Russell K

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

71 posts in this topic

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

“The film is an affectionate parody of the classic horror film genre, in particular the various film adaptations of Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein produced by Universal in the 1930s. Most of the lab equipment used as props was created by Kenneth Strickfaden for the 1931 film Frankenstein…. and the film 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.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Frankenstein

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.

Broad slapstick

This scene meets all of our criteria from week 1:

1.       Exaggeration – facial expressions of the medical subject, scalpel into leg, my grandfather’s work was doo-doo

2.       Physical – verbal and physical – filthy rotten son of a ****!

3.       Ritualistic – repeated physical attack on the medical subject, repeated visual reaction of disbelief by the medical subject; facial reaction of medical subject once the shut off valve is connected to his neck, relentless questioning by student

4.       Make believe – Dr. Frankenstein story to begin with is fantasy, facial reaction of medical subject once the shut off valve is connected to his neck, medical students lack of reaction to subject’s pain (applause even)

5.       Violent – kneeing of the medical subject, scalpel into leg

Noted in articles about this film is how cast members ad libbed some of the scenes, resulting in broad comedy – similar to the flavor of the early slapstick filmmaking.

Comic subtlety

·         Boredom of the scientific subject in initial demonstrations

·         The professor continuing his lecture in mild manner after violently attacking the medical subject

·         Give him an extra dollar!

·         Are you speaking of a worm or spaghetti?

·         Complete seriousness of Wilder as the professor, as well as his lab assistants – who are stonefaced in the Keaton tradition

·         To dissociate himself from his forebear, Frederick insists that his surname is pronounced "Fronkensteen."

·         His hunchbacked, bug-eyed servant named Igor (Marty Feldman) insists on his name being pronounced differently (in this case "Eye-gor")

·         The professor’s comparison of the inquisitive student to a worm – a worm, with very few exceptions, is not a human being!

·         Crossing of legs after scalpel – class is dismissed!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Frankenstein

In a 2010 interview with Los Angeles Times, Mel Brooks discussed how the film came about:[10]

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."

Lacher, Irene. "The Sunday Conversation: Mel Brooks on his 'Young Frankenstein' musical"Los Angeles Times, August 1, 2010. Retrieved November 8, 2010.

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

“Beautifully filmed in black and white on some of the original Frankenstein sets, using the old 1:85 aspect ratio and a similar film stock, the movie displays a thorough knowledge of and respect for the old films, along with a deliciously heightened sense of their more ridiculous aspects.”

http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/96522/Young-Frankenstein/articles.html

To help evoke the atmosphere of the earlier films, Brooks shot the picture entirely in black-and-white, a rarity in the 1970s.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Frankenstein

The atmosphere provided by black and white sets the backdrop for all of the humor, parody, and slapstick of the film.  I cannot imagine this film in color, but of course – the musical version (2007) is live and in color – and the jokes work!  But, then again, the audience was conditioned for that, knowing the past film and the flavor of it.

SORRY SO LONG – BUT CAN EVERYONE TELL I LOVE THE LATE GENE WILDER AND MEL BROOKS!  

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

 

I'd say the B&W is certainly parodying it. Wilder's characters name is definitely parodying it, the subject of discussion is death which parodies it. The showmanship and grandeur seems to be parodying it as well.

 

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 subtlety in performance and expression of his eyes moves between slapstick and the contrary because there is only a gag (scalpel) that reflects the more outrageous and physical. Other than the props the wordplay "Doo-doo!" marries both subtly and lack of subtlety enough where the line is not easily spotted. All his words in the scene I'd use to defend the complexity of word play and slapstick. His performance would be proof of his ability within the silly writing of the fruit of their labor. If it was played more traditionally it would not be as funny...

 

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

 

I don't think color would have played as well because we lose the sense of modernity by them bringing back black and white. It has a more period feel much like the Universal films of the 30's

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

 

I'll highlight just one aspect, his voice. Wilder masterfully modulates his voice to parody the scientists of the early horror films. They were the experts, they sold us their impossible theories at a time when science was unknowable by most audiences. They were so sure of themselves, so intelligent and brilliant. Wilder parodies this by somehow modulating his voice with a mixture of all of the above but adds a haughtiness, a comical aloofness. It's close to pomposity but not quite. He manages to ratchet it down and avoid becoming bombastic. His voice alone even when he is angered by the student is perfect. He parodies the original dialogue but imbues it with his own subtle humor. His skill in just this one aspect is amazing. It truly makes 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.

