Young Frankenstein

Special Edition

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Details At A Glance

Category Comedy Audio Commentary - Mel Brooks (Director)
Deleted Scenes (7)
Documentary - Making Frankensense of Young Frankenstein
Featurette - Mexican Television Interviews (2)
Television Spots (7)
Trailers (5)
Year Released 1974
Running Time 101:19 minutes
RSDL/Flipper Dual Layer
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Mel Brooks
20th Century Fox
Fox Home Entertainment
Starring Gene Wilder
Peter Boyle
Marty Feldman
Cloris Leachman
Teri Garr
Kenneth Mars
Madeline Kahn
Case Transparent Amaray
RPI $36.95 Music John Morris

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No English (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192 Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 96 Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision ?Yes Smoking Yes
Subtitles Czech
English for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    Having been brought up on a diet of films of the ilk of the original Frankenstein, Bride Of Frankenstein and Son Of Frankenstein, Gene Wilder had the urge to make something of a comedy homage to the horror films of the 1930s. I for one will be eternally grateful that he did so, as this is one of the most sublime spoofs of all time. The 1970s seemed to be blessed with a number of modern day spoofs, along the lines of Airplane! (Flying High in Australia), but none come within a bull's roar of this wonderful effort from Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks. Indeed, this has been called the funniest comedy of all time by some. Whilst I would perhaps not go so far as to attach that appellation to the film (The General may well qualify though), there is no doubt that it is a very funny film and this is certainly the view of the voters on the Internet Movie Database who currently have this rated at a solid 8 stars out of 10, and well into the Top 250 films of all time.

    Dr Friedrich Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) is the grandson of the late Victor Frankenstein and is desperately trying to escape from the name created by his grandfather. Friedrich - the name is Frankenstein, as in Fron-ken-steen - has excelled as a doctor and is ranked highly as an expert in his field (being cephalic matters). Under a peculiar set of circumstances as a result, he is the sole heir and beneficiary of his great-grandfather's estate and travels to Transylvania to tidy up the affairs of the estate. This journey not only separates him from his fiancee Elizabeth (Madeline Kahn) but reunites a member of the Frankenstein family with Igor (Marty Feldman), pronounced of course as Eyegor and not Egor. Oh, and throw in a beautiful laboratory assistant in Inga (Teri Garr). Met at the Frankenstein castle by Frau Blucher (Cloris Leachman), a mysterious woman whose name has a dreadful effect on horses, it does not take long for the peculiarities of Victor's research to exert their pull on Friedrich - especially with Frau Blucher pulling a few strings (well, bowing a few strings actually). So the slightly crazed Friedrich and his faithful (?) assistant Igor go off in search of a suitable body, plus a brain to match. Things don't quite go to plan and the result is The Monster (Peter Boyle), a man of huge size (including his whatsit) but minuscule (and not quite normal) brain. As the townsfolk fear a return to the bad old days, they are lead by Inspector Kemp (Kenneth Mars) in an assault to finally rid the town of the curse of Frankenstein.

    This rally is just a wonderful film in every respect. The aim was very much to create the feel of those 1930s horror films and in that respect Director of Photography Gerald Hirschfeld excelled beyond even Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks wildest dreams I would suspect. It also seems to create a nice film noirish feel to the film at times as well. A superbly crafted piece of work from the pen of Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks, this required a great piece of casting to make it work and they sure got it. Leading from the front as it were was Gene Wilder who does a sterling job as Friedrich, adding just the right sort of comic touch to the proceedings. The irrepressible Marty Feldman is superb as Igor, and just about everything he does has such wry timing and touch to it that it is easily understood why they had a hard time filming the film, as everyone was dissolving into laughter. Peter Boyle adds a charmingly childlike performance as the Monster, whilst Teri Garr adds a wonderfully coquettish turn as the sexy lab assistant. The brilliance of Cloris Leachman is plain to see, and this really is a superbly cast effort. Even the short part of Gene Hackman is handled with aplomb, even though the gags are just a little obvious (which still does not stop the laughter though). Arguments will rage for years as to which film represents the greatest work of Mel Brooks. Stick my vote down for Young Frankenstein. It is amazing what this collection of people did with a budget of around $2.5 million dollars. Columbia must have spit chips over what this film did at the box office - US domestic box office receipts of over $80 million alone - and it could have been theirs, but for the sake of a further $750,000 (they wanted the budget restricted to $1.75 million). Columbia's loss has more than proved to be 20th Century Fox's gain. The money that this film has made over the past 26 years is quite amazing. By most indicators, a highly successful film critically and financially.

