The Bride of Frankenstein (10/24/12)

Frankenstein Bride of Frankenstein Double FeatureMovie Two Hundred Thirty Nine

A scientist even more obsessed with creating life coerces Dr. Frankenstein to create a female creature to be The Bride of Frankenstein.

The film begins with Percy Bysshe Shelley (Douglas Walton), Lord Byron (Gavin Gordon), and Mary Shelley (Elsa Lanchester) discussing her story for the original Frankenstein. Shelley says that people seemed to miss the moral lessons she was driving at and that there was more to the story she wished to tell. The film then picks up immediately at the end of Frankenstein with the windmill burning. The creature (Boris Karloff) has survived the fire by falling into a pit under the windmill and Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) has survived being thrown by the creature from the top of the windmill. Soon, Dr. Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger) finds Frankenstein and shows him his miniature human creations. Pretorius wants to work with Frankenstein for creating new life. Meanwhile, the creature is on the run from the angry mob and stumbles upon a blind, lonely monk and learns to speak. The creature later finds Pretorius in a grave and Pretorius tells him that he wishes to create a mate for him.

I had never seen The Bride of Frankenstein in its entirety before and I had kind of a mixed reaction to it. On the one hand, the film is truly ahead of its time in terms of horror and even sci-fi films. Made in 1935, it sets the hallmarks for essentially every horror/sci-fi film of the 50s. Unfortunately, the film also has some very silly choices that make it veer off into comedic territory more than horror. The servant named Minnie (Una O’Conner) is basically the Jar-Jar Binks of the film; she gets way too much screen time screeching about stupid things and I found it beyond distracting. Also, when the creature is learning to talk, he also learns to smoke and drink and his voice and mannerisms are fairly hilarious, possibly unintentionally. I’m not sure how audiences reacted to these scenes originally, but the audience for the double feature thought they were hilarious – I merely found them a bit unnecessary.

The changing themes between comedy and horror in The Bride of Frankenstein are further offset by the completely archetypal mad scientist character of Dr. Pretorius. He is both villainous and cartoonish at the same time, but again, this could merely be what we are used to nearly 80 years after the original release. We have endured countless spoofs and other films that have copied a similar formula. As for the bride herself, I was kind of surprised by how little screentime she gets. Karloff is still very much the star of his film as the creature. Oh, and Dwight Frye gets yet another role as one of Pretorius’ henchman in this film as well!

I’m quite happy to have gotten the opportunity to see The Bride of Frankenstein, not only the big screen but back to back with Frankenstein. Having the films seen in tandem is hugely successful in selling the franchise as a whole (I’m not sure how The Son of Frankenstein fits in, I have yet to see that). While I’m fairly undecided about my overall feelings on The Bride of Frankenstein, I did have a great time watching it. Part of me wishes the film seemed to take itself a bit more seriously, but maybe that bit of camp has made it the huge hit that it is today.

I give it 4 Frankenstein and Pretorius creating the bride out of 5.

Links:

Rotten Tomatoes

IMDB

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16 responses to “The Bride of Frankenstein (10/24/12)

  1. Pingback: Frankenstein (10/24/12) | Andy Watches Movies

  2. You are lucky to have seen this on the big screen. Must have been somewhere in Chicago. I don’t think it would be playing on the big screen anywhere here in Indy.

    Also, just as a trivia note that you might find interesting. The star of this film, Elsa Lancaster, was married to actor Charles Laughton for many years. He was gay and the two never had sex together and slept in seperate bedrooms. Then every week or so they would be visited by bi-sexual male prostitutes who would first have sex with Laughton in his bedroom and then when they were done with him go to Ms. Lancaster’s room and ‘service’ her. The two apparently considered this a ‘great’ arrangement.

    • It was through Fathom Events, so it wasn’t just the Chicagoland area…but I’m not sure if there was anything out by you. You should check out Fathom Events’ website to see if anything else is coming up near you.

      That is…Quite the bit of trivia. I had no idea haha

  3. love the bride of frankenstein. especially when boris talks, and also the scene in the cabin in the woods, made greatly more famous by the satirical version with gene hackman in “young frankenstein.” also love the little people in the jars. there’s “camp” for you. son of frankenstein – the little kid is cute, and i always like basil rathbone, no matter what he does.

  4. I love Una o’Connor! Although I prefer her in Whale’s ‘The Invisible Man’ as the world’s most annoying landlady, screeching “E’s awl eaten away!”

    Karloff argued long and hard that we shouldn’t hear the monster speak, so he’d probably agree with you about the smoking bit.

    • I hope to watch The Invisible Man soon, but I can’t say I’m looking forward to more of her. Characters like her are funny to me in small doses, I thought she had way too much screentime in Bride. She wore out her welcome for me.
      It’s a natural progression to have the monster speak, but it was done in kind of a weird way. Karloff does it well enough, the scene is just kind of goofy

  5. Pingback: Young Frankenstein (10/31/12) | Andy Watches Movies

  6. Pingback: My October Movies Round-Up | Andy Watches Movies

  7. You’re right, there’s a lot of humor in the film. As I understand it, Whale didn’t wish to make the sequel and, when he found himself at the helm, just decided to have a good time. I’ve heard that he was even chastised by members of the premiere audience for laughing out loud during the screening. One thing that DOES bother me about the plot is the utter gutlessness of Henry Frankenstein. Come on, you’re a Teutonic baron. Some rod smoker puts the bag on your PRIMO squeeze and you fold like a house of cards. No. You gather up the appropriate members of the staff, escort the fellow to a nice, quiet room where the ensuing racket won’t disturb the neighbors, and you go to town on the guy with the cool antique tool set that you just inherited. Just the threat of this would have given changed the dudes entire outlook. Guarandamnteed.
    Yep, the new bride deserved a much better consort. And, listen, Liz, if you’re reading this, you can e-mail me at………..

    • Haha sounds about right on Whale’s part. Totally agree that Frankenstein’s motives are wishy washy, but I wasn’t really thinking about that at the time, I guess I was distracted by everything else.

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