Young Frankenstein

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Mel Brooks’s insular spoof on the old Universal Pictures horror series — it doesn’t reach very far in any direction, but it expends a good deal of comic energy within the narrow confines. Basically, it resembles the sort of affectionate parody of old movies common on the Carol Burnett Show, although it is larger, fuller, and usually funnier. Brooks’s stature as a moviemaker is boosted considerably by his efforts to carry the parody even to the Hollywood studio techniques of the 1930s. On that score, he noses ahead of his closest competitor in screen comedy, Woody Allen, who has long gravitated toward old movies in search of subject matter, but whose comic copies achieve the proper cinematic style haphazardly at best. Same goes for his acting style. Whether he is impersonating a bank robber, a Latin American revolutionary, a robot, or a Bogart tough guy, Allen is always undermined by his feelings of imposture; Brooks suffers from, or at any rate displays, no such insecurities. With Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Cloris Leachman, Teri Garr, Marty Feldman, and Gene Hackman. (1974) — Duncan Shepherd

Rated PG | 1 hour, 46 minutes
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