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From the Archives: On the set of 'Young Frankenstein'

From the Archives: On the set of 'Young Frankenstein'
March 27, 1974: On the set of "Young Frankenstein" are from left standing: Actors Teri Garr, Gene Wilder and Marty Feldman, and director Mel Brooks. Lying down is Peter Boyle, who played the monster. (Marianna Diamos / Los Angeles Times)

The "Young Frankenstein" cast re-created a scene for staff photographer Marianna Diamos. Director Mel Brooks, right, looks on as, from left, Teri Garr, Gene Wilder and Marty Feldman work on the monster, Peter Boyle.

Writer Wayne Warga reported in the April 14, 1974, Los Angeles Times:

The castle looms dark and foreboding, a dead tree in a courtyard leading to outside doors with huge knockers. The kind of place where people must come to die. Frankenstein's place. And this time the devout wish is that we'll all die laughing. It's Mel Brooks' version of Frankenstein's place.

It's impossible to tell how many versions of this classic tale have been made around the world, but certainly this must be the first one in which the monster has a zipper in his neck.

The $350,000 castle, on Stage 4 at 20th Century-Fox, is an inspiration of the macabre, while the goings-on of its inhabitants are inspiringly silly.

Brooks is shooting the film in black and white and is using cinematic techniques prominent in the late 1920s and the early 1930s. "It's not satire, it's a salute," he says. "It says, 'Mel Brooks Presents Young Frankenstein' so the audience will, of course, know the comedy will go an inch or two further than one usually expects. But you can't keep winking because it diminishes the melodrama. The melodrama has to be there."

Brooks at work is intense, serious and determined — in startling contrast to the inspired silliness of his films. Gene Wilder plays Frankenstein and, along with Brooks, is the co-author of the screenplay.

"Gene walked in one day and said he wanted to do a picture called 'Young Frankenstein,' Brooks recalls. "I told him he was crazy. A week later we were writing it." …

"Young Frankenstein" became a smash hit. It’s now highly ranked on many best comedy film lists.

Since these three images are similar, I suspect photographer Marianna Diamos got only a few minutes with the cast. The photo immediately below accompanied Warga's article.

This post was originally published on Aug. 7, 2013.

March 27, 1974: Image from the set of movie Young Frankenstein. From left: Teri Garr, Gene Wilder, M
March 27, 1974: Director Mel Brooks, right, looks on as Teri Garr, Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, from left, and Peter Boyle as the monster, re-create a scene from the movie "Young Frankenstein." Marianna Diamos / Los Angeles Times
March 27, 1974: Peter Boyle as the monster on the set of "Young Frankenstein."
March 27, 1974: Peter Boyle as the monster on the set of "Young Frankenstein." Marianna Diamos / Los Angeles Times

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