 

As Wilder scientifically explains the nervous system we, the audience are lulled into his demonstration, the mundane, "lift your left knee." The subject complies. Then he approaches and places his hand on the subject's shoulder, and in yet a purely scientific manner continues explaining the differences between the complementary aspects of the autonomic nervous system. All well and good but then he suddenly knees the subject in the groin to exact a response. Owwww! Parody of the pseudo science of early horror films that has just devolved into violent slapstick. Back to parody with the explanation of the band on the back of the subject's skull to repress the response, zing, back to slapstick with the knee again to the groin. I love the assistant taking his lab coat, how he washes his fingers and the aside, "Give him an extra dollar," as the man writhes in pain on the gurney. All parody. Even when he is verbally confronted by the student and defends his theory, more early parody, there was always a desenting opinion. Wilder then proceeds to jab his thigh with a scalpel, more violent painful slapstick but he keeps his composure a la The Great Stone Face. Great clip.

 

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

 

No. Brooks and Wilder need the black and white to pull off their slight of hand especially in terms of the parody of the earlier Frankenstein movies. But it also helps emphasize the violence of the gags as both parody and slapstick. Because of the black and white they work on two distinct planes, as stand alone slapstick gags and as parody of earlier black and white slapstick. Color would have detracted and brought us too far forward into the present day.

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

 

The use of black and white mirrors the look of the Universal monster movies.  There is a stranger in the back row of the lecture hall with an old wooden box with the journals of the elder Dr. Frankenstein which is similar to Dr. Pretorious arriving in Bride of Frankenstein to convince Victor to resume his experiments.  Gene Wilder captures the essence of Colin Clive playing Victor Frankenstein with the wild eyes and voice as he is clearly engaged in his theories.

 

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 scene has broad slapstick in the physical and violent moments, Frederick kneeing the old man in the groin and later stabbing himself with the scalpel.  These move to more subtle humor, such as the imitation of Colin Clive's mannerisms and the verbal asides.  "Give him another dollar." 

 

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

 

I don't believe so.  The movie would still be funny in color, but it would lose out of some of the parody aspects without it being shot in black and white and looking like a genuine Universal monster movie.  Most of the film looks like it could have been from the 30's with the look of the castle sets and lab equipment used in the original films.  This pulls the viewer into the feel of the movie, and the use of color would not have the same effect.

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I just love Young Frankenstein and I consider it the most successful parody ever made. This particular scene features the late Gene Wilder looking, talking and behaving like the mad scientists of the 1930's horror films, and the other characters aren't as normal as they should be in this environment. Even the skeleton in the background plays its part, making the whole set-up looking much more sinister (and ridiculous, too) that it should.

 

As in the whole film, this scene is an example of a perfect combination between subtle and crazy humor. Unlike another Brooks/Wilder masterpiece made in the same year, Blazing Saddles, this film is much more well-defined and structured and it's not just a sequence of chaotic events. In this clip, for instance, we see Victor Frankenstein (Wilder) hitting a patient as part of an experiment, in a complete slapstick way, while later he tells his assistant to "give him an extra dollar" because his unnatural reaction helped the doctor establish his cause to the students. This is the first of many such instances in this incredible movie.

 

I've always believe it was a great choice by Brooks to shoot this film in B&W. The entire atmosphere, the foggy landscapes, the strange creatures (Marty Feldman being the weirdest of them all), the monster, even the "Puttin' on the Ritz" routine play their part in making this film both a spoof and a homage of the early Universal horror films, and that couldn't be showed in such way in color. I believe that making this film in color would be like colorizing classic films, a process which I don't embrace so much.

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I believe “Young Frankenstein” is an effective parody because you can feel the love of the old classic Universal horror movies. I would even say that “Young Frankenstein” could be considered not just a parody but Frankenstein sequel because it's stays so close to the Frankenstein canon. Wilder and Brooks even went so far as to use some of the equipment from the original movie and take a risk by filming it in black and white. I would compare it to “Galaxy Quest” which stayed so close to the Star Trek canon that even the Star Trek creator's consider it a sequel to their franchise.

