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Daily Dose of Doozy #14: The Reanimation of Classic Gags


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#1 Larynxa

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Posted 18 October 2016 - 07:22 PM

Here's something else that wouldn't work in colour. The 1960s TV show "The Addams Family".

Here's how the set looked on black & white TV, and in real-life.

Terrifying!

Attached Files


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#2 Rejana Raj

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Posted 16 October 2016 - 07:50 AM

In Young Frankenstein, Gene Wilder is a scientist who lectures class about the Central Nervous System and this lab is a perfect evidence for horror cinema. I find it to have elements of broad slapstick comedy as one can see that Dr Frankenstein kicks the man below in order to show the reflex action. In the end of this scene, he stabs on his leg with a scapel which he was holding for a while.This film is indeed a tribute to the 1930's Horror films of Universal. If this film was shot in color, it would have eventually lost its terrifying appeal that one could find only in classic horror films.

#3 Martha S.

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Posted 10 October 2016 - 05:28 PM

1. How does this scene successfully parody the old Universal Horror films of the 1930s? Be specific.

 

The scene parodies one we've seen before in horror films: the man of science presenting his ideas to an classroom of students or colleagues. In this scene, as in the similar scenes in real horror movies (can't specifically name any, but I know I've seen it multiple times in horror movies), we start to see the hints of the mad scientist that will emerge. But it's played completely for laughs, with Wilder trying desperately (but failing) to convince his audience (and himself) that he's a man of reason and logic, not a madman like his grandfather. I like the way Wilder's character starts off the scene very smug and self-assured, but by the end of the scene is unable to keep a lid on the craziness that's been just beneath the surface for the entire scene.

 

2. In keeping with Gene Wilder's own observations about the writing of this film, how does this scene move between comic subtlety and broad slapstick humor? Be specific.

 

The beginning of the scene blends the two types of humor closely. From the beginning, Wilder's character is the smug modern man of science. That smugness becomes even more obvious, and veers into slapstick, as he blithely knees his volunteer in the groin (in the name of science, of course). His insults as he knees the guy are hilarious--as if that's part of the "science" experiment. The insults start to open up the cracks in his rational-scientist persona, hinting what a mess he is underneath. After the second time he knees the guy, the volunteer keels over, but Frankenstein seems to barely notice--it's all routine, part of the experiment. It's a scene that shows the scientist's arrogance, as similar horror movie scenes do--but in a very funny (and slapstick-y) way.

 

3. Would this film and its gags have worked as well if Young Frankenstein was shot in color? Defend your answer.

 

The movie definitely wouldn't have worked as well if the film was in color.

 

For one thing, the black and white takes you immediately (along with the nicely recreated sets) puts you immediately into the world of those old horror movies. For another, it gives the movie an understated, somber feel. Color would have felt more flamboyant, possibly recalling the over-the-top, campy Vincent Price-type horror movies of the 1950s through '70s instead of the black-and-white movies of a few decades earlier  That somber atmosphere is all the more effectively undercut by the silly dialogue and action.


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#4 pumatamer

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Posted 08 October 2016 - 09:00 PM

3. Would this film and its gags have worked as well if Young Frankenstein was shot in color? Defend your answer.

I think the film being shot in black and white added to the "authenticity" and credibility of this serious, medical drama...or that was the hilarious and obvious gag visually. Wilder plays the character straight /very serious and this adds to absurdity of the film. Also when we see a black and white film we generally assume it will be a classic film or serious. The decision to film in black and white was brilliant.
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#5 fediukc1991

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Posted 05 October 2016 - 06:43 PM

Wilder explained to the class about the brain. It was shot in black and white like the 1930s horror movies. Some of the sets were reused from Frankenstein. The scene demonstrates how the style blends well with the partnership of Wilder and Brooks.I don't think it would have because of the elements of the black and white movies would not have fitted well.



#6 Thief12

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Posted 05 October 2016 - 11:49 AM

This clip reminded me that I haven't seen Young Frankenstein  :unsure: A while ago I started it, and was enjoying it, but for some reason, I couldn't finish it.

 

Anyway, the film works as a parody because it is following the plot of the original Frankenstein, and other horror films, very closely. For the most part, the actors are playing it straight while playing with the conventions and ideas of those classic films.