    One of the great comedy films of all time for sure, and an absolutely brilliant homage to the horror films of the 1930s. If you enjoy those films, this is an essential purchase. If you enjoy great comedy, this is an essential purchase. If you like entertainment, just get it.

Transfer Quality


    Because of the need to capture the feel of those 1930s horror films, it was agreed that this would be shot in black and white - despite heavy pressure from the studio for it to be shot in colour. Who needs colour? There is more feeling to this film than colour could ever provide, and it so captures the essence of the 1930s films that the only thing that really detracts is actually the aspect ratio, and even that was a compromise - the intended ratio was 1.37:1, but the eventual theatrical ratio was 1.85:1 as we get here. Rather unusually for black and white, since they usually are 1.33:1 presentations, this effort is 16x9 enhanced. A very welcome decision from Fox Home Entertainment indeed.

    Since this is such a comparatively recent film, the transfer is quite sharp with some rather nice detail. However, the homage to those 1930s films did extend to the odd instance of soft images (check out a few of Teri Garr's appearances on screen), but this really only adds to the excellence on offer here. Shadow detail is intentionally divergent, with some excellent sections and some quite restrained sections: again, this is part of the effort to capture the feel of the 1930s films. This is generally a nice, clear transfer although there a few sections blessed with serious grain issues - 23:29 and 28:56 are good examples - which may partly be intended, but do detract a little from the overall transfer. There does not appear to be any significant low level noise problems with the transfer.

    Naturally enough, this is one of the best looking black and white transfers around for the simple reason that it truly is black and white. There is some really serious depth to the black tones here and the overall effect is for some gorgeous detail in the grey tones. The deep black tones are well used to create a faux-dark feel to the film at times that really is evocative of those 1930s films. This is a seriously good looking transfer as far as colours go.

    There are no significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There are also no significant film-to-video artefacts in the transfer, with only a couple of instances of relatively minor aliasing being noted - 3:30 and 40:04 being good examples of how relatively minor the issue is. There was a few rather obvious film artefacts floating around here with one or two being rather distracting - the large scratches at 18:16 being one. There were not as many as I was anticipating for a 26 year old overall, but when they were there they tended to be just a little noticeable. There was an odd jerky look to the film during the pan shot at 91:30 which may be indicative of a transfer problem.

    This is presumably a Dual Layer DVD since I did not note any layer change during the film. A nice piece of mastering to do this, with the film on one layer and the extras on the other.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-to-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The homage to those 1930s films even extends to the audio transfer that is done in such a way as to almost emphasize a monaural sound. Once you get used to this and understand this, the result is quite effective indeed. There are only two soundtracks on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 2.0 effort and an English Audio Commentary in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound. I listened to both of the soundtracks.

    The dialogue comes up quite clear and easily understood in the transfer, which is hugely important in picking up some of the subtle humour at times. There was no problem with audio sync in the transfer (at least something was introduced here to keep the entire homage feel going!).

    The original music score comes from John Morris, and whilst it obviously draws a lot from the 1930s films is nonetheless a quite effective score. In many ways it is a little more subtle than perhaps it should have been, but that really is the only complaint I could level at the score.

    Since this is not a surround-encoded soundtrack - I am eternally grateful that they did not produce a 5.1 remaster here - there is no use of the surround channels and the bass channel. The entire soundtrack has been mastered to produce a lovely 1930s type of sound, but without the murkiness and lack of detail. This really is a nicely detailed soundtrack and there is nothing here to complain about.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    This is a rare instance of Fox Home Entertainment blowing their own trumpet, since this is a single DVD that is emblazoned with the Special Edition tag. Believe me it deserves it, and this is a very good effort from Fox both in quantity and quality.


