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The iconic filmmaker Brooks, who turned 95 on Monday, did not like a scene that the late writer-actor Wilder penned for Young Frankenstein. And the battle over it got intense, Wilder recalled in a 2005 interview with Conan O’Brien. The scene in question is toward the end of the beloved 1974 film, where Wilder’s Dr. Frederick Frankenstein and the late Peter Boyle’s monster perform the musical number “Puttin’ on the Ritz.”
“I would write all day, and then he would come over after dinner and look,” Wilder said of their script process. “And one night he came over and he looks at the pages and says, ‘You tap dance to Irving Berlin in top hat and tails with the monster? Are you crazy? It’s frivolous.’ And I started to argue, and I argued for about 20 minutes until I was at least red in the face, I think it may have been blue. And all of a sudden, he says, ‘OK, it’s in.'”
Continued Wilder, “And I said, ‘Then why did you put me through this?’ And he said, ‘Because I wasn’t sure if it was right or not. And if you didn’t argue for it, I knew that it would be wrong. But if you really argued, I knew it was right.’ The scene became an instant classic moment in a film chock-full of brilliant humor.
The legendary Wilder died in 2016 at the age of 83.
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