Young Frankenstein

I spent hours grading papers.  The afternoon was getting warm, and I kept writing things with my red pen.  I went home and rested a bit, hearing about the death of Garry Shandling.  I went out to buy a chicken burrito, and then at the record store, I bought the mono CD editions of “With the Beatles” and “Beatles for Sale.”  I walked over to the movie theatre for the Flashback Feature, which was “Young Frankenstein.”  It didn’t attract too many viewers.  Maybe the usual crowd was away for spring break, and maybe some of them didn’t think much of Mel Brooks.  This audience was rather subdued and not ready to laugh.  I thought this was perhaps Mel Brooks’ greatest film.  Some of the jokes seem to fall flat with today’s crowd, and perhaps I’ve seen this movie too many times over the years.  Gene Wilder had many of his funniest moments of his career in this film, although he yelled too much.  One of his great scenes was the part where he locked himself in the room and didn’t allow anyone to let him out.  I thought that Marty Feldman was very funny, too, especially when it looked like his head was on that shelf.  Also, you can’t forget about Abby Normal.  Peter Boyle was exceptionally good as The Creature.  I would have thought he’d have larger scars on his head, seeing that he got a new brain.  The cobwebs in the laboratory were impressive.  I kept wondered how they managed to clean it all up.  The revolving bookshelf was funny.  I think I must have learned “Puttin’ on the Ritz” from this movie.  I wonder if The Creature had ever heard of Gary Cooper.  What did the people in the village do except drink and throw darts?  Madeline Kahn was quite funny.  The train scene brought to mind both “Casablanca” and “The Great Dictator.”  I don’t know what life was her was like at the end.  If the husband was more interested in his newspaper, the scene was like Orson Welles at the table in “Citizen Kane.”  Teri Garr was good in this movie, too.  When I think about her over the years, I remember her for “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Tootsie,” and “Mr. Mom.”  Cloris Leachman wasn’t on the screen as much as I remembered. Gene Hackman was in one of the best scenes.  His character was supposed to be blind, but you wouldn’t think so from the way his eyes moved at times.  The Creature was oblivious to what would happen with his thumb.  I wasn’t sure why he would want to smoke a cigar if he was afraid of fire.  I thought that a slight disappointment was that Mel Brooks didn’t at least make a cameo appearance.  He could at least have been one of the villagers in a crowd scene or in the audience throwing cabbage.  He filmed a lot of footage that he edited out because of the jokes that were flat.  That was what Charlie Chaplin would do.  I thought Brooks perfected the combination of parody and homage with “Young Frankenstein.”  He slipped a bit with “Silent Movie” and “High Anxiety.”  He probably should have gone back to basics at that point and returned to the style of “The Twelve Chairs” or “The Producers.”  “Young Frankenstein” is a part of my memories from the time just before movies like “Jaws” and “Star Wars” became huge hits.  My brother and I went to see it in the theatre, and we sat through it twice.  During the second time, some idiot shouted out one of Frau Blücher’s jokes.  The movie ran longer than I expected.  It was eleven o’clock when I left the theatre.  I walked home thinking about how the years have passed.  Most of the cast members of “Young Frankenstein” are still alive, except for Madeline Kahn and Peter Boyle.  Cloris Leachman and Mel Brooks are both going to turn 90 this year.  When I got home, I watched some television before going to bed.  One news item I kept hearing about was the Stephen Curry wax figure.  Also, the Rolling Stones were going to perform in Cuba.  One of the bits I’m rather tired of, though, was the charades.  Some of the people who died on March 25 include Claude Debussy (1918), Nancy Walker (1992), and Buck Owens (2006).  Today is a birthday for Elton John (69), Aretha Franklin (74), and Gloria Steinem (82).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for March 2, Elvis Presley performed a benefit concert at Bloch Arena in 1961 to raise money for the construction of a USS Arizona memorial, raising $54,000.  In 1967, The Who made their U.S. concert debut at the RKO 58th Street Theater in New York City.  In 2005, Jennifer Aniston filed for divorce from Brad Pitt.  Today Paul Michael Glaser, who was Starsky from “Starsky and Hutch,” turned 73.

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