Archive for Young Frankenstein

“What knockers!”

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on October 15, 2012 by dcairns

Light posting this week as I’m filming some mysterious goings-on Thursday-Friday. But over at Limerwrecks the Halloween countdown continues with a limerick on the last days of Hammer films, a rhyme rhapsodising on Dwight Frye’s performance in FRANKENSTEIN, co-authored with horror host Hilary Barta, and an ode to that most melancholy of monsters, Karloff.

Title from YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, of course, image from LUST FOR A VAMPIRE.

Mysteries of New York #2

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 1, 2011 by dcairns

From PUTTIN’ ON THE RITZ, “starring” Harry Richman and a peroxide Joan Bennett. James Gleason and Lilyan Tashman add comedic hemoglobin. Director Edward Sloman lives down to his name, but check the crazy designwork of William Cameron Menzies ~

This rendition of the title song predates Astaire by some years — this is 1929. It also anticipates Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle’s spirited rendition in YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN — this may be where the idea of coupling the Irving Berlin number’s elegance and grace with some good old-fashioned grotesquerie and strangeness came from.

“I don’t like that wailing,” protested Fiona, happening by. I do! Perhaps it’s the inspiration for Peter Boyle’s howl. In any even, it meshes well with the overall scariness — the Fleischer Bros cartoon buildings looming from the backdrop, the overall grainy DARKNESS of this print (a BBC2 off-air recording from the 80s), and the moody pounding of the piano…

However, this creep factor is but a foretaste of the movie’s climactic production number, a song about Alice in Wonderland, in which Menzies gets to rehearse his subsequent Norman Z McLeod feature. Being a condensed version, this is maybe even more nightmarish, alienating and fizzy-facky than the full-length atrocity. When we cut to the ecstatic audience at the end, it’s amazing to see that they have not, en masse, torn out their kneecaps and stuffed them into their eye sockets just to blot out the terror.

Quote of the Day: Days and Nights in the Forest

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2008 by dcairns

Into the Woods

“A LUMINOUS AFTERNOON in the black-and-white forest. The monster, played by Boris Karloff, pauses as he hears the sweet notes of a violin. His face lights, he lumbers through the woods, following the sound. He comes to a cosy cottage among the trees, very gingerbread. Inside, the violin is being played by a blind hermit, who is being played by O.P. Heggie. The monster approaches, and pounds on the door.”

~ from Jimmy the Kid, by Donald E. Westlake.

Well, since we just had Otto Preminger Week, seems like a good idea to name-check that other O.P., surname Heggie.

(Actually, Westlake conflates two scenes: the daylight forest above, and the hermit encounter which happens at dusk.)

The Sound of Music

The parody of the blind hermit scene in YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, with an exuberant Gene Hackman in the Heggie role, is so very fine it almost ruins the original. But Mel Brooks clearly loves the James Whale movies he’s satirising, so there’s no real damage done. It may be a difficulty of the parody genre — if the filmmaker doesn’t love what s/he’s mocking, the spoof rarely hits the right notes. If they do love it, the parody won’t have bite. In Brooks’ case he’s not out to destroy the original, he’s just riffing on it, and so we end up with a pleasing comedy version of ’30s Universal horror, rather than any kind of deconstruction of it. Whereas BLAZING SADDLES attacks the ailing western the way Gary Cooper attacks Jack Lord in MAN OF THE WEST, not only delivering a punitive beating, but tearing the pants off it as well.

The Dead Walk