Inga. Hearing that the professor pronounces his name "Fronkensteen", Igor insists that his name is pronounced "Eyegor", rather than the traditional "Eegor".

Arriving at the estate, Frederick meets Frau Blücher, the intimidating housekeeper. After discovering the secret entrance to Victor's laboratory and reading his private journals, he decides to resume his grandfather's experiments in re-animating the dead.

Frederick and Igor steal the corpse of a recently executed criminal, and he sets to work experimenting on the large corpse. He sends Igor to steal the brain of a deceased "scientist and saint" named Hans Delbrück. Startled by his own reflection and the sound of thunder, Igor drops and ruins Delbrück's brain. Taking a second brain labeled "Abnormal", he returns with it and Frederick transplants it into the corpse, thinking he has transplanted Delbrück's brain.

Frederick brings the Monster to life by electrical charges during a lightning storm. It takes its first steps, but, frightened by Igor lighting a match, he attacks Frederick and nearly strangles him before he is sedated.

Unaware of the Monster's existence, the townspeople gather to discuss their unease at Frederick continuing his grandfather's work. Inspector Kemp, a one-eyed police inspector with a prosthetic arm, whose German accent is so thick that even his own countrymen cannot understand him,[14] proposes to visit the doctor, whereupon he demands assurance that Frankenstein will not create another Monster.

Returning to the lab, Frederick discovers Blücher setting the creature free. She reveals the Monster's love of violin music and her own romantic relationship with Frederick's grandfather. The Monster is enraged by sparks from a thrown switch and escapes the castle.

While roaming the countryside, the monster has encounters with a young girl and a blind hermit.[a] Frederick recaptures the monster and locks himself in a room with him. He calms the Monster's homicidal tendencies with flattery and a promise to guide him to success, embracing his heritage as a Frankenstein.

At a theater full of illustrious guests, Frederick shows "The Creature" following simple commands. The demonstration continues with Frederick and the Monster, both in top hats and tuxedos, performing the musical number "Puttin' On the Ritz". A stage light suddenly explodes and frightens the Monster, interrupting the performance. The audience boo and throw vegetables at the Monster, who becomes enraged and charges into the audience, where he is captured and chained by police. Back in the laboratory, Inga attempts to comfort Frederick and they have sex on the suspended reanimation table.

The monster escapes from prison the same night that Elizabeth arrives unexpectedly for a visit. The monster takes her captive as he flees. Elizabeth falls in love with the monster due to his "enormous Schwanzstucker".[16] While the townspeople hunt for the Monster, Frederick plays the violin to lure his creation back to the castle and recaptures him.

Just as the Kemp-led mob storms the laboratory, Frankenstein transfers some of his stabilizing intellect to the Monster who reasons with and placates the mob. After properly welcoming the Monster with his prosthetic accidentally getting pulled out, Kemp then takes the mob members back to his place for a little sponge cake and a little wine while taking a detour to the lumber mill.

Sometime later, Frederick and Inga are married. With Elizabeth's hair in a new style,[b] she marries the now erudite and sophisticated Monster. While in bed with Frederick, Inga asks what her new husband got in return during the transfer procedure. Frederick growls wordlessly like the monster and embraces Inga who, as Elizabeth did when abducted by the monster, begins singing the refrain "Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life" as Igor plays music from atop the castle.[17]


The rest of the cast is listed on screen in opening credits under "with":


In a 2010 interview with Los Angeles Times, Mel Brooks discussed how the film came about:

"I was in the middle of shooting the last few weeks of Blazing Saddles somewhere in the Antelope Valley, and Gene Wilder and I were having a cup of coffee and he said, I have this idea that there could be another Frankenstein. I said, "Not another! We've had the son of, the cousin of, the brother-in-law. We don't need another Frankenstein." His idea was very simple: What if the grandson of Dr. Frankenstein wanted nothing to do with the family whatsoever. He was ashamed of those wackos. I said, "That's funny."[20]

In one of the scenes of a village assembly, one of the authority figures says that he already knows what Frankenstein is up to based on five previous experiences. This is a reference to the first five Universal films.[21] In a Gene Wilder DVD interview, he says the film is based on Frankenstein (1931), The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Son of Frankenstein (1939) and The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942).

