U.S., 1974, 105 min, 2K DCP, Dir. Mel Brooks, Rated PG, 20th Century Studios
Sunday, May 7
“Wilder's hysteria seems perfectly natural. You never question what's driving him to it; his fits are lucid and total. They take him into a different dimension – he delivers what Harpo promised.” – Pauline Kael, New Yorker
"This Mel Brooks pastiche is probably his best early film." –Don Druker, Chicago Reader
Selected by Steven Krams
Gene Wilder is a legend. There's no way around it. His passing was a cold reminder of his brilliance, as his many friends and colleagues spoke about his lasting legacy and impact on the world. In this satirical homage to the classic creature features of the 1930s, his uniquely hysterical brand of comedy was at its peak as bright young neurosurgeon Dr. Fredrick Frankenstein (that's "Fronkensteen") – a dazzling tour de force of hilarity and moments of pathos that make for a truly timeless performance.
After receiving his grandfather's inheritance, Dr. Frankenstein reluctantly follows in his footsteps and harnesses the ability to reanimate the dead. Along with the help of his crotchety assistant Igor (Marty Feldman), his first creation (Peter Boyle) takes the scientific world by storm. Wilder was not simply an on-screen presence: he himself pitched the original idea for the film to director Mel Brooks on the set of Blazing Saddles. In between shooting on the satirical western, Brooks and Wilder wrote scenes together with earl grey tea and digestive biscuits. What they created was unquestionably one of the funniest films of all time that was deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" by the National Film Preservation Board.
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