Young Frankenstein

  • Directors: Mel Brooks
  • Producers: Michael Gruskoff
  • Writers: Mel Brooks, Gene Wilder
  • Genres: Comedy, Sci-Fi
  • Actors: Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman, Teri Garr, Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman, Kenneth Mars, and Gene Hackman

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) is a respected lecturer at an American medical school and is more or less happily (though blandly) engaged to the tightly wound Elizabeth (Madeline Kahn). Frederick becomes exasperated when anyone brings up the subject of his grandfather, the famous mad scientist, to the point of insisting that his name is pronounced “Fronk’-en-steen”.

A solicitor informs Frederick that he has inherited his family’s estate. Traveling to said estate in Transylvania, Frankenstein meets his comely new lab assistant Inga (Teri Garr), along with the household servants Frau Blücher (Cloris Leachman) and Igor (Marty Feldman) (who, after hearing Frederick claim his name is pronounced “Fronkensteen” counter-claims that his is pronounced “Eye’-gor.”)

Inga assists Frederick in discovering the secret entrance to his grandfather’s laboratory. Upon reading his grandfather’s private journals the doctor is inspired to resume his grandfather’s experiments in re-animating the dead. He and Igor successfully exhume and spirit away the enormous corpse of a recently executed criminal, but Igor’s attempt to steal the brain of a revered scientist from the local “brain depositary” goes awry, and he takes one labeled, “Do Not Use This Brain! Abnormal” instead.

The reassembled monster (Peter Boyle) is elevated on a platform to the roof of the laboratory during a lightning storm. The experimenters are first disappointed when the electrically charged creature fails to come to life, but the creature eventually revives. The doctor assists the monster in walking but, frightened by Igor lighting a match, it attacks Frederick and must be sedated. Upon being asked by the doctor whose brain was obtained, Igor confesses that he supplied “Abby Normal’s” brain and becomes the object of a strangulation attempt himself.

The townspeople, led by Inspector Kemp, hunt for the Monster. Desperate to get the creature back and correct his mistakes, Frederick plays music and lures the Monster back to the castle. Just as the Kemp-led mob storms the laboratory, Dr. Frankenstein transfers some of his stabilizing intellect to the creature who, as a result, is able to reason with and placate the mob. The film ends happily, with Elizabeth married to the now erudite and sophisticated Monster, while Inga joyfully learns what her new husband Frederick got in return from the Monster during the transfer procedure (the Monster’s Schwanzstück).

Willy Wonka the Chocolate Factory

  • Directors: Mel Stuart
  • Producers: David L Wolper, Stan Margulies
  • Writers: Roald Dahl, David Seltzer
  • Genres: Family, Musical, Fantasy, Comedy
  • Actors: Gene Wilder, Jack Albertson, Peter Ostrum

Charlie Bucket is a poor boy living with his widowed mother and four bedridden grandparents in a tiny house. Charlie supplements the meager family income by delivering newspapers after school. The family, along with the rest of the world, learns that the chocolate maker, Mr Willy Wonka, has hidden five Golden Tickets amongst his Wonka Bars. The finders of these special tickets will be given a full tour of his world-renowned but tightly-guarded candy factory, as well as a lifetime supply of chocolate. Charlie wants to take part in the search, but cannot afford to buy vast quantities of chocolate like most other participants. Soon, four of the tickets are found by, respectively, Augustus Gloop, a gluttonous German boy; Veruca Salt, a spoiled British girl; Violet Beauregarde, a gum-chomping American girl; and Mike Teevee, a television-obsessed American boy. As they find their tickets, a sinister-looking man is observed whispering something in their ears, to which they listen attentively despite their preoccupations with their particular obsessions. Charlie’s hopes are dashed when news breaks out that the final ticket has been found by a Paraguayan millionaire.

The next day, as the Golden Ticket craze dies down, Charlie finds a silver coin in a gutter and uses it to buy a Wonka Bar. Simultaneously, word spreads that the ticket found by the millionaire was forged. When Charlie opens the bar, he finds the true final ticket inside, and races home to tell his family. He is stopped along the way by the same man who had been seen silently talking to the other four winners. The man introduces himself as Arthur Slugworth, a rival confectioner who attempts to pay Charlie for a sample of Wonka’s latest creation, the Everlasting Gobstopper.

Wonka, Charlie and Grandpa Joe enter the “Wonkavator”, a multidirectional glass elevator, and fly out of the factory in it. As they soar over the village, Wonka tells Charlie that his actual prize is not a lifetime chocolate supply, per se, but the factory itself, as the Golden Ticket search was conceived to help Wonka search for an honest and worthy child to be the heir to his chocolate empire. Charlie and his family will reside in the factory, and eventually take over its operation when he retires. The film ends with the Wonkavator sailing off into the sky.

