Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Knapp, Raymond. "Music, Electricity, and the 'Sweet Mystery of Life' in Young Frankenstein." In Changing Tunes: The Use of Pre-existing Music in Film, ed. Phil Powrie and Robynn Stilwell, 105-18. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006.

Music and electricity have become specific accretions to the Frankenstein story over time, with American popular music serving as a subset of music in Mel Brooks's Young Frankenstein. The film plays like an operetta by focusing on personal stories and songs with special personal significance to the characters, staying away from the larger issues of human appropriation of the divine powers of electricity and music. Pre-existing songs used in the film offer both thematic verbal content as well as immediate jokes, whether or not the audience is aware of thematic conventions in which the film is engaging, although the broader humorous effect of the songs often obscures the appropriateness of the musical choice.

Works: James Whale (director): Sound track to Bride of Frankenstein (110); Mel Brooks (director): Sound track to Young Frankenstein.

Sources: Victor Herbert: Dream Melody (107-08, 112-13, 116); Irving Berlin: Puttin' on the Ritz (108, 113-15); Battle Hymn of the Republic (108, 113, 115); Schubert: Ave Maria (110-11); Wagner: Lohengrin (115).

Index Classifications: 1900s, Film

Contributed by: Karen Anton Stafford

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