Empire (UK) - - ON SCREEN -

Young Franken­stein (1974) Se­lected by David Wal­liams, Empire Awards host

Young Franken­stein is the peak of both Mel Brooks’ and Gene Wilder’s il­lus­tri­ous ca­reers. Gene Wilder was al­ways a team player, at his best shar­ing the screen with an­other funny per­former such as Zero Mos­tel or Made­line Kahn or, most fa­mously, Richard Pryor.

The fun­ni­est scene in this film — and per­haps even in any film — is based on a truly sim­ple con­ceit: Dr Franken­stein and his Mon­ster have to duet on Put­tin’ On The Ritz. Peter Boyle as the Mon­ster is hilarious with his tone-deaf ren­di­tion of the song, as Dr Franken­stein has to sing and dance along pre­tend­ing to the au­di­ence that ev­ery­thing is ab­so­lutely fine. It shows his true class as a per­former that Wilder never tries to up­stage his co-star. He gives the scene on a plate to Boyle, and yet your eye is drawn again and again to Wilder. Through his stiff move­ments and tense ex­pres­sions he sub­tly con­veys his char­ac­ter’s anx­i­ety, some­thing Wilder was the mas­ter of. It’s as if he is walk­ing a tightrope.

The re­sult­ing scene is a per­fect piece of comedy, which would be noth­ing with­out Wilder’s bril­liant bal­anc­ing act.

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