Category Archives: Horror: Frankenstein

Frankenstein

Opening Thoughts

Date:
1931
Stars:
Colin Clive

Mae Clarke

John Boles
Writers:
Garrett Fort

Francis Edward Faragoh

Director:
James Whale
WRC Score:
3.5/4

(-_-)b
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
March 3, 2012

The film that made Boris Karloff and destroyed Bela Lugosi. Or at least that’s the way the Horror film historians would have it. Whether this is the case might not be as clear-cut as they might think.

Intended to be his follow-up to Dracula (1930), Lugosi was less than thrilled with the idea of playing the monstrous creature.  “I was a star in my country” he reportedly said, “and I will not be a scarecrow over here!” And a heart-throb at that. Had he had his druthers, the character certainly would have had a different portrayal to it than Karloff’s, and not necessarily as successful a one at that.

Whatever he thought or intended with the role, others factors might have kept him off the project in any case. Before camera rolled, Universal Pictures fired intended director, Robert Florey, and gave the reigns to James Whale. Let me underscore that a little. Whale had the option of doing any picture he wanted, and he chose Frankenstein. He had full control of casting, too. Odds are good, I think, that Lugosi’s number would have been up even if he loved the role.

What might have been: A poster advertising Bela Lugosi as Frankenstein’s Monster

All that said, even if things had run smoothly, there’s no real indication this film would have been much of a career highlight. According to the Wikipedia article on the movie (where I lifted the above quote), Florey had a different interpretation of the story, to say the least. In it, the monster “was simply a killing machine without a touch of human interest or pathos.” As far a cry from source author Mary Shelly‘s literate creation as… well, as any movie based on her novel, including this one.

Would that have connected with audiences the same way this film did and does? Any thoughts on the matter only amount to so much guess-work. It’s hard to imagine, though that the peculiar alchemy of film making present in this Frankenstein could have been bested. Mainly because it really hasn’t been equaled in any production that come since.

But come. Leave the modern-day behind and let us drift back nearly a hundred years. There are funerals to attend, graves to rob, the dead to rise and a wedding to curtail. A word of warning before we begin. Classic or not, I will have my fun with the film as this review goes on.  I just can’t go after the “bad” movies without having a go at the “good” ones.

Besides,  I try to entertain as best I can, and dry reads simply don’t do it.

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Frankenstein (1931)

Date:
1931
Stars:
Colin Clive

Mae Clarke

John Boles
Writers:
Garrett Fort

Francis Edward Faragoh

Director:
James Whale
WRC Score:
3.5/4

(-_-)b
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
March 3, 2012

I’m going to be kind and assume you actually know who Frankenstein and what his deal is.  In this particular case, he’s a young student determined to prove his theories correct.  He succeeds, only to have things turn toward tragedy.

Beyond that?  Well, this is mandatory viewing if you have any interest in the history of Horror Films, so no matter what I say it goes RECOMMENDED.

That said, is it still any good? Or has the advancement of film taking all the bite out of this bad boy?

While I don’t feel Frankenstein works any more as a straight ahead Horror film, as a Speculative Flick it’s near perfect, with only a few minor issues to hold it back. The acting is either a bit hammy or a bit stiff, depending on whose doing it, but considering the time period it is most excellent. Unless you have a thing against old films, you should find a lot to enjoy here (2 points).

On a personal note, while I didn’t fall in love with Frankenstein , I got more than I expected on rewatch. My memories of it being as dull as dirt were, quite thankfully, wrong. I find myself liking it quite a bit, and am kicking myself for putting off watching it for so long. (1.5 points)

Overall Score: 3.5 (+) total point out of a possible 4