 

In this clip we see a parody of the literary technique concerning the “scientific explanation” which was used to give reasons for the supernatural storyline. It seems that I recall in most of the Frankenstein movies there is some kind of an explanation usually occurring fairly early on in the moie. In this clip we see that Brooks and Wilder put a comic twist on this literary device and use the opportunity for both broad slapstick and subtle humor. I always enjoyed it because it wasn't just slapstick for slapstick’s sake, but instead it moved the storyline along as much as it did in the old classics. For example, we see that Dr. Frankenstein is so upset with his grandfather's work he stabs himself with a scalpel

 

I don't recall any of the explanations in the old Frankenstein movies being this prolonged. However I think later movies, especially science fiction in the 1950s, move makers did start to expand the “scientific explanation”. “Them” always comes to my mind whenever I see this part of “Young Frankenstein”. In “Them” we even get to see a movie about ants. I think that might be why I like this movie so much. I don't know if it was intentional but for me it's not just a parody of Frankenstein other movies in this genre as well.

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No I don't think if YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN...("That's Fronkensteen" )was filmed in color it would have taken away the camp and homage to the Unviersal Monster films of the 30's,40s and into the 50's. Using the original sets from Karloff's Frankenstein only made the gags and the parody work so  well. This is a hallmark of Mel Brooks films. He has Parodied Hitchcock in "HIGH ANXIETY" and even remade the Jack Benny classic TO BE OR NOT TO BE". 

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Long yes but worth the read. Well done sir. I too am a huge fan of Brooks and Wilder.

 

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

“The film is an affectionate parody of the classic horror film genre, in particular the various film adaptations of Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein produced by Universal in the 1930s. Most of the lab equipment used as props was created by Kenneth Strickfaden for the 1931 film Frankenstein…. and the film 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.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Frankenstein

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.

Broad slapstick

This scene meets all of our criteria from week 1:

1.       Exaggeration – facial expressions of the medical subject, scalpel into leg, my grandfather’s work was doo-doo

2.       Physical – verbal and physical – filthy rotten son of a ****!

3.       Ritualistic – repeated physical attack on the medical subject, repeated visual reaction of disbelief by the medical subject; facial reaction of medical subject once the shut off valve is connected to his neck, relentless questioning by student

4.       Make believe – Dr. Frankenstein story to begin with is fantasy, facial reaction of medical subject once the shut off valve is connected to his neck, medical students lack of reaction to subject’s pain (applause even)

5.       Violent – kneeing of the medical subject, scalpel into leg

Noted in articles about this film is how cast members ad libbed some of the scenes, resulting in broad comedy – similar to the flavor of the early slapstick filmmaking.

Comic subtlety

·         Boredom of the scientific subject in initial demonstrations

·         The professor continuing his lecture in mild manner after violently attacking the medical subject

·         Give him an extra dollar!

·         Are you speaking of a worm or spaghetti?

·         Complete seriousness of Wilder as the professor, as well as his lab assistants – who are stonefaced in the Keaton tradition

·         To dissociate himself from his forebear, Frederick insists that his surname is pronounced "Fronkensteen."

·         His hunchbacked, bug-eyed servant named Igor (Marty Feldman) insists on his name being pronounced differently (in this case "Eye-gor")

·         The professor’s comparison of the inquisitive student to a worm – a worm, with very few exceptions, is not a human being!

·         Crossing of legs after scalpel – class is dismissed!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Frankenstein

In a 2010 interview with Los Angeles Times, Mel Brooks discussed how the film came about:[10]

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."

Lacher, Irene. "The Sunday Conversation: Mel Brooks on his 'Young Frankenstein' musical"Los Angeles Times, August 1, 2010. Retrieved November 8, 2010.

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

“Beautifully filmed in black and white on some of the original Frankenstein sets, using the old 1:85 aspect ratio and a similar film stock, the movie displays a thorough knowledge of and respect for the old films, along with a deliciously heightened sense of their more ridiculous aspects.”

http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/96522/Young-Frankenstein/articles.html

To help evoke the atmosphere of the earlier films, Brooks shot the picture entirely in black-and-white, a rarity in the 1970s.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Frankenstein

The atmosphere provided by black and white sets the backdrop for all of the humor, parody, and slapstick of the film.  I cannot imagine this film in color, but of course – the musical version (2007) is live and in color – and the jokes work!  But, then again, the audience was conditioned for that, knowing the past film and the flavor of it.

