At 40, Brooks’ ‘Frankenstein’ proves forever young

Mel Brooks (left), Teri Garr (center) and Cloris Leachman prior the 40th anniversary screening of "Young Frankenstein" by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater, on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Richard Harbaugh)

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — “Young Frankenstein” is pushing 40, but by no means over the hill.

The film’s writer-director Mel Brooks and actresses Cloris Leachman and Teri Garr gathered at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Tuesday night for a 40th-anniversary screening of their comedy classic.

As they posed for photos, Brooks and Leachman flanked Garr, who was in a wheelchair. Garr has long battled multiple sclerosis and also suffered a brain aneurysm in 2006. And while she did not do arrivals-line interviews, Garr looked and sounded robust as she effortlessly traded barbs with Leachman and Brooks during the pre-screening panel discussion.

Spirited as the event was, it also seemed a tad bittersweet for the 88-year-old Brooks, who was quick to mention cast members not in attendance.

“Well, you know, a lot of them have gone,” he said in an interview before the screening. “Marty (Feldman), Madeline (Kahn), Peter Boyle is gone.

“It’s rather touching,” Brooks continued, adding the film’s co-writer and star, Gene Wilder, “was back east and it was difficult for him to get here.”

Wilder and actor Gene Hackman, who makes a cameo appearance in the movie, each sent notes read to the sell-out crowd of 1000 audience members cramming the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater — a clear sign of the movie’s continued popularity.

Produced for just under $3 million, “Young Frankenstein” was released in December 1974 and went on to amass more than $85 million at the domestic box office alone ($372 million adjusted for inflation, according to the Box Office Mojo website). The film, both a homage to and sendup of director James Whale’s 1931 screen adaptation of author Mary Shelley’s horror novel “Frankenstein,” also inspired a Broadway musical and has been one of the all-time best sellers since the dawn of home video.

A 40th-anniversary Blu-ray edition of “Young Frankenstein” was released Tuesday.

It’s been a busy week for Brooks, who was honored with a handprint ceremony Monday at the TCL Chinese Theatre. He’s logged seven decades of work as a professional entertainer, with credits also including the movie blockbuster “Blazing Saddles” as well as the Tony-winning musical “The Producers.”

As for his legacy? Brooks says he’s hoping to be “remembered as a short, handsome, terrific dancer, wonderful filmmaker.”




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