 

On that same line, the comedy is very subtle. There is very little exaggeration, with the dialogue being very subtle and cautious, and Wilder being very subdued with his delivery, while going broad at times (like with the attempts to hit the guy, or the final stabbing) which falls into obvious slapstick (physical, exaggerated, make-believe).

 

I don't think the film would've worked as well had it been in color. The film benefits from the black and white, which draws it closer to its source material.



#7 SKS

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Posted 04 October 2016 - 06:34 PM

I did not know blucher means glue in german. An insiders joke that makes the scene even more funny.

Thank you for the info.

Kleben or Klebstoff is the word for glue in German. Not Blucher. 


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#8 startspreading

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Posted 04 October 2016 - 04:05 PM

1. How does this scene successfully parody the old Universal Horror films of the 1930s? Be specific.

 

I saw more references to the old Universal Horror films in other scenes of the movie, especially in the lab, that is the same set as the 1931 film.

In this scene two 1930s black and white films came to my mind: “Horse Feathers” (1932), from Paramount, that has three of the Marx brothers in an anatomy lesson, and Groucho assumes the position of the teacher, with Harpo and Chico helping him. The other movie I was reminded of was “All Quiet on the Western Front”, a 1930 war film from Universal studios, that has a scene in the beginning with a confrontation and debate between teacher and students in the same way we have in the final sequence of the clip.

 

2. In keeping with Gene Wilder's own observations about the writing of this film, how does this scene move between comic subtlety and broad slapstick humor? Be specific.

 

The physical comedy part, the one that involves the kicking, the faces and the stabbing, are broad slapstick. We must see that the contrast between this broad slapstick and Gene Wilder’s calm speech as a professor, both before and after being violent, are part of what make the scene funny. He is also very subtle when he says “class is dismissed”: he says every word slowly, and this makes us realize he is hiding his pain, but he is not desperate.

It’s interesting to note that there is a similar scene involving a medical demonstration in Mel Brooks’s “Dracula – Dead and Loving It”, from 1995, also with bad consequences for the man being used as an example.

 

3. Would this film and its gags have worked as well if Young Frankenstein was shot in color? Defend your answer.

 

They could have worked, because “Dracula – Dead and Loving It” is a color movie and a quite funny one. But it is not as good as “Young Frankenstein”. If the 1974 movie was shot in color, a good deal of the atmosphere (if not all the atmosphere) would be lost, and it wouldn’t be as effective as a homage / spoof. If we saw Dr. Frankenstein’s lab in color, the whole movie magic would disappear.


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#9 Popcorn97

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Posted 03 October 2016 - 09:54 AM

1. How does this scene successfully parody the old Universal Horror films of the 1930s? Be specific. 

​In old universal horror films they had a few classroom scenes and always talking about life and death. Its shot in b&w and it has a look and feel of older films from the past.

 

2. In keeping with Gene Wilder's own observations about the writing of this film, how does this scene move between comic subtlety and broad slapstick humor? Be specific.

When Gene is talking with the subject standing next to him while talking Gene kicks him, yells at him and also going back to his normal teaching classroom voice. At the end when he takes the scalpel and without knowing he cuts right into him self he acts like it does not hurt. That was funny. going back and forth.
 

3. Would this film and its gags have worked as well if Young Frankenstein was shot in color? Defend your answer.

This film was based on films from universal films of the 30s-40s. it would not work shot in color because of the subject matter of it being a comedy/horror film set in a time period.

Its like "Its A Wonderful Life" on blu ray they give you the b&w and color version. I have viewed both. The color one is kind of cool to view because you some how see things you did not see in the b&w version. Its almost like a different film in color.  But its not the one you go back to over and over. You go back to the old b&w version because it works and its what the filmmaker wanted.


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#10 rajmct01

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Posted 02 October 2016 - 09:15 PM

In keeping with Gene Wilder's own observations about the writing of this film, how does this scene move between comic subtlety and broad slapstick humor? Be specific.