SORRY SO LONG – BUT CAN EVERYONE TELL I LOVE THE LATE GENE WILDER AND MEL BROOKS!  

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The unfortunate problem with the great horror classics of the 1930s was that they fed into the already-rampant anti-intellectualism of the American public by painting a picture of scientists as so far above them, so isolated in their thinking, that they would never sink to considering the possibilities that occurred to the everyday woman or man. “Preposterous” and “ridiculous” became standard vocabulary in scripts. Young Frankenstein plays upon this tradition in spades by creating a character in Frederick whose very neurosis is bound into the denial of what the common person takes for granted. His long argument with the “wormy” student is representative of this attitude throughout the early part of the film.

 

We’ve seen these “medical exam” skits before, especially with the Marx Bros., but also with Sid Caesar, Martin and Lewis, the Stooges, etc. With the others it is always played for the broadest comedy effect. Here we have a lot of jargon introduced, however, and with an evenness of tone that slows down the pace, even though some of it may be specious. This tends to makes the humor more intellectual in effect, but not really. The impact is only in contrast, a set for the pure slapstick coming. Liam Dunn (Mr. Hilltop) so closely resembles Ben Turpin when he crosses his eyes that it becomes something of an homage to that often-forgotten great.

 

If we see the film as homage, there certainly can be no sense in having it filmed in color, despite the extra expense involved (at this point in time there actually was extra cost for filming in black and white, if I am correct). It is a tone poem about the past and color would have spoiled the effect at every turn, even in this particular scene, set in the modern period in a modern room.

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The use of black and white film removes us from the present time and takes us back to our childhood. Spooky castles, creepy old people whispering history's of ancient hauntings, murder , and family skeltons in the closets.We are placed in a fun campy mood of disbelief right from the start . We have "knowledge" of how a "mad" scientist acts and thinks-Wilders actions have us waiting with baited breath for him to "lose" his self control and let "out" the unrestrained thinking of his passions.Wilder doesn't disappoint us,he winds us up slowly but,when he loses his control he makes us laugh instead of cower in fear.In essence he never REALLY loses his control to madness he simply surrounds us in chaos and laughter,which was his goal all along.

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1. This scene in Young Frankenstein successfully parodies Universal Horror films of the 1930's by setting up well the scientist character and his body of work. Clearly, in Dr. Frankenstein's speech, he knows a great deal about the central nervous system, which is essential to illustrate as he becomes a Dr. seeking to reanimate a human being. Without this set-up of a scientist in his lab, you don't understand the parody, nor the homage to 1930's horror movies experienced later in the film. 

 

2. Being the fantastic writer that he was, Wilder moves between comic subtlety and broad slapstick humor, and back again, effortlessly. A broad stroke of slapstick humor is witnessed when Victor experiences his outburst while demonstrating reflex muscles on his unsuspecting subject. Then, in an immediate turn to the subtlety, the subject looks at Dr. Frankenstein confused before resuming his posture as the perfect subject, although now guarded. The camera hanging on the subject capturing his reaction after the strike was comic genius that resonated with the audience and a perfect testament to the subtle comedy Wilder was so great at. Another fantastic moment of subtle comedy comes when Dr. Frankenstein is entertaining a question from a student, the student rises and begins to call him by an unassumed pronunciation of his last name, just one look from Dr. FrONKenstein reminds the student to correct himself in pronunciation. Just that look, again acts as a testament to WIlder's subtle comedic force. After the line of questioning lengthens, WIlder's subtlety and jokes make way for a slapstick outburst in which he stabs himself with a scalpel. These moments and the one we do not get to see, the long pause after the Dr. realizes he has stabbed himself and attempts to remain in control over the situation while experiencing extreme pain truly show the comedic force Wilder had in both the arts of subtle comedy and broad slapstick farce. His greatness is truly missed!

 

3. On the most base level, no, this film nor its gags would have worked as well had the film been shot in color because that was not the artist's vision. Gene Wilder explicitly stated, at the earliest inception of the film that he wanted the project to be shot in black and white. If his wishes never came to fruition the film would have lost the heart that was injected by Wilder's freedom of artistic expression. Without the obvious parallels, all of which being in black and white, Young Frankenstein to 1930's Universal horror films a bit of the parody would have been lost had the film been in color. 