Stir Crazy

  • Directors: Sidney Poitier
  • Producers: Hannah Weinstein
  • Writers: Bruce Jay Friedman
  • Genres: Comedy, Crime
  • Actors: Gene Wilder, Richard Pryor, Miguel Angel Suarez

Writer Skip Donahue (Gene Wilder) and actor Harry Monroe (Richard Pryor) are two down-on-their-luck men trying to break into show business. After they both get fired from their jobs (Skip for accusing an actress (Lee Purcell) of robbery from the store he worked at, and Harry after a fellow caterer (Pamela Poitier) put his marijuana in several meals, believing it to be oregano), they leave New York together for Hollywood. To get the bills paid, they decide to take odd jobs along the way. In one such job, Skip and Harry dress up as two woodpeckers for a local bank, where they perform a song and dance routine as part of a promotion for the bank. Little do they realize that two men are watching them…and also planning the perfect crime (Skip and Harry met them earlier in a bar).

The men wait until Harry and Skip remove their costumes to take a break. They steal the costumes and perform the routine under the pretense of being Harry and Skip. They then use the ruse to rob the bank. Harry and Skip are immediately arrested upon their return and whisked through a speedy trial that lands them a 125-year jail sentence, which would make them eligible for parole in 30 years. Len Garber, their court-appointed lawyer (Joel Brooks) advises them to start their sentence until he can appeal their case.

Arriving at a secret meeting spot, Jesus and Rory quickly make introductions, then bid Harry and Skip farewell as they all pile into a waiting car, heading off to Mexico. Harry and Skip hop in the other waiting car, only to be stopped by another car containing Len Garber and Meredith. Meredith tells Harry and Skip that, thanks to her work, the police have captured the real crooks, who have confessed to the bank robbery that wrongly convicted them. Harry and Skip, ecstatic, decide to resume their original plans of heading to Hollywood. Skip asks Meredith to go with him, and Meredith, on a whim, does.

Blazing Saddles

  • Directors: Mel Brooks
  • Producers: Michael Hertzberg
  • Writers: Story, Andrew Bergman, Screenplay, Mel Brooks, Norman Steinberg, Andrew Bergman, Richard Pryor, Al Uger
  • Genres: Comedy, Western
  • Actors: Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Harvey Korman, Slim Pickens, Madeline Kahn

In the American Old West of 1874, construction on a new railroad runs into quicksand. The route has to be changed, which will require it to go through Rock Ridge, a frontier town where everyone has the last name of “Johnson” (including a “Howard Johnson”, a “Van Johnson” and an “Olson Johnson”.) The conniving State Attorney General Hedley Lamarr (Harvey Korman) – not to be confused, as he often is in the film, with actress Hedy Lamarr – wants to buy the land along the new railroad route cheaply by driving the townspeople out. He sends a gang of thugs, led by his flunky Taggart (Slim Pickens), to scare them away, prompting the townsfolk to demand that Governor William J. LePetomane (Mel Brooks) appoint a new sheriff. The Attorney General convinces the dim-witted Governor to select Bart (Cleavon Little), a black railroad worker who was about to be hanged, as the new sheriff. Because Bart is black, Lamarr believes that this will so offend the townspeople they will either abandon the town or lynch the new sheriff.

With his quick wits and the assistance of drunken gunslinger Jim (Gene Wilder), also known as “The Waco Kid” (“I must have killed more men than Cecil B. DeMille”), Bart works to overcome the townsfolk’s hostile reception. He defeats and befriends Mongo (Alex Karras), an immensely strong (but exceptionally dim-witted) henchman sent by Taggart, and beats German seductress-for-hire Lili von Shtupp (Madeline Kahn) at her own game, before inspiring the town to lure Lamarr’s newly-recruited and incredibly diverse army of thugs (characterized by Lamarr as ideally consisting of “rustlers, cutthroats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperadoes, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, half-wits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswagglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ass kickers, shit kickers and Methodists” in addition to nearly every other kind of stock movie villain) into an ambush. (In the later scene where Lamarr conducts his hiring event, the candidates in line for consideration include stereotypical bikers, banditos, crusaders, Nazis and Klansmen).

The film ends with Bart shooting Hedley Lamarr in the groin at the ‘premiere’ of Blazing Saddles outside Grauman’s Chinese Theater, saving the town, joining Jim inside a theater to view the end of the movie, persuading people of all colors and creeds to live in harmony and, finally, riding (in a limousine) off into the sunset.