The slapstick appeared in his interaction with the patient. The look on the patient's face after Dr. Frankenstein tried to kick him in the groin. Then after the paitent's was incapable of stopping the blow, his reaction when they took off the metal restraint was agony. Subtle was when the doctor told the attendant to offer the patient another dollar. The student questioning Dr. Frankenstein about his grandfather's work was trying everything to get a rise out of the Doctor. Well he succeeded. Sticking the scalpel into his thigh reminded me of Clouseau and the Pink Panther movies.

#11 Bgeorgeteacher

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Posted 01 October 2016 - 07:02 PM

Brooks and Wilder working together in this film created a film that is a magnificent example of parody.  

1. This scene throws right back to horror films of the 1930s.... there is the colorless effect, the accents, the mannerisms.... this all comes together to make an excellent parody.  

2. This film does go back and forth between quiet comic humor and broad slapstick comedy.  Dr. Frankenstein goes from discussing the activity of the brain, to putting the old man on the cot and making sure he got "an extra dollar".  He goes from being very passionate about the topic at hand to accidentally stabbing himself in the leg and dismissing class rather suddenly.  This was a fine balance between artistic and total slapstick.

3. I honestly don't think this film would have worked in color.  In keeping with the parody aspect, the added component of black and white put the audience back into the mindset of the horror films of the 1930s.  


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#12 TexasGoose

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Posted 01 October 2016 - 04:11 PM

I saw "Young Frankenstein" on the big screen. Loved it. Have owned it both in VHS and DVD. Watched a number of times. Its funny. Every time it starts and ends its funny.

 

From the start it reminded me of the old b&w horror movies Both in style, mannerisms, speech and atmosphere.

The scene starts with a odd looking old man patient who allows himself to be the victum (butt of joke). You laugh at his near pain and his real pain. Then the doctor says "give him a extra dollar" on his way out. Definantly slapstick that started out subtle.

 

I can not say this any better than the following post. "I think the gags would have worked the same, but the film itself, I don’t think so, solely because this is meant to be a tribute to classic horror. Horror in general was shot and done differently than a movie of another genre, in a way, film noir and horror share this similarity, it not only shoots scenes in a rather dark lighting, but the use of shadows, suspenseful music backgrounds. Black and white coloring in a horror movie tends to add more scare into the movie alone, coloring tends to take away the mystery of what is not ever meant to be discovered." Posted by Desilu19X. This film became great shot in b&w.


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#13 TexasGoose

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Posted 01 October 2016 - 04:01 PM

I have nothing to add except this; in my opinion "Young Frankenstein" works on every conceivable level. The writing, casting, editing, music, cinematography, set design, and attention to detail make it one of the best overall films screened in this series. And Mel Brook's direction strikes the perfect tone, atmospheric yet affectionately funny. Few comedies are as well made as this one. Spoof, parody and homage are seamlessly intertwined. It's so good, it probably would have even worked on a purely comedic level in color, although the element of homage along with the effect of the pristine lighting would have been lost. 

Did you know blucher (as in Frau) means glue in German? No wonder the horses were freaking out.

I did not know blucher means glue in german. An insiders joke that makes the scene even more funny.

Thank you for the info.



#14 Desilu19x

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Posted 30 September 2016 - 11:18 PM

1. How does this scene successfully parody the old Universal Horror films of the 1930s? Be specific.

While the doctor is in a serious mode, using profound words to explain his display, his off moments, that rather come off as insane, works beautifully and tells us very well that not only is this man not in his right mind, but the way it’s brought out, you can’t help but laugh at how rather extreme and sarcastic he tends to do this, as if trying to cover up his looney moments, with the explanation of it being an “involuntary impulse”  

2. In keeping with Gene Wilder's own observations about the writing of this film, how does this scene move between comic subtlety and broad slapstick humor? Be specific.

From the moment the doctor gives his explanations of involuntary impulse, you feel the comedy rising, the facial expressions Wilder gives off in this scene gives the audience a hint of what is approaching, only to effortlessly turn it into slapstick humor when he gives the volunteer the knee. Not only does this provide violence, but the sudden tone change of his voice provides us with verbal slapstick. Another moment to note was towards the end of the clip, when the doctor is arguing with his student over his grandfather’s researches, only to get mad and stab HIMSELF on the knee. Seems like a funny hint of karma?