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This one difficult for me as I have never watched horror flicks, and am not a Mel Brooks fan.  But I appreciate Russell K's excellent information regarding the way the concept developed between Wilder and Brooks.  I love Wilder, though he can be over the top, but its a real blessing he had a restraining influence on Brooks.  Sorry if I offend all you MB fans;  we all have our own tastes.

 

I think color would have made the lab setting less creepy and retro in feeling.

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Would this film and its gags have worked as well if Young Frankenstein was shot in color?

 

I own a twenty year old DVD of Young Frankenstein.  On it there is a documentary entitled “Making Frankensense of Young Frankenstein”.  In this documentary cinematographer Gerald Hirschfeld tells us that, originally, he thought the film should start out in B&W and then transition to color.  However Mel Brooks insisted that the film would be in B&W or else he wouldn’t direct it; and Hirschfeld soon came to agree with Brooks.  Hirschfeld also tells us that Brooks intended to do more than simply to replicate the look of Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein.  He wanted to satirize that look.  The overall mood of the film and the replication of the classic look is accomplished more in long shots.  Yet when the camera moves in closer to the players, the lighting is brighter than in the original pictures.  Brooks and Hirschfeld felt that this was more appropriate for a comedic parody since now it was important to see the expressions on the actors faces and to see details of comic gags.  When I watch the film now, I can clearly see this; although I was never clever enough to notice it on my own.  Of course we’re not meant to notice it consciously, are we.

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In the movie "Frankenstein" there was a similar scene with a classroom where Fritz stole the "abnormal" brain for the doctor's creation. In "Young Frankenstein" the same thing happens but the brain is "Abbe Normal". This scene starts as a teacher giving a lecture to his class ( comic subtlety ) and the he stabs himself in the leg with a scalpel (Slapstick ). I believe this would have worked so well if it was shot in color because the old horror films ( I have all of them ) where shot in black and white. The fact that this was shot in the same manner I think makes the film and its gags work so well. 

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

 

It brilliantly showcased the sort of camp quality that the horror films possessed. It takes scenes from those films and actually makes the 'science' more realistic and less forced. In the hands of a lesser director, the scene would have been more generic and befuddled. The parody would have been more ridiculous and less relevant. It took two geniuses like Brooks and Wilder to make parody and spoof work, while adding their own self-awareness to the mix. They successfully mocked the absurdity that came from the 1930s horror films and gave it new life.

 

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.

 

​At first, it is about the complexity of science, and it had a less forced approach to it. It was more broad than other scenes. It was genius because you couldn't tell what was subtle and what was slapstick. It was a prefect mixture of that. The subtlety was the explanation of the Scientifics, and the slapstick was Wilder going into hysterics when ridiculing his character's grandfather's extreme experiments. It is even more broader when he stabs himself in the knee. Wilder didn't wink at the audience, and I think that moment may have been improvised, because it looked unexpected. The ability to spoof classic cinema and creating your own comedy from that is something that both Brooks and Wilder did extremely well.

 

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

 

Since Young Frankenstein is one of the most beautiful black-and-white films ever made, it would have lost its purpose if would have been shot in color. The gags would not have been relevant nor based on comedy realism in color. Sometimes color ruins the essence and shatters reality. I think the black and white worked for the film because it took us back to our childhood memories of watching the old Universal films of the 1930s. It was like we were reintroduced to those films again because of the use of B&W. It was certainly nostalgic and potent.

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

“The film is an affectionate parody of the classic horror film genre, in particular the various film adaptations of Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein produced by Universal in the 1930s. Most of the lab equipment used as props was created by Kenneth Strickfaden for the 1931 film Frankenstein…. and the film 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.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Frankenstein

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.