    Very nicely themed throughout and all 16x9 enhanced to boot! About the only complaint would be that they have no audio enhancement, but nicely done all the same.

Audio Commentary - Mel Brooks (Director)

    Perhaps the expectations going in to this were too high. After all, we are talking about Mel Brooks, one of the great comedy directors. However, I really found this to be on the dullish side, with Mel Brooks getting especially sidetracked at times. He also has a fairly quiet manner that is completely contrary to the manic style he creates in films and trailers, and does lead to some poignant pauses (trying to be polite). Still, if you can get through the slow delivery, the sidetracks and so on, he does occasionally give out a few gems about the film. I certainly would not be rating this amongst the best that I have heard.

Deleted Scenes

    These comprise seven scenes removed from the film for various reasons - length and to speed up the film mainly - referred to as:     Whilst one or two of the scenes I would have liked to see back into the film - Inspector Kemp's arrival at the castle for instance makes more sense with this scene - most were ditched for clear enough reasons. All are presented in a Full Frame format, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. The interesting thing about the presentation is that they state what the scene numbers are, so in theory you can fit them right into the correct place in the film. A couple suffer quite a bit from film artefacts, the first especially, whilst the second listed has some cross colouration issues. Worthwhile inclusion though.

Documentary - Making Frankensense of Young Frankenstein (40:10)

    This was made in 1996 and therefore represents a fond look back at the film from some of the main protagonists - Gene Wilder, producer Michael Gruskoff and DP Gerald Hirschfeld amongst them. I found this to be an interesting and informative effort, which immediately makes it a big plus. Presented in a Full Frame format, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, this is technically very good with little in the way of noticeable problems at all. Very worthwhile inclusion.

Featurette - Mexican Television Interviews (6:29)

    These two interview segments were presumably shot during the making of the film. One is with Marty Feldman and the other with Gene Wilder and Cloris Leachman. Since the interviewer was doing everything in Spanish, things get a little out of hand and a thoroughly bewildered Marty Feldman clowning around is a joy to watch. Even Gene Wilder has some problems here. Fascinating but hardly essential, they are presented in a Full Frame format, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Outtakes (4:55)

    These comprise eight different outtakes, of which a few are essentially duplications of the same scene from a different angle. However, they do sure indicate that this film must have been a laugh to be involved with as all the cast seen here seem to have problems keeping a straight face. They are presented in a Full Frame format, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, as well as a bit of a dose of film artefacts. A nice addition even if more could have been accommodated had they been available.

Television Spots (3:31)

    A total of one 60 second spot, three thirty second spots and five ten second spots provide a not overly interesting iteration of the same theme. Presented in a Full Frame format, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, they are mildly blessed with film artefacts and some aliasing.

Trailers (7:28)

    These comprise five essentially different trailers detailed as follows:     They are all presented in a Full Frame format, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. A couple are especially blessed with film artefacts but other than that there is not much of concern here. Naturally rather repetitive in nature.

R4 vs R1

    The Region 4 release misses out on:     The Region 1 release misses out on:     Unless you require a French or Spanish soundtrack (like our friends in the South Pacific or South America - Region 4 too you know) I would willingly forgo the photographs for 16x9 enhancement. A direct comparison between the two releases indicates that the Region 1 release is perhaps a little smoother looking (odd but true) but not quite as vibrant in the colours. The audio is also transferred at a distinctly higher level in the Region 1 release and the film loses some of that 1930s feel to it as a result. Sure that is fixable by turning down the volume but it seems a little odd nonetheless. The Region 4 release is the better marginally though as a result of having the 16x9 enhancement, which will please all those with widescreen televisions.


    What more needs to be said? Young Frankenstein is Mel Brooks best film and a classic homage/parody of the great horror films of the 1930s. Fox Home Entertainment have given this a Special Edition tag and it largely deserves it. Another thumbs up I would say in the Christmas rush.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
17th November 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 80cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL