"Young Frankenstein" and Those Whinnying Horses

Fear not, there are no glue factories in Young Frankenstein. Getty Images / Credit: Arctic-Images

In Mel Brooks' classic film parody Young Frankenstein (1974), Cloris Leachman plays a character called Frau Blucher. If you've seen this great film, you know that every time someone utters the words "Frau Blucher" the whinnying of horses can be heard.

Somehow an explanation for this running gag arose, claiming the hidden reason for the horses' reaction was that Frau Blucher's name sounds like the German word for glue, and implying that the horses fear ending up in a glue factory.

But if you bother to look up the word "glue" in German, you won't find any word that is even close to "Blucher" or "Blücher." Do the words der Klebstoff or der Leim sound even remotely similar?

If you look up Blücher, some German dictionaries list the expression "er geht ran wie Blücher" ("he doesn't loaf around/he goes at it like Blücher"), but that refers to the Prussian general Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher (1742-1819), who earned the name "Marschall Vorwärts" ("[Field] Marshal Forward") for his victories over the French at Katzbach and (with Wellington) at Waterloo (1815).

In other words, Blücher (or Blucher) is just a German surname. It has no particular meaning as a normal word in German and certainly does not mean "glue"!

Turns out that director Mel Brooks was just having some fun with a classic cinematic "villain" gag from old melodramas. There is no real logic for the horses' neighing, since most of the time there is no way they could even see or hear Frau Blucher or the people saying her name.