In a short interview from September, Mel Brooks reflects on the history of Young Frankenstein, which he calls "his greatest movie" (an assessment that's hard to argue with, given how brilliant it was, though the competition is stiff!).
"I had a real problem," said Brooks. "I didn't want it to be just funny or silly. I wanted Mary Shelley's basic feelings captured and the … haunting beautiful quality that James Whale got with Boris Karloff. My movies are not about jokes. They are about behavior, and behavior can be very funny."
Brooks and Wilder had a disagreement over one of the movie's many iconic moments — Frederick and the monster decked out in top hat and tails performing "Puttin' on the Ritz."
Wilder, related Brooks, "wanted to do 'Puttin' on the Ritz' to show the prowess of the talent of the monster. I said no, no, no, we can't do that. It will make it silly."
But Brooks gave in because Wilder "never stopped annoying me," he said, laughing. "We shot it, put it in the picture, and we loved it."
'Young Frankenstein' has new life on 40th anniversary
[Susan King, LA Times]