Broad slapstick

This scene meets all of our criteria from week 1:

1.       Exaggeration – facial expressions of the medical subject, scalpel into leg, my grandfather’s work was doo-doo

2.       Physical – verbal and physical – filthy rotten son of a ****!

3.       Ritualistic – repeated physical attack on the medical subject, repeated visual reaction of disbelief by the medical subject; facial reaction of medical subject once the shut off valve is connected to his neck, relentless questioning by student

4.       Make believe – Dr. Frankenstein story to begin with is fantasy, facial reaction of medical subject once the shut off valve is connected to his neck, medical students lack of reaction to subject’s pain (applause even)

5.       Violent – kneeing of the medical subject, scalpel into leg

Noted in articles about this film is how cast members ad libbed some of the scenes, resulting in broad comedy – similar to the flavor of the early slapstick filmmaking.

Comic subtlety

·         Boredom of the scientific subject in initial demonstrations

·         The professor continuing his lecture in mild manner after violently attacking the medical subject

·         Give him an extra dollar!

·         Are you speaking of a worm or spaghetti?

·         Complete seriousness of Wilder as the professor, as well as his lab assistants – who are stonefaced in the Keaton tradition

·         To dissociate himself from his forebear, Frederick insists that his surname is pronounced "Fronkensteen."

·         His hunchbacked, bug-eyed servant named Igor (Marty Feldman) insists on his name being pronounced differently (in this case "Eye-gor")

·         The professor’s comparison of the inquisitive student to a worm – a worm, with very few exceptions, is not a human being!

·         Crossing of legs after scalpel – class is dismissed!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Frankenstein

In a 2010 interview with Los Angeles Times, Mel Brooks discussed how the film came about:[10]

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."

Lacher, Irene. "The Sunday Conversation: Mel Brooks on his 'Young Frankenstein' musical"Los Angeles Times, August 1, 2010. Retrieved November 8, 2010.

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

“Beautifully filmed in black and white on some of the original Frankenstein sets, using the old 1:85 aspect ratio and a similar film stock, the movie displays a thorough knowledge of and respect for the old films, along with a deliciously heightened sense of their more ridiculous aspects.”

http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/96522/Young-Frankenstein/articles.html

To help evoke the atmosphere of the earlier films, Brooks shot the picture entirely in black-and-white, a rarity in the 1970s.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Frankenstein

The atmosphere provided by black and white sets the backdrop for all of the humor, parody, and slapstick of the film.  I cannot imagine this film in color, but of course – the musical version (2007) is live and in color – and the jokes work!  But, then again, the audience was conditioned for that, knowing the past film and the flavor of it.

SORRY SO LONG – BUT CAN EVERYONE TELL I LOVE THE LATE GENE WILDER AND MEL BROOKS!

 

Please don't apologize for length Russell K. Your response is a thorough and excellent analysis and I thank you also for the great links. Fantastic job! I love Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks also. This course has been so much fun.

 

Unfortunately, I've never had an opportunity to travel to any of the TCM Classic Film Festivals. So to be able to "meet" and chat with others who share my love of Slapstick has been a rare treat. I've learned so much while enjoying myself immensely. Kudos to everyone and especially our fun-filled and knowledgeable fair leader in mayhem, Dr. Edwards.

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It isn't as though we didn't know what we were in for, the movie title, the advertisements telling us it was filmed in Startling Black and White...The entire experience of this movie is a parody of and homage to the great Universal horror movies of the 30's.

 

The combination of parody (Medical school lecture), broad physical slapstick (knee to the groin for checking reflex reaction) and verbal slapstick (My grandfather's work was Doo-doo!") along with a wonderful use of lighting (the more modern, less sinister use of grey tones), all work to move the plotline along.

 

Filming in black and white was brilliant. As the plot moves along and we are back in the "old country" the contrast deepens, carrying us all visually back to the, foggy, spooky 1930s sets.This proves a perfect foil for the craziness that makes Young Frankenstein such a delight, even 40 years later.

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1.       This scene parodies the central conflict of Son of Frankenstein (1939), in which the younger Frankenstein, who has divorced himself from the family legacy, is lured back to his father’s laboratory. The mood of most of the 1930s Universal horror films was quite serious and this scene shows us a Dr. Frankenstein who takes science and his teaching quite seriously, publicly rejecting the alleged pseudoscience of his family.

