Bride of Frankenstein
Release Year: 1935
Director: James Whale
Writers: William Hurlbut (screenplay & adaptation), John Balderston (adaptation), Mary Shelley (inspired by her 1816 novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus)
Starring: Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Valeria Hobson, Ernest Thesiger, Elsa Lanchester, Gavin Gordon, Douglas Walton, Una O’Connor, E.E. Clive, Lucien Prival, O.P. Heggie, Dwight Frye, Reginald Barlow, Mary Gordon
Rating: Nominated for 1 Oscar: Best Sound.
Moviegeek Sunday Classic #226, week 42 2018
Mary Shelley (Elsa Lancherster) reveals that The Monster survived and tells the sequel to the story in which Dr. Frankenstein (Colin Clive) is pressured by the even madder scientist Dr. Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger) to build a mate for his monster.
James Whale’s original Frankenstein (1931) was an instant success that made Boris Karloff into a horror icon. This sequel is by many considered to equal its predecessor. The film begins with a scene between the poet Lord Byron and Percy Shelley and Mary Shelley, author of the novel on which the film is based. Byron teases Mary about such a gruesome tale coming from such a fair lady and he gives a recap of the first film. From here the story picks up right at the end of the first film. The familiar theme of the dangers of arrogant scientist playing at being God continues, this time with an even more crazy scientist. Ernest Thesiger (Scrooge, 1951) stars as Frankenstein’s old Philosophy professor Dr. Pretorius who turns up on his doorstep without warning; he offers the reluctant Frankenstein a partnership and a plan even more ludicrous than Frankenstein’s original one. Karloff (The Mummy, 1932) is great as ever and is here given more opportunity to evolve his portrayal of this iconic character. Yes, the film is tonally all over the place, some of the character seem to live in the 19th and 18th centuries, while Frankenstein and his fiancée wear 1930’s dress, but that is all quite forgivable. The music is beautiful and the film is clever and more complex than meets the eye. At times it is almost as if Whale is spoofing his own original Frankenstein. It is not as scary s the first (even though The Bride always sends a shiver down my spine) and one is left wondering exactly how much of it is played tongue-in-cheek by its brilliant director. Highly recommended.
Boris Karloff did not want The Monster to speak in this film but was overruled. As he was required to speak, he had to use his partial dentures, which he had removed for the first film to give his cheeks their sunken look. That is why The monster’s face looks fuller in this film.
Shortly before filming began Colin Clive, who plays Henry Frankenstein, broke his leg in a riding accident. As a consequence Frankenstein is either sitting or lying down in most of his scenes.
James Whale originally did not wish to make a second Frankenstein film. The studio considered several other tory options including one starring an educated Monster who continues Frankenstein’s research and one set on the eve of the World War in which Frankenstein invents a death ray. Finally, after four years of badgering by the studio, Whale agreed to do the film.
Picture Copyright: UIP
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