3. Would this film and its gags have worked as well if Young Frankenstein was shot in color? Defend your answer.

I think the gags would have worked the same, but the film itself, I don’t think so, solely because this is meant to be a tribute to classic horror. Horror in general was shot and done differently than a movie of another genre, in a way, film noir and horror share this similarity, it not only shoots scenes in a rather dark lighting, but the use of shadows, suspenseful music backgrounds. Black and white coloring in a horror movie tends to add more scare into the movie alone, coloring tends to take away the mystery of what is not ever meant to be discovered.
 


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#15 drzhen

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Posted 30 September 2016 - 03:40 PM

I have nothing to add except this; in my opinion "Young Frankenstein" works on every conceivable level. The writing, casting, editing, music, cinematography, set design, and attention to detail make it one of the best overall films screened in this series. And Mel Brook's direction strikes the perfect tone, atmospheric yet affectionately funny. Few comedies are as well made as this one. Spoof, parody and homage are seamlessly intertwined. It's so good, it probably would have even worked on a purely comedic level in color, although the element of homage along with the effect of the pristine lighting would have been lost. 

Did you know blucher (as in Frau) means glue in German? No wonder the horses were freaking out.


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#16 felipe1912t

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Posted 30 September 2016 - 08:32 AM

First of all, the scene is shot in black-and-white in a time practically all movies were already colorful. Gene Wilder plays a crazy professor that does not seem to have any credibility althought the scenario suggests we should have. And, of course, the professor's last name is "Fronkensteen", which clearly parodies the classic Universal movie.

 

As the clip goes, we can watch two different moments taking turns on spectator's attention. In one hand, the subtle writing full of references from the original Frankenstein movie that both does a homege to the classic and parodies it. On the other one, clear visual gags more linked to the silent era of slapstick: the scalpul punch, the demsntrations from the first part of the clip, etc. I see here an organic balance between the two sides that make it work perfectly.

 

Maybe some gags could work if the movie was shot in color, but much of its parody would certainly be lost. Part of what makes it so interesting is the fact that the creators made a homage to the original movie, trying to make it as close as possible to it. That makes great part of audience to remember the old movie and be attracted to the new one by its references. As color was one of the most important elements from the original Frankenstein, the choice to preserve it that way was truly right.


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#17 Schlinged

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Posted 29 September 2016 - 10:02 PM

Questions:
1. How does this scene successfully parody the old Universal Horror films of the 1930s?
The film was shot in black and white, the setting was a classroom introducing the main character, Dr. Frankenstein, Gene Wilder goes from the calm professor to the maniacal frenzy of the original Dr. Frankenstein in James Whales' film, the music was similar, and the feeling of the film was evocative of the original films. 
 
2. In keeping with Gene Wilder's own observations about the writing of this film, how does this scene move between comic subtlety and broad slapstick humor? 
The broader scope of Brooks' writing would be in the fact that Wilder flies of the handle when questioned about his grandfather's experiments and ends up stabbing himself. The subtlety of Wilder's writing is seen in the demonstration of the blockage of information in the central nervous system as he knees the volunteer in the groin and then says "Given him an extra dollar" to the orderly.
 
3. Would this film and its gags have worked as well if Young Frankenstein was shot in color? 
When I first saw the movie in 1974 I didn't think it would work, but seeing the film then I was literally rolling in the aisles. I think as a homage or parody to the original Whales films, shooting in black and white was a must-do. Would they have worked in color - I think so. As one of Brooks' later movies, Silent Movie was shot in color and still worked rather than in black and white.

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#18 Higgs5

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Posted 29 September 2016 - 06:36 PM

The scene starts out with an impressive sounding ( slick, smooth talking, logical, arrogant) young Frankenstein (Wilder) who repeatedly breaks out into a frenzy  and melts down (eventually stabs himself) when the sensitive/shameful topic of his grandfather’s research comes up, or his views are challenged, or his name is mispronounced. The original Frankenstein movies frequently opened with scenes in the classroom (also in black and white) with cadavers/ preserved brains and other organs on display to establish Frankenstein’s legitimacy as a physician. Wilder becomes increasingly emotional (calling to mind his grandfather’s “madness” and emotional outbursts in the old films )  as he argues there is no way you can renew life and while his grandfather was immersed in the pursuit of regenerating  life his only concern was the “preservation of life” . Instead of using his higher more scientific English, he starts to refer to hearts and kidneys as “tinker toys” stating that “dead is dead” and that his grandfather’s work was “doo doo”. 

