Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Monday, May 19, 2008

FRANKENSTEIN


FRANKENSTEIN (1931). Director: James Whale.

Made the same year as Dracula, this is a much more successful and entertaining film, although, like Dracula, it takes great liberties with its source material. The performances are all good, with Colin Clive properly manic and intense as the obsessed Henry Frankenstein, and Mae Clarke appealing as his troubled fiancee. Although his performance mostly consists of pantomime, Boris Karloff is superb as the monster. Dwight Frye is perhaps more effective as the helpful if psychotic hunchback Fritz than he was as Renfield in Dracula. John Boles, Edward Van Sloan, and Frederick Kerr are all good as, respectively, family friend Victor Moritz, Dr. Waldman, and Baron Frankenstein, who serves as a bit of comedy relief (mercifully there isn't too much of it in the film).The scenic design is excellent and atmospheric, and the movie is very fast-paced. Bernhard Kaun's music for the opening and closing credits is good; one wishes there had been music all through the film, which cries out for it. An interesting aspect of the picture is that Henry Frankenstein goes completely unpunished for his grave-robbing and assorted malfeasances as well as the deaths caused by his rampaging monster! Followed by Bride of Frankenstein.

Verdict: Classic Universal horror. ***.

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