Along with the werewolf, Dracula, and Jar Jar Binks, one of the most terrifying monsters returns to movie theaters this weekend – the Frankenstein monster. Aaron Eckhart plays the lead role in the new film, I, Frankenstein. Just like with any famous monster, Frankenstein has certainly had his share of movies. But the greatest of them all just might be a comedic version of the character in the 1974 Mel Brooks classic, Young Frankenstein.
In a genre dominated by the latest YouTube craze, Sacha Baron Cohen stunt gags, and whatever other crap comedies that have been farted onto the screen the last few years, revisiting Young Frankenstein was like a breath of fresh air. Sorry to be an old curmudgeon, but they really don’t make ’em like they used too…they really don’t. This is a rich comedy that is just infused with brilliant performances and subtle humor. This will be a difficult top ten to appreciate if you haven’t seen it, but in honor of the big green guy’s return to theaters this weekend, here is my Top 10 Funniest Moments from Young Frankenstein!
*Young Frankenstein Spoilers Below*
10) “It’s Alive!”
This is the kind of subtle humor I’m talking about, and what you’re going to find all through out this countdown. Brooks takes the classic “It’s alive!” scene, and instead of incorporating some big elaborate joke to accompany it, the reaction on the monster’s face (played wonderfully by Peter Boyle) is all you need. It’s a look as if to say, “What the hell is with this guy?”
9) “Roll in the Hay!”
-Teri Garr has certainly had a celebrated career, and this was definitely one of her more famous roles. Garr plays Inga, Dr. Frankenstein’s lab assistant. She’s great throughout the whole movie, but it’s actually her first scene that ends up being her best. She’s just lying in the carriage as she randomly asks Dr. Frankenstein if he’d like to roll around in the hay…it just comes out of no where. Not only is it completely random, but it’s her accent that really makes this moment stand out. Even in the Young Frankenstein musical, this ended up being turned into a fricking song!
8) Random Rioter Walks into a Tree
If you search other Young Frankenstein related top tens, I’m pretty sure I’ll be the only moron to have this on any sort of list. There’s no way I would have been able to find a clip of this, but towards the end of the film when the rioters head for Frankenstein’s house, there’s suddenly a random guy who walks into a tree, and then the scene just dissolves. For whatever reason, that just cracks me up. For people who have seen this film multiple times, I hope someone out there knows what I’m talking about.
7) Abby Normal
Oh, Igor. How I love thee. Marty Feldman gives a comedic performance for the ages as the kooky crazy Igor, another of Dr. Frankenstein’s assistants. This is by far one of his best moments, and a great pay off to an earlier scene we’ll talk about later as well. Who thinks to refer to “Abnormal” as “Abby Normal”? Comedic brilliance.
6) “Sedagive” Charades
It’s a classic set-up – Dr. Frankenstein makes it clear that if the monster gets out of control, give him a sedative. The monster does in fact get out of control, and instead of a simple sedative, we are treated to the most hilarious game of charades in the history of charades. “Sedagive!” “Sedagive!”
5) Dance Number
This clip speaks for itself. It’s Gene Wilder and the monster doing a big musical number, and is easily Peter Boyle’s best moment in the film. It’s this type of stuff that makes a tear roll down my cheek at the state of comedy today…
4) Igor’s Redecorating Ideas
I’m pissed I couldn’t find a clip of this scene, but it’s another good opportunity to talk about Marty Feldman as Igor. It’s one of those performances where every time he’s on screen, you at least chuckle. One line in particular though captures his brilliance beautifully. Dr. Frankenstein, Inga, and Igor all enter the lab for the first time, and Dr. Frankenstein proclaims “What a filthy mess!” Out of no where, Igor retorts with this gem:
“I don’t know…a little paint, a few flowers, a couple of throw pillows…”
The delivery is funny enough, but Feldman adds that extra touch by rubbing his head against Dr. Frankenstein’s shoulder. It’s a blink and you’ll miss it moment, but so perfectly hilarious if you catch it.
3) Frau Blucher!
There’s a lot of recurring jokes in Young Frankenstein, but this is by far my favorite. It’s pretty simple – every time Frau Blucher’s (Cloris Leachman) name gets mentioned, horses go crazy. It’s rare when a long running gag gets better as the film goes on, but that’s exactly what happens here. The character actually goes away for a while, but when she gets mentioned again inside the Frankenstein house, you can here a distant horse cry from outside. It’s comedy at its finest.
2) Gene Wilder’s Performance
Yeah, I’m sort of cheating on this one, but quite frankly, I can’t single out one moment from Wilder’s performance. The film simply doesn’t work without him. The over dramatic speeches, the hilarious dialogue, the gravitas in his voice. Seriously, he makes words like “doo-doo” and “yummy” sound important. One of the long running jokes is how Dr. Frankenstein wants his name pronounced (Fronkensteen) in order to distance himself from his family name. On paper, it’s really not that funny, but Wilder makes it work. What I really love about this performance though is that the script is constantly setting up gags in the most calm manner imaginable, but Wilder’s payoff is always overly dramatic, like in this clip where Dr. Frankenstein accepts his failure with “dignity and grace.”
You know it’s coming, but still hilarious. While the script for Young Frankenstein was actually nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay (shared by both Wilder and Mel Brooks), Wilder himself should have been nominated for his performance. Comedy is hard to pull off, and that’s something the Academy has rarely embraced.
1) The Brain Depositary Sign:
Out of all the great performances and moments in this film, it might seem pretty stupid to put this as my #1 funniest moment, but at the end of the day, it makes me laugh the hardest. Way back when I counted down my Top 10 Funniest Movie Scenes of All-Time, I had a similar gag ranked #1 on the list, so at least I’m consistent. Ironically, that also came from another Mel Brooks film. While the scene that follows is also pretty funny, it’s all about that sign:
What else is there to say?