Back when Mel Brooks was actually making movies for people over the age of 15, he created the best satirical monster movie ever: ‘Young Frankenstein’. One of the reasons the whole thing worked so well (besides the great script) was the casting. Gene Wilder (when he was still funny and not maudlin), a luscious Teri Garr, Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman, Gene Hackman. Marty Feldman, and the wonderful Peter Boyle as Frankenstein.
Before this movie, Boyle was almost always typecast as the tough blue collar, humorless, sometimes bigoted Archie Bunker without a meathead. Brooks saw something in Boyle – the twinkle, the pathos, and the fact that he could tap dance to Putting on the Ritz while playing Frankenstein.
Boyle was pitch-perfect. The role broke him out into the world of romantic comedy (While You Were Sleeping – father-in-law), science fiction (X-Files) and his wonderful coda: the dad on ‘Everyone Love’s Raymond’ – the combination of the early blue collar bigot with a good heart and a great sense of comic timing.
Boyle died last night. I hope he’s horsing around with Madeline Kahn by now…