Puttin’ On the Ritz

It was the winter of 1974-75. Co-worker Linnie and I squeezed into a packed movie theater for Mel Brooks’ new release, “Young Frankenstein,” with the enviable acting lineup of Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn, Marty Feldman, Peter Boyle, Cloris Leachman and Teri Garr.

If you’ve not seen “Young Frankenstein,” perhaps Brooks’ best movie, find it and view it. Back to the theater.

We were at the scene where Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Wilder) was trying to animate the monster (Boyle), raising the body up a tower during a lightning storm. He yells at Igor (Feldman) to throw the electrical switch for maximum power, even though we can all see the warnings on the equipment to not do so. Igor shrugs, pushes the switch and …

If you’re familiar with the movie, you know what happens next, but that’s not what we saw.

When he threw the switch, the entire screen went black. We laughed. I made some comment that only Mel Brooks would do that. We waited.

Soon, we all began to realize this was going on too long. I looked over my shoulder toward the back wall. Through the small projection room window, a light was on and someone was hurriedly manipulating the equipment.

How I wished to be watching the film with Brooks just to see him slap his forehead and exclaim, “Why didn’t I think of that?”


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