Face-Off: Blazing Saddles vs. Young Frankenstein

Last Updated on August 3, 2021

With the recent passing of the great Gene Wilder, fans all over the world have been looking back at many of the actor’s classic performances and remembering the man himself. While WILLY WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY features, for many of us, Wilder’s most cherished performance, there’s very little you can compare that film with (including that unfortunate Burton/Depp endeavor from 2005), so this week we’ll be looking at two of Mel Brooks‘ classic films to which Mr. Wilder lent his talents. BLAZING SADDLES and
YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN both came out in 1974 and left a permanent impression on the landscape of comedy and parody movies alike, but which film comes out on top? Break out the schnitzengruben and Schwarzwälder kirschtorte, and let’s find out!
Cleavon Little as Sheriff Bart
Gene Wilder as Jim, the “Waco Kid”
Slim Pickens as Taggart
Harvey Korman as Hedley Lamarr
Madeline Kahn as Lili Von Shtupp
Mel Brooks as Gov. Lepetomane / Indian Chief
Alex Karras as Mongo
Gene Wilder as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein
Peter Boyle as The Monster
Marty Feldman as Igor
Madeline Kahn as Elizabeth
Cloris Leachman as Frau Blücher
Teri Garr as Inga
Gene Hackman as Blindman

Cleavon Little and the cast of BLAZING SADDLES definitely deserve some recognition here, but YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN‘s cast is just more manic and entertaining with a few more memorable characters.

As part of a plot to run the people out of Rock Ridge to make way for a new railroad, the State Attorney General convinces the Governor to appoint the town a black sheriff. Through charisma, wit, and by helping them in their time of need, the sheriff eventually wins over the townspeople, just in time to help them in their most desperate hour.
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, grandson of mad scientist Victor Frankenstein, must begrudgingly travel to Transylvania when he inherits his family’s estate. Upon arrival, Frankenstein discovers his grandfather’s private library, eventually becoming obsessed and picking up where his ancestor left off.

I’ll give BLAZING SADDLES the point for originality here. YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN separates itself from FRANKENSTEIN by featuring the famous scientist’s grandson instead of Victor himself- and then just does the entire plot of FRANKENSTEIN anyway, (with the exception of the last ten minutes, of course).

“Excuse me while I whip this out.”

“Ooh, baby, you are so talented! And they are so dumb!”

“It’s not Hedy, it’s Hedley. Hedley Lamarr.”
“What the hell are you worried about? This is 1874. You’ll be able to sue her.”

“What did you expect? ‘Welcome, sonny’? ‘Make yourself at home’? ‘Marry my daughter’? You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know… morons.”

“Are we awake?”
“We’re not sure. Are we… black?”
“Yes, we are.”
“Then we’re awake… but we’re very puzzled.”

“If you shoot him, you’ll just make him mad.”

“Mongo no go. Mongo stay with Sheriff Bart. Sheriff Bart first man never whip Mongo. Mongo impressed. Have deep feelings for Sheriff Bart.”

“Uh-oh, Bart. I think Mongo here’s taken a liking to you.”
“Huh-huh, naw, Mongo straight.”

“Mongo only pawn in game of life.”

“Look at my hand.”
“Steady as a rock.”
“Yeah, but I shoot with this one.”

“One day, I was walking down the street when I heard someone shout, ‘Reach for it, mister!’ I turned around to see who it was, and there I was, standing face-to-face with a 6 year-old kid. I just put my guns down and walked away. Little bastard shot me in the ass! So I limped to the nearest saloon, crawled inside a whiskey bottle… and I’ve been there ever since.”

“Tell me, schatze, is it twue what they say about the way you people are… gifted? Oh, it’s twue. It’s twue. It’s twue, it’s twue!”

“Stampeding cattle.”
“That’s not much of a crime.”
“Through the Vatican?”
“Kinky. Sign here.”

“Hey, where are the white women at?”

