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

Thursday, May 29, 2008


BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935). Director: James Whale.
"To a new world -- of gods and monsters!" -- Dr. Pretorius.

Outrageous, campy, over-the-top and even bordering on the edges of schlock at times, Bride of Frankenstein is still a fascinating and highly entertaining picture, fast-paced (it just never stops), and beautifully photographed by John J. Mescall, with a fine score by Franz Waxman and rich art direction by Charles D. Hall. The monster survived the fire at the end of Frankenstein, and meets up with the nutty Dr. Pretorius (a gleeful Ernest Thesiger), who kidnaps Elizabeth (now played by Valerie Hobson) to force Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) to make his monster a mate. Dwight Frye is back as another sinister, grave-robbing assistant. The film is, oddly, very contemporary in its casual amorality and scenes of black comedy (interspersed with pathos, such as the long scene between the monster and the kindly blind violinist -- O.P. Heggie -- which also borders on black comedy). Una O'Connor as the hysterical maid Minnie is perhaps more irritating than amusing. The little people that Dr. Pretorius created and shows off to Henry have nothing to do with Shelley's novel and remind one of Attack of the Puppet People. Alternately child-like and frightening, Boris Karloff (billed as "Karloff" above the title) is magnificent. John Carradine has a small role as a hunter. Followed by Son of Frankenstein.

Verdict: Whatever it's flaws, this is a cinematic treat for those who are game. ***1/2.

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