In a 2016 interview with Creative Screenwriting, Brooks elaborated on the writing process. He recalled,

"Little by little, every night, Gene and I met at his bungalow at the Bel Air Hotel. We ordered a pot of Earl Grey tea coupled with a container of cream and a small kettle of brown sugar cubes. To go with it we had a pack of British digestive biscuits. And step-by-step, ever so cautiously, we proceeded on a dark narrow twisting path to the eventual screenplay in which good sense and caution are thrown out the window and madness ensues".[22]

Brooks and Wilder disagreed over the sequence where Frankenstein and his creation perform "Puttin' on the Ritz". Brooks felt it was too silly to have the monster sing and dance, but eventually yielded to Wilder's arguments.[5][20]

Unlike in many of his other films, Brooks does not appear onscreen in a significant role in Young Frankenstein, though he recorded several voice parts and portrays a German villager in one short scene. In 2012, Brooks explained why:

I wasn't allowed to be in it. That was the deal Gene Wilder had. He [said], "If you're not in it, I'll do it." [Laughs.] He [said], "You have a way of breaking the fourth wall, whether you want to or not. I just want to keep it. I don't want too much to be, you know, a wink at the audience. I love the script." He wrote the script with me. That was the deal. So I wasn't in it, and he did it.[23]

Brooks and producer Michael Gruskoff originally agreed a deal with Columbia Pictures but Columbia would not agree to a budget of more than $1.75 million whereas Brooks wanted at least $2.3 million. Columbia also was not happy making it in black and white, so Brooks and Gruskoff instead went to 20th Century-Fox for distribution when they agreed to a higher budget.[21][24]

Principal photography began on February 19, 1974, and wrapped on May 3, 1974.[25] To recreate the visual style of the original Universal horror films, Brooks shot in black-and-white, employed vintage-style opening credits, used wipes and irises for scene transitions, and even used the original Kenneth Strickfaden lab equipment from the 1931 Frankenstein.[5]

Marty Feldman added a comic twist to his character, by deliberately swapping which side the hump on his back was located; when Doctor Frankenstein asks him about it, Igor replies simply: "What hump?" Wilder wrote the role specially for Feldman.[26]


Young Frankenstein was a box office success upon release. The film grossed $86.2 million on a $2.78 million budget.[3]

Young Frankenstein received acclaim from critics and currently holds a 95% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 73 reviews, with an average rating of 8.60/10. The consensus reads, "Made with obvious affection for the original, Young Frankenstein is a riotously silly spoof featuring a fantastic performance by Gene Wilder."[27]

Vincent Canby of The New York Times called the film "Mel Brooks' funniest, most cohesive comedy to date," adding, "It would be misleading to describe 'Young Frankenstein,' written by Mr. Wilder and Mr. Brooks, as astoundingly witty, but it's a great deal of low fun of the sort that Mr. Brooks specializes in."[28] Roger Ebert gave the film a full four stars, calling it Brooks' "most disciplined and visually inventive film (it also happens to be very funny)."[29] Gene Siskel gave the film three stars out of four and wrote, "Part homage and part send-up, 'Young Frankenstein' is very funny in its best moments, but they're all too infrequent."[30] Variety declared, "The screen needs one outrageously funny Mel Brooks film each year, and Young Frankenstein is an excellent followup for the enormous audiences that howled for much of 1974 at Blazing Saddles.'"[31]

Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times praised the film as "a likable, unpredictable blending of slapstick and sentiment."[32]
Gary Arnold of The Washington Post, who disliked Blazing Saddles, reported being "equally untickled" with Young Frankenstein and wrote that "Wilder and Brooks haven't dreamed up a funny plot. They simply rely on the old movie plots to get them through a rambling collection of scene parodies and a more or less constant stream of puns, double entendres and other verbal rib-pokers and thigh-slappers."[33] Tom Milne of the UK's The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote in a mixed review that "all too often Brooks resorts to the most clichéd sort of Carry On smut" and criticized Marty Feldman's "grotesquely unfunny mugging," but praised a couple of sequences (the flower-throwing scene and the Monster's encounter with the blind man) as "very close to brilliance" and called Peter Boyle as the Monster "one of the undiluted pleasures of the film (and the only actor ever to suggest that he might play the part as well as Karloff)."[34]

In his book Comedy-Horror Films: A Chronological History, 1914–2008, Bruce G. Hallenbeck lauded many of Young Frankenstein's scenes as classic comedy moments, and also praised the attention to detail the film shows in paying heartfelt homage to the classic horror films it references. He summed up that "Young Frankenstein is a movie for film buffs, but written, directed and performed in such a way that average Joes and Josephines can enjoy it just as much for its outrageous and wacky humor."[5]

