"You know that movie, Young Frankenstein? Scared the hell out of me."
- Homer Simpson in "Homer vs. Patty and Selma" on The Simpsons.
-Fredrick Frankenstein (It's pronounced Fronkensteen)
It's hard to pinpoint my love of Mel Brooks. I have a feeling this film first came into my life after the family trip to London in which we took in a production of The Producers musical. I was hooked and suddenly in a present at a long forgotten holiday was the DVD copy of this movie (the same copy I watch today!). From first frame to last, this is my favorite comedy and it's the one film that encouraged me to seek out horror comedy and then dip my toe ever so gently into horror (more on that, next post!).
It's rare that a comedy can retain such watchability for me. I laugh just as hard at every joke as I did then. It informs my sense of humor and got me interested in so much more to do with comedy including The Simpsons and other Mel Brooks films and television.
While it's full of spectacular moments, there are two that stand high above the rest, that inform my yen to be funny. The first moment is as Fredrick goes by himself into the cell where the monster is being kept. He puts on a brave face for the people outside the door, but as soon as he's in he's terrified beyond comprehension. Just as he's at the end of his rope, he turns and throws out the only thing he can think of. He says, "Hello, handsome," which throws us and the monster completely off guard. The timing, the delivery and the reaction as well as everything that follows are completely and utterly perfect. It's a perfect scene.
Then there's the other scene that leaves me laughing every time. As Fredrick plays the violin tune that calls the creature home, we see Inga keeping a lookout and Igor (It's pronounced Eyegor) is sitting behind a music stand with a type of horn instrument. He watches the sheet, keeps time and as soon as there's a lull in Fredrick's phrase, Igor stands and delivers a small accompaniment (Ba-dah-da, Ba-dah-da) and sits back down. A deft piece of incredible silliness and setup. It's a scene I think about constantly for its timing and build up. Simply brilliant.
Yet, how does Young Frankenstein fall into the theme of longing, established last post. That's easy. It's about longing to avoid destiny and fate, but once succumbing to it, to succeed where others have failed. It's about that push and pull of family and a legacy of one's own.