2.       Gene Wilder himself bridges the shifts between subtle and broad comedy in this scene. Much of the humor comes from Dr. Frankenstein wanting to retain his credibility in front of his students. So when he knees the patient painfully in the **** (broad comedy when we see the man’s eyes cross), Frankenstein doesn’t upset his cool demeanor. Verbal humor comes from the skinflint telling his assistant to give the man an extra dollar (for enduring such pain). Similarly, the medical student humorously probes Frankenstein about his family’s experiments with re-animation, causing Frankenstein to become very upset, but wanting to appear calm. Therefore when he stabs himself in the thigh with a knife (broad humor), we jump to a closer shot as Frankenstein says “Class. Dismissed.” as calmly as he can (subtle humor).

3.       The gags may have been funny in color, but the parody would have not been as effective since all the 1930s Universal horror films were in black and white. The filming really had a ‘30s look to it, especially once we get to Frankenstein’s castle.

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Young Frankenstein is one of my favorite films, so I have trouble keeping perspective on this one. 

 

I will say that this film, being a parody of the films before, wouldn't have been quite so funny had it been filmed in color. I think it works so well because it is in black and white. It plays with the shadows and light so well, just as earlier black and white films did. I think it made the picture much more enjoyable. 

 

I can't say much more because I'll get all gushy. 

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The black & white film imitates the horror and otherwise films of the 1930s.  Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolfman and others were shot in black & white.  Black & white is stark, like the noir films in the 40s with angled lighting that sets the atmosphere and tone of the movie, albeit funny this time.The old time horror movies did the same.

 

In that opening scene, he tries to live down his family name and gives a demonstration of voluntary and involuntary reflexes.  He stabs himself in the leg, which is slapstick funny, and he dismisses the class.  His grandfather's will intrigues him.  

 

 

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1. It is shot in black and white, as a tribute to the original Universal Horror movies of the 1930s. Like the original Frankenstein horror films of the 1930s, the main protagonist is a medical doctor, but this doctor isn't interested in reanimating dead tissue, he is instead focused on the central nervous system of the human body. There is always a character that is willing to bring the relative of the frankenstein family to come back to Transylvania to revive their grandfather's work.

 

2. The level of exaggeration was brought to a minimum, so as not to make it a broad parody. Gene's character was kept at a sane level while, his experiment with a patient is considered as having a broad slapstick humor in of itself. 

 

3. Not necessarily, it would lose the effect, since this was meant to be a parody and tribute to two artists and their work - James Whale and Mary Shelley. It would be horrendous if Ted Turner decided to colorize that film, just like he did back in 1986, causing outrage from the film community and the film directors and actors that would state that it destroyed the directors original vision.

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1. Young Frankenstein is an excellent parody to the 30s horror films especially the three Frankenstein ones that starred Boris Karloff. The other Karloff film the Body Snatchers. That film also has a doctor that is teaching about the brain to medical students with Karloff as the body snatcher. It captures the essence of those films by using the same filming techniques, props (the original lab equipment from then'31, '36 and '39 versions was used), editing and the use of black and white film. Brooks did a masterful job with all of these. Even if it wasn't a parody it would have worked using these techniques unlike the later versions of Frankenstein.

 

2. This scene moves from subtle to broad slapstick with the following:

 

A. The expressions of the patient's face and his body motions. He goes from a clueless expression to one of great pain. The fact he almost looks like a body that as snatched adds to the humor. He does have the obvious reaction when Wilder hits him where it counts, but Wilder's matter of fact and clinical expression makes it more comical.

 

B. The physical gags include hitting the patient as described above and when Wilder stabbed himself with the scalpel. Wilder's delivery of his lecture adds to the scene. Most professors (in the movies) would not be as excitable and empathizing in delivery of a lecture. I could alms see the delivery in bold and all caps.

 

C. The subtlety is with the deadpan expressions of entire classroom. The conversation of Wilder and the student with the one line zingers that can be caught. There are several examples of this later in the film. For example when Teri Garr states she likes a "roll in the hay", then she rolls back and forth. Or anytime the name of Frau Blucher you hear a horse in the background. Or when Wilder and Garr and looking at the head spiciemans and Marty Feldman is the last one.

 

3. No it would not have been better if this film was in color. Brooks went to great lengths to ensure he captured the essence of a 30s film, which meant he chose black and white. The other thing that Brooks did was not use the special effect techniques that were being used at that time. The films 2001: A Space Oddesey and Logan's Run come to mind. Again it was in style of the 30s. Brooks understood and used the 30s technology and it added not detracted from the film.

