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

Thursday, June 2, 2016


The Three faces of Michael Sarrazin
FRANKENSTEIN: THE TRUE STORY (1973 telefilm). Director: Jack Smight.

"Violence may be unavoidable, but clumsiness is inexcusable."

This re-imagining of the Frankenstein story certainly has an interesting cast, with James Mason stealing the picture as Dr. Polidori (an acquaintance of Mary Shelley's who was not in her novel, as well as the tragic author of The Vampyr). Leonard Whiting is Victor Frankenstein, with Michael Sarrazin [The Reincarnation of Peter Proud] as the creature. Jane Seymour [Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger] turns in sterling work as both Agatha, and Prima, sort of the Bride of Frankenstein, who falls to pieces in the film's grossest, most bravura sequence. Other notable performances come from David McCallum as Henri Clerval; Agnes Moorehead as Mrs. Blair; and Ralph Richardson as Mr. Lacey. The telefilm also employs the talents of John Gielgud, Tom Baker [The Vault of Horror], Michael Wilding, and Margaret Leighton, but even an impressive cast can't disguise the fact that this in no way compares to the original story. This is more akin to Marvel Comics than to Mary Shelley, and often borders on the burlesque.

Verdict: Fun enough for non-discriminating Frankenstein fans. **1/2.


Neil A Russell said...

Wow! I haven't thought of this since it first aired! Can't believe it was in 73.
The moment I remember the most was McCallum dropping dead while trying to write something like "The process is reversing" but much like " the Castle Aaaaaaaaaargh" he only got to " re..." and croaked. Frankenstein comes in and reads it as "...ready to begin"

The other highlight was someone getting zapped by lightning on board the soon to be cold storage freighter.

Now go ahead, tell me that was from something else! LOL

William said...

Honestly, I took a lot of notes when I saw this a few months ago but didn't actually get around to doing the review until last week, so I don't remember if that scene is in the movie or not, ha! I just hope I got everything else right, because now I can't find the darn thing anywhere.

Neil A Russell said...

Don't always go by my screwy memory! Now I'm going to have to look for it too

William said...

Good Luck!

angelman66 said...

Bill, this one scared me to death as a kid, I remember being allowed to stay up late to watch it with my dad, who was a voracious horror fan.
What scared me the most was how that handsome and nice Michael Sarrazin became such a horribly decrepit monster. Gave me nightmares for years!

William said...

I certainly have occasional nightmares about becoming a "horribly decrepit monster," but hopefully that's a ways off, LOL!

angelman66 said...

Bill, that will never happen!!! :-)