DECEMBER 4

The 1979 edition of Ephraim Katz’s Film Encyclopedia describes Gene Wilder as “one of the prime new comedians of the American screen.” Prolific for a while, certainly, but sadly, Wilder’s prime had already passed, having peaked with this 1974 film, which he co-wrote with Mel Brooks (whose own fire would lamentably burn out after one more movie). But it is a bravura piece of work, and Wilder may proudly rest on the laurels that have been tossed his way. In addition to the glorious cinematography, Brooks and Wilder were able to use much of the original equipment from the 1930s Frankenstein films, so their parody is all the more effective. The Frankenstein myth is potent enough to withstand the continual and diverse exploration that authors and filmmakers subject it to. So, until Pauly Shore, now one of the prime new comedians of the American screen, takes a whack at it, Young Frankenstein will stand as a comedy classic. Mary Shelley scholar Betty Bennett will introduce the evening screening; in conjunction with the “Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature” exhibit. At noon & 7 p.m. at the National Library of Medicine’s Lister Hill Center Auditorium, 8600 Rockville Pike, Bethesda. FREE. (301) 435-3270. (Dave Nuttycombe)