“And now, for my next impression… Jesse Owens.”

“They said you was hung.”
“And they was right.”

“Piss on you! I’m werkin’ fer Mel Brooks!”

“Where you headed, cowboy?”
“Nowhere special.”
“Nowhere special? I always wanted to go there.”
“Come on.”

“From that fateful day when stinking bits of slime first crawled from the sea and shouted to the cold stars, “I am man!,” our greatest dread has always been the knowledge of our mortality. But tonight, we shall hurl the gauntlet of science into the frightful face of death itself. Tonight, we shall ascend into the heavens. We shall mock the earthquake. We shall command the thunders, and penetrate into the very womb of impervious nature herself.”

“Dr. Frankenstein…”
“You’re putting me on.”
“No, it’s pronounced ‘Fronkensteen.'”
“Do you also say ‘Froaderick’?”
“No… ‘Frederick.'”
“Well, why isn’t it ‘Froaderick Fronkensteen’?”
“It isn’t; it’s ‘Frederick Fronkensteen.'”
“I see.”
“You must be Igor.”
“No, it’s pronounced ‘Eye-gor.'”

“What hump?”

“There, wolf. There, castle.”
“Why are you talking that way?”
“I thought you wanted to.”
“No, I don’t want to.”
“Suit yourself. I’m easy.”

“I am Frau Blücher.”
[horses whinny]

“Hallo. Vould you like to have a roll in ze hay?”

“Put… the candle… back!”

“Call it… a hunch. Ba-dum chi.”

“Wait Master, it might be dangerous… you go first.”

“Damn your eyes.”
“Too late.”

“He vould have an enormous schwanzstucker.”

“Elevate me.”
“Now? Right here?”

“Not the third switch!”


“Igor, help me with the bags.”
“Certainly. You take the blonde, I’ll take the one in the turban.”

“Oh… I think I love him.”

“If you’re blue, and you don’t know where to go to, why don’t you go where fashion sits…”

“Dr. Fronkensteen! Are you all right!”

One of the things that makes Mel Brooks movies work so well is how visually true he stays to genre he’s parodying. BLAZING SADDLES looks like any Western of its time, and in some of the more sobering moments between Bart and Jim, feels just as if not more sincere.
The same goes for YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN. Keeping true to the original Universal films, Mel Brooks goes black and white and combines impressive sets with a charming low budget feel, which, combined with Wilder’s performance, give the film a genuine classic horror feel.
BLAZING SADDLES has no end of classic gags, but the result is a film that feels a bit unbalanced, with the sillier gags clashing with the smarter moments of the film. The entire fourth wall-breaking finale is a lot of fun but also results in an ending that feels more chaotic than clever.
By keeping YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN a bit more controlled, Brooks presents a less gag-dependent film, resulting in the comedy feeling more clever and earned. As with most Brooks films, we can see some of the jokes coming from a mile away, but the gifted cast pulls them off exquisitely.
IMDB: 7.8
Rotten Tomatoes: 90% (Audience Score: 91%)
Domestic Total Gross: $119,500,000

3 Academy Award nominations
2 BAFTA nominations

IMDB: 8.1
Rotten Tomatoes: 93% (Audience Score: 93%)
Domestic Total Gross: $86,273,333

2 Academy Award nominations
1 Golden Globe nomination

This is a close one, and your own preference will no doubt depend partially on when you saw each film and which genre you prefer, but YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN just seems to be a little smarter and more well-balanced throughout than BLAZING SADDLES. Perhaps that little extra something comes from the fact that Gene Wilder created the story and wrote the original script for YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (and considers it his favorite film he’s made). Whichever your preference, it goes without saying that these are both classics and, while Gene Wilder‘s presence in film has been greatly missed for a number of years, his presence on this earth will be missed even more.

Agree? Disagree? Which do you prefer?


If you have a suggestion for a future Face-Off, let us know below or send me an email at [email protected].

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