"Walk this way"

Igor's line "Walk this way" in the film inspired the song of the same name by Aerosmith.[35] According to Gene Wilder, the joke was added while shooting the scene by Mel Brooks, inspired by the old "talcum powder" joke.[36] A partially contradictory account appears in eyE Marty, Feldman's posthumously published autobiography: Feldman recalls spontaneously doing the "walk this way" shtick to make his colleagues laugh, with Brooks then insisting, despite Wilder's and Feldman's reservations, that it stay in the film.[37]

Home media

Young Frankenstein became available on DVD on November 3, 1998.[38] The film was then released on DVD for the second time on September 5, 2006.[39] The film was then released on DVD for the third time on September 9, 2014, as a 40th anniversary edition along with a Blu-ray release.[40]

Musical adaptation

Main article: Young Frankenstein (musical)

Brooks adapted the film into a musical of the same name which premiered in Seattle at the Paramount Theatre and ran from August 7 to September 1, 2007.[41] The musical opened on Broadway at the Lyric Theatre (then the Hilton Theatre) on November 8, 2007, and closed on January 4, 2009. It was nominated for three Tony Awards, and starred Roger Bart, Sutton Foster, Shuler Hensley, Megan Mullally, Christopher Fitzgerald, and Andrea Martin.[42]

The musical version was to be used as the basis of a live broadcast event on the ABC network in the last quarter of 2020, with Brooks producing, but was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[43]



Other honors

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

See also


  1. ^ These encounters are references to 1931's Frankenstein and 1935's Bride of Frankenstein, respectively.[15]
  2. ^ Elizabeth's hairstyle is the same hairstyle sported by the titular character in Bride of Frankenstein.