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1.  How does this scene successfully parody the Universal horror films of the 1930s.  Be specific.  In comparison, this scene from Young Frankenstein actually pokes fun at those serious, scary "3-D" sci-fi horror films.  Exemplary of such horrifying films as "The Island of Dr. Moreau," Mary Shelly's "Frankenstein," as well as other bone chilling, blood curdling films, these stories host a sordid, diabolical mad scientist who escapes to his lab to do evil, in his attempts on the face of the world.  It is like preceding strong medicine with a spoonful of laughter.

 

2.  In keeping 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 scene of the humiliated man captured as a human guinea pig, is moreover a classical example of painful humor.  Where the man lifts his left leg, as if he were a young man, and lowering it, before having his groin hit.  Even after expressing his excruciating pain it is all to no avail.  The levels of human anguish, as to how much can a man take.  It is as if this scene alludes to the introduction of Dr. Fronkensteins horrific discovery, his monster.

 

3.  Would this film and its gags have worked as well if Young Frankenstein was shot in color?  Defend your answer.  I think that B&W enhances the realism, and helps viewers focus on the finer points of the film.  In B&W films, we gain more visual depth, as well as clarity.  On the other hand, the implementation of color reminds me of the institution of technicolor, introduced by Hal Roach's Studio in Hollywood, California, namely its "Mighty Mouse."  It is rather colorful, in its wide range of the color scheme.  Color leaves little to the imagination.  The colors are often colored in even over the films to make the seem more realistic.

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1.  The university laboratory/classroom was a fairly common scene, not only in Horror but in many other movie genres during the time period. Here the Professor is himself condemned by the know-it-all student (in other films the professor condemns the student, the students conspire amongst themselves for myriad reasons, etc.).  Our Dr. F refers to the famous one, among other things, as "Grandfather," leading us to believe there is only two generations separation, but the class itself (with the exception of the Mr. Know-it-All and the creepy envoy from Transylvania?) could very easily have been pulled wholesale from a UCLA Biology class, c.1974.  Whatever the reasoning was, it comes across not only as integral to the parody but as great subtle humor as well.

 

2.  Wilder himself leads us into the subtle comedy (droll delivery of textbook facts, condemnation of his Grandfather which hedges on indifference) and out the broad slapstick (two entirely different "kneejerk" reaction gags) as deftly as any of his other comedic roles (his title role as "Cisco Kid" refuses to ride a horse on the Sabbath, turning the traditional Western horse chase into a classic gag)

 

3. Watch any of the Hammer horror films of the '60s, all remakes on classic horror genre, all full color, and what do you see?  Red blood, I'll give you that, but then what?  Gray, Brown, Black, Stone.  Filming the original set pieces in color would have lessened the other comedic aspects of the film. 
 

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

 

This particular scene we have been given to review does not, in my opinion, successfully parody the old Universal horror films of the 1930s except for being filmed in black and white.  The lecture hall looks modern, the student interns’ hairstyles and dress appear to be more contemporary than the 30s.  It’s not until Gene Wilder’s character returns to his father’s home/castle that we seem to enter a 1930s Universal horror picture.  From that point on, we could just as well be watching a Boris Karloff flick.

 

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 painful and violent self-stabbing of Dr. Frankenstein’s leg is of itself an act of broad slapstick humour as done by the Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy and so many others in our study of earlier comedies.  The difference in subtlety is Gene Wilder’s reaction to the violent accident as he attempts to remain calm, cross his legs, and as he tries so hard to mask the pain, he casually dismisses the class.

 

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

 

I do not think Young Frankenstein would have worked as well had it been shot in color mainly because as a parody of the original Frankenstein (1931) and The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) were both widely considered classic horror films and shot in black and white.  For Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder to make Young Frankenstein a true homage to these iconic films they should replicate as much as possible regarding the set design and production values.  That they did and as mentioned earlier they used some of the original props as seen in the 1930s versions of the Frankenstein period pieces.

 

On the other hand, what Blake Edwards accomplished in The Great Race (1965) as homage to the silent comedies of yesteryear as well as a tip of the hat to Looney Toons and other animated cartoons, which we have concluded were also a homage to slapstick comedy.  Color not only worked well for The Great Race but was necessary component.   

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