The directors never lose an opportunity to inject the Marx Brother’s brand of sarcasm, play on words, sexual innuendo(“Pardon me boys is this the Transylvania station”,” rolling in the hay”, the revolving bookcase, the seductive lab assistant , “Setagive”, “Abby Normal”, the roving hunch on Igor’s back, “Ovaltine”, Horse’s neighing to the name Frau Blucher, the exaggerated movements of Inspector Kemp, the bumbling blind hermit, “you take the blond, I’ll take the one in the turban”, the high strung spoiled fiancé, “seven has always been my lucky number”)… and physical comedy (Igor operating electrical equipment in the lab, mob violence, the child being catapulted, Inspector Kemp’s prosthetic, the love scenes with Wilder and Garr on the gurney, Kahn and the monster, and subsequent honeymoon scenes).  The humor intensifies as the story progresses and the quirky characters are introduced.

The film was shot as a tribute to the original films which were filmed in black and white.  The film color, camera movement/techniques, original props, sounds, music, are all designed to capture the flavor of the original masterpieces.   Also this story is based on a gothic novel full of mystery and “darkness” so it is fitting that the film should reflect that mood.

 


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#19 MrZerep

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Posted 29 September 2016 - 05:27 PM

1. How does this scene successfully parody the old Universal Horror films of the 1930s? Be specific.

The use of black and white film; the scene set in a university class with students listening to a professor lecture and the dialogue is reminiscent of the almost scientific babble used to explain things.  They make or try to make sense, sort of.

 

​Gene Wilder is very serious in thous scene in his lecture.  To prove his points he experiments with the little old man and he is serious about it.  It turns into broad slapstick humor when removes the metal clamp and the old man is in pain.  Also, in his discourse about re-animating a scalpel he verbally slapsticks to the point where he physically slapsticks and jabs himself in the leg, then nonchalantly crosses his uninjured leg and dismisses class.

 

 

 

Since it is an homage to the old Universal horror films, color or not does not make a difference.  Black and white film photography has the wonderful use of shadows and great angles that look eerie or mysterious.  The slapsticks of yesteryear were black and white and still make us laugh.  Surely the use of color would have accentuated costumes and even some make-up, but it's better in black and white.  It's the story that will keep us enthralled regardless of film color.


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#20 CHamby

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Posted 28 September 2016 - 09:55 PM

1. Mel Brooks' 1974 farce, "Young Frankenstein" captures the essence of the classic Universal Studios horror films of the 1930s in many ways- due in part to the black and white cinematography, the setting (the laboratory at Castle Frankenstein in Transylvania), the authentic props that were used in the laboratory sequence, the characters (including Gene Hackman's portrayal of the blind man- in the scene that parodies the scene in the 1935 Universal film "Bride of Frankenstein" where Frankenstein's monster encounters the blind man).  Paired with the comic genius of Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder, "Young Frankenstein" is the perfect comedic tribute to the vintage Universal horror films.

 

2.  This is relevant in the scene where Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) is lecturing to his medical students by showing his human subject, softly speaking about Motor Impulses, and then shocking his subject by shouting insults (in relation to pain/violence, busting his subject and then scaring him after yelling near the end).  

 

3. It was logical to film "Young Frankenstein" in black and white to capture the essence of the classic Universal horror films, to give the comedy the "eerie" feeling that the vintage Universal horror classics had, through the rich, deep contrast of black and white cinematography.  If Brooks' film were shot in color, then it would lose its authentic edge- and it wouldn't have looked like a tribute to "Frankenstein," "Bride of Frankenstein" and all of the other vintage Universal monster/horror films of the 1930s.

 

I enjoyed watching "Young Frankenstein" on Turner Classic Movies last evening!   I'm looking forward to tomorrow's showing of the film (as part of the network's tribute to the late Gene Wilder).  

 

 


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