Young Frankenstein has always been one of my favorite movies.
On rainy summer afternoons I would stay in and watch the Creature Feature on TV. There were only 8 channels in the 1970s. The creatures were usually of the 1950’s sci-fi variety; giant tarantulas, Invaders from Mars, or gelatinous blobs. But sometimes they were of the 1930’s/40’s Universal horror type; Dracula, the Wolfman, or better yet…. the monster Frankenstein.
There’s no doubt that Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks loved those old Frankenstein movies too.
Columbia Pictures wasn’t happy about Brook’s desire to film Gene Wilder’s monster satire in black and white to mimic the look of the old Universal horror films. The studio tried to trick Brooks into filming on color stock, for the Peruvian audiences they said, but would switch the final print to B/W in post production. Brooks stood his ground because he knew Columbia would “screw him” – his words, not mine. When 20th Century Fox eventually bought the rights they were fine with the the director’s choice of a black and white film, 1930’s style opening credits, and scenes that fade to black.
Much of the equipment in the Frankenstein lab was built for James Wale’s Frankenstein movies by Ken Strickfaden. Brooks visited him and was delighted to find most of the pieces were stored in Strickfaden’s garage, and still worked.
Gene Wilder persuaded Brooks to skip his usual cameo, as he thought it would disrupt the tone of the film. Brooks sort of agreed, with minor cameos; he’s the voice of the howling wolves, Fredrick’s grandfather, and the shrieking cat struck by a dart. There’s also a gargoyle on the side of the castle that bears a pretty striking resemblance to the director.
It’s rumored that the scene where Young Dr. Frankenstein and Igor meet at the train station for the first time inspired the Aerosmith song, “Walk the Way”. Rumored anyway. Wilder did write the scene especially for Marty Feldman after watching him on the Dean Martin Show.
Marty routinely moved his fake hump from side to side while filming to see if anyone would notice. Not only did Mel find it hysterical, the joke was added to the movie.
Madeliene Khan was offered the role of Inga, the ditzy lab assistant, but after reading the script she decided on the part of Elizabeth, the fiancé. Brooks though she was crazy; Inga had four times the screen time. But Khan masterfully turns every minute of Elizabeth into comedy gold.
Terry Garr (after she was booted from the part of Elizabeth) modeled her character, Inga – the lab assistant, on Cher’s hairdresser. Or rather, her wig stylist. We all know that Cher hasn’t displayed her real hair since the LBJ administration.
Kenneth Mars was offered the part of Inspector Kemp only if he agreed to wear an eye patch with a monocle over it. Obviously, he didn’t object. This was a step up from his last Brook’s film where his wardrobe was a Nazi Helmut and union suit covered in pigeon shit.
Chloris Leachman’s Frau Bluher – Contrary to popular belief, Bluher does not mean “glue’ in German, she’s just one scary bitch, who’s name alone frightens horses – garnered her a Golden Globe nomination for best actress. Leachman was even offered to reprise her role 40-plus years later in the musical stage version of the movie. Unfortunately, the musical’s run ended before she could accept.
Gene Hackman was originally uncredited, and unpaid. He offered to work for free after reading Wilder’s script, wanting to try a comedy role for a change. His line, “I was gonna make espresso!” was ad-libbed and the scene quickly fades to black to hide the crew’s laughter.
Young Frankenstein’s original run-time was twice as long as the final cut. Brooks and Wilder were tasked with reducing the footage by almost half. For every joke that worked, there were three that fell flat. (Like the record of Frederick’s grandfather’s reading his last will that gets stuck repeating, “Up yours”, over and over) Brooks was uncertain about the Puttin’ on the Ritz number, and fought viciously with Wilder who wanted to keep it in. He changed his mind the minute he heard the preview audience roaring with laughter. The biggest laugh of the movie is quite clearly the Creature’s garbled,
“Puiinin on da reeez!”
Young Frankenstein was an immediate hit, with audiences and critics, grossing $86.2 million on a mere $2.78 million budget.
It’s a rare film that manages to be equal amounts of nostalgia and irreverence.
Sadly this was the last collaboration for the team of Brooks and Wilder. Quite a loss as all three movies the pair worked on together; The Producers, Blazing Saddles, and Young Frankenstein, have been added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry.
Haven’t seen this movie in a while? Or sadly….. never.
Do yourself a favor; pop some popcorn, curl up on the couch…. and revisit/discover this absolute gem.
and Happy Halloween.
How cool are these?
Lately I have been fascinated by the work of artist Richard Wilkinson. And not just because he makes “Star Wars Bugs”.
He does. Really he does.
Take a look at these classic Hollywood monsters rethought as insects.
I used to day-dream about my wedding.
You know, back when I had girlfriends that I could imagine myself marrying. (Not so much consummating the union, but certainly verifying it in front of family and friends.)
My dream wedding was a big 80’s style shin-dig; 8-10 groomsmen and myself garbed in the finest tuxedos that Gengis had to rent that week and my future wife wrapped in a parade float of a Disney princess gown with shoulder poofs like Joan Collins would wear. There would be a 4 tiered punch fountain, a six course sit-down dinner with calligraphed place cards, and display tables overflowing with all the monogrammed sterling we’d been gifted.
