What I’m Watching Now (Young Frankenstein)

In the struggle to transcend the evil and hatred in the air, I’ve taken to escaping via Netflix into vintage films and a few TV shows. Not long ago I watched Young Frankenstein. I got as far as “Puttin’ on the Ritz” and had to stop. Breathing had become a problem. Recovered and was able to get to the end the following evening.

The only things I remembered from first viewing  were Gene Wilder’s eyeliner, the changing pronunciation of “Frankenstein,” and Igor’s traveling hump. Wilder gives Dr. Frank a comic and weird turn, but I could only see him in Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex, lying in a gutter with a bottle of Woolite.

Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman, and Teri Garr rock their parts, especially Leachman as Frau Blücher. The “Car Talk” boys adopted the neighing horses that follow any mention of her name in their credits. It was even more meaningful to hear it in the original.

Young Frankenstein holds up much better than other archival shows. I’m thinking especially of Fawlty Towers. It now comes off as sexist, racist, violent, and cruel.

Next up: Star Trek, the original series. I never saw all the episodes, but reviews suggest that Gene Roddenberry’s work remains even more contemporary than Mel Brooks’s.

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