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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