But that vision came to a crashing halt when I came to certain terms with myself.
I think y’all know what I mean,
The best I could hope for was some kind of “civil union”.
Didn’t matter anyway, what followed was a string of losers; users and addicts, and guys that really just weren’t that into me and I settled on the fact that I’d better learn to change my own adult diapers because I was probably going to be flying solo.
Our first date was nice, comfortable even. (I had Kylie call me an hour into it just incase I needed an “out”. Which I didn’t). On our second date, sitting on Jamie’s futon, both of us singing “Good Morning” with Gene, and Donald, and Debbie …… I just knew;
This was the guy.
It’s the best twelve years of my life later – and he’s still the guy.
He better be. That’s a quarter of my life I’ve spent with him. (Although, I did get rid of that futon as fast as I could)
We moved in together 9 years ago. And even though we’re partners, best friends, and our lives are completely intertwined at this point, we each had a running joke that,
”I don’t see no ring on this finger.”
But that changed 2 years ago. While standing in Battery Park, looking out at the Statue of Liberty, Jamie produced a small turquoise box and officially asked me to spend the rest of my life with him.
Of course I would.
I never thought that I wouldn’t.
And we were finally able to, legally. On June 26, 2015 the United States Supreme Court recognized that we was the same as every other American. That whomever we choose to love was ok.
We considered just going to Dallas City Hall, or having a simple ring exchange at a boutique hotel. I even toyed with the idea of springing an elopement on him while we were in Key West last year. Why not just work a wedding into an existing vacation? – A half hour diversion from eating conch fritters and lying on the beach.
We didn’t think anyone would want to attend anyway.
But they did.
So last weekend, we loaded a party bus with family and close friends, and dragged them about an hour and a half north of Las Vegas into the Valley of Fire for a small ceremony.
We were married exactly 12 years to the day of our first date.
There were no decorations. No groomsmen. No punch bowls. No stuffiness.
And it was just perfect.
Now, we are more than partners, we’re officially husbands,
And it’s Jamie who is legally bound to decide if I stay on life support. (The correct answer is, “no”) But more importantly, he is first in line to inherit all my crap; thousands of glass Christmas ornaments, 15 pair of velvet slippers – 3 sizes to big for him, every Martha Stewart Living Magazine ever printed, and about 300 mint-condition, carded Star Wars action figures.
Yupp, all his.
Pretty sure this means he is also legally bound to change my adult diapers to,
Lucky, lucky, luck luck.
I’m so looking forward to our continuing adventures together ….. officially as husbands.
Jamie and I don’t have any kids.
And we won’t. (At least, not without the help of modern science or divine intervention)
Our dog is the closest we’re going to get.
If you’re a true Cavender Diary reader, you’ll remember when we adopted our Harley Davidson – back when Jamie did all the writing on this blog. Loosing her in October was the hardest thing we’ve gone through together…..
But it’s been a few months, and we’re ready to move forward.
A few weeks ago, Jamie reached out to a couple Doberman rescue groups to see if there was possibly a good fit for us. After a written exam, several phone interviews, and a home visit, Lone Star Doberman Rescue matched us with a 14 month-old boy in Argyle, TX. named “Styrke” – Norwegian for “Iron”.
Look at those big floppy ears and that pink tongue.
How could we resist?
So, once again, we took a 45 minute trip just to meet a dog……and proceeded to bring that dog back home with us.
He was waiting for us at the end of the driveway, I think he knew.
Our second rescue, our second Doberman rescue together. My third Doberman. I had one just before Jamie and I moved in together. Faust. Stomach cancer took him just before we bought this house. I have a severe attachment to Dobermans. (Like Hunter S. Thompson, and the Dark Knight, and David Berkowitz. HHHmmm. Not exactly the company I ever expected to be included with…. but here we are.) It breaks my heart that these smart, amazing dogs could ever be unwanted.
Styrke had quite a journey before making his way to us. Five months ago, he was found at a common dog dumping ground in Houston. He was malnourished, heartworm infested, and so riddled with mange that the animal shelter wasn’t even sure what breed he was.
Lone Star Doberman intervened; paying for his recovery and placing him with a foster care-giver in Houston. She named him Styrke, because iron is strong – like he needed to be. But about a month in, his foster moved to Hawaii and Styrke was transported to Kim in Argyle. She crate-trained him and taught him some commands to be prepared for the next step in his life.
His life with us.
We weren’t too keen on the name Styrke. No one even knows how to pronounce it. A new life deserves a new name. So Jamie bought him a new dog-tag, engraved with “Logan” – our favorite X-Man. (Who happens to be even stronger than steel.)
Logan’s a pretty chill little guy, but still a puppy;
He growls at the “Huuuump Day!” camel in the Geico commercial.
He scratches his ear untill he farts.
He doesn’t know the words “Outside” or “Daddy”, but he sure knows the word “Treat”. And where they’re kept.
He isn’t quite sure what to make of the vacuum cleaner yet; fun new game or arch nemesis?
Today, he pooped tinsel.
It’s been a week now, and a pretty easy adjustment for all three of us. We think he’s a perfect fit.
I’ve heard it said that people who have dogs live longer,
I’m not sure about that,
But I know for a fact that people who have dogs live better.
Welcome to the rest of your life Logan…