September 10, 2007

Young Frankenstein Lives Again

This post is part of the First Annual 2007 Slapstick Blog-a-thon coordinated by Thom Ryan at Film of the Year. Click and see a list of all the participating bloggers.

Just like Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein before it, Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder’s Young Frankenstein spawned its share of imitators. For one, there was a rather miserable David Niven comedy called Old Dracula, but the kicker must be Sevimli Frankestayn, aka Turkish Young Frankenstein, a spectacularly inept shot for shot remake that plays like a straight horror film. In other words, a knock-off of a classic satire… that misses the joke!

At 81, Mel Brooks is the Elder Statesman of Slapstick. In November, in case you haven’t heard, he’s reviving Young Frankenstein as a big budget Broadway musical. The tryouts in Seattle have been widely publicized on TV and the Net.

Watch Brooks making his pitch on entertainment news shows, available on YouTube here and here. There is some overlap between the two clips, but you get a glimpse of the very elaborate sets that include a rising slab, complete with lightning bolts. Here’s a fine Seattle Times article, and a slideshow (pics by Greg Gilbert) of actor Schuler Hensley — who also played the Monster in the film Van Helsing — being transformed into a very green Frankenstein Monster, and this Playbill feature has good pictures (by Paul Kolnik) of the very energetic cast. The official website for the Young Frankenstein musical is here.

Frankenstein Meets The Mermaid

This weekend, the New York Times carries an article called Monster, Meet Mermaid. Turns out the competition for Young Frankenstein won’t be the other Frankenstein Musical opening at the same time, but rather the big new Disney show, The Little Mermaid. Now, how’s this for trivia: This is not the first time that a comedy-based Frankenstein Monster meets a Mermaid. Back in ‘48, at Universal, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein was shooting concurrently with the William Powell fantasy, Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid. Glenn Strange and Anne Blythe, both in costume, posed for a neat publicity shot.

All we need now is for Young Frankenstein’s Schuler Hensley and The Little Mermaid’s Sierra Boggess to get together and close the circle. Do it on January 1st, and it'll be a 60th year reunion!

And that wraps up my contribution to the Slapstick Blog-a-Thon. I had a ball! I was introduced to some great blogs, I read some terrific posts, and I made some new friends. Here’s a pie in the face to Thom Ryan at Film of the Year who made it all happen. Thanks, Thom, and congratulations on a job well done.


Joe Thompson said...

Pierre: Thanks for another great post. I sat down with the family and watched "Young Frankenstein" again last night. What a wonderful movie. "Could be worse. Could raining."

Joe Thompson ;0)

Pierre Fournier said...

Thanks for the kind words, Joe. I'm still reeling from your "Killed By an Ostrich" post.

El Abuelito said...
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71crm said...

It's so funny that these two musicals happened on the 60th anniversary of this photo because in the same way that Bud Westmore created the makeup for these two creatures, Angelina Avallone created the makeup for both The Little Mermaid and Young Frankenstein-what are the odds of that! However, I don't think that you could recreate this photo because Sierra Boggess's costume as Ariel has this ribbon that is attached to the tail and skirt-in other words, it's not like Ann Blyth's latex mermaid tail here...but I do agree that this would have been fun to have this photo recreated on Broadway 60 years later!