Young Frankenstein (1974)

Comedy Rated PG

If Mel Brooks has a masterpiece, it’s this homage to the Universal horror movies of the 1930s and ’40s. Victor Frankenstein’s grandson Frederick (Gene Wilder, whose hairdo suggests he’s already been struck by lightning many times before) picks up where the infamous mad scientist left off, resulting in a towering, tap-dancing monster (Peter Boyle). Fans of Universal horror classics such as Dracula, The Mummy, The Wolf Man and, of course, Frankenstein will appreciate the elegant black-and-white cinematography and elaborate set design. Brooks wasn’t joking around here. Yet if there was a genius at work in Young Frankenstein, it was Wilder, whose lunacy makes the dialogue both funny and threatening. (“What’s the matter with you people? I was joking! Don’t you know a joke when you hear one?”) Priceless support comes from the likes of Teri Garr, Marty Feldman, Gene Hackman, Cloris Leachman and Madeline Kahn (whose lunacy matches Wilder’s). Say this for Brooks – he saw women as comedic equals, and they continually proved him right.