Mel Brooks Remembers Young Frankenstein

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“I was five years old in 1931 when James Whale’s Frankenstein came out… that movie scared the hell out of me. I was really terrified,” Mel Brooks recalled. “It was the scariest thing I saw in my life.”

Little did he know that approximately forty years later that film would inspire Gene Wilder and himself to create Young Frankenstein.

He said, “Of all my films, I am the proudest of this one. We set out to make a beautiful period picture, with all of the craftsmanship of James Whale’s 1930s films. And, of course, this time with laughs.”

Below Mel Brooks remembers the cast of the film.

1. Gene Wilder

“Gene intuited all my directions… His acting, his loungewear, his perfect mustache, and his beautiful shiny hair all evoked the style of a 1930s matinee idol. He never cared about looking handsome. He just wanted to be the character.”

2. Teri Garr

“It was Gene, not me, who insisted we audition [Teri Garr]… I saw her screen test and saw that the camera loved her, her face, and her lovely white-blonde hair, which shone so beautifully. And she was a dancer, so she moved so gracefully. Gene didn’t know he was funny, and Teri didn’t know she was sexy.”

3. Madeline Kahn

“She was one of the most gifted people – her timing, her voice, her attitude. The camera was in love with her. She had beautiful skin and auburn hair, high cheekbones. And if she wanted to, she could have been a legitimate Metropolitan Opera singer.”

4. Cloris Leachman

“I was madly in love with Cloris right from the beginning because she could do anything. Talk about talent, she was maybe one of the most talented people we had there. She could play anything, and her accent was perfect from the beginning.”

5. Peter Boyle

“Peter was a consummate artist, and the beauty of him came through, his soul shone through… I wanted the monster to scare the hell out of the audience and still, in the end, be beautiful and eloquent, and he was.”

6. Marty Feldman

“I fell in love with Mary Feldman instantly… No one has the courage to pause in a scene as long as Marty Feldman did. I’ll never forget when we were filming the dinner-table scene.”

7. Gene Hackman

“Gene Wilder played tennis with Gene Hackman… he was itching to do comedy. When people saw Young Frankenstein in the theater, nobody knew the blindman was Gene Hackman… Hackman’s line readings were hysterical, but he didn’t push it.”