  1. ^ "Young Frankenstein". American Film Institute. Archived from the original on February 24, 2021. Retrieved July 8, 2019.
  2. ^ Solomon, Aubrey (1989). Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History. The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. p. 257. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1.
  3. ^ a b "Box Office Information for Young Frankenstein". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on January 29, 2012. Retrieved January 17, 2012.
  4. ^ "Young Frankenstein". GetBack Movie. Archived from the original on 2008-10-04.
  5. ^ a b c d Hallenbeck, Bruce G. (2009). Comedy-Horror Films: A Chronological History, 1914–2008. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland. pp. 105–109. ISBN 978-0-78-643332-2.
  6. ^ Picart, Caroline Joan (2003). Remaking the Frankenstein Myth on Film: Between Laughter and Horror. Albany, N.Y.: SUNY Press. p. 52. ISBN 0-79-145770-2.
  7. ^ "Film & Movie Comedy Classics". Archived from the original on 19 October 2008. Retrieved December 16, 2008.
  8. ^ "Bravo's 100 Funniest Movies". Bravo. Published by Lists of Bests. Archived from the original on April 5, 2010. Retrieved November 21, 2010.
  9. ^ "AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Laughs". American Film Institute. Archived from the original on June 9, 2015. Retrieved November 21, 2010.
  10. ^ "Complete National Film Registry Listing". Library of Congress. Archived from the original on 2016-10-31. Retrieved 2020-05-15.
  11. ^ "Librarian of Congress Adds 25 Films to National Film Registry". Library of Congress. Archived from the original on 2020-02-22. Retrieved 2020-05-15.
  12. ^ King, Susan (September 9, 2014). "'Young Frankenstein' has new life on 40th anniversary". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on November 12, 2020. Retrieved February 18, 2020. 'Young Frankenstein' is "by far the best movie I ever made. Not the funniest — 'Blazing Saddles' was the funniest, and hot on its heels would be 'The Producers.' But as a writer-director, it is by far my finest.
  13. ^ Picart (2003), p. 46.
  14. ^ Barnes, Mike (February 14, 2011). "Kenneth Mars, 'Young Frankenstein' Actor, Dies at 75". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on October 17, 2018. Retrieved October 16, 2018.
  15. ^ Picart (2003), p. 54.
  16. ^ Hallenbeck (2009), p. 108.
  17. ^ Picart (2003), p. 61.
  18. ^ Molinari, Matteo; Kamm, Jim (October 1, 2002). OOPS! They Did It Again!: More Movie Mistakes That Made the Cut. Google Books: Citadel. ISBN 978-0806523200. Archived from the original on March 26, 2019. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  19. ^ Joe Robberson (October 28, 2014). "20 Things You Didn't Know About 'Young Frankenstein'". Zimbio. Livingly Media. Archived from the original on September 20, 2018. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  20. ^ a b Lacher, Irene (August 1, 2010). "The Sunday Conversation: Mel Brooks on his 'Young Frankenstein' musical". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2019-02-20. Retrieved November 8, 2010.
  21. ^ a b Young Frankenstein – Mel Brooks Audio Commentary (DVD).
  22. ^ Swinson, Brock (January 14, 2016). "Mel Brooks on Screenwriting". Creative Screenwriting. Archived from the original on January 21, 2016. Retrieved January 21, 2016.
  23. ^ Heisler, Steve (December 13, 2012). "Mel Brooks on how to play Hitler, and how he almost died making Spaceballs". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on September 28, 2013. Retrieved February 18, 2020.
  24. ^ Brooks, Mel (2021). All About Me!. Century. pp. 232–233. ISBN 978-1-529-13507-7.
  25. ^ "From the Archives: On the set of 'Young Frankenstein'". Los Angeles Times. 31 October 2018. Archived from the original on 2019-11-01. Retrieved 2019-11-01.
  26. ^ "Marty Feldman: Six Degrees of Separation". BBC Two. 13 August 2011. Archived from the original on 25 April 2016. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  27. ^ "Young Frankenstein". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 2017-11-26. Retrieved June 30, 2024.
  28. ^ Canby, Vincent (December 16, 1974). "'Young Frankenstein' a Monster Riot". The New York Times. p. 48. Retrieved September 6, 2020.
  29. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Young Frankenstein". Archived from the original on December 30, 2018. Retrieved December 5, 2018.
  30. ^ Siskel, Gene (December 25, 1974). "'Young Frankenstein': Fitfully funny". Chicago Tribune. Section 4, p. 7.
  31. ^ "Film Reviews: Young Frankenstein". Variety. December 18, 1974. 13.
  32. ^ Champlin, Charles (December 18, 1974). "Portrait of a Young Monster". Los Angeles Times. Part IV, p. 1.
  33. ^ Arnold, Gary (December 21, 1974). "Monstrous Spoof". The Washington Post D1, D5.
  34. ^ Milne, Tom (April 1975). "Young Frankenstein". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 42 (495): 90–91.
  35. ^ Sarah Rodman. Walk their way Archived 2007-09-28 at the Wayback Machine. July 28, 2003.
  36. ^ Kiss Me Like A Stranger: My Search for Love and Art Archived 2017-03-23 at the Wayback Machine, p. 151; Gene Wilder, Macmillan, 2005.
  37. ^ Feldman, Marty (2016). eyE Marty: The Official Autobiography of Marty Feldman. Rare Bird Books. p. 187.
  38. ^ "Young Frankenstein DVD". Archived from the original on 11 June 2016. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  39. ^ "Young Frankenstein DVD". Archived from the original on 11 April 2017. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  40. ^ "Young Frankenstein DVD". Archived from the original on 10 June 2016. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  41. ^ "The Paramount official site". Archived from the original on August 10, 2007. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
  42. ^ "Puttin' on the Glitz: Young Frankenstein Opens on Broadway". Playbill. November 8, 2007. Archived from the original on November 10, 2007.
  43. ^ Evans, Greg (January 8, 2020). "ABC & Mel Brooks Will Team For 'Young Frankenstein Live!' This Fall – TCA". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on January 8, 2020. Retrieved January 8, 2020.
  44. ^ "The 47th Academy Awards (1975) Nominees and Winners". Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved October 2, 2011.
  45. ^ "AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Laughs" (PDF). American Film Institute. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2016-06-24. Retrieved 2016-07-17.
  46. ^ "AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Songs" (PDF). American Film Institute. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2011-03-13. Retrieved 2016-07-17.
  47. ^ "AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Movie Quotes Nominees" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2016-06-24. Retrieved 2016-07-17.
  48. ^ "AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores Nominees" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2013-11-06. Retrieved 2016-07-17.
  49. ^ "AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Movies Nominees (10th Anniversary Edition)" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2016-10-08. Retrieved 2016-07-17.

Further reading

James Van Hise. "Films Fantastique presents Young Frankenstein". Rocket's Blast Comicollector #146 (Nov. 1978), pp. 6–14. On the writing